Domain Name

.com is king in the domain world. It’s tempting to go with other flashy “dot somethings” like .love, .club, or .rocks but don’t do it. People’s first tendency is to go with .com when typing in a domain name. Yes, there’s a chance that your first choice may already be taken and, if that’s the case, try another version of your preferred choice. Make it short, sweet, hyphen-free, and as close to your business name or service as possible. It’s super important that you own your domain name (as opposed to letting the webmaster or other entity purchase the name for you) and that you renew ownership in a timely manner. If you fail to renew the subscription, you’ll lose the domain name. It’s highly likely that someone will buy it and hold it ransom for bigger dollars.

Hosting

Hosting fees run the gamut in pricing. It’s enticing, we know, to go with the cheapest offer but there’s so much more to consider than just money when selecting a host server. Security, backup, and support if something goes wrong are far more critical than price alone. Reliability and up-time guarantee are pivotal to your online success. Finally, watch out for “add-ons.” Don’t be fooled by “additional money” for things like forwarding email to an existing account or adding a blog. Conduct a thorough research on hosting services before committing to one.

Email

Your company email address should include your website domain name. Remember, your business is professional and nothing screams “amateur” more than a poorly named email address. Avoid @yahoo.com, @hotmail.com, @gmail.com or other non-domain names when making your selection. Email can be hosted either on your own web hosting server or on a different server without your client ever knowing the difference.  For example, bev@philipcraiggroup.com is actually hosted on a Gmail server for $5 per month and my clients are oblivious to that fact, well, they were until now.

Logo

Your logo is the visual keystone of your company’s identity. It sets the tone for the customer’s brand perception. It needs to be unique, memorable, and versatile. We live in a digital world, logos need to transcend paper. They must reduce well and should be easy to read. You want to design something that will still be relevant years from now. If your logo looks cheesy, so will your business.

Look & Feel

You have a mere few seconds to keep your visitor on your site. Therefore, it must be engaging, intuitive, and easy to navigate. The “look” of your website should mimic your business personality and should be an extension of your logo design. Aesthetics and usability play key roles; they are equal partners in the success of your online presence. Another significant consideration is whether or not your website is responsive which simply means how well it plays on various devices. Mobile phone usage for online access has been a game changer in web design. If your site isn’t responsive, you’ll lose business.

Text Content

Words matter. They matter a lot. They are equally important, if not more so, as to how your website looks. It’s the words on your pages that attract search engines (like Google & Bing). Images don’t get scanned by the web crawlers so quality copy is critical! Your text needs to be original, contain keywords, and be formatted in a way that can be quickly scanned by the reader. Furthermore, search engines love, love, love when you add new content. That’s why blogging on a consistent basis is so important in search engine optimization (SEO). The more pages you add with useful content, the more the search engine gods consider you a serious player. Make content writing a priority in your online life.

Visual Content

Visuals are vital to online success. All content, whether on your website, in your blog, email campaigns, or articles demand images. Did you know that photos, info-graphics, gifs, and videos garner 94% more views than text content alone? Visual content increases comprehension, affects our emotions, and enhances your brand. Custom illustrations trump stock images or the dreaded clip art. Consumers who watch a product/service video are 85% more likely to purchase that product. Neglect visual content at your own peril.

Social Media

Unless you’ve been living in a cave the past few years, the power of a solid social media strategy should be obvious. It will connect you with your audience in ways that are unimaginable. More importantly, social media is the great equalizer amongst companies of all sizes – large and small. Everyone has the same opportunity to advertise for very little money, create meaningful relationships with potential customers, generate leads, and help establish your company as an industry expert. It’s our recommendation that you select one or two platforms where your target audience hangs out and master the nuances before moving onto to yet another platform. Be consistent in your strategy and, remember, you’re there to help them solve their problems not overly promote your own brand.

Web Marketing

You have a dazzling website, you’re eagerly awaiting throngs of people to discover how wonderful you are, and dreaming of the piles of cash coming in from sales. WAKE UP! Just because you build it doesn’t mean they will come. There’s work to be done. You need to take steps to increase search engine optimization, link building, blogging tactics, content promotion etc. all in the hope of driving more targeted traffic to the central hub – your website. Everyone wants to be in the top rankings but it does take effort. Pursuing a marketing strategy can be demanding but the good news is its doable.

Business Cards

They may be small but they are powerful and have a huge impact in fostering personal relationships. Business cards may be considered ‘old school’ in this digital age but they open the door to engaging in actual conversation with potential clients. Furthermore, your contacts expect you to have a one. Business cards are personal and often times the first impression of your brand. Cheap is not the way to go as they help legitimize your business and can kill the deal if they’re tacky. Keep your pocket full of them. Always, always have one handy.

Analytics

Tracking important metrics allows you to see what is and, more importantly, what isn’t working well on your website. In journalism, there are 5 questions that are germane to every story: who, what, where, when, and how. These same inquiries can be applied to understanding the inner workings of your site. Who is coming to your site? What keywords do they use to find you? Where are they coming from? When they explore your site, which pages interest them?  And finally, how did they find your site in the first place? These are but a few areas you should be interested in understanding in order to improve the usability of your site for your visitors and for the search engine masters. Installing an analytics plug-in on your website will help you interpret this all important data.

Security

Quite simply, don’t ignore the importance of security when researching your web hosting company. Security risks loom large with any online operation and your website host server is no different. When security is compromised, it can be devastating to your business in terms of loss of income and disruption. You should discuss ways to mitigate risks with your web designer from the start. It shouldn’t be an afterthought. Things to consider include updates, file permissions, secure root passwords for admin users, and sensible user access to name just a few. Make sure to read the hosting reviews of every host server you contemplate using and validate it has the features you need.

Backups

An integral part of your security plan is backing up your site. Stuff happens and with any catastrophic event, all can be lost. To ensure the restoration of your site, the host server must have sound backup procedures. Having an automated backup schedule will safeguard the process and enable your webmaster to restore your latest website version in case the server goes down. In the end, this will save you both time and money. Asking about backup procedures should be part of your security research.

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