By Deborah Pearce
The things to consider
Your Website Name
If you haven't already decided on your website name, check it in Google and make sure you haven't got some major competition with that name already, or possibly, some famous (or infamous) person of a similar name, who at the end of the day will be competing with you on search engines - and if they're that famous, you will lose the race!
You can easily check if the website name you require is available. Simply log onto a site such as www.easily.co.uk or www.godaddy.com and search for what is available.
You can purchase your domain name with the click of a few buttons and a payment of between £5 and £15 for a 2-year period depending on whether it's a co.uk address or a dot.com. Be wary - use a reputable company so that you're easily able to transfer your domain.
You can have more than one domain name for your site, so you could purchase for instance, www.johnsmith.co.uk and .com, or perhaps
www.hypnosisforyou.com and www.hypnosis-cheltenham.co.uk. It's like having sign-posts around the outer ring road of a city, there's more than one directional sign to the city centre, well there can be more than one directional sign to your website!
Having the words relating to your service, such as your therapy type and your geographic location are good ways of coming up the search engine listings i.e. physiotherapy-newyork.com. If someone searches on 'Physiotherapy in New York' you are more likely to appear in the results.
Purpose-built or template website?
There are two types of websites, template websites which you tailor yourself or a personally designed one. The latter is more expensive, it can cost hundreds even thousands of pounds to have designed and built, but you do get (hopefully) a very good site. However, if you have a little time on your hands and a bit of patience, then a template site can easily be achievable for a start-up company. Do bear in mind it is the shop window of your business so should be professional.
A template site is an ideal way to start and can cost very little to set up, the disadvantages are it may not look quite as professional as a purpose-built site and it may take you longer if you're doing it! Have a look at Moonfruit as this is a very easy piece of software to get you started, Wordpress is better for search engine optimisation (apparently) but does take a bit more concentration! An alternative option is to get someone with a design eye to build a template site for you if you know anyone who could help out.
Costs for a template site. Approximately £10 for the purchase of your domain name for 2 years. If you keep the site small, then you can use Moonfruit for a small charge, which includes hosting of your site if you're happy to work using a template.
If you get a purpose built site then you may need to pay for hosting separately. Hosting is a place where your website resides, known technically as a platform. This should only cost around £20 per month or it may come as part of your website builder's package.
It's important to get a quote for a website design and build and also get an estimate for how much any amendments will cost once the site is complete. Please note that Google will take positive note of a site that changes. If a site lays dormant without any changes for months/years, then it presumes the site is not used that much and will reduce it down the search engine rankings, so your competitors will overtake you! So it pays to occasionally give your website builder updates, perhaps add an article to your site, new links, or simply change a few sentences to keep the site fresh. This is why it pays to get a quote for amendments upfront - better still, get a content management system so you can simply log on yourself to make the changes.
Find out if your website builder will include search engine optimisation within the cost. This is important.
A photo speaks a thousand words!
Photo library sites are where you can easily and cheaply download images for your website. Do make sure you properly download these after paying for them rather than just copying them as copyright laws apply and the fines are very heavy! The images you choose should be relevant to the topic on the page they are loaded to. Remember, if you don't have copyright the fines are massive - don't even risk Free images on Google Images as you don't know who loaded them and we both know of people who have received large fines from photo libraries for using illegal images which were downloaded from Google. You have been warned!!
Calming or therapeutic images can be downloaded for a very small investment and you then have lifelong use of them. Remember to download small or low-res (resolution) images for web use but you need high resolution for leaflets and printing.
Words are key on a website
On the home page less is more! You only have a few seconds to capture a reader's attention - if they can't see what they're looking for they'll leave the site in search of something more relevant.
Therefore bullet points in a prominent place detailing the services you cover are valuable:
- You can easily link the bullet points through to a separate page detailing the topic for the more analytical reader
- They are easy to read
- You get your point across concisely
Looking at competitor sites is a good way of working out what copy you want. Obviously you will need to adapt it to suit your own style - plus copyright laws apply - but this gives you a starting point. Simply copy and paste into a Word document and then edit. Remembering all the way through - less is more when it comes to websites.
Try to get the passion you have for your therapy across though. If you talk about how you feel and what you like about your therapy it appeals to the clients.
Remember never to promise outcomes or make guarantees. We are bound to keep our copy truthful, honest and decent. In the UK it's worth visiting the Advertising Standards Authority's website http://www.asa.org.uk/ or http://www.cap.org.uk/ to check what you can and cannot say.
Call to Action
Ensure there is a way for the client to contact you on each and every page. This could be a simple 'contact me' button which takes the client to the contact page or you may wish to list your telephone number on each page. It's best not to put your email address on the website as this will attract spam, have an 'email me' button which has the email address hidden behind it.