If you're thinking about designing your own home business or small business website, don't fire up the HTML editor until you've read these website design tips.
There are over 50 million small and home-based businesses in the United States, and each of these entrepreneurs is trying to corner their share of their market. Many will take the leap into online advertising through a website, but there are some important considerations before sitting down at your favorite HTML program and building your website.
Most small and home-based businesses are inclined to register the name of their business or possibly their own name as a website domain. That's fine if your business is established and your website is primarily for the use of your current or local customer base. But if you are attempting to maximize your search engine traffic, you may want to explore other options that include key works and phrases in the domain name. Instead of choosing a domain like "joebobstrinkets.com", you may want to use regional or product related terms such as "bluetrinkets.com" or "idahotrinketcompany.com" or even "onlinetrinketmanufacturer". Variations of these could be "idaho-trinket-company.com" or "online-idaho-trinket-company.com".
Your primary choice in a domain name may already be registered, so you may have to use descriptive terms, hyphens or numbers in your domain name. The purpose of selecting a more descriptive domain name is to include the words that users may search for in the domain. Search engines place additional weight on site URL's which have these words in the domain name.
When setting up your site, your home page will have to be called "index.html" or "default.htm" or "index.php" or one of the other default home page names. The subpages of your site can be named anything you want, so instead of naming a subpage "trinket4.html", name it "red-homemade-trinkets.html" to more accurately reflect the content of the page. Again, when a search engine user queries "red homemade trinkets", which page do you think will rank higher? Obviously there will be slightly more weight given to the more descriptive page because the key words are in the page name.
Page titles are the text that displays in the top of the browser window when the page is loaded. Search engines like to see key words and phrases in the page title. So avoid the urge to put your business name as the title of every page, and instead, use those key terms that can draw more traffic from search engines. Make each page title unique and use the terms that are used on the page content. If the page contains information about "green cyber widgets", this would be the first key phrase in your page title. You could also include the phrases "online green widgets" and "buy green widgets online" or any variation that a user may actually search for.
The navigation structure of your small or home-based business website should be clearly determined before the site is designed. Optimal navigation includes links to all subpages in the site, with subpages linking back to not only the home page, but also same level pages. If your site includes many pages that make linking from the home page impossible, a site map is essential for not only helping the visitor navigate the site, but also for search engines to spider your site in its entirety. A site map is simply an HTML representation of your site using the page title or topic as the anchor text and the URL linking to each individual page.
Another way to maximize the impact of your small or home-based business website is to use the H1, H2 and H3 HTML tags on the important text in your pages. The H1 tag carries the most weight, with the H2 and H3 tags being used for subheaders. Use the H1 tag at the top of the content section of your page and include the keywords that are unique to that page. These words are the same as those used in the title of your page. Use the H1 tag only once on the page, as if you use it too frequently, it will defeat the purpose of the tag. If you don't like the large appearance the H1 tag defaults to, use a cascading style sheet to define a new look for the tag. Cascading style sheets allow you to completely control the size, color, font and spacing of any tag.
The design techniques I described are just a few small methods that can help optimize your small or home-based business website. Even though these tips can aid in search engine results, the most important part of having a successful website is to include unique and original content and keep your website updated. Search engines love fresh content and by updating your website with current press releases, news, articles or specials you will keep the search engine spiders coming back for more.