We began this series with the premise that it is less expensive and more efficient to outsource the majority of your online presence work, so that you can handle the things a good presence needs and let experts position and develop your strategy. This team approach concept is a powerful way for a small business to leverage itself to be competitive. A web presence for a small business begins with a web site. With the internet approaching its third decade chances are, If you have a business, you probably already have one. Maybe you are even on your second one. It doesn’t matter where you are in the learning curve. Many of the aspects of your web site should be handled by outside vendors.
Domain Ownership/Registration : The worst case scenario is that you own a variety of domains that are possibly registered with several companies. At all costs, use one company for all of your domain management. Do not leave this work to employees. It is an important asset of your company that you should understand intimately. Register your domains for long periods – not a year. The search engines look at how long your domain has been registered and how many years it is registered into the future for as part of its’ ranking algorithm.
Web Site Hosting : There is no reason to host your web site on servers at your office. Don’t laugh. We come across it all the time! Just look where “cloud computing” is heading if you question this. Most small businesses with 10-50,000 visitors a month can have a fairly simple commercial hosted site with one of the major companies for an affordable rate. If your business has high internet usage above those numbers you will probably want to be looking at co-located servers at the same companies. Chances are, whomever builds your web site will be a good resource for your hosting needs as well.
Web Site Design and Development : If you had a web site built several years ago you will be happy to know that things have come a long way. As SEO experts, back then, we always had to require that web sites be built “search engine friendly.” While we still run into some challenges with more complex database driven web site designs, most small business web sites are being built today in Drupal and even WordPress. Both of these have robust Content Management Systems that allow you to continue to develop the web site “in house” after its initial deployment. If you don’t have a designer who has created branding for your business already, now is the time to get at least the bare minimum of this type of work done. At this stage, now is a good time to purchase a nice camera that can take still pictures and video. Either you or someone you assign should become familiar with the equipment and begin shooting. The web is a visual place and we highly recommend that your online presence include pictures and videos on your web site and every day as we roll out the marketing plan. This is a great “bonus” task for a creative person in your business!
Marketing Plan : That’s right! No plan, no go. We are a marketing organization so you are only going to get a biased opinion here. Unless your primary forté in your business is marketing, you want to seek out a good online marketing consultant. Someone has to steer the ship and forge a plan based on proven strategies. There is a myriad of tasks to be done. Some can only happen at your business. The rest can be done by others, offsite. We orchestrate a plan of your choosing to meet the goals we all set.
In our next edition of this multi-part post, we will dig into web page optimization. There’s much more to it today than you would think.