Get Online, Get in Google and Get On With Your Business
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Today's Internet is full of 'get rich quick', 'sell our products', 'become a millionaire like me' schemes that aim to lure the everyday worker into buying into their system (hence making them richer while you still work). This article will detail the simple steps required to successfully get online with your own products, services or information in a way that will build your business in a professional manner.
- Choose a Domain that Represents Your Company
Unless you're a large company that has a strong brand name already (like Google, Yahoo and Ebay), choosing a domain name that is related to your company's goals (whether now or in the future) is important. Even sites such as YouTube and MySpace, although unique in appearance, relate very well to the products and services they provide. In choosing a domain name, it's best develop a few general key terms that cover your online mission, and search any domain provider website for your desired domain name. The cost of a domain should never exceed $10.00, with our standard being $8.95 through GoDaddy. In choosing a company, make sure that modifications to your domain information and customer service is available 24/7/365.
- There are Millions of Webhosts, How Do You Choose?
The next step in the process to get online is to choose which company will provide and protect your website to the world. There is no good answer to the "which webhost do I choose" question as there are literally thousands of companies that provide hosting services. Having a solid (not good, solid) track record of keeping websites online and answering the phone (not outsourcing the customer service to another country) are the main characteristics to look for. Selecting a webhost should take at least 48 hours as you need to make sure support calls are answered at all times of the day. Submitting a ticket is not sufficient, outsourcing is not sufficient, and having someone that answers the phone but doesn't know anything about a server is not sufficient - go with the company that has live, competent individuals running your website. Remember, your site visitors don't care why your site went down or was not available. The cost for a small (5-10 pages) website's hosting solution shouldn't exceed $30 month. Compare companies through the website host directory to see what different hosts have to offer.
- Get a Website Without Breaking the Bank
The purchase of a website design is typically the largest cost online businesses incur. With a simple, original website design ranging from $450 on the low end to $15000 from designers that have lost their minds, people trying to get on the web cheap are constantly looking for more affordable solutions. One cost-cutting suggestion is to opt for purchasing a website template with the addition of a professional template customization service to give the template design an original look. The total cost using this method ranges $39 - $100 for the website template, and less than $100 for the customization. The key in keeping the customization costs low is in selecting a website template that compliments your company and requires minimal changes. Another alternative is to choose a website builder program that allows you to do both the template selection and customization yourself.
- Get Original Content and Stand Out from the Crowd
Once you have completed the design selection, the next phase is to write or purchase content that will reside on your site. Ensuring that your site's pages are 'filled in' is essential in presenting a professional first impression to your visitors. Writing content is rarely seen as an art-form, but on the web, only the right content attracts the right visitors. This is done through a process referred to as search engine optimization, or SEO for short. Search engine optimization (SEO) refers to the way that website content is written to 1. attract customers and 2. attract search engines. This is difficult because customers are typically human and search engines are machines. Whether you write it yourself, purchase pre-written copy, or hire a copywriting service, speaking to both visitors and search engines effectively is key in getting the word out that your site exists. The price of both pre-written and custom content are comparable with pre-written content typically costing less.
Also note that the danger with pre-written copy is that it may subject your site to a duplicate content penalty if the site offering the content is regularly indexed by the search engines. Before buying a pre-written article, select any sentence from the copy you want to purchase, go to Google and put the sentence in quotes (For example on this article I would choose: "The purchase of a website design is typically the largest cost online businesses incur"), if it shows up on the results page, steer clear from that article as it has already been indexed and can only result in hurting your site's online success.
- Get Links and Get Into the Online Game Fast
Once your website is complete, you need to figure out ways to get the word out to potential customers and search engines. The fastest way to get into search engines like Google is through other sites that have already been indexed and that are checked on a regular basis for new content. Search engines are busy - not only do they have to check the sites they have indexed for new content and at the same time handle the influx of requests from new sites that want to be added. The best way to get indexed by Google (and we have done this within 3 weeks) is by buying text links on indexed sites that are related to your business. The more related and popular the site, the more likely your site will be found from their pages. This method is the same as buying an ad to place on an indexed site, the only difference being instead of an image, you are using words. Depending on the site you choose to place your website's link on, this could run you as little as $20 monthly - a great way to spend advertising dollars.
On the web, design and content separate one website from another in terms of the number of visitors to the site, the professional appearance of the business and the attention given to the company by search engines. Designs are used to distinguish one company from the next and content that is fresh always gets a second look from both visitors and search engines. The catch here is that the visitors and search engines must find you and this is done through text links appearing on other sites. In the end, if your web budget is less than $500, these three simple steps will allow you to:
- Get online at a low cost
- Get indexed by search engines (or out of the sandbox), and
- Get on with the business of running your business, not running your website
In the end, no matter how much you pay for a website design will change your success online. Purchasing quality links on relevant sites will get the visitors to you, however, what happens after the visitor reaches your site is the determining factor in your online success. Providing visitors with content that is original, catering to their individual needs and current will do more for you than a site design and purchased links combined. Your total online success will be a result of you growing your business in creative, constructive ways, knowing your audience and being the best at what you do. Good luck in your ventures, and I hope to see you (or your company) online soon!