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How Do I Get My Business On The Internet?
Copyright © 2005 Ivana Katz
Websites 4 Small Business
http://www.web4business.com.au/

This is one of the most frequently asked questions by small
business owners. They are feeling the pressure from their
customers and competitors, yet for many business people it is
a daunting task, as they don't understand the whole process.

In fact, many people are even asking the question whether they
should have a website. Whether you are a consultant, florist,
designer, builder, architect or a doctor, consider the many
advantages a website provides:

1. Make money – Set up an on-line store or get paid for
advertising from other companies

2. Save money on advertising – Instead of paying for large ads,
simply advertise your website

3. Be flexible in your message – Change the content as your
business changes. No need to re-print expensive brochures.

4. Exposure to new customers – You will reach more local clients
as well as interstate and global markets

5. Having more professional image – Keep up with the times and
your competitors

6. Save time – Don’t spend hours on the phone, direct customers
to your website

7. Keep your business open 24/7 – Provide customers information
when THEY need it. If you don’t, someone else will.

So what does it really take to get your website set up?


Step 1 - Register Your Domain Name OR Not.

The big question is whether you need to register a domain name
or not. The simple answer is NO, but a better answer is YES it
is a good idea.


What Is a Domain Name?

The purpose of a domain name is similar to that of a street
address or telephone number. The domain name directs customers
to you on the Internet. The domain by itself is not your email
or web address. The domain does form the base from which these
addresses are derived.

For example:
Company Name: Websites 4 Small Business
Domain Name: web4business.com.au
Web Address: www.web4business.com.au
Email Address: sales@web4business.com.au


Do I Need to Register a Domain Name to Have a Website?

NO, you don't need to have your own domain name. Your website
can be created and hosted without it. Your website address
will look something like this:

www.web4business.com.au/JBCleaning
OR
www.ozemail.com.au/~JBCleaning

The only advantage of not registering a domain name is that you
will save yourself A$70 per year (it costs approx A$140 for 2
years to register a '.com.au' domain name).


The Disadvantages of NOT Having Your Domain Name Include:

1. If you decide to change your Webhosting company or if that
company goes out of business, you will lose your website address.
Your website can be transferred to a new company, but your
address will change. And that means re-printing stationery and
re-doing all your advertising, notifying all your customers etc.

2. Website addresses that contain information other than your
company name are long and hard to remember and do not appear as
professional. Compare these two and see which one you are more
likely to remember:

www.ozemail.com.au/~JBCleaning
OR
www.JBCleaning.com.au

So it is a good idea to register a domain name, even if it is
just to protect yourself for the future. Say for example, your
business name is JB Cleaning and you decide not to register your
domain name for now.

Along comes Joe Bloggs who opens his own cleaning business and
registers JBCleaning.com.au domain name. After a year you
decide you want to have your own domain name, but since Joe
Bloggs already owns it, you won't be able to register it.
Not to mention your customers who know your business as JB
Cleaning may visit his website, thinking it's your web address
and instead hire Joe Bloggs Cleaning.


Step 2 - Plan your website.

Planning Your Website Is a Two Part Process:

(a) Decide on the website design (colour schemes, buttons,
special effects etc). This is your website designer's job.
However, you may have a preference for a certain colour or look.
To help you choose a design, you may wish to check out other
people's websites or work with your web designer's pre-set
templates.

(b) The content. There are many items you may wish to include
on your website. The most common ones include:

1 Product/Service Details
2. Contact Information
3. Pricing
4. Testimonials
5. Frequently Asked Questions
6. Response Form, such as "Join Mailing List"
7. On-line Magazine or Newsletter
8. Resources & Articles
9. Guarantee
10. Survey
11. Events Calender
12. Search My Website Form
13. Refund Policy
14. Privacy Policy
15. About Us Information
16. Site Map
17. Copyright information
18. Useful Links
19. Media Information
20. On-line store
21. News
22. Directions to Your Bricks & Mortar Premises


Step 3 - Choose a Web Hosting Company.

What is a Web hosting Company?

A Web host is a company that provides server space for your
website. You can think of a web host as a commercial building.
The web host provides space for your website just as a
commercial building provides space for your shop or office.
You can build your own building and you can host your own
website, but because of the cost and expertise required it
is easier to rent the space.


Which Company Should I Choose?

Web hosting companies are not created equal so you need to take
a number of things into account when selecting one. A proven
track record, experience and reliability form the foundation of
any successful business partnership.

Some of the issues you should consider when choosing a webhosting
company include:

1. Support - Does it provide comprehensive Technical Support -
24 hours a day, seven days a week?
2. Reliability - Does it have multiple large-scale links to the
internet to provide a fail-safe path to your customers from
anywhere in the world?
3. Security - Does it have a robust security system that
minimises risk of web site intrusion?
4. State-of-the-art - Does the company utilises leading edge
technology and is supported by a large-scale uninterruptible
power supply (UPS) system.
5. Scalability - Does the product range and services offered
allow your business to grow without impediment by making it
easy to upgrade and add components to existing product levels.


Step 4 - Getting People to Your Site.

The marketing of your website is important if you want to draw
visitors to your site. If you don't promote your website no-one
will ever see it. There are a number of different ways of
advertising your website. The best strategy is one, which
integrates your existing promotion methods with your website.

1. Office Stationery - Including your web address and email
address on your stationery is probably the easiest way to
draw attention to your site. It's cost effective and gets
your Internet presence out there in the market place.

2. Business Cards - When printing business cards you should
include the individual's email address and main address of
your website.

3. Radio Advertising
Radio Advertising should include your web address. Don't
include the http://, try "Visit us on the internet at
w-w-w-dot-qikphone-dot-com-dot-au". If your budget is
limited, you may wish to consider community radios.

4. Email and Mail-Outs
Let your current customers know the details of your website.
You can either send them an email or a letter/postcard. Keep
your website's content up-to-date and they will keep coming
back!

5. Print Media
Print advertising should include a generic email address for
the company and include your website address. Normally
positioned at the bottom right or bottom centre of your
advertisement.

6. Search Engines & Directories
People looking for your website who don't know the URL are
most likely to use an on-line search engine to look for your
organisation or the kind of products and services you offer.
There are over 300 major search engines and directories, but
you should concentrate on the larger, more commonly used
ones. These include: Google, Yahoo, Altavista, Anzwers,
Inktomi, Infoseek, Lycos, Excite, HotBot, MSN, Dogpile,
AllTheWeb etc.

7. Links from other websites
A good way to attract visitors to your site is through the
use of hyperlinks placed on other sites. If you know of
another site which has a list of links and you think your
website would be a good addition, let the website owner know.
You might also offer to provide a link from your site back
to the other site. This will encourage the webmaster to
include your site. You should also seek out partners for
trading links including vendors, suppliers and providers of
complimentary products.

8. Link Exchange
Another way to getting a link is through a system called
Link Exchange, a free public service designed to help websites
advertise each other. With Link Exchange, you agree to
display advertising banners for other Link Exchange members
and they agree to display banners for you. The System is
automatic, you simply add a piece of HTML code to your web
page and Link Exchange will display an advertisement for
another website. The disadvantage with Link Exchange is that
you don't get any control as to where your banner ad appears
or the type of banner ads that will appear on your website.
It is not possible to guarantee that a competitor of yours
may have their banner ad displayed on your site.

9. Paid Banner Advertising/Affiliate Marketing Programs
Various sites give you the opportunity to purchase banner
advertising on their site. Some sites will charge you a
flat monthly fee while other sites will charge you based
on the number of people who see your ad.


Step 5 - Monitor Your Site's Statistics
Your website's statistics should show who visits your website,
where in the world they come from, how they are finding your
site and what pages are being viewed. Knowing your customers
is the first step in effective marketing. Most webhosting
companies will provide access to this information free of
charge.


Step 6 - Maintaining Your Website

It is important to update your website regularly to keep your
customers interested. One of the great advantages of having a
website is that you can change its content virtually overnight
at minimal cost (unlike re-printing brochures and flyers).

This is just a brief overview of the process involved in getting
your website up and running. In future articles we will cover
each step in more detail.

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Ivana Katz is a website designer and an associate member
of Referralware/Coaching to Profits, a company dedicated to
teaching entrepreneurs how to reach business success through
a series of easy to follow steps and hands on support. Learn
how to crawl, walk and run in the on-line business world.
Find out more: http://www.businesssuccess101.com