Getting your business online has never been easier. With an array of helpful tools and guides available, small and medium sized businesses are often just handful of steps away from projecting their brand to the world.
None of this, however, means that there aren’t still crucial decisions to be made. Getting online is something that should be approached strategically — and with an eye on the long-term future of your business. With this in mind, we’ve compiled a list of the five steps you need to take to before getting your business online. Each step will be discussed in greater depth at our British Library webinar on July 17 at 12:00 (BST). More information for the event can be found here.
1. Creating your brand
Branding is critical in defining an identity and establishing a cohesive narrative that is unique to your business. Deciding how to brand your business online relies on many factors, starting with understanding the brand and its key appeal to audiences. What does your company excel at, and where can it outperform competitors?
As great as your idea may be, it needs to be instantly recognisable with an identity of its own. So take some time and think about how you would like your brand to be perceived. Remember, people don’t only buy products – they are buying into their desires and aspirations. Just like memorable people, strong brands have their own character.
2. Choosing the right domain name
When choosing a domain name for your website, one of the biggest decisions is whether to go with one that’s branded or keyword-rich. “Branded domains” include Nike, Expedia, and Zazzle. They don’t tell you what the business does, and instead simply project the brand name. Consider taking the brand route if you are looking to develop a long-term strategy and build brand awareness over time.
Conversely, keyword-rich domains are descriptive and relevant to particular industries. They seek to target specific niche audiences looking for a certain product or service. For instance, if your business sells cheap plane tickets, your perfect keyword domain would be something along the lines of cheaplfights.com. The Keyword-rich route will help with SEO and could allow you to reach customers more quickly.
When deciding whether to take the branded or keyword route, consider your market and your business’ place in it. Are you looking to rank in google immediately, or are your content to play the long-game and build up brand awareness over time?
3. Picking the right domain extension
Once you’ve decided whether to opt for a branded or keyword-rich domain, the next step is to find the right domain extension.
When it comes to selecting the right extension, the world used to be a lot simpler. When the internet was first being developed in the 1970s and 1980s, there was only one way to end an address: the now-ubiquitous .com top level domain (TLD) reflected the exclusively corporate ethos of the internet’s early years. Today, there are hundreds of TLDs to choose from, thanks largely to the explosion of generic top level domains (gTLDs) that include everything from .London to .Lego.
If your business is focused on targeting one particular place, consider one of the hundreds of country code TLDs available (.es, .fr, .uk etc.). And if you have plans for future expansion into new markets, why not take more than one.
Something else to consider is familiarity. Although google doesn’t discriminate against newer, more obscure domain extensions, users sometimes can. For instance, the .Dentist domain might seem like a great idea if you’re in that industry, but users might be sceptical about visiting a site with an unfamiliar extension. Related to this, you should also pay attention to the relevance of your domain extension. How well does it fit with the nature of your business or organisation?
4. Web hosting
When a website is created, it also has to be hosted. This is the process of making each page on the site publicly accessible over the internet, enabling anyone to enter the web address and view its contents.
In other words, the internet is like a giant network of servers which store all of the files that make up websites. A website is basically a collection of files which live on a plot of server land. So web hosting “rents” out these plots of server space where your website will reside.
Shared hosting places hundreds of websites onto one powerful server. This has the advantage of greatly reducing costs. If you’re running a personal blog or portfolio website, budget hosting should meet your needs. But if you’re looking to establish an ecommerce website, or you’re expecting high volumes of traffic, you’ll need a more comprehensive hosting package.
That said, as your business grows and your website traffic increases, you will also need more storage and power. This is when you should consider the following PRO services which include dedicated servers , VPS (Virtual Private Servers), and managed dedicated server hosting solutions.
5. Website Design, Build, Security
Once you’ve created your brand identity, chosen your domain name and extension, and have picked the right hosting package for your business, you’ll need to start building a website.
One of your main considerations should be Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) — without it, your website simply won’t be found. Your site needs to be structured in a search engine-friendly way, and you must ensure that certain good practice standards are adhered to. (You can read more about this here).
Related to this, your website will need to be filled with engaging and relevant content. Users want to be dazzled and informed, and search engines like Google & Bing value original content and penalise websites for duplicated content.
To learn more about getting your business online, sign up to our British Library webinar which explores each of these steps in greater depth. The webinar will be held on July 17 at 12:00 (BST). Registration is free.