As you know, we love helping Style Fox readers become successful and start their own businesses! We know navigating the internet can be daunting, so we’re sharing a few of our experts tips on creating a successful web presence. In the digital age, having an effective online presence is important for all businesses and personal brands. Gone are the days where knocking on doors and making phone calls was enough -every brand and business needs to get online if they want to maximize their success. If you’re an online-based business, like Style Fox, building a strong web presence is a given. However, we realize that the internet can be a bit confusing for those of us who aren’t as well-versed on the web. Whether you’re looking to start an online business or improve your existing web presence for your brick and mortar company or personal brand, here are 5 important steps to creating an effective web presence.
Step 1: Secure a Catchy Domain Name
If you’re building a personal brand, obviously using your given name is a start, but you might consider something a little more creative. Never underestimate the power of a great, catchy domain name! Not only should your domain be catchy, but you’ll also want to consider the following to make your domain as memorable and easy to find as possible. Here are a few guidelines to follow when choosing a domain and/or business name:
- First, you’ll need a domain provider such as HostGator (Style Fox’s host!) so you can search to see what names are available.
- Avoid hyphens. It’s no mystery that people like things that are easy. Adding a hyphen to your domain can make it a little more difficult to type or remember. If possible, avoid hypens.
- The shorter the better. When choosing a domain, fewer letters is best. Think of names or ways to shorten your personal or business name so that your domain is easy to remember and type in.
- Always check for copyrights and trademarks on existing business names to make sure you’re not infringing on anyone’s intellectual property. Depending on what country you’re in, you’ll need to check with your local jurisdiction. For the US, the USPTO (United States Patent and Trademark Office) manages all intellectual property rights. You can search their database here. A thorough search of intellectual property databases can save you a lot of headache down the line!
- Buy all possible extensions. Once you’ve chosen an eligible domain name, you’ll want to buy all the extensions i.e .com, .co, .net. .org etc. By buying all the extensions you can avoid someone else swooping up your name and using it. You’ll also want to aim for a top level domain extension for your main site address. Top level domains are .com, .org, .net, and .co. In other words, always start with trying to get the .com first. If that’s unavailable, go for .net, .org and .co. Keep in mind .org tends to be an extension used for non-profits and charities, so we recommend a .com, .net or .co. if you’re a for-profit business.
Step 2: Build Your Website
Thanks to existing themes, creating a basic website for your business has never been easier! Once you sign up for your domain name, you can login to your HostGator account and install pre-coded themes to build your site. From your HostGator account you can also install powerful platforms like WordPress.com. Many themes include “drag and drop” features and plugins, so no coding is necessary. However, if you want more advanced features, you may want to consult with a web developer to make adjustments. You can easily hire a freelancer on sites like Odesk.com to help you make adjustments to your site at an affordable price. Sometimes paying a little extra can make a big difference in the overall quality and presentation of your site.
Step 3: Build a Social Media Following
We can’t stress enough how important social media is to your business. The amount of traction and profit a social following can drive to your business is astounding and nothing to scoff about! Business has gone digital and having interaction and presence on sites like Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram is essential to your success. Here are a few guidelines to building your social following:
- When creating your handle, use the same name across all platforms. This makes it easier for people to find your social media accounts online. For example, all of Style Fox’s social media accounts are under the name @stylefoxco. Being consistent with your social name will help people find and remember your business.
- It takes a lot of work. When it comes to building a social media following, patience is a virtue. It can take months or years to build a solid online following. So, don’t get discouraged, just keep plugging away!
- Interact with people. It’s called “social” media for a reason. You must engage and acknowledge people to gain followers, and yes, it takes time and effort. This is why people hire social media managers! If someone comments or shares something you’ve posted, acknowledge and thank them. Genuinely interacting with people is essential.
- #Hashtags are everything. No, hashtags are not just a way for tweens to post how their #baeisthebestpersoneverrrr! Hashtags are super important for people to find your posts and engage with you. By placing relevant hashtags on your posts, people are able to find you.
- Post relevant, visually appealing content. Each major social network has their “thing.” Twitter is all about short, catchy 140 character updates. Instagram and Pinterest are all about visually appealing pictures. Facebook is more about sharing articles and having more in-depth conversations. Understanding the purpose of each social platform is important to how effective your posts are.
Step 4: Create Great Content
These days, many businesses create blog content for their website -even if they’re not a media platform. You may be asking, what’s the purpose of this? It helps the website rank in Google and other relevant search engines like Yahoo and Bing which in turn attracts customers and helps the site rank higher. Is creating great content time-consuming? Yes, it is, but search engines don’t typically pick up duplicate or junk content. People also don’t share content they don’t find valuable or interesting. So, investing in a decent editor or blogger to create content on your site can pay for itself many times over.
Step 5: Optimize Your Site
Performing proper SEO (search engine optimization) on your site will help it rank higher on search engines and help your business get discovered. It’s also important to use services such as Google’s PageSpeed to help debug any problems and decrease load time. It’s no mystery that people don’t like slow websites! So, make sure your site is not only modern and visually appealing, but loads quickly. You’ll also want to make sure that your site is mobile-friendly. Many people use their cell phones to browse the internet, so it’s important that your site loads properly on mobile devices. SEO and website optimization is not the easiest task for a novice, but plugins like Yoast SEO and All in One Seo can help you get started. However, we do recommend hiring an SEO expert to optimize your site every couple months or so, just to make sure everything is running properly.
Ready to start your site ? You’re in luck! We’re offering Style Fox readers 30% off HostGator. You’ll get everything you need to get your website off the ground, including:
- 24/7 live support via chat, phone, and email.
- One click WordPress installs – no messy downloading and uploading of files.
- One click and start easy to use website builder – drag and drop tools that make building a site super simple.
- Design services – don’t want to build your site? Let HostGator’s pros do it for you.
- Marketing services (SEO and PPC) – want to generate traffic? HostGator’s in house experts can help.
- Domains – HostGator is your one-stop-shop for domains!
- Unlimited Disk Space, Bandwidth, and Email!
- Free Site Building Tools and 4,500 Website Templates
- Free Shopping Cart Software
- Free Forums, Photo Galleries, Membership Scripts
- 45 Day Money Back Guarantee
So, head over to HostGator to get your 30% discount and give your business the web presence it needs to get ahead!
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.