So you have set up your company, fairly established and generating some sort of revenue. Why should you take the most important step of starting online?
The online audience is massive ? it's an information resource used by millions worldwide and continues to grow. Having your company information online can be a whole new way of attracting potential customers.
Step One: Choose a domain name
It is important to choose a domain name which is suitable for your business. If you want to be able to say your domain name over the phone, then it should be easy to spell and short to make it easier for your customers.
Usually, it's best to have the name of your website as your domain name, for example; www.yourcompany.co.uk. If your company name has already been taken there are several ways around this, here are some examples:
You could also choose from .com or .co.uk which are the most common and popular, however there are different domains for organisations (.org.uk) or new ones such as .com.uk
Whichever you choose you must check the availability on www.123reg.co.uk
Step Two: Host your Website
What does this mean? Basically, you need to find a space where your website can be built on the Internet. A good metaphor for this, is finding land to build your house on, where the house is your website.
There are 3 main things you need to be aware of when choosing a company to host your site.
How large your site is i.e. total sizes of all pages which make up your site
How much bandwidth it requires i.e. how many visitors want to access it
How your website is built ? if your site uses PHP, ASP, other languages or database driven this may increase the cost.
Step Three: Set Up your Email Accounts
Setting up your email accounts can be an easy stress free experience. There are 4 main components to each account, these are :
These will be provided by your hosting company and all you need to do is add an email account with the above settings. Your hosting company will help you through this.
Step Four: Develop a Website
Either design the site yourself (see article called 'Can I design a website myself?') or hire a professional to design it for you. Ensure you capture all information you want to present to your visitors in an easy to navigate website - where information can be found easily.
There are many aspects to consider when developing a website. The content of your site is incredibly important, you may want to hire a copywriter or someone who is skilled in this area. Another aspect is the overall design and look of the site, depending on what kind of image you want to portray, a good eye for design would really help.
If you want to optimise your website, this is the time to be thinking about it. By optimisation we mean creating developing a website which can be easily read by search engines so that for certain keywords you can be listed at the top of a results page.
The last thing to consider is how you are going to maintain the content of your website. There are 3 basic options to this:
1. Website Maintenance - most web design companies will also offer to keep your website maintained for an hourly fee. So whenever you want to change bits and pieces you would get in touch with the designers who would up date it for you. This is best used for companies who may only want to change small amounts of their site from time to time.
2. Content Managed Systems (CMS) - if you feel that you want to up date your site more often, you can add a CMS. This is basically an easy to use, user friendly module where you can update, add, remove and edit your content and images.
3. DIY - of course you can Do-It-Yourself if you have some HTML knowledge (if your site is HTML) or are willing to put some of your time aside to learn. However, if your site is designed using Flash this may get a lot more technical.
Step Five: SEO Submission
Once your website is completed, you want to attract visitors to your site. The first step to allowing people to find you is to submit your website to search engines. The most important reason for this is so that search engines know you are out there, and if you get nothing else from it - at least when a user types in your company name, you should appear at the top of the search engines results. This is beneficial for anyone who may have heard from company name and wants to find your website on the Web.
Another important step is to add your web address to as many free directories as possible as this increases your page rank with search engines.
Step Six: Internet Marketing
There are millions of sites out there trying to get that number 1 position on search engines by optimisation, and unfortunately not everyone can have it! The more common keywords are exceptionally difficult and with search engines continually changing their method for ranking websites this has become a less effective way of Internet Marketing.
A much more proven Internet Marketing technique is Pay Per Click. The majority of search engines have premium listings where they sell the top positions on their results pages. The way they work is explained in more detail in the article 'How does Pay Per Click work'. However in a nutshell, the general idea is as follows:
You enter a price for every keyword you think a potential customer of your company would enter into a search engine, on average it is around 30p.
Every time a visitor clicks on that link they will be taken to your site.
You only pay when someone actually clicks on your link.
If more than one company put a price on a certain keyword, the company who has put the highest price gets the top position.
Other ways to attract visitors to your site is to place banners on other related websites which have a larger number of visitors. The banner would then have a link to your website.
Step Seven: Include your website on any stationery and promotional material
Now that you are set up, you can start publishing your website on any printed material so that your customers and clients are aware of it.
And that's it! Of course, this is just a summary, but in essence its the basic steps in having a presence online and getting the most out of it.
Elaborations Ltd is a Design company with offices in West London. It was founded in 2003 by Brad Bagherian. Elaborations specialises in helping small to medium businesses create an image with an impact. A company's image is just as important as its products and services, so we produce designs and create an image to give potential customers that crucial first impression and reflect what their company is all about. The main area which we concentrate on is presenting that image on the web, website design and development, as well as graphic design, internet marketing and multimedia.