I don’t make websites for a living so I’m not going to go into detail about every single tiny thing you need to have a decent site, I’m just going to provide an overview of the different things you need to think about when you’re setting it up. Having a website will help your business in the long run, so it’s important to have one that appeals to prospects.
Virtual Assistant website checklist
Get a WordPress site
Head on over to WordPress and sign up for a business account because amazingva.com will get you clients but amazingva.wordpress.com will make you look like a right amateur.
It’s well known that WordPress is a great platform because it has a ton of themes and plugins, it’s easy to customise, secure, easy to update and grow with your business, Google loves it, most themes are optimised for mobiles, it’s established and you have complete control over it.
Note: you need to make sure your theme is responsive – this means it’s optimised for mobile devices. Google did an update in April 2015 (known as mobilegeddon) which meant some sites were penalised for not being responsive. Test the responsiveness of your website here.
Buy a domain name
Use a site like Go Daddy to find and buy a domain name and always go for a dot com if you can. It’s often worth buying the .co.uk version (and/or all the other variations) and setting up a redirect to the dot com site so no one else can take that domain name. The domain name only costs from around £6 a year so it’s worth it.
It’s not always advisable to get your hosting from the same company as your domain name because it’s easier if you later decide to move your site and it’s also more secure. Hosting costs around £60 per year and I can personally recommend Bluehost.
Websites act as your shop window and shops can be costly things. If you have an unprofessional crappy website then people will think you’re crappy too. I really cannot emphasise how important it is that your website looks the shizzle and reflects the calibre of VA you are.
Get a good Web Developer and keep them happy
You’d (hopefully) never wire your own house so hire someone who knows what they’re doing and who’ll make a good job of it. A Web Developer can install and check for all sorts of things that you don’t even know exist.
In my experience Web Developers can often be unreliable and hard to get hold of, so be clear about what you want, the timeframe and the costs – and know what will and won’t be included in those costs.
My Developer has told me all about nightmare clients who are vague, don’t know what they want and mess him about, so communication is the key here. Do not disrespect your Developer as they can take your site down in an instant!
If you want to learn how to build your own WordPress website (in just one afternoon), then consider my Beginners WordPress website course. The first section is even free.
Decide on the design
Can the reader find everything they need or are they bombarded with superfluous information? Does it have a good User Interface (UI) and is it easy to navigate? Is it clean, uncluttered, easy to read on a small screen and reflect who you are, what you do and for whom? Is it branded well?
Basically, is it easy to use and does it look good?
(You can find out if yours needs improving by using the checklist on this blog post.)
Decide on the content
I wrote the content for my own Virtual Assistant website but later paid a Copywriter to check it over for me. It didn’t cost much and I’m confident that the grammar and spelling are all correct – it’s very easy to miss something when it’s your own site.
I display my rates on my site but some VAs don’t. Personally I wouldn’t buy something if I didn’t know how much it costs, but it’s up to you.
(Read my post on whether you should display your rates on your website)
These are essential.
If you don’t have any then get some by doing an hour of free work or skill swap with another business owner to get some.
I used to have an entire page of testimonials but decided to add them to a Rotating Quote Widget instead as it looked nicer and freed up a tab that could be used for something else. It also meant that I could break long testimonials up into snippets which made it look like I had a billion of them!
(Read my post on how to get testimonials when you’re just starting out)
You don’t need a blog on your website but it does drive traffic and Google loves them.
On my own VA website I write how-to articles which demonstrate my expertise and case studies so potential new clients can see what I do for people similar to them. If you use social media then post a link to your blog or website each day along with other content that your target market will find useful.
In the Ultimate Guide to Local SEO that I had written by an SEO consultant, she highly recommends having a blog to help get you on the front page of Google.
Always remember that the purpose of a blog is to provide information. There should be a reason for each post and if you don’t have anything to say, don’t know who you’re writing for or can’t be bothered, then don’t have a blog on your website.
I have a post called ‘Do you need a blog and what should you write about?‘ that will help you decide!
Add social media
I personally don’t like Twitter Feeds on website home pages. They look tatty, they confuse Google and someone might get the wrong idea of you just by seeing certain tweets that you’ve posted. However, if you use social media well or offer it as a service, then your own social media needs to look awesome and you should definitely have Follow icons on your site.
* I have a feed on this site because I’m not offering services and I’ve set it to only show tweets I’ve favourited so I can impress visitors!
Don’t link to social media accounts that you haven’t updated for ages as you’ll look bad. If you do add social media follow links then definitely wait until you’re using each platform like a pro (especially if you offer SM as a service!) and use a plugin (I use one called Social Sharing Toolkit) to make it easy for others to share your content and follow you.
Remember that the point of social media is to drive traffic to your website not link away!
Make sure it’s search engine optimised (SEO)
There’s no point in having a website if Google doesn’t know it exists and it doesn’t come up when someone searches for a VA either in your area or niche.
I use a fantastic free plugin by Yeost called WordPress SEO that lets you optimise each page and post by writing your own meta descriptions.
A full description with screenshots on how to use this plugin as well as how to ensure Google knows you exist is also in The Ultimate Guide to Local SEO.
Tell Google to keep an eye on it
You need to register your Virtual Assistant website’s site map with Google Webmaster Tools so you know if there are any problems crawling it. Webmaster Tools can be a bit complicated so make sure you read up on it. All this info is also in the Ultimate SEO guide I had made for you.
Assess your stats
Remember to add Google Analytics to your site so you can see how people are finding you and what your most popular pages are. Connect your analytics to you Webmaster Tools too.
Don’t let it stagnate
Regularly make sure your site is up do date with your current services, rates, testimonials etc. I usually check mine every three months or so and always during the quiet Christmas season – which is actually a great time to prepare your business for the New Year.
There are many different ways to get traffic to your website when Google doesn’t yet know you exist. Here’s a list of them.
As with all the info I provide, spend some time on the Internet reading up on each subject to make sure you fully know what you’re doing. And when writing your website copy always think who is going to read this?, why are they reading this? and what do they want to know? Then tell them just that.
- If you want to learn to build your own WordPress website, I have a step-by-step online video course for beginners that I know you’ll love. Find out more.
- If you want to make sure your WordPress website is on the front page of Google for your area (especially if you don’t have any other niche apart from your location), then my Ultimate Guide to Local SEO course is a complete lifesaver. Find out more.
- If you’re looking for a reliable company to host your website then I recommend Bluehost.