Learn how to make a small business website to establish and grow your brand presence online with our step-by-step process. First, choose the best platform for your business’ website needs, create an account, and register your domain. Next, select a template or theme and customize it by editing, adding, or deleting pages. Lastly, make your site search engine-friendly and then launch your site.
1. Choose a Content Management System (CMS)
A content management system (CMS) is a website design platform that lets you easily build a business website and manage it without having to know code. Many CMS are readily available, but for most small businesses, leading all-in-one website builders like Squarespace, Wix, GoDaddy, or Weebly are best versus technically challenging alternatives like WordPress.
These site builders are ideal for web design beginners or small businesses that want to get a site online quickly. Plus, the process of how to make a small business website with these site builders is both easy and affordable.
For example, unlike WordPress, site builder plans come with hosting, free templates, page building tools, and free domains–saving you time and money. As a trade-off, they’re less fully customizable than WordPress. But unless you need niche features or functionality, you’ll find they have all the design freedom, native tools, and third-party plugins your website needs.
In comparison, using a CMS like WordPress requires you to get web hosting and a domain, find a compatible theme, and download plugins to create your website (all of which come with their own costs in time and money). In addition, you will have to install and maintain WordPress software as it gets updated as well as any theme or plugins you use. Learn more about all the costs involved in building a site on WordPress.
Building a WordPress site is also likely to require some knowledge of code (HTML, CSS, PHP, and so on). Because of the technical expertise needed, many small businesses opt to hire a web developer vs building a website themselves. With site builders, building and managing your small business website is a code-free experience, with no need for you to update the software or app integrations.
Here’s a breakdown of the top content management platforms to help you decide, along with step-by-step instructions for how to make a small business website with each one:
Small Business Website CMS
Paid Plans From*
Ecommerce Plans From
Step by Step Instructions
*Monthly cost of ad-free paid plans with annual payment; monthly billing is also available at a higher cost
**Hosting, SSL certificate, and domain must be purchased separately; table uses WordPress-recommended Bluehost plans for example pricing
Squarespace tops our list of the best website builders for small businesses. Professionally designed templates and premade content blocks make it easy to build a business website quickly that looks great and has all the features and functionality you need. For these reasons, we are using several Squarespace examples below to explain the remaining steps of how to make a small business website.
2. Create an Account
Based on the CMS you want to use, create an account with your chosen provider. With website builders like Squarespace and Wix, the process is straightforward, and plans include hosting, domain, and SSL certificate for data security. However, if you want to use WordPress, you’ll need to sign up for web hosting and get a domain and SSL certificate first.
If you’ve decided to build a business website on WordPress, Bluehost is an official WordPress-recommended web hosting service. Starting from $2.95 per month the first year, annual plans come with a domain, SSL certificate, free email addresses, and a WordPress website builder, making it one of our top recommendations for small businesses.
3. Get a Domain Name
Choosing the right business domain name is extremely important for building your online presence. Most small businesses incorporate their brand name and opt to use a top level domain (TLD) extension like .com. However, it can be difficult to secure the exact domain name you want with so many .com domains already registered.
Fortunately, you can also use TLDs like .net, .edu, .org, .store, location-based TLDs like .us and .ca, or professional-designations like .pro or .me. Learn more about domain extensions in our article explaining how to choose a domain name.
Registering your domain could occur when signing up for a plan (such as with Bluehost) or later in the process. For example, it could occur when you choose a paid plan after building your site in the free trial or version offered by a site builder.
Here are three ways to register a business domain name, including ways to get a domain for free:
- Domain registrars: Purchase a domain from a top domain registrar like GoDaddy or Domain.com for around $12-$15 per year
- Web hosting plans: Get a free domain name with the purchase of a hosting plan from web hosts like DreamHost or Bluehost
- All-in-one-site builders: Get a free domain name with website builders’ paid plans, including Squarespace, Weebly, and Wix
4. Choose a Template (or Theme)
Whether you go with a website builder or WordPress, you will have to choose a template or theme for your small business website. Site builders like Squarespace, Wix, and Weebly break down templates into categories with premade designs that already have many of the tools and features your site is likely to need.
If you’d like to put technology to work, both Wix and GoDaddy offer artificial intelligence for an AI-powered website setup process. Answer a few questions about your business, and a template will be built customized with the features you requested. This speeds up the process of how to make a small business website, which is great for web design beginners and those wanting to get a website up as quickly as possible.
For WordPress, there are thousands of themes available, including many that are free. You can find free themes through the left-side menu under the Dashboard in the Appearance → Themes tab.
Keep in mind, though, that these free themes offer minimal customization and don’t include page building tools. Unless you are experienced in web development, you’re likely to need a premium theme with a page builder to get the look you want for your small business website.
5. Customize Your Site
The next step in small business website design is to customize your chosen template. This includes editing its pages, adding additional pages you need, and deleting pages that aren’t needed as well as configuring the site-wide header and footer. Each platform has its own tools for site design, and some are more intuitive than others. For example, Wix is known for providing the most customization and design freedom, so much so that it’s a top WordPress alternative.
GoDaddy’s site editor is one of the easiest to use, especially for true beginners. Squarespace’s sleek templates allow you to make a small business website that looks professional and makes a strong visual impact. Weebly’s site editor is a bit less intuitive, however, it more than makes up for this by including robust ecommerce in all plans, even the free one.
If you’re using WordPress, your theme may have premade pages to customize, or you may have to build each page from scratch. WordPress’ site building tools are not intuitive or beginner friendly. You can, however, lessen your learning curve by installing a WordPress website builder or opting for Bluehost or DreamHost plan, as both include a WordPress page builder for free in hosting plans.
Here are a few web design basics for customizing your site:
- Header: Most small business websites display the business logo (or name) and a main navigation menu in the header, as well as a preferred contact method, such as a phone number (or link to a contact form page). It’s also common to place a search bar into your site’s header to make it easy for your site visitor to locate information quickly.
- Footer: Both the header and footer are displayed on all pages of your site. Footers often have an email sign up form, brand details (logo, business name, and tagline), contact information, links to social media marketing profiles, top webpages or sections (e.g., blog, online store, or product pages), and high-level info such as your operating hours. As with the header, including a search bar here can also help site visitors find the content they most want.
- Homepage: This is the first page most site visitors see. It should have easy navigation options for site visitors to get the content they want and a general call to action that speaks to your target audience. Homepages often contain high-level statistics, such as the number of customers served or years in business, awards, and memberships (e.g., Chamber of Commerce or Better Business Bureau) to signal trust. It’s also common to place testimonials on homepages to encourage site visitors to do business with you.
- About Us page: Though not entirely necessary, having an About Us page is another way to convert site visitors. It’s an opportunity for you to create connections through your brand mission and vision, tagline, values, and so on. Many small businesses include information and photos about top leadership or the team on this page. It’s also a great place to publish links to your company’s press releases and cite important milestones.
- Contact page: In addition to showing contact info in your header and footer, you should create a dedicated contact page with even more ways to reach out, including a contact form. Consider adding a live chat feature to your website as well. On WordPress, there are numerous live chat plugins you can download and install, and all GoDaddy plans, even the free ones, come with website chatbots.
- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page: Including an FAQs page is beneficial, as site visitors can get answers to commonly-asked questions instead of reaching out directly, and they can get answers at any time.
- Blog: If you plan to use content marketing to drive traffic to your website, create a landing page for your blog. This is another opportunity to reach members of your target audience who are researching who to do business with, so design this page with multiple sections (such as a set of featured posts, topic-specific posts, and recent posts) tailored to your customer profiles and personas.
The other aspect of building a business website is adding functionality. This includes things like contact and signup forms, appointment booking tools, events calendars, an online store, and so on. With website builders, it’s easy to add features like these, and many come in providers’ base plans (and sometimes even the free plans).
For example, all GoDaddy plans come with free chatbots and appointment booking tools, starting with the free version. Wix’s free version allows you to add more functionality through hundreds of paid and free third party apps. Weebly, which is powered by payment processing powerhouse Square, includes robust online store functionality with any plan, including the free one.
Conversely, WordPress doesn’t come with any native features beyond the CMS. To add specific functionality to your website, you’ll need to source, install, configure, and maintain a variety of plugins. Our list of WordPress tips and tricks covers more on plugins and customization, including website security.
With WordPress, you will also need to install a security plugin. Take some time to research the best security plugins for WordPress websites and, if you can, purchase a premium version for additional security and support. If you can’t, start with the best free plugin available and switch to a paid plan as soon as you’re able.
6. Optimize Your Small Business Website for Search
It’s essential to make your small business website search engine-friendly to be easily found in online searches. While search engine optimization, or SEO, sounds technical, many SEO tactics that help your site rank higher on Google are simple to perform.
For example, optimize each page of your website for a unique, specific keyword. Top keywords can be identified using cheap and free keyword research tools to discover which words and phrases your target audience is searching for when looking for a business like yours.
To optimize a webpage for your chosen keyword, simply use the keyword in the page title, in one subheading, and a few times in the page’s content. It’s also a good idea to include it in the page slug (the part of the URL that comes after the domain name and extension, such as /small-business-websites/ in the URL of this page).
Likewise, add a meta description to the page with the keyword. It will be highlighted in bold when your content is shown on online search engine results pages, aka SERPs. For instance, when we searched for “best SEO website builder” these words were shown in bold in search results.
These tasks are easy with most website builders and settings can be found at the page level. For more examples, read up on the best website builders for SEO. In WordPress, you’ll need an SEO plugin such as Yoast SEO to optimize your title, slug, and meta description for online search.
If your business depends on local customers, you’ll need to understand what local SEO is and how to improve your rankings using local search tools. For instance, BrightLocal allows you to track your rankings on multiple search engines. Semrush’s comprehensive tools let you see exactly where your site ranks in local searches based on where the individual searching is located (e.g., “businesses near me” type of results).
SEO is one part of search engine marketing, or SEM. Learn more about search engine marketing and the tactics you can use to grow traffic to your website using content, optimization, and paid strategies.
7. Launch Your Small Business Website
Before publishing, review your site. Test out how it looks and responds on desktop and mobile. Read through your content and check for typos and broken links.
Don’t neglect loading speed either, as nearly 40% of visitors will leave a slow site, and it can also negatively impact your search rankings. If you find that your website takes too long to load, try reducing the size of your images by compressing them or reducing the resolution. When everything is set, click on “Publish” to launch your site.
Not sure if your website is ready to be released to the world? Read our free website basics checklist and download your copy below to make sure your site has everything a small business website should have:
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
What is the best free website builder for a small business?
There’s nothing wrong with starting with a free website builder. However, to ensure your business looks legit and grow your online brand presence, you’ll want a paid plan on a custom domain. Overall, Wix is the best free website builder for small businesses, while the best free platform for ecommerce is Weebly.
Is Wix a good website builder for small businesses?
Wix is an excellent website builder for small businesses. There’s a large app marketplace to extend functionality in addition to robust native tools. Test drive the templates and site builder for free, then opt for a paid plan with hosting, domain, SSL, and more. Affordable plans scale as your business grows, starting at $16 monthly or $27 per month for robust ecommerce and tools for online stores, restaurants, appointment booking, and events. Read our expert Wix review to learn more.
How can I drive traffic to my website?
There are several website marketing tactics you can use to drive website traffic, including paid and organic tactics. For example, you can implement a content marketing program and follow best practices for SEO to drive organic traffic through online search. You can also drive traffic organically through social media marketing.
Alternatively, you can opt for paid traffic generation such as Google Ads, paid social media advertising (e.g., Facebook or Instagram ads), Yelp and other directory sites, and so on. Considering Google Ads? Learn how to get a free Google Ads promo code worth hundreds in Google advertising credits.
Learning how to make a small business website is foundational for promoting your business and building an online brand presence. Creating a business website can be done in under a day with top site builders, but with no web design experience is required. If you’re new to web design, you can’t go wrong with Squarespace. It’s one of the fastest and easiest ways to build a beautiful website with various functionalities to help your business grow.
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