The Internet plays a pivotal role in business growth and development. If you have a small offline business, you need to bring it online to reach and communicate effectively with existing and potential customers.

How do you get started? Your business needs an online presence with a well-designed, lead-catching, sales-increasing, brand-differentiating website. That sounds like a lot, but all great websites share the same fundamentals.

Research your market
Creating a business shouldn’t be an impulse decision. You need to ensure that you thoroughly understand what you’re taking on by becoming an entrepreneur. That means you should spend a significant amount of time researching before beginning the process. Examine your potential competitors, the market you would be entering, and the costs associated with the initial investment. By gathering more information, you can make better financial decisions for your business.

As someone new to the business world, it’s also vital you learn more about the tasks associated with becoming an entrepreneur. One of the most accessible ways to do this is through online classes for new business owners. These courses are typically free and are hosted by knowledgeable professionals who have years of experience running their own companies.

Picking a name
Your website’s name is your identity via which your customers are able to reach and connect with you online. Make sure to choose a name that not only suits your business but one that your customers can easily relate to. Make it easy to type, keep it short, and make it memorable.

Other important steps:

Letter Board Flat Lay
Photo by Emma Matthews Digital Content Production / Unsplash

Choose a domain extension
Domain extensions are suffixes that come at the end of web addresses. Choosing one that works well for your business is key. There are hundreds of domain extensions available today. The good news is that search engines, like Google, treat them all equally, so choose a domain extension that offers availability with the domain name you want and matches your business. A .co domain name is catchy, easy to remember, and has more availability than a .com.

Design and define
One of the most basic elements that make up your online identity is your website design. When customers visit your website, it is the first impression they have of your business. It impacts how they perceive your brand and the likelihood of whether they want to do business with you. Your website doesn’t have to have the newest bells and whistles, a professional yet simple design gains a customer’s trust and makes it easy for them to find the information they are looking for. A simple design and a user-friendly interface is the optimum combination.

Can’t afford to hire a designer? That’s okay—the Internet can help. We’ve got guides to help you create your own graphics and design your own site.

If you’re still really struggling, there are ways to hire graphic designers without paying through the nose. Options like 99designs allow designers to bid on your project, so you can pick someone whose work you like, who also fits your budget.

Open for biz
Photo by Tim Mossholder / Unsplash

Ensure you’re secure
Just like you need to protect your offline business and keep it safe, you need to do the same for your online business too. And how do you do that? With an SSL certificate. Having SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) will ensure that the sensitive data of your website’s visitors will be transferred over a secure network. A website with SSL displays a security padlock in the upper left corner of the address bar of the browser, which helps assure your website visitors their information is safe and you take their privacy seriously.

Did you know? Since 2019, Google marks all websites that don't have SSL certificates as being "unsafe".

Get found online with SEO
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. The World Wide Web is a vast place and your website can easily get lost in the thousands of sites offering similar information. By using SEO, you can increase your credibility and quality around specific keywords to help increase your search ranking and better ensure customers can find your site. A strong SEO strategy is pivotal to the success of any website. Start improving your site's SEO in minutes with Rebel's SEO Tools - no tech skills required.