These days, every company needs an online presence, even if you aren't selling a product that can be sold online. This can simply be a means of providing the necessary contact information for people searching for you, your company, your product or your service, so that any potential customer can get in contact with you. For companies selling products that can be sold online, this is even more important.
Credit: MorguFileThese days many customers, especially the younger ones - and that includes many who are actually adults - look for a company online first. Even if they know who you are, they are quite likely to search on Google for you rather than looking it up in a phone book. There was even a case in Canada where it was ruled that detainees had the right to internet access so that they could search on Google, or other search engine, for a legal representative. Although the detainee in question was offered classified directories (the Yellow Pages) as well as the phone's directory assistance, he just did not understand them or consider them to be a viable means of searching. This shows that, if you want your company to be visible to all, it is essential to have a web presence.
With local search becoming even more common, where people are searching online for companies in their own town, city, region etc., it is becoming more and more essential to have your contact details where those looking for them can find them.
Sites have Evolved
In the early days of company sites, just as the World Wide Web was starting to come into its' own with improved internet connections making it much faster to browse and search online, many of these sites were poorly planned - if, indeed, they were planned at all - and often didn't even fulfil the most basic requirements of a company website. Even big companies, who had obviously been told they needed a website, still didn't know what they were doing. Looking at some of these early websites, you could just imagine the conversation that resulted in their creation.
"We need a website!"
"What's a website?"
"I don't really know, but our company needs one!"
"I don't know that either. Let's hire someone to build one."
Credit: SXC.HUThis resulted in a lot of sites that initially had no value for either the company or the customer. They suffered from things such as a lack of contact details - what's the point of attracting potential customers if they can't contact you? - and were often poorly planned. Even though the sites themselves were sometimes quite well designed, they were often still useless, with further problems such as no portfolio for service work, no examples, no product listings. These sites did not actually accomplish anything other than costing money to develop and maintain.
Choosing a Company Name, If you don't Already Have One
For companies that are not yet established, one important factor to consider these days, when coming up with company name, is to see if the domain name is available to buy by checking with a domain name registrar, such as GoDaddy. The name preferably wants to be easy to remember and type in, and, if possible, you don't want to have to add something like "ltd" or "llc" onto your domain to be able to get it. These can make your domain harder to remember and, as having to add suffixes onto your domain name means it's quite likely a competitor has already got the domain you want, also adds the potential of losing customers to your competitor, as users simply type in the name without the suffixes. Make it as easy as possible for people to get to your site.Credit: eGDC Ltd
Choosing a Domain Name
When choosing a domain name, there are a lot of different domain types that can be purchased. ".com" is best domain type to pick, over a country specific one, even if you aren't going to or can't sell internationally. For example, in the UK, this would be ".co.uk" It is actually best to buy both, to stop someone else buying the other, and do a domain level redirect on the one that isn't being used. This service should be available for free from your domain registrar.
If your (existing) company's name is not available as a domain name, you could consider changing the domain name you are buying to include such things as "ltd," your location - e.g., your town, city or country - in the domain name, but as mentioned earlier this is a less than ideal solution.
Domain Level Redirect
This is a, usually free (if it isn't, look for another registrar), means of redirecting traffic from one domain to another URL. For example, your domain of mycompany.co.uk could redirect to mycompany.com. It could even redirect to uk.mycompany.com.
Cybersquatting is what happens when someone registers a domain name that they have no intention of developing, simply because it is already a trademark of another company. This can be illegal. A variant is what frequently when an existing domain name is not renewed by its owner. There are companies that will quickly seek to purchase such non-renewed domains. Older domains are considered to be worth more than their actual renewal value, even if unused, and can be worth a lot more if they already have traffic.
In either case, the owner of the name will attempt to sell it for substantially more than their cost. As it can be much more expensive to buy one of these than a new domain name, it can be an idea to reconsider the domain name you have chosen and select another, rather than paying the premium that would be required here.
The design of your website is very important, and it really shouldn't be done by anyone lacking the relevant experience. Outsourcing this may seem to cost more, but it is far better to pay more upfront than risk creating a horrible looking unusable mess.
The design's creation will need some interaction between you and the web designer. Take a look and see what the competitions sites are like, and make a note of anything you like, or dislike, about how they look or work. There are some web design companies that offer a complete service, including hosting and domain name, but these are often overpriced, so shop around for the best product. Personal recommendations are a plus here, and, when looking at competitor's sites, see if the designer is mentioned to or linked from any sites you like.
When purchasing web design or web hosting that comes with a domain name included in the price, make sure you own the domain name. Some will buy the domain name for you, but actually have it owned by their company, not yours. You don't want to discover that you don't actually own the domain that you have spent time and money developing and building traffic to.
As mentioned earlier, local search is becoming more prevalent and much more important, as people are now searching online for companies and services in their local area, rather than using older, traditional means, such as the phone book. You need to capture this traffic if you provide a local service, as local traffic in this case is much more valuable than traffic from another country. Local searchers are actual potential customers, rather than just idle lookers.
Here are some of the most important tips to remember when creating your company website.
- Make it easy for customers to contact you.
- Choose a name that is easy to remember and type in.
- Make your site easy to use.
- Make sure you own the domain name.
- Ensure you capture local search traffic if your product or service is local.
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