What is a website actually?

What is a website?

No seriously, what is a website?

If you’re just starting out with creating a site for your business and this is the first website you’ve ever helped create, it’s the first question that you’re going to ask.

And on the outside looking in, it seems like a pretty simple answer. As you’ll see, you don’t technically need a lot of things to have a website.

But creating a sites that’s actually going to help your business grow, especially in the digital landscape, makes the definition a lot more complicated.

There is a lot more that goes on with those websites. There’s a lot more thinking and planning you have to do to make sure it’s built correctly. And the backend will feature many moving parts.

So let’s go ahead and answer this one “simple” question: what is a website?

The simple definition of a website

So if you were to go to the dictionary, specifically the Merriam-Webster dictionary, you would find this as the definition of a website.

A website is “a set of related web pages located under a single domain name, typically produced by a single person or organization.”

That seems simple enough, but really we can technically go even further with our simplicity for the definition of a website. Really, all you truly need to have a website is web hosting, a domain and just one, single HTML file, usually named index.html.

That’s it. That’s all that really constitutes a website. If you have those three things, you have everything you need for a website. People can visit that page through their computers … and that’s about it.

But technically everything else is “extra”. You don’t necessarily need it for a functional site. Although as you’ll see later on, you really do need those extra things.

And these days sites can be anything. They can be a simple online brochure so that people know your business exists online and that Google can find you. Or it could be a big online store so that theoretically anyone anywhere in the world can buy your products. Or it could be a social media website or a community website with a forum section.

So really, a website really needs just three things. But as you’ll see, from those three things you can do a lot to help your business grow.

Taking a step back

But in order to really understand what a website that actually helps your business is, you need to take a step back and look at the larger picture.

The truth of the matter is that a website is essentially a tool that helps your business accomplish your goals.

Is the goal of your business to sell products? Then your website likely needs to be an extension of your physical store and allow people to buy your products online.

Do you do services for other people? Then your website needs to be a place where you can generate leads, both from referrals and people searching online for something you offer.

Do you want to build a community of people? Then your website needs to be a place where people can talk to other people with similar interests. (And from a technical aspect, that’s not that hard to do any more.)

So when it comes to your website and what your website needs to be for your business, you need to take some time to think about it. Figure out what are the goals of your business. What constitutes success? Then figure out how your new website can fit into those goals and help your business achieve them.

Because at the end of the day, a website isn’t just web hosting, a domain and at least one HTML file. It’s so much more than that. It’s a way for you to grow your business online, no matter if you sell online or not.

Intro to digital marketing

To really understand what a website is and what it can be for your business, you really need to pull back even further and start to learn about digital marketing. Because the reality is that a website is just one piece of the larger digital marketing puzzle?

What is digital marketing? Well, in its simplest definition digital marketing is any marketing effort that you do online, whether that’s through your own website, through email, your social media or even online ads.

And as you can see, there are a lot of different elements to digital marketing. In addition to your website, you have content marketing (which directly relates to your website), email marketing, social media marketing and online advertising. And they all have to move in sync with each other to be effective.

So if you’re still in the learning phase of building a new website for your business, take some time to learn about digital marketing. You don’t need to be an expert in it overnight, but it definitely helps to know what it is, how to use it and how it can help your business.

To help get you started, here are some resources where you can start your digital marketing learning journey. And if you have LinkedIn Learning, a search for “digital marketing” will definitely help you get started.

Start Your Learning Journey

Are you looking to create a website for your business, but aren’t sure where to begin? Are they a confusing topic for you? That’s okay. Download the Ultimate Small Business Website Guide eBook today and start your learning journey. Yes, you’ll learn how to build it, step-by-step, but you’ll also learn a lot more. We talk about what it really is and what you need to think about to create a successful site. And we discuss why businesses need to have one. Oh, and it’s all free. So download it today!

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How a website fits into digital marketing

So the big question now becomes how does a website fit into digital marketing? And like a lot of things, there’s no one right answer. Only what works best for your situation.

I actually wrote a more in-depth article over this question before, which I highly recommend that you check out. But here is sort of the abbreviated version.

Your site is the cornerstone of all of the different elements of digital marketing. Everything you do online for your business comes right back to your website.

The biggest example is content marketing. You need a website in order to do content marketing so that you have some place to host your content and then direct people to your sales funnel. That’s pretty easy.

Also with social media, a lot of your posts are going to direct people to your website. So you need to make sure you have your site in place to do effective social media marketing.

For email marketing, you need to have your own site that you can place links to for people to get to your website. And for online ads, like Google Ads, you need a website with landing pages that can get people who click on your ad to jump into your sales funnel.

So as you can see, a website is truly at the center of everything you do online for your business. In order to have an effective digital marketing strategy, you need to have an effective site.

So what exactly is a website?

Now with all of that in mind, let’s ask the question one last time: what is a website?

Well, it can be just a simple online brochure that talks about your business, has your business’ location and contact information and nothing more. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, especially if you’re just starting out.

It also can be an extension of your physical store, where people can browse your digital aisle and buy the products that they want or need from the comfort of their homes.

Or it could be something in the middle.

But most of all, it’s your business’ storefront on the digital main street, helping people to find you in their Google searches and turning them into paying customers or clients. It’s how you grow your business online.

So in short, a website is not just a domain, web hosting and at least one HTML file. It is an extension of your marketing efforts, whether you just need an online brochure, an online store or something more. And it can be a great tool for your business.

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What can you do with this information?

Now, what can you do with this information?

Well, hopefully this is really helpful if you’re creating your first site. I hope this helps you think about it in a different way. I’ve found that people who are just getting into websites to help their business need to be thinking about it as more than just that simple definition I mentioned at the start of this article.

The reality is that if you build it correctly, it can be like an around-the-clock employee that’s helping your business. And once you start to think about it in that way, it can really help you figure out what you want and need your website to do.

So from this I hope you take some time to think about how you can use digital marketing and a new website to grow your business online. What do you want and need from them to make your business more successful? This is going to take some time, but that’s okay. All things good take some time to think about and build.

And then you might even think about those other elements of digital marketing and how they can help your business as well.

But I really hope that this post has started to help you see websites in a new light, and that if built right, they can help your business grow in the digital space.

Download the free eBook

Looking to learn more about how to create a website that works for your business? No problem! Download the free Small Business Websites eBook that will walk you through how to create a new website AND tell you why you should do certain things in order for the site to help your business grow. It’s the best place to start your learning journey.

Create a website that fits your budget

Are you ready to go ahead and create your new website for your business but worried about the cost? Don’t worry. We can work together to create a professional website that doesn’t break the bank. You can get your business online (and into Google) and start your digital marketing, plus be ready to expand the site if you need to later down the road.

Create a custom website design for your business

Are you ready to go ahead and create a custom website design for your business that helps it stand out online? Great! Let’s work together to figure out what you need your website to do and then create a design that does that and makes your business look amazing. It’s the perfect way to make that next step for your business in the digital world.