Company websites have quickly become less of an option and more of a necessity. While advertising available units on highly-trafficked websites like Craigslist and Yahoo is a good step in the right direction—and certainly something you should continue doing even after you have your own website—it doesn’t provide your company with the kind of visibility a website offers.
Particularly in more trying economic times in which consumers are looking for the best deal available and providers are fighting for business, marketing is essential. And building a company website is one of the most effective ways to get a jump on marketing. Best of all, building a website is a lot easier and less expensive than you think (yup, you read that right).
But remember, there’s a lot of web traffic out there and investing any amount of time and money in a site that will never be seen is a waste of your resources. Over the next three weeks we’ll walk you through the three elements that will make or break your website: building a website that works, getting your site noticed, and using web tools that will tell you exactly who is—and perhaps even more importantly, who is not—looking at your site.
And now … let the website building begin!
1. Purchase a domain name.
You’ll want to begin by purchasing your domain name (essentially, your website address). This can be done in just a few minutes at sites like GoDaddy.com, Yahoo, and Register.com. Just type in your desired address to see if it’s available, make your purchase (this usually costs between $10 and $15), and you’re set. Website addresses should always be as simple as possible; you want potential visitors to easily remember the address in the time it takes them to get to a computer.
Most companies use their company name as their site address. You may also want to consider seeing if there are more generic names available that web surfers may just intuitively visit, thus increasing your traffic. For example, if you live in Burlington, you might see if something like BurlingtonRents.com or BurlingtonApartments.com is available (note that you can have more than one web address leading to a single site).
2. Find a host.
Some domain name providers also offer web hosting services. If yours does not, you’ll need to find a separate company that does. Essentially, a web host is a company that makes your website available on the internet. Web hosting prices vary depending upon how big your site is (i.e., how many pages and files you include), and what sort of options you want included in your hosting package. Along with domain names, GoDaddy.com also offers a variety of hosting services. You can also try Yahoo or 20m.com. There are a ton of options out there, and a Google search should help you identify the best fit for your company.
3. Create your content.
Now it’s time to create your website content. Decide what information you want to include, being sure to keep your language simple and to-the-point. Your site doesn’t necessarily need a lot of pages (and, in many cases, less is more), but you do need to think carefully about what information users will be looking for and make sure it’s all online and easy to find. Also be sure your website copy is spell-checked and proofread before your site goes live.
4. Build your site.
If you’re new to web development, you’ll likely find it easiest to build your site with the help of readily available content management systems (CMS) and website templates. A CMS lets you build web pages using an intuitive, WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) editor in which the content displayed during the editing process appears very similar to the final output. Translation? If you’re comfortable using Word, you’ll be comfortable using a CMS. In the past few years, such templates have become far more sophisticated, allowing users to enjoy the ease of using a simple program while still creating a visually appealing, unique-looking site. A Google search will turn up many options for content management systems and site templates, and you can also refer to GoDaddy.com or Yahoo once again. If you’re a Mac user, the iWeb application is also very user-friendly. Once you’ve selected the right template for your business, insert your content and you’re in e-business!
In just four steps, you now have the most time-consuming part of the process taken care of. Next week, we’ll take a look at how to get customers to your site and keep them interested with search engine optimization (SEO) and pay per click advertising (PPC).Read more on Marketing