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Setting small business website can be quite confusing for any merchant who is making a foray in the online world. The first thing that the merchant needs to do is to decide the scope of the website. This should include key decisions like the number of products that are to be sold, size of the website and acceptance of payments online.

The merchant next needs to locate a web hosting company that provides both hosting and coding facilities. The merchant can also separate the two functions -- that is use a design firm to design and code the site, and use a hosting company to host the domain.

Either way the first step is to get the site designed. The next step is to get it coded using a professional programmer. The merchant can also take the help of the programmer to locate a suitable web host or else the merchant can consult relatives, friends and business associates, who have websites of their own, to locate a hosting company.

The merchant must ideally select a hosting service that can offer 24/seven support over the telephone. The service should be scalable, and reliable. It is important to find out the server uptime. Most web hosts claim a server uptime of 99% but this may not perpetually be true. It is therefore advisable to speak to other webmasters to verify the accuracy of claims.

The merchant must sit with the programmer and study the different ways that can be used to make the site ready for search engine optimization. This is very important for new sites because the most terrific way to get traffic is through search engines. In fact, research shows that eight out of every ten new visitors to a website are search engine referrals.

The merchant similarly needs to spend time with the designer to explain the salient features of the site. This is another critical activity because based on this the designer can draw up sections. The merchant must remember that the best sites are those where the visitor can reach the products with the least number of clicks. Also, the merchant should either write the promotional content himself or hire a professional writer to do so.

Finally, the merchant must integrate the shopping cart with a reliable payment gateway. The merchant must also mention this point prominently on the site so that the visitor feels comfortable while providing credit card information.