Most business owners grapple with the idea of moving their businesses online for the first time due to various reasons, most of which should never be. A good number of them use the web almost every day for business purposes, such as product research, information gathering, etc. On the flip side, this allows them to see how other online businesses in their industries operate. How do you address those inhibiting factors that hinder people from taking the leap forward?
Below are various reasons that discourage business owners from transitioning online. They include:
• Lack of web knowledge and applicable experience
• Inability to prepare for future trends
• Perception that the transition will be a costly experience
• Inability to understand how things work online
• Inability to come up with feasible logistics for online operations
• Lack of persistence and commitment
• Insufficient resources to move online
• Lack of time and adequate preparation
In reality, most of the above reasons can easily be addressed because the internet grows everyday introducing with it new ways of doing things. This in turn reduces overall costs of operation for online business owners. However, this information is elusive to the general internet consumers. Below is a straight forward approach on how to move your business online without spending a hefty fortune.
1. Web Design Process
How do you establish and align your goals/objectives in your new web design process?
It is important to identify what you want to achieve by moving your business online. Different businesses have different goals when they move online. Identify yours through careful consideration. Jot them down as they will be instrumental in the web design process to help design features as well as shape the business growth in the long term.
How do you find the best web design firm to work with?
Building a website requires some background work first, such as coming up with a good name for your site, which is known as a domain name. This will be the identity of your business online, so it must be easy to remember and short. Secondly, you must conceptualize your website’s content. In other words, what is the website all about? Is it a personal site or a business site? If you have all these set, then you can move forward towards looking for a good web design firm to work on your site.
For business purposes, the best advice is to go for a professional web design firm rather than building the website yourself, unless this is your line of business and you’re good at it. The thing is; the website’s look and feel contributes greatly to Conversion Rates (CR) and SEO. Web designers understand this aspect and know how to design a site that can attract higher CR and engagements by just the design. The other contributor to CR is the content which will be your responsibility, not designer’s.
For the web design firm that you choose, check to make sure that it has the characteristics below.
• Must demonstrate web design experience and provide elaborate portfolio.
• Must have credibility indicators e.g. 24hr support, high Google page rank, money back guarantee, etc.
• Pricing – quotation must be clear and explain if there are any monthly/annual fees beforehand.
• Access to customer related support – This is paramount.
• Additional services offered – Accessories such as hosting, domain registration, etc., make things easier to manage from one location.
• Turnaround time – Depending on the complexity of the project, it may take between 1-2 months at most.
Once you’ve narrowed down a number of design firms based on the above traits, start comparing the quotes and make your eventual pick.
Who should host your website and why?
Given all the complexities that come with the website infrastructure itself, it is best recommended to go for a site that offers fully fledged web solutions such as web design + hosting + domain registration. This is because something will definitely go wrong one day. It could be a bug, certificate expiry causing false warning alarms to users, upgrading framework or themes. When that happens, you may not know where the problem is because, in a typical website set up, you have three main elements:
a) Domain name
b) Website script
Any of those could cause problems of their own. Hence, you only need one call/email to have the problem solved. Otherwise, if you used different companies for all these three services, it could take a while before everything is settled.
How do you find a reliable SEO company to help you get visibility for your new website?
Search engine optimization is a technique that ensures that your website is easily tracked by all major search engines. This is accomplished by submitting the newly created website’s pages to them and manipulating and optimizing the website’s content via keywords or terms that mimic how users may search for information.
How do you develop a good SEO strategy for your business?
Developing an SEO strategy begins by establishing your objectives and aligning them with your SEO efforts. Are you looking for sales, leads, user acquisition, etc.? If you already know what you want to achieve, then you can create an SEO strategy tailored towards those unique goals. SEO involves a lot of things, such as website design, links, quality content, and tracking.
There are specific details on how these are implemented according to search engine’s recommended practice documentation. Learning how to do this by yourself will definitely take time, and there is a slight learning curve to master hence, you want to look for a web design firm that can handle these tasks for you effectively.
If your current web solution providers can also provide SEO services, it is not a bad idea, but most business owners prefer to submit this task to exclusive SEO firms. You get a lot of things solved during pre-development consultation and this makes work much easier because issues like SEO strategies are developed and addressed at this stage.
After you’ve decided which SEO firm you want to work with, make sure that the items below are of key priority.
Online Marketing – SEO is all about marketing hence, you can’t have an SEO strategy without including some online marketing techniques to boost performance
Revise, update and then refresh – SEO is a continuous job. Ensure that you don’t halt your efforts because you reached number one on the organic page.
Popular Links – Your sites popularity depends on the number of quality links linking back to your site. Make sure that you get as many quality links from authority sites that are relevant to your niche as possible.
Search Engine Friendly-Design – There’s an ongoing debate regarding Flash based websites not being recognized by search engine robots vs. html sites which are much preferred. This is true; go for html sites instead of flash based to be on the safe side.
Compelling Content – The content that you provide must be compelling enough to please your audience and to sell at the same time.
How do you measure the success/failure of your online business?
Get a reliable tracking solution integrated into your site such as Google analytics, which is free, or a paid website tracker, such as Alexa tracker, to help you monitor your site’s SEO progress.
In sum up, there are two ways of moving a business online: DIY and through a professional service. If you’re a business owner, it’s better to use the second option because it’s the safest and you can achieve quite a lot, faster, than doing it yourself. Whether its web design, SEO and hosting, leaving these tasks to professionals can catalyze your ROI in significantly less time as they know what they’re doing, and due to competition, you might have some leverage by riding on their industry experience. With DIY, you’re on your own.