What are the steps to establishing a web presence?
1) Select a domain name
2) Select a web hosting company
3) Create a web site
4) Promote your web site
Things You Will NeedInternet Access
Domain Name: This is
your business address on the web. It can consist of:
1) Your business name
2) key services you provide
3) key words associated with your business or product
4) the name of your top selling product or service.
Here are a couple of general rules when selecting a domain name:
1) Select a domain name ending in ".com" - Other domain endings (.net, .org, etc.) make it harder for customers to find your site, especially if the .com domain is owned by a competitor.
2) Avoid hyphens and numbers â€“ These can be confusing for customers to remember.
3) Shorter is better â€“ Easier for customers to remember and type. If you're a well established company with a long name I would go with it as you've already built-up a lot of recognition that you don't want to lose.
Registering a domain name typically costs $10/year for a multi-year commitment to $20 for a one year commitment. I use godaddy.com to register domains as they tend to have low prices and regular sales.
Web Hosting Company:
A firm that provides Internet accessible space for individuals, businesses, and organizations to store their files and web sites.
Here are a couple of areas to consider when selecting a hosting company:
1) Contract Terms â€“ Are you locked in to a long-term contract? Are you required to pay in advance for services? Do you receive a discount for paying by the quarter or year? Are there setup fees?
2) Customer Support - What are the hours/days for customer support? Methods for contacting customer support (email, phone, chat)? Is there an online knowledge base for the company?
3) Data Center â€“ Is my data regularly backed-up? Does the data center have emergency power in case of an outage? What size/speed is the data center's internet connection?
4) Account Access â€“ How can I access my account (FTP, Secure FTP, Shell, etc.)?
5) Account Features â€“ How much storage space? Wordpress, Drupal, Joomla, etc. support? Windows and Linux servers? Email Accounts? Web Site statistics?
Hosting costs for a small web site typically run $10-12/month or $100-$120/year. I like Host Gator for web hosting. They have nice reliability and decent prices.
Create A Web Site:While the first two steps can be accomplished fairly quickly this step is more time consuming but critical to the process. You need to ask yourself a few questions to determine the key elements that should be incorporated into your web site:
1) What action do I want web site visitors to take when they land on my site?
Buy a product or service, contact you for an estimate, sign-up for a newsletter or email list are a few possibilities.
2) What information do I need to provide my web site visitors to help them take action?
About Us Page, Contact Us Page, Products/Services Pages, Testimonials, Location, Hours of Operation, Phone Number, etc.
Once You've answered these questions you will have a better idea of your proposed web site's content and complexity. Now you can move on to selecting software if you are going to build it yourself, or selecting a designer to build it for you.
A wide variety of tools exist for developing a web site. Popular tools include: Adobe DreamWeaver, Microsoft Expression Studio, WordPress, Drupal, and Joomla. Each web designer will have their preferred tools. My personal preference is WordPress which began as a platform for bloggers but has expanded into a full featured Content Management System (CMS). WordPress is free and available for download at wordpress.org.
If you decide that outsourcing the web site construction to a web designer is preferable then you need to start interviewing prospective designers. You should ask for references, review their portfolio, and compare their rates and contract terms. Setting milestone payments for the project is a good way to ensure that work is progressing in a timely manner.
Promote Your Web Site:
Your new website is done and looks great! Now you have to let the world (or at least your target audience) know about it. If you are a local business it is critical that you register with the local versions of the key search engines (Google, Yelp, Bing, Yahoo). The easiest way to do this is to go to getlisted.org which is a free service for creating your local search engine accounts. You should also create a Facebook Page (don't forget to place a link to it on your website).
Along with registering for local search be sure to include your new web address in your email signature, on your stationary, and on company vehicles.
You can also hire a Search Engine Optimization expert to tweak the code on your web site to make it as search engine friendly as possible.