Today most businesses need to be found on the web and it`s not difficult to get started. Here`s a 10 step plan.
Having a website now is the norm for businesses, whether it is one or all of the following:
- Tell the world that you exist and how to contact you.
- Give prospective customers a catalogue of your products.
- Sell your products on line.
Businesses can spend thousands annually for a display in the Yellow Pages, but all they need there is the basic entry with a reference to their website. On their website they have unlimited space to display many times the amount of information. They can also change it daily, weekly and monthly – not just once a year.
When your business is registered and you know your products or services you can now plan your website carefully:
- Register a domain name:
- Choose a name that`s relevant to your business and that will help the search engines satisfy searches for products that you sell. If your business name is Sue Smith Co. and you sell labels, www.labelsmith.com will be listed for searches for labels ahead of www.suesmith.com If you have a catchy name, register it before someone else does. Check it`s not similar to an existing name, so your website doesn`t later get confused with another. Avoid names available in your country domain, but which are already taken in the .com or .net version.
- Collect information and pictures to display on the website. There is no practical limit on the quantity of information you can provide on the web. Remember, search engines provide their visitors with websites sorted in the order of relevance to the words in a visitors search. The more relevant information you display, the higher your website will rank.
- Write copy for your home page very rich with words that people will search for when looking for products like yours.
- Key words:
- Search for the key words representing your business on the internet and see how many competitors you have. E.g. If you are selling lingerie don`t be surprised that Google lists 64 million results. But a search for “french lingerie” “size 10” reduces the results to 550. Use this sort of information to decide on the text in your web pages.
- Balance content:
- You need both words and pictures. Don`t fall into the trap of planning a website that looks artistic but has few words. Such websites are left behind by search engines, or rely on very large numbers of links from other website to get listed. We decline to design websites using Flash, as we don`t want disappointed clients.
- If you want more than just your family and friends to find your website, then optimize it for search engines. Your website does need to look attractive, but if people don`t find it in search engines they won`t see how attractive it is. Research Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
- Get quotes from a web designer for developing the website.
- Help them understand what information you want in your website and how you would like it to work.
- They need to know how many web pages, images, products.
- If you are selling online, decide how to charge for delivery, and on payment options.
- Don`t start an advertising campaign before you agree a completion date with a web designer. That sounds obvious, but amazingly we get approached to build websites which are already mentioned in an advertising campaign.
- Be sure to hire a web designer good at search engine optimizing.
- Updating facility:
- Be sure you can easily add / edit the product data after the website goes live. Options are:
- Pay web designers extra for content management systems. (These are usually part of a shopping cart system).
- Pay web designers to update when necessary.
- Learn how to update the website yourself using an HTML editor and FTP program. (These are available for free download).
- Get quotes for hosting the website. You usually don`t need the highest disk space or traffic allowance available. Pay for a basic plan and upgrade when you need to. While cheap hosting may be available in a foreign country, check that you can phone them in your time-zone. Often a web designer is a reseller for a host and may save you money.
- Get listed:
- If preparing the data for your website is taking a long time, it`s a good idea to get at least your home page live and another listed website linked to it. The search engines robots will then find and list your website and be ready to index the content as it is uploaded.
- Incoming links:
- Once you are live, get as many other websites as possible to link to you, as a website`s popularity gets points in seach engine rankings.
- Keep up to date:
- Always keep the information on your website up to date. If visitors guess your data is not current they go elsewhere.
Follow all these steps and succeed on the web. Above all, be search engine friendly and get found. It may sound a lot, but if you plan carefully the pay-off can be huge.
These articles were first published on www.platywebs.com.au and have been re-published on many other websites and ezines over the years. New readers are still finding them to be of value and up to date with today’s conditions. We believe they illustrate common sense and the value of thinking through situations. Please check out the other articles advising on small business, web design, search engine optimisation, web hosting and domain names.