These are the key elements to creating a presence online for your business:

 

Domain Names

The first and possibly most important decision you will make in creating a Web site is choosing your domain name. It should be as short as possible and still describe your website content as clearly as possible.

Though there are many extensions available now —.org, .net, .biz, .me, .pro & many more — .com is still, and will probably always be, the first one people think of. So if you can,  get a '.com' domain name.

Beware

There are companies out there that offer a 'free' domain name when you use their hosting services. Beware. In the majority of cases, you do not own these names — the company you 'bought it' through does. If you neglect to renew, they will likely take it over and charge a great deal to restore it to you, should you wish to recapture the name.

Take Control

Be certain  your domain name is in YOUR name. You should be listed as the "Registrant" at the very least. If you want to control things like the contact information, what server the domain name is pointed to, and all other important aspects of managing a domain name, you need to be listed as the "Admin" as well. You can check to see if this information is correct for your domain name by going to a 'Whois' site online. The site I use the most to get this information is: http://www.instant-domain-names.com/

A Valuable Asset

Beyond purchasing it for your website, know that your domain name is an asset for your business and can quickly become very valuable. The after market for reselling domain names has become a booming business. It is being called the 'New Real Estate.' To make the point: a few years ago, I sold the domain name, DOORWAY.COM for $10,700. My investment was about $200. Not a bad return.

Want to know your domain name's estimated value? You can find out at: SwiftAppraisal.com

When a domain name is evaluated for resale, the elements that affect that decision are: How many words are in the name?; What kind of market may have need for this domain (massive to small)?; To what portion of the market does this name apply?; How well does the name describe the website content?; Is the name easy to remember?

Don't underestimate the value of your domain name. Register it for as long a period as you can afford (up to 10 years). Make sure you keep its registration up-to-date and your contact information correct — especially your email address, as that is what the Registrar uses to notify you of important information regarding your domain name.

Hosting Options

The availability of hosting has expanded greatly since the beginning of public access to the internet. It used to be relatively expensive to host a website and the quality of the hosting service frequently left a lot to be desired. That has all changed. You can now get everything you might possibly need from a hosting company for as little as $4.95 - $5.95 and up a month.

I have worked with, and suffered many frustrations and problems with, a half-dozen servers since I began building and hosting websites for clients in 1995. I used to manage the hosting for my clients under a reseller's account — until it became more cost effective for my clients to purchase their own hosting directly from a hosting company. My favorite to hosting company is BlueHost. They have GREAT technical support 24/7. They will treat you right.

Website Design

The design of your website is a major factor in your site's success in serving your client's or prospective clients needs. The look of the site, the ease of functionality (finding your way around on the site), and being able to quickly find what one is seeking — are critical.

The design can be somber, fun, funny, beautiful, funky... and still be a 'good' website if your visitors can find what they are looking for, whether it is a product, or service, or simply information.

The design of your website needs to incorporate various elements in order to be search engine optimization (SEO) friendly, as well. Gone are the days we simply built websites and then surfed from one search engine to the next 'submitting'our urls for consideration.

One of the major advantages I have found in using WordPress to build websites these days, is the plethora of excellent plug-ins available. These plug-ins draw search engines' attention while integrating you / your business into the social media channels, such as FaceBook, LinkedIn and Twitter, to name a few. They also give you excellent feedback and tracking statistics so you can see how well your website is doing it's job.

Another great advantage is to using WordPress, is called: CMS, or Content Management System. This means I can design a site for you, using WordPress, and with a minimal bit of "How To" information, turn the site over to you, so you can  input and edit content as needed with no need to know code.

Do you want to do this, yourself? I highly recommend iThemes' "How to Build a Website in 8 Steps" for clear guidelines to create your website.

SEO & Social Media

More here soon about this very important aspect of a successful website.

Stay tuned for more information about this.

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