1. Company name as your domain name
You can use your company name as the domain name. Check with official Dutch domain registrar SIDN if the domain name you want to register is still available. If the domain name is still available, you can register it directly after doing the check. Make sure to register your domain name with SIDN before you register with the Business Register at the Netherlands Chamber of Commerce KVK. Otherwise, you may find that someone has beaten you to it and you cannot use your company name in your url.
2. Who is your target audience?
Before you build your website, make sure you know who your prospective customers are. Knowing your target audience will enable you to build a better website. You can use persona's to set up a target audience profile. Persona's are fictitious customers with specific characteristics, such as:
- character traits
- online activities
- what this persona expects from your products and services
3. Ensure the copyright is yours
Once you have registered a domain name and identified your target audience, you can start building your website. There are several parts to build:
- lay-out or format
- source code
- content, f.i. blogs, images, video content, etc.
You can use software that comes with existing website templates, build a website yourself, or hire a third party to build it for you. If you do, make sure the copyright is transferred to you upon completion of the order. If you do not arrange this beforehand, the maker of the website will automatically hold the copyright. You would not be allowed to make changes to the website without the maker's consent. That might cause a lot of hassle, plus extra costs.
4. SEO matters
To get as many visitors on your website as possible, you need to rank well in search engines. To get a high ranking - top 10, or even a featured snippet - you need to optimise your website. This is called Search Engine Optimization or SEO. These are tips for optimising your website:
- write original copy, using lots of synonyms;
- be an authority in your chosen field. For instance, send out newsletters about matters that interest your target audience and that have a link to your products or services;
- update your website regularly. Search engines rank websites that update often higher than 'static' websites;
- place as many useful links to other websites as possible. And get other websites to link to you, preferably websites with more authority than yours. This is called linkbuilding;
- put your main keywords in your titles and subtitles;
- use the same keywords a couple of times in the running text and in the url;
- keep the url as short as possible;
- add a meta description to each article. This short description of what is in the article is often used by search engines to display in the search results.
5. Budget for SEA
Search Engine Advertising, or SEA, is a good way to attract visitors to your website. Make SEA a part of your marketing budget. Most search engines and social media have advertising programmes you can use. As these come at a cost, go for the platforms your target audience uses.
In the ads, use keywords relevant to your target audience. Your ad will appear above the unpaid search results. SEA is paid per click: CPC (cost per click) or PPC (pay per click).
6. Customer reviews
Customer reviews are increasingly important. Prospective customers value these independent opinions about your products and services.
You can add a customer review functionality to your website, so that customers can place a review themselves, or you can place reviews customers have sent you - provided they have given you permission to do so. Make sure you follow the EU privacy regulations.
Do you gather and use your customers' or prospective customers' personal data? Check if you comply with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
7. Safety first
The last thing you want is your website getting hacked, and your customers' personal data in the hands of a hacker. Yet this happens more and more often. What can you do to protect your website and their privacy?
One thing you can do, is use TLS encryption. Transport Layer Security is the latest development, replacing SSL (Secure Sockets Layer). With TLS, you encrypt passwords and other privacy-sensitive data (https). Note: the abbreviations TLS and SSL are often interchanged.
You apply for a TLS certificate at a Certification Authority, or CA. Once you have TLS, a small padlock will appear in your browser address bar. This padlock reassures your customers, and it improves your Google ranking. That means more visitors, and more turnover.
To further ensure the safety of your website, always update to the latest version of the software you are using as soon as possible, to prevent security breaches.
8. Make your website accessible
Internet users with disabilities may have difficulty understanding your website. For instance, people with seeing or hearing disabilities, or a low literacy rate. Improve your website accessibility, for instance by using contrasting colours, video subtitles, and larger navigation buttons.
You can find more accessibility tips in this article (in Dutch).
9. Build a responsive website or an app
A responsive website adapts to the device you are viewing it on: a mobile, a desktop pc, or a tablet. There is little joy in trying to read the small print of a desktop website on your mobile. A responsive website offers you larger print, larger buttons, and no scrolling from left to right, when you are on your mobile. You can also build an app, as an alternative to a responsive website.