Registering an ABN
Registering an ABN is free – don’t get caught by scammers who will charge you for it.
This is the ABN Registration Page which tells you what you need to get started registering.
If you google to find the ABN Registration Page look for the .gov in the website name, rather than a .com site.
To GST or not to GST?
Registering for GST when you apply for your ABN means that you’ll have to fill out and pay BAS every three months, which is a lot of extra paperwork for a new business.
- If you are dealing with the public (who can’t claim back the GST) then your prices will be cheaper if you don’t have to charge GST.
- If you are dealing mainly with other businesses then not being GST registered can make you seem … new and small.
You can go back and register for GST at any time if you decide you’d rather be registered, or if you when you think you’re close to reaching the $75,000 turnover threshold.
Choose a Name with Good SEO
A good business name should be catchy and informative, and it should appeal to your target market, but in the digital age you also want to make sure you can get the domain name to match your new business, and think about whether people will be able to spell it to send you email.
Is your Name Available?
Do NOT search the domain registrars to see whether your domain name is free!
Unfortunately, there are scammers out there who monitor the domain registries – places like GoDaddy and Hostgator and even the ASIC business name registry. When they see that someone is interested in a domain name they can buy it, and charge you whatever they like.
It is safe to google your name ideas in a regular search – that should give you an idea how many businesses are using similar names.
I’d recommend only going to the domain registry site once you are ready to PAY for your name – that goes for both registering the business name with ASIC and registering the domain name. Search to see if it’s free and if it – pay immediately to register the business name and domain. The same goes for the .com or alternate version – if you want to get both .com.au and .com versions buy them both at the same time.
You may need to have a couple of ideas ready in case your first preference is taken.
Rank for Your Name
Ranking for your name means that if someone is actually searching for YOU in google they can find you.
If you type Juice Websites into a search engine you get dozens of website designers with similar names – I became Fizzy Juice Websites so that if you google my name you can pick me out of the crowd.
If you’re looking for ideas Word Hippo can give you lists of words with similar meanings to play around with.
URL’s are Important Ranking Factors
The URL is the web pages address eg www.fizzyjuicewebsites.com.au/website-resources-for-startups/ is the URL of this page.
Google thinks that a page with website in the name is more likely to be ABOUT websites than a page that just uses that word in the text of the page, so it will be ranked higher.
It can be helpful if your name reflects what you do – or for local businesses where you are located.
domain registration and hosting explained
To create a website first you need to register the domain – that gives you the exclusive license to use your chosen web address eg fizzyjuice.com.au. You register the domain with a Registrar, and it generally costs under $20 per year.
Once you have an address (a domain) you need hosting. Hosting is space on a server that you can store your website images and documents on. That can cost you anywhere from $3 a month to $10 a month, or more for faster hosting.
You can’t host your website on your home PC because everyone in the world needs to be able to see your website – and if you open your own computer up to the entire world they will be able to see all of your other documents as well. Hosting companies have special security measures, as well as fast servers so your website can be shown quickly.
When someone types in your web address the Registrar directs that person to your host – who shows them your website.
Choose Your Hosting Company
Because the scammers watch the Business Registry and Domain Registries (see Choosing a Name with Good SEO) I recommend that you choose a hosting company so that you are ready to secure the name and domain at the same time.
These scammers watch both sites and if you search for business names they can register those domains out from under you and charge you premium prices.
GoDaddy is our preferred Host
We use and recommend GoDaddy for Domain Registration and Hosting.
Their customer service is absolutely excellent. You get a Sydney local phone number to call (or online chat if you prefer). Every time I’ve called them I am speaking to an American service person within about 3 minutes, and they have done everything possible to help me. Working with clients who have other hosting I’ve had to wait 3 hours to get through to live chat with no phone option, and then gotten the run around.
Speedwise there are faster and more expensive hosts, but I’ve run page speed tests comparing the same site on our GoDaddy hosting against the clients alternative hosting and found GoDaddy faster for similar price, so for most new businesses GoDaddy is my choice.
I could put up links and get similar commissions for other hosting companies, but so far GoDaddy is the only one I’m willing to recommend.
Register and Secure Your Business Name
Register Your Business Name
With an ABN you are allowed to trade under your own name, but if you plan on using a trading name you should register it.
Again – watch for scam sites and Register Your Name with the ASIC.gov.au. A business name will cost less than $40 from ASIC.
You will need to search to make sure the name you want is available – but again those scammers do watch the business name registry and if you search for a name you should be prepared to register it AND get the domain name on the same day.
Register your Domain
Things are much simpler if you register your domain with the people you want to host your site – otherwise you need DNS forwarding from the registrar to the host.
If you register your domain with GoDaddy you can add hosting to the same account when you are ready to get a website going. You can also create your own email addresses and manage everything from one location.
This link gets you a discount, and we earn a commission – so if you use it thanks 🙂
why choose a wordpress website?
One of the reasons I started Fizzy Juice Websites is that so many of our IT clients complained about losing time and money because they didn’t OWN their own websites, and they didn’t have control of them.
It causes all sorts of problems down the track, so this is something I strongly recommend to any new business.
WordPress is Self Hosted
WordPress websites are self hosted – meaning you choose who to register and host your website with – usually someone like GoDaddy. You can move or change your website at any time and you have control over what goes on it.
WordPress is the free software that you use to make the website – like using Microsoft Word to create a document. You can take that website to any host and it will work, just like any PC can open a Word document.
Other website solutions like Wix will offer ‘free’ hosting with limited space, but they will put ads on your site and can shut your website down at their discretion. The space and number of people who can see your website every month is limited, so you often end up paying for their upgraded packages, or paying them to remove their ads.
If what you need ends up being more expensive than what you’d pay from a normal hosting provider you can’t move the website because it only works on their software, which you can’t get anywhere else. If you were also using their free domain registry (which would be something like http://www.username.wix.com/my-site) then you would also lose your website address and have to change your business cards etc. This is how ‘free’ becomes expensive and locked in.
NB – WordPress.COM offers similar free packages to Wix, with the same limitations and it is different to regular WordPress. Regular WordPress can also be called WordPress.ORG or self hosted WordPress.
WordPress has hundreds of themes to choose from – many of them free. With the most WordPress themes you can change theme and have a completely different look for your website with very little work – all the pages will still be there just with diffeent styles, fonts and colours.
There are also hundreds of plugins to add different features to your website – so if you want to add a fancy online form, calendar, gallery slideshow or a shop you can just choose a plugin. Many of the plugins are free as well, or you can pay for something even fancier.
WordPress is updated frequently to keep up with spam threats, and also to keep up with what Google wants to see, like mobile responsive websites.
WordPress has features built in to help Google understand your website – things like headings and the ability to add meta-data. You don’t need to write any computer code to add these things, and they boost your performance in the search engines.
Anyone can work on it.
Custom built websites that are coded from scratch are as unique as their programmers – everyone has different ways of doing things, so it would be hard for one designer to work on someone elses website.
WordPress websites all follow the same rules – so anyone familiar with WordPress can work on any WordPress website.
While setting up a new theme and knowing which plugins to choose takes a bit of experience, new text pages are quite easy to add so a business could easily choose to manage the site themselves, or hire any designer if they prefer to spend their time on other things.
Why do i need to be mobile friendly?
In Mid 2015 Google changed their search algorithm to boost websites with mobile friendly pages. They did this because there are now more people searching on their mobile phones than on traditional desktop PC’s.
Mobile friendly pages need to be easily readable on small screened mobile devices, and have buttons and features that can be accessed on the mobile touch screen.
Most WordPress themes are mobile responsive, meaning that they change the position of sidebars and the size of images and menus so the website looks different on a mobile device than it does on a desktop.
If your site isn’t mobile friendly your customers won’t get a good experience when they find you on their phones, and Google will rank your site lower in the search results.
You can test how mobile friendly a website is on Googles Mobile-Friendly Test tool.
Menu and Images Change on Mobile
- Traditional menu across the top.
- Full width and size images
- 4 icons across with text large enough to read clearly
- Menu switches to mobile menu – some themes have easier-to-use mobile menu’s than others.
- Main image is resized to fit the mobile screen and still show the first icons underneath.
- Only 2 icons across – this keeps the text large enough to read, the other icons are moved to the next line down.
- Clickable links and buttons need to be large enough to be tapped easily.
- Some themes allow ‘pinch zoom’ so that readers can zoom in to enlarge text.
Most WordPress themes have a mobile friendly tick – but that just means the layout will change ‘in some way’ when the site is viewed on a mobile phone. How well it changes depends on the theme.
You can create a fantastic looking web-page layout on the PC, but if you can’t read it clearly on a mobile phone you risk turning off half your potential customers. Premium (paid) WordPress themes are more likely to give you some control over how the page re-sizes – so that you can tweak the design on each type of device, but it’s always important to test every page with a few different sizes and browsers.
choosing wordpress themes and plugins
A WordPress website has one theme which styles most of the elements of the page – usually you can custom change things like background colours and text colours, and of course the images and words will be your own, but there will be set ways that the menu can appear or specific styles to the pages.
Plugins add extra features such as styled galleries, contact forms, backup ability, SEO options and so on. They usually work with the style choices of your theme but add extra features and you can have as many plugins as you like, though overloading can slow your site down.
There are thousands of free themes, and nearly as many Premium (paid) themes. Choosing one can be really overwhelming because they all ‘claim’ to be mobile friendly and flexible without specifying how well they do those jobs.
All of the themes and plugins in the WordPress directory are free – that’s a requirement from WordPress itself.
- These can be added from your WordPress dashboard when you start your site and are easy to find and use – similar to adding a new app to your phone.
- Some of these have free and paid versions, so you can try the basic features and pay to upgrade if you’d like more. I do like these upgradeable themes, because you know that the designer is making money and is likely to keep supporting and updating it.
- Some of the paid versions are very limited whereas other plugins might offer more functionality in their free version.
There are also Premium sites like ThemeForest where you can pay for more flexible themes (and plugins).
- These are usually priced under $100, which is not a bad investment towards an important business marketing tool.
- They are slightly more difficult to install and update.
Licensing for paid themes: Licenses vary significantly so while some paid themes (or plugins) will give you updates forever for a one off fee, others charge similar prices and you have to pay the fee annually to keep getting updates.
WordPress updates itself often to keep up with security and best practice (just like your mobile phone does), and if you aren’t getting updates to the theme it can cause your site to break or become vulnerable to hackers.
Choosing a Theme
Most themes have “Live Demo” sites – having a look at these will give you an idea of how a professional can get that site to look, though it doesn’t always tell you how much you can change it or how easily you could make your own site look like that. You can put the demo through the Google mobile friendliness test, or Page Speed Test and you should look at it on your mobile phone as well as your desktop to get an idea of how both versions look. If there are problems with the live demo site I’d avoid the theme.
Which theme will suit you depends on your business and what features are most important to you.
SEO – Search Engine Optimisation
SERP – Search Engine Results Page – ie the list of websites Google shows you when you do a search.
CTR – Click Through Rate – the number of people who clicked on a page compared to the number of people who saw the page in a search result.
Google Juice – Things that make Google trust and therefore rank your page. Google Juice can ‘flow’ to other pages via links.
Black Hat – SEO practices that try to trick Google into ranking a page well. Google and Bing spend a lot of money working out what tricks people are using, and how to penalize people for using them. These strategies generally backfire in the long term.
Moz has a list with loads more SEO Jargon that’s funny enough to read just for kicks.
start with a plan
When you start your site you probably know that you want a Home page, an About Page and a Contact Page, but a good website starts by planning their keywords.
Keyword are the words that describes the contents of the page.
More importantly for your business – when a potential client searches on those keywords you want google to show them YOUR website. How do you get Google to show them your page? By convincing Google that your page is about those keywords.
So ask yourself – do you want to appear in a search when someone types “about marios waterworks” or do you want to appear in the search that’s looking for “plumber Bankstown”?
You probably still want to have an About page – but maybe your About page becomes focused on keywords that helps the right people find you.
Before you jump into creating pages:
- Choose your keywords
- Use a sitemap to plan pages capturing those keywords.
Google KeyWord Planner can show you how many people per month search on a particular term, and will also suggest similar keywords. You do need a Google Adwords account to be able to use this tool, but the account is free.
Choosing a keyword can be a bit of an art, but these are some of the strategies to consider:
Don’t Bite off More than you can Chew: If a keyword has really high Average Monthly Searches – it usually also has high competition. The higher the “Suggested Bid” Adwords gives you, the tougher the competition is going to be.
- If you choose a keyword that has 100,000 searches per month and you are on the third page of results, no one is going to see you.
- Sometimes it’s better to be on page 1 for a search that only 100 people a month will use – because that 100 will actually see you.
Stages of Buying : A person searching for “Bali holiday ideas” might be at the early stages of planning a trip, or they might be dreaming. Someone who types in “rent Bali Villa” is much closer to making a call and spending money – so that would be a much better keyword for one of your main pages.
Long Chain Keywords: Sometimes using longer keyword sentences can get you in front of customers who really want your specific services, and there may not be as much competition for ‘plumber to fix broken toilet bankstown’ as there is for ‘plumber in bankstown’.
Each page should have a Unique Keyword: If all of your pages have the same keyword they will be competing against each other. Both pages will only get half as much ‘google juice’, so they may not show up as well in the results. Try to have each page focus on something slightly different.
Google Doesn’t Care
Google doesn’t ultimately care what you think your keyword is – they will show customers your site for whatever words they think your page is about. Choosing a keyword helps you stay focused on one concept throughout the page, but writing about something relevant to your business is what will draw Google to your website.
Now that you have your Keywords you can start with a SiteMap – a plan of which pages will have each keyword. Maybe you need to add some pages to use the most important keywords on?
Your sitemap can be drawn on paper, or done in Excel but it should show the important things and will help you stay on track, as well as tell you what keywords have already been used when you are planning new pages.
- Page Title.
- Meta Title.
- Meta Description.
- Links pointing to other pages or pointing offsite.
The Sitemap is also useful when you are checking your pages, to make sure you don’t miss any of them.
SEO Optimising Your Website - On Page SEO
On Page Optimisation covers anything you do ON the web page to improve SEO.
Yoast: The Yoast Plugin is an absolute must for any WordPress website – it will analyse your page as you type it and makes recommendations about anywhere you can improve the SEO. It adds fields so you can write your own Meta Title and Description.
Page Title: The Page Title should contain your keywords, preferably at the beginning.
URL – the URL is a really important ranking factor, so again it should have the keywords at the beginning.
Heading Markup – Headings with the keyword give more ‘juice’ than plain text with the keyword.
Image Names: Google can read the name of your photo, so instead of calling it IMG65.jpg you should use your keywords to name the photo before you upload it to the wbsite.
Image ALT attributes: again should have the keywords added.
Meta Data – Yoast allows you to add these without needing to add code to the page. This is what will appear in a search engine result. It should not only contain the keyword, but also be written to entice someone to click on your page.
Keyword Density: The keyword should be in your text, but not too often or google will think you are keyword stuffing.
Supportive keywords: Search Engines know that lawyer can also mean attorney, and that apple and apples mean the same thing, so while you do want your keywords to be prominent your writing will be more interesting and rank better if it also includes supportive or related words.
Link Text: Linking between your pages is helpful – and the words you link the text to are considered more important than regular text, so where possible they should be your keywords.
Internal Links: When you link from one page to another within your site you allow google juice (rank) to flow TO the page that you linked to, so you need to be strategic and try to have the links flowing to the more important pages. Linking to your pages also creates an opportunity for you to keep you visitor on your site a little longer, perhaps to see another article or to go to you’re a place they can Contact you. The more the visitor explores your website the more they feel they know you, and the more likely they are to call you.
Having a good internal link structure, and good menu’s also helps the search engines find and index your pages more easily.
Write for Your Audience
While you should do everything you can to target your keywords, ultimately producing a page that is interesting and useful to read is the most important thing.
Google track how long visitors stay on your site, so if someone reads your whole article and even checks out a few other pages then Google gives itself a pat on the back for showing that searcher what they wanted – and will be more confident about serving your page up next time.
You also need to CONVERT the customer once they arrive. There’s no point in being the first result they see if they leave your page thinking you are untrustworthy or not someone they want to do business with.
SEO Optimising Your Website - Off Page SEO
Off Page SEO are things you do to get Search Engines to trust your website from outside the page.
Googles goal is to show searchers good pages – otherwise everyone will start using Bing and Google won’t be able to sell ads. They spend a lot of time and budget avoiding tricks and trying to separate real businesses from the ones people don’t want to see.
Backlinks: In the old days if a website had a lot of other pages linking to it Google assumed it was worth reading, and ranked it more highly. Unfortunately, the Black Hats (sneaky SEO people) started selling links from dodgy websites as a quick way to get your website rankings up. Google caught on and now having links from low quality websites can actually harm your sites rankings. Links from popular websites are still good, but of course you can’t buy those.
Guest Blogging: Guest Blogging is another way to get a link to your website. By writing articles for another website you can get a link to your own. Again, people abused this by selling guest blogging opportunities – of course the quality of the articles was pretty low and so the sites weren’t interesting and you guessed it – google now have algorithms to penalize guest blogging from low quality sites.
Link Webs: Another “scheme” to get links where a group of people all point to each others websites. Google is smarter than that. Linking to your clients or business partners is fine, but if all the links go round in circles you can be penalised.
Local Directories: A business that’s entered in Yellow Pages Online, YELP or other local business directories is more likely to be a real business (not a scam site), and google ranks them more highly than a website with no local directory links.
A listing on a popular site like YELP might even come up in the search page results showing your name, and giving you a second appearance. Unfortunately… dozens of new local directories have opened up over the last few years, many with the sole purpose of supplying people with local directory links. While it’s still important to register with the main Directories (like Yellow Pages and YELP), free accounts don’t get as much trust as paid accounts and entering dozens of low quality directories can do more harm than good.
Page Speed: Faster loading pages rank better. Users won’t stick around if your page isn’t loading, and Google boosts the ranking of faster pages. Google also have a tool to help you test your PageSpeed and will make suggestions for improvement.
Site Maps and Google Webmaster Tools: Joining Google Webmaster Tools for free gives you access to loads of useful data about which keywords your site is ranking for. You can submit a sitemap, which helps Google to find and include all of your pages and you can Fetch to ask Google to look at a new page, rather than waiting for it to be discovered.
The Yoast Plugin helps make connecting your Website to Webmaster Tools very easy, and produces a sitemap for you.
Bing have a Bing Webmaster Tools as well.
Social Signals: Likes and Comments from Social Media are a little harder to fake, and google are refining their algorithms to see how many times an article is shared on FaceBook or Google Plus. Having your own social media pages for the business tells Google that you are a real business (particularly if you are connected to Google Maps – see the Social Media section).
WordPress websites can easily add social share buttons to allow people to share your page, and you can connect your website to your social media accounts to gain Googles trust.
The moral to the story is that anything you do to trick Google into thinking your page is great will not work for long, and may get you penalized. Making a great site that people want to read and share, is pretty much the only way to keep Google happy.
Website Photos - Tips and Tools
Good images can make or break a website, but you should always be careful to use images within their copyright.
There are two kinds of image size:
Print Size – that’s how big the photo would print, usually in pixels. When you add a photo to a website the pixel size determines how big that image will appear on the screen – so if you add a photo that is 1980 wide it will be the full width of a PC screen.
File size – how many MB of storage space the photo takes up. Images with bigger file size will take longer to load on your page so the goal is to have the file size as low as possible – under 100MB for full screen photos, under 20 for smaller images WITHOUT compromising on the image quality.
One of my favourite free photo sites is Pixabay.
Unsplash is a newer site. It has some beautiful artistic images for free, but it’s a little lighter on business images.
Creative Commons can link you to photos, music or videos that are free but may have some clauses. With Creative Commons you need to check the individual licenses – some require attribution (where you give the artist credit and a link) and some have restrictions (like not using the image to sell T-Shirts).
Shutterstock have some amazing photos that cost around $50 for 5 images if you want something really special.
Deposit Photos are another site for Premium Paid Photos and Vector Art – $50 for 10 images.
Place Your Logo
Placeit.net is a lot of fun. The site will allow you to upload your website, logo or image onto one of their stock photos – so you can download a photo of your logo on the side of a city bus, or on T-Shirts being worn by different models, or on a mobile phone sitting on a sketch pad.
Templates, Layout Ideas and Photos
Canva is another site that you have to join, but its well worth it. They have templates for creating website banners, FaceBook ads, infographics and memes.
Many of the templates (and even photos that you can add) are free, but if you are searching for a particular image it will cost you $1USD and payment is super-easy.
Tiny PNG is a wonderful free site that can compress .jpg and .png files – basically it makes the files smaller without losing quality.
To compress an image you just upload it to their site, then download the improved (tinyfied) version to your computer.
Why Get Social?
A lot of potential clients are on social media – many even search social media for businesses to buy from, so making sure you have a presence on social media for them to find makes sense.
For some businesses FaceBook or Pinterest may even be a great sales tool, but even if you are in an industry that doesn’t tend to sell on FaceBook having a presence there can build trust in your reputation.
Google considers websites that are linked to Social Media to be more trustworthy – so they show them higher in the search results.
Social Media signals (likes, comments and shares) are counted towards google rankings, and Google knows who’s connected to you on social media, so they are more likely to show your website to someone who has liked your page.
Google Plus and Google Maps - why you need it
FaceBook is definitely more popular than Google Plus in Australia, but Google Plus is how you get connected to Google Maps.
Google Maps not only tells Google to trust your business, they use the location information to show you to more people in the same area as you are (so you’ll rank better for people close by).
It also gives you an opportunity to be listed in the map searches that appear to the right of regular searches, with full colour images. You will need a Google Plus personal account, which allows you to create the business account for Google Maps. The process is a little painful – they will verify your address by sending you a postcard in the mail and that can take a couple of months, but if you are a local business it is absolutely worth the wait.
Google Plus: Articles or Web Pages that you share on Google Plus also have a chance to appear in search results – with colour photos to make them really stand out.
When you are logged in to Google you can see how many G+’s a website has, and every time you share a page from your website on Google Plus and it gets liked – the pluses add up on the HomePage. Google are definitely counting how many pluses you get, and I tend to think they are a little biased towards their own platform, so a good Google presence might boost your rankings more than a FaceBook profile.
FaceBook - use it wisely
Some businesses run entirely from FaceBook these days, and you can even get shop apps to collect money directly from FaceBook. You can also connect a FaceBook shop to your WordPress website.
What worries me about investing a lot of time or money in a FaceBook shop without a website is that FaceBook can (and do) change the rules whenever they feel like it. You have very little control over your FaceBook Business Page, they can shut it down or decide to charge you for it and if you have spent advertising money and years building a reputation your customers may not be able to find you anywhere else.
The website on the other hand is yours – as long as you pay the domain registration no one can take that away from you or change the rules.