It goes without saying that these days if you have a business you need a website. It is the online home for your business. Where you can be found by a potential client looking for the right landscaper in their area. This is why making a great first impression with that website is so crucial.
We will not be covering how to set up a drag and drop website that you likely see being advertised everywhere. This is because they are very simple to set up. However, we also do not recommend these types of websites for a few reasons. They are more expensive in the long-run for you, they rank poorly in search engine results so your business is less likely to be found online, and they are less flexible with what you can do. We will be instead discussing how to create your own self-hosted website. Do not let this scare you, it is extremely easy to set up.
These days it is so easy to set up a landscaping website, so there really is no excuse to not get one started as soon as possible. We will take you through step-by-step how you can set up your own landscaping website. However, we do understand that this can be overwhelming and not quite what you want to be spending your time on. In this case, we do offer these services that you can find at the end of this post.
Note that this can technically be applied to making any website, including setting up a contractor website.
Building Construction Website
Table of Contents
- Registering a Domain Name
- Choosing a Host and Installing WordPress
- Choosing and Customizing a Theme
- Adding Plugins
- Creating Pages
- Continuing Your Website
Registering a Domain Name
Choosing a Host and Installing WordPress
- Go to your GoDaddy Dashboard where you can find your domain name and click on “Manage”.
- On the next screen you are going to click “Manage DNS”.
- There you will find the Nameservers. After the words “Using Default Nameservers” there is a button titled “Change”. Click that.
- Next you will click on the dropdown that is set to “Default” and change it to “Custom”.
- You will then have to go to your HostGator cPanel and find on the right hand sidebar the two nameservers.
- Copy them one at a time and paste them on the GoDaddy page you previously had open.
- Your Domain and Host are now connected! So you need to add your domain to your host. To do this, click on Create an Addon Domain and type your domain name.
- You have now successfully added your domain! If you do not have a successful message then double check that your nameservers are correctly copied and pasted.
- On the same page you will see a WordPress banner. Click “Create a WordPress Site”. WordPress is an open-source platform that allows you to create your website pages, media, and everything that a visitor sees when they visit your website.
- Choose your domain name from the dropdown and click “Next”.
- Fill in the required fields and click “Install”.
- After the install is complete you will be provided some information, make sure you copy this information down somewhere safe before clicking “Login”.
- Login to WordPress with your information.
Choosing and Customizing a Theme
At this point we are assuming that you already have a landscaping business name and we are moving on from this stage to start your website. However, if you need more help thinking of a business name you may want to check out our post on names for a landscaping business.
What needs to be done next is to register a domain name. Your domain name is the name of your website with a suffix like .com or .ca. Registering your domain name involves going to a website like GoDaddy, doing a quick search for your business name with no spaces, and seeing that it is available.
A quick note on choosing a simple a specific domain name. Keep your domain name as simple as possible. It may be beneficial to think about your domain name while choosing the name for your business. If you come up with a good name for your business, do a quick search on GoDaddy to make sure that it is available and for how much. Domains can get very expensive.
You also want to make sure that you have your country’s suffix in your domain name as you will rank higher in search results when someone from your area searches for a company near them. For example, if you life in Canada and you have a .com suffix on your website you will likely rank lower than other companies with a .ca suffix when somebody in your area is looking for services that you offer.
Once you have found your domain name, you can purchase it through the checkout. This will be a yearly renewal of your domain name to keep it registered. GoDaddy will be trying to add-on other things like privacy protection and what not. This is up to you whether or not you want to purchase these. Privacy protection keeps your private information from being released to the public because by default your information is attached to your domain name. However, if you are a business owner operating out of your house then that information is likely public anyway.
Now that you have your domain name registered, you need a place for it to live. This is called a host. We host our websites through HostGator. They were recommended to us when we first started and they have never let us down. If there is a problem, their customer service is always available and willing to help solve it. Plus their plans are extremely inexpensive and they have a simple WordPress Install. You can start with their Hatchling Plan where you can register a single domain which will be your business.
Once you have found a plan that works for you (if you are only going to have your landscaping website hosted, likely the least expensive plan will work for you), then you can follow the checkout. You will be asked to register a new domain or that you already have one on this screen:
HostGator does provide registering domain services like GoDaddy, but we always recommend to separate these two for security purposes. Once you click the tab that says “I Already Own This Domain” then you will be asked for the plan you choose and personal billing information.
Once you have completed this process you have purchased your hosting plan and are ready to connect your domain name to your host. To do this you will need to follow these steps.
You have now set up your website with WordPress and are well on your way to creating your website! This is exciting. The rest of the steps in this guide have to do with creating your pages and setting up your website for success. If you ever need to get back to your WordPress Dashboard to edit your website, you simply got to your domain name with “/wp-admin/”. For example, www.YOURDOMAIN.com/wp-admin/. This will take you to the login page for your website.
A theme on WordPress is the overall look and feel of a website. It is the foundation to what your website is and what the visitor will experience. There are paid and free themes to choose from on WordPress, and for now we are going to stick with a free one. Generally this means that you will be limited to what you can edit including colors and certain other items.
WordPress requires no prior knowledge or experience with coding. However, it would be beneficial to know the basics of HTML and CSS to help improve your website and to follow best practices for search engine optimization (the practice of ranking high in search engine results). You can learn more about HTML and CSS here.
The first step after installing WordPress and being logged on to your dashboard is to choose a them to install. This is an extremely important choice and one worth putting a little bit of thought into before diving in to customizing it.
WordPress has a few themes that are free and fully functional including Twenty Fourteen, Twenty Fifteen, Twenty Seventeen, and University. Though I would not consider either of those for your landscaping website except maybe University. There are other themes available for free that are not fully customizable, but are great for landscaping websites.
A few suggestions for you include:
- VW Gardening Landscaping
- SKT Gardening Lite
To search for themes and eventually install one, simply:
- Click on the left sidebar the “Themes” button under “Appearance”.
- Click on “Add New Theme”.
- On this next screen you can search themes by keyword such as “Landscaping” or “Business”, or you can search the most popular themes. It is best to search for popular themes as they have frequent updates which help the security of your website.
- At any point you can “Preview” a theme to see what it looks like on your website. You are able to customize it to the way you like it (which we will cover late).
- When you are satisfied with the theme you have found, click “Activate”.
- You are now ready to customize your theme. Click on “Customize” under the “Appearance” menu in the left sidebar.
- This will take some time and require you to move through the customization screen and all of its options for your specific theme. Each theme has different tabs within the customization screen, so we cannot cover everything here in detail.
In addition to customizing the theme, there are a few other options that you can choose to customize in the “Settings” menu on the left sidebar.
The two things I suggest that you change immediately are:
- Under the “Reading” tab in “Settings”, change the “Your Homepage Displays” to “A Static Page” and then choose a page in the dropdown for your Home Page. If none exists, wait until we create your Home Page below.
- Under the “Permalinks” tab in “Settings”, change your “Custom Settings” to “Post Name”. This will help should you choose to write some blog posts for your website.
Plugins add more functionality to your WordPress website with the simple installation of them. Anything that you want done to your website, but you do not know how to code it in, simply search for it in a plugin and install it to your website.
You can search for and install plugins by clicking on the “Plugins” tab on the left sidebar of your WordPress dashboard. You are able to see the plugins you already have installed, “Add New” plugins, and activate plugins that have been installed. It is crucial that you click activate for a plugin to be working on your website.
Here is a list of plugins we recommend you install immediately to add some much-needed functionality to your website:
- Classic Editor
- Contact Form 7
- WP Force SSL
- WP Super Cache
- Compress JPEG and PNG Images
- Meta Slider
- Instagram Feed WD
- Super Socializer
- Yoast SEO
WordPress recently updated to a new version that makes editing a creating pages more of a drag and drop experience. We will not be covering this style of editing your pages as it is still in its infancy at the time of this post and is working through some bugs.
The classic editor is what we will be covering in this post. It will need to be installed and activated as a plugin.
This allows you to create a simple contact form on your website. Visitors will need to get in touch with you somehow when visiting your website. This is the most simple way to create and customize one.
SSL creates a secure website for your visitors. Your http:// will be changed to https:// with this plugin. However, you will want to make sure to install and activate this a few days after you start your website as it takes some time to activate your website on HostGator and you will not be able to edit it until it is active.
This plugin will speed up your website for returning visitors by storing some of the information on the visitors computer so it will load quicker when they return.
Speaking of speeding up your website, images are the main culprit of slowing down a website. Once you upload an image under the “Media” tab in the left sidebar, you can view it and compress it to a smaller size so it loads faster for visitors.
To showcase some of your portfolio on any page in the form of a slideshow.
Great for the sidebar of your website to show off and drive traffic to one of your social media channels where you can showcase more of your portfolio and business.
If you want customers sharing or liking your social media channels then this plugin is how you can make it easy for them to do so with buttons throughout your website for easy sharing.
We are not going to get too deep into SEO in this post as it could be the theme of a whole website, but Yoast SEO is a good plugin to help optimize your pages and posts to get on to the top results of search engines.
Now we need to add pages to your website. There are a few pages that we definitely need to add and edit to make sure that visitors who view the website understand exactly what they are looking at and how to navigate the website.
Pages we need to add include:
- Home (if a home page has not yet been added by default)
- Blog (if you plan on posting blog posts to your website)
These are the pages we recommend you add, though feel free to add any others that you would want including a pricing page or any other relevant pages.
Let us shortly discuss what we need to do on each page:
Your home page is likely going to be your most visited page. That means it needs to make a good first impression and get your customer one step closer to clicking that Contact button. This impression begins with a good logo. It also includes a captivating photo from your portfolio to take their breath away. Choose you best photo and/or a photo of a project that you prefer to do for customers.
Include a short description of what your company does for customers, your experience, and perhaps a short description of each page with a link to the page. For example, you could include a shortened About page on your home page with a link to the About page. You could also include a piece from your portfolio with a link to your Portfolio page, a testimonial that leads to your Testimonial page, and a contact form at the bottom.
This is where you need to include a professional picture of yourself and perhaps other people in your business with a description about yourselves, your experience, and what your business can do for the customer. Include captivating phrases like, “We transform your backyard into an oasis.” Here you can also include a customer testimonial and perhaps before and after shots of some work you have done.
I like to keep the contact page as simple as possible so as to not confuse the customer. A simple contact form can be placed on this page by copying the short code that is provided by the Contact Form 7 plugin.
A portfolio page can be as simple as a list of photos that customers can click on to see your work, categorized photos based on the type of project it is, or a series of before and after photos to showcase how you can transform their space.
Some people include all of their testimonials on their About page. However, I am against doing this because if a customer is coming to your site and they want to find the testimonials they do not want to go searching around the pages of your website looking for them. They want the page labeled testimonials to quickly click on to view it. Make it as easy as possible for them to find this section of your website.
Organize your testimonials with a quote or a professional video of the testimonial, as well as photos of what the project was that was done for the customer. A photo or video of the customer in front of that project with your business sign is a bonus as well as it shows that it is legitimate.
By default your Blog page will store your blog posts in order of most recently published. There is no editing to be done on this page.
Editing in WordPress is as simple as writing in a Word Document including left, center, and right justifying, adding titles, headers, and subheaders, and creating paragraphs and adding photos.
You can get more and more complex with the design of this, but as long as the page gets your point across to your customer, you should be satisfied with the way it looks.
Continuing Your Website
If you want to start to get really technical and begin to capture some customer information, website analytics, and help you market to potential customers who visited your website, then there are some things you need to add to your website and create accounts for.
This begins to get advanced in some cases, so we are only going to mention and describe the different things you can create accounts for and add to your website and how this will help you in the future. In future posts we may dive deeper in these subjects, though if you would like more information or for someone to help you with implementing them into your website you can contact us.
- Google Analytics
- Google Adwords
- Mail Chimp
- Facebook Pixel
I would not hesitate to set up your Google Analytics to begin to understand who and how people are interacting with your website. For example, you can discover what country people are from that are visiting your website, what pages they are visiting, and how long they stay on a page. All of this information can be analyzed to help improve your website in the future.
Whether you are going to be buying ads on Google to drive more traffic to your website, Adwords is a great account to have to understand what people are searching for on Google and how to optimize your pages for this. They have a great keyword research tool that helps you know the amount of traffic a search like “landscaper in insert your city here” gets. Again, this becomes fairly advanced and into the subject of SEO.
If you want to learn more about SEO, you can visit MOZ to understand how SEO works.
Should you be wanting to capture some potential customer email addresses or existing customers that you can email about your upcoming promotions, Mail Chimp is an excellent free platform (until you reach a certain number of emails) for email marketing.
Create a Facebook Page for your business and install a Facebook Pixel onto your website. This will help you send ads to these same people on the Facebook Ad platform which is a great way to get customers contacting you for your services.
You can dive further down the rabbit hole of improving your website and how you can work to gain more customers through various tools. However, having a website and these tools at your disposal is a great start.
If you need help with your website, feel free to contact us. We do offer services to build a website for you if this is too much. Contact us and reference this post and we will be happy to help with your website!
We would love to hear from you about this guide, your comments, your suggestions, and how it helped you. Please leave a comment below.
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