You are looking to set up a website for your small business but you are working on shoestring budget? You are in luck! Because I’m about to offer you a better advice: a free website which you can easily set up yourself (without losing some hair!)
Plus the bonus: it will be Google-search friendly too!
Years of experience tells me, most of the times people didn’t really need a full-fledged website — especially when they were just starting out, and they were still figuring out what to put on the website. Trust me, I have come across enough of people who didn’t even know what to talk about for their “About” page!
So don’t waste time going about finding people to help you create the website without a proper plan yourself. Don’t even bother to sign up for one of those DIY website builders that offer free plan. Here’s what you can do to get yourself a free website.
Go to business.google.com
You should arrive on the Google My Business home page.
Click Get on Google.
Login with your Google Account.
If you already have a Gmail account, it is already considered your Google Account. If you haven’t got one, or you don’t want to use your current Gmail account, click Create account to get (another) one. Google has a a helpful guide on how to create a Google Account.
Upon successful login, you will land on the “Find your business” page.
You may enter your business name in the search field and look up if Google already has your business name on the map.
There could be two outcomes:
- Google found some names that match your business name;
- Google found nothing.
If you see your business name in the found matches, click on it to proceed to next step: “claim” your business.
Make sure to check “I am authorised…” and Continue.
If Google found nothing, or none of the returned results match your business name, click Add your business to proceed to create your Google My Business page.
In the following screen, you will get to fill in some basic information about your business.
Pro tip: If you are operating your business from home/virtual address, and you don’t need/want customers to come to your location, check the “I deliver goods and services…” option. Doing so will ensure Google doesn’t display your home/virtual address in the search result.
In next step, you are presented with two methods on how should Google send you the verification code. You may click “Why verify” to find out why is it necessary for Google to verify you.
If you choose to have Google mail you the code, you must make sure the address shown is correct, otherwise, you may choose to have Google call you (from an automated voice system). Again, you must make sure the phone number shown is correct.
If neither the address and phone number is correct, your next option is Continue and verify later. Trust me, this may be your best choice most of the time.
Next, get ready for Google’s warm welcome! You may click Get started to let Google show you around if you are not in a hurry. Or you may click Skip tour to move on.
Once you have gone through (or skipped) the tour, you will be directed to your spanking new Google Business page.
As you can see, the “Verify now” button is everywhere, but don’t click on it yet since you still need to get your address correctly entered. To do so, click on Edit (where the arrow is pointing).
Next you will be editing your business profile. Click the pencil icon at the end of each row to make changes to corresponding information. Start with your company name, then address (this is when you may finally enter the correct, full address.) Enter your phone number, website URL. Under Category, choose the closest description for your business. Optionally, you may also enter business hours.
Last but not least (actually rather important): Fill in a short introduction of your company/business. Spend some time on this section. This is where you should tell people about what you do, and why should they do business with you. You don’t need to perfect it the first round. You may come back to edit/update it as and when you need to.
Click Done editing to save the changes and go back to your profile page.
You should probably upload some pictures, such as your business logo, and if you own a storefront, you may upload some snapshot of your shop exterior and interior. People like it when they see you have a physical premise.
Click on each section to upload relevant pictures. It is worth noting that the picture you intend to upload must be at least 250 pixels wide and 250 pixels tall. If you don’t know what this means, you should get someone to help you, eg a web/graphic designer.
Pro tip: Scroll lower and you will see Additional photos, use this to upload pictures related to your business. For example, if you are selling physical products, you may showcase some of your products here.
Lastly, you should be ready to let Google verify your business. Click the Verify now button. Once again, Your address is shown, this time should be correct since you have already edited it.
You might also see that your only option now is to let Google mail you the code. Click on Mail me my code to proceed.
In the following screen, you get to check your address for one last time. Inside Optional contact name, you might want to enter your name to make sure the mail is attention to your name.
If you are pretty sure everything is in order, go ahead and click the Send postcard button!
Honestly, Google can be quite long winded… click Continue to finish this.
You are directed back to your profile page. From here, you may continue to make edits to your profile, or you may just close the browser and move on with your life. Notice the button above has now changed to “Enter code”. This is for you to enter the verification code once you have received the postcard from Google (which you will receive in 1-2 weeks.)
In case you wonder how does the postcard look:
You may return to your profile page again by going to business.google.com. Make sure you login using the same Google Account you have used for creating the profile (refer earlier steps).
Upon login, you will find your business listed in the page. Click MANAGE LOCATION to proceed.
The following screenshot shows multiple profiles as I’m helping couple of my clients to manage their Google Business Profile.
So what happens after you have verified your profile. When people search for your company or your business, chances are, your company information will show up like the following:
From here, people will find your phone number, or website link, or take a look at the pictures you have uploaded.
Here’s to sum things up:
- By creating your Google My Business page (aka your free website), you have established a presence on the internet — not just any presence, but a Google presence!
- If done right, your Google My Business page link will show up in the first page of search results when people look up your business name, or your business category. This is like instant (and free!) SEO that you have just done it yourself in 20 mins!
- Eventually, when business picks up and you have bigger budget, you may come back to me (or any other web designer) to talk about how to set up a proper website for your business. And you can add your website address to your Google My Business page to help people find your website. Another SEO score!
So, looks like there is really such thing as free website in this world! Go ahead and claim your free website!