Get Your Business Online

If you run a business today, you need to have a presence on the Internet. You do not need to be become an expert, you do not need to spend large amounts of money, but you do need to work through a few essentials. These will ensure your business can be found and provides a minimum amount of useful information.

Register and Own a Domain

Your business needs a domain name. Both your website and e-mail addresses must use this domain.

Do not associate a free e-mail account with your business. Own a domain name and have e-mail directed to or through that domain.

Do not worry over the choice of your domain name. Pick something simple, easy to spell, and short. Avoid hyphens and long combinations of words in your domain. Stick with the domain style of your business's country of origin, such as .com.au for Australia and .co.uk for the United Kingdom. If a .com domain is available, it will do.

I used 123-Reg but that is not a recommendation. They are inexpensive and I have not had problems. Due to questionable business practices, I recently switched to Hover.

For Australian domain names, AustDomains seems inexpensive. I have not used them, so this is also not a recommendation. Be aware that com.au domains are relatively expensive compared to other country's Top Level Domain (TLD) names.

Ideally, buy your domain separately from your website. Keep them separate. Many companies will offer hosting with a domain included. This is nice but risky. Your domain is valuable and it is tightly linked to your business's reputation.

Your domain is an asset and being able to move it easily between web hosts is useful. Ownership of the domain lets you have one company manage your e-mail, another your website, or even multiple companies for different parts of your website.

Pick a Web Host

A web host will provide the infrastructure needed for your website. This typically means putting your files on a computer connected to the Internet. It is not particularly complex or involved. Your files, the Internet, with your domain name pointing at those files.

Your web host will disappoint you, eventually.

Web hosting is a cut throat business and margins are tiny. That leads to cost cutting and customer hostile choices. Being able to move at any time is helpful; you have your domain managed separately from your web host haven't you?

Your website can be hosted by any provider in the world. You do not need to use an Australian provider because your business is in Australia. Shop based on price, features, and friendliness.

SquareSpace

If you are not technical, consider using a service like SquareSpace. They provide templates and try to avoid you needing to be overly involved in how a website works. You pay more but the trade off appears reasonable. Sadly, SquareSpace appear not to provide e-mail handling.

WebFaction

If you want to get technical and feel comfortable with the shell, consider WebFaction. They provide shared hosted with shell access and the ability to run processes on the server.

What to Put on Your Website

Initially keep your website incredibly simple. One page with your business name, full address including country, and contact details is enough.

If you have opening hours, put them on that one page. Clearly and simply.

No-one needs animations, flashy artwork, big images, and clever design. Potential customers have found your business and want to know more. Provide the most helpful information first. For a physical business that means what you do, where you do it, and when you do it.

Blogs

Your business does not need a blog. A blog is nothing more than a stream of regular updates. If you update your website regularly, it is more than a blog could ever be.

A blog is a commitment. If you start one, you must maintain it regularly. That means new material being published on your website every few days or every week. Stop publishing and potential customers will think your business is dead.

Business blogs are not worth your time.

Social Media

Your website is yours; everything else is owned for the benefit of someone else.

Your business can have a Facebook page, a Twitter account, an Instagram account, a Google Plus page. Sure, why not? But they are secondary to your business's website. Never promote your social media accounts over your business website.

Mind your business and build up your website.

Be Found on the Internet

Getting traffic to your website is tough and slow going. It will take weeks and months to appear in search engine results and you will be disappointed at the slow pace.

Publishing on the web does not magically attract attention. Your website will be largely ignored for a long time. This is normal and increasingly so.

There are a few things you can do to help your business on the Internet.

Search Engines and Maps

Register with the search engine's web master or site services:

If your business relies on local customers, add the business to Google Business. Through this service you can add your business to Google Maps and ensure your business details are correctly listed.

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

If someone offers you SEO services, never accept.


Finally, if you want help getting your business online, I can help.