Brick and Mortar vs. HTML
Why do I even need a website?
Just in case you may have been living a rugged minimalist life in the Yukon for the past couple of decades, I’ll let you in on a little secret: the Internet is everywhere. Just about everyone, everywhere, all day long, is using it somehow. From iPhones in our pockets to Pandora in our cars, there are entire facets of life that exist nowhere else except within this big secondary reality we’ve created.
People are going to the Internet to find the products, services and information they want. Long gone are the days of pulling out the Yellowpages and looking up the number for a local restaurant, now Google is the one stop shop for those types of needs. And sure, there’s a good chance that Google will find some reference to your business and list you somewhere in its search results, but there’s no guarantee. So while the competition is getting hit after hit on the search results page, you’re stuck somewhere down at the bottom of a list on a page that only shows up twenty or thirty search results deep. And that’s at the very minimum. These days, websites can make you alot of money. Often they can even make you money with very little daily effort. I can help with that.
But I don’t compete on a global scale, do I still need a website?
Most definitely. Yes, a lot of companies offer nationwide or worldwide services, such as eBay or Amazon, however local businesses still need a web presence to offer information to their local customers. Couples looking for a romantic restaurant to escape to will often search the web first to find a list of choices in their area. Gas prices are soaring, and people don’t want to drive around looking for bargains anymore, so they’ll search online. Give them a reason to come to your store. If you don’t have a website, they’re unlikely to know that you even exist let alone have any idea what products you specialize in or any specials you have running. At least give yourself a chance.
Plus, aside from a website there are some other basic channels on the Internet you should be aware of, such as making sure you’re on Google Maps & Yelp (the latter particularly if you’re a restaurant or similar establishment).
I, for example, got on Google Maps years ago and every one of my ratings there is 5 stars.
Maybe We Should Work Together
What are the main components of a good online presence?
Most brick and mortar stores have a few definite features in common: a decent sign, a front door, a cash register, and some type of display floor to show off their wares or services. The same holds true for a website, though the format can vary quite differently depending on how you choose to present yourself. Still, there are some common requirements that every good website needs:
- Choosing your websites name. Getting your own .com (or .net, .us, .org, .biz, etc) involves a process called Domain Name Registration. Many different companies offer this service and it generally runs around $10 / year with discounts for the more years you buy at one time. You’ll either want to choose a domain name based on your company’s name or its primary service. For example, a company named Don’s Auto Service might want to first check for the availability of autoservice.com as a domain name (which would help old Don greatly with search engines) or donsautoservice.com or even simply dons.com. Of course, twenty or so years into the web, plenty of other people have had the same idea and bought up a lot of the good ones. That’s probably why so many services, like Flickr and Twitter for example, rely on more obscure domain names. Don might need to get creative, doninpittsburgh.com or donsautopgh.net might fit his particular bill. You’ll need to check for availability (which you can do at betterwhois.net). ClickNathan can help you with this as well, all part of my full service, one stop shop, take care of all of your needs attitude.
- Finding a location. Just as a brick and mortar store needs to find square footage to build its shop on, so does a webpage. All of the files that make up your website are actually stored somewhere. This is called hosting. There are lots of options for hosting, and you can do your research and save yourself a couple of bucks here and there, though different hosting companies offer different services. I can recommend a few good choices for you, or again, I can handle all of this for you.
- Technology. There are a lot of ways to build a website, from HTML to Flash and all types of variants in between. And the way that each of these technologies is implemented as well can have a big effect on whether your site will last for years to come or if the technology will overtake it in the next few months. Ideally, your site should be built with HTML5, CSS and implement some sort of programming language (such as PHP.) Regardless of who you use to build your site, you should ask them if they’ll be using these technologies. If not, I’d strongly suggest moving on. Also, you’ll want to make certain that your website works in all of the major browsers (the latest two or three versions of Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, and Safari).
- Spreading the word. There are two primary ways to drive people to your site. The first is to simply get your domain name printed on every business card, sign, ad, and piece of letterhead you have, and tell everyone you see about your website. The second, and probably most important, is to get yourself listed on search engines like Google, Yahoo! and Microsoft’s Bing. The more search engines you can get listed on, and the higher up you place for particular searches, the better. This is called Search Engine Optimization and it’s a combination of having the right technology behind your site, relevant content to match the search phrases you think people would most likely use to find your site, and getting your site linked to from other, well respected websites. Nothing to worry about, though, ClickNathan can help you with all of this!