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Small Business Guide to Web Sites

Web Site Basics

There are some basic things to know about web site for your small business.  The first thing to know is you will need to have a domain name.  The best domain name is www.yourbusinessname.com.  For example in my case my business name is eTech n Stuff.  I was able to purchase www. etechnstuff.com if you business name is unique it should be easy to get yourbusinessname.com. What is meant by that is that there can be only one domain name.  If you happen to have a business name that has already been taken you can usually modify your domain name so it reflects your business name.  Let’s say your business name is Joes Car Repair and you find that joescarrepair.com is taken you could try for joescarrepairky.com and see if that is available.  What you are doing is from the start is branding your business name.  This help customers and potential customer to be able to find you on the internet plus branding helps you to be more visible to search engines such as Google. Google eTech n Stuff and you will start to get a feel for what branding does.  You will see that I totally dominate the first 5 or 6 pages of Google when you search for eTech n Stuff.

First things first, choose a Domain name and get your domain name registered.  Here is a tip, there are places that will register you domain name for $30 or more per year.  There are other places that will register your domain name for $10 or less per year.  There is no difference other than the price.  Those places that will register your domain name for $30 or more are basically ripping you off.  Do not use these places to first register your domain name and do not use these places to renew your domain name.

The next thing you will need is a place to host your web site.  i use Blue Host and I recommend Blue Host.  Blue host annual hosting fees are very reasonable, Blue Host is good about help and support you actually can talk to knowledgeable English speaking people on the phone if you have a question or problem.  Blue Host very rarely goes down.  You can have multiple web sites on Blue Host at no additional cost.  Blue Host can register your domain names for you and they can automatically renew your Domain names every year for you.  Your first Domain name is free – additional domain names can be purchased for $10 each and they are renewed for $10 a year.  Blue host uses CPanel and has some fairly good tutorials on how things work. There is a link in the sidebar to Blue Host.  What you are looking for in a hosting company is reliability and flexibility with excellent service and support.  If you look at hosting you will see lots of free hosting.  Or you might have hosting available from your internet provider.  The free hosting usually has a lot of ads that you are not going to want associated with your business.  Your internet provider might give you a free website, the question is will this free site give you the ability to be in control, will it let you do what you want, is it scalable?  Do they allow a second site and what does that site cost?  Will you outgrow your hosting?  I recommend Blue Host because I have used it for several years, I have a number of sites on Blue Host.

Before I go on I am required to tell you that I may receive a commission from various things that I recommend.  I also want you to know that I do not recommend anything that I do not use myself.

Email

What you want to have for your email is [email protected] what you do not want for your business email is something like [email protected] – this type of email address does not look professional and when you send emails to your clients, customers and potential clients or customers you want them to know and recognize your email address.  If you host with someone like Blue Host this is easy to set up.  You can have multiple email addresses such as [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected]  There are actually two things that you are branding, first your business name and second your name you actually want the search engines to be able to find your business name AND your name.  Google my name Ronald Headley and you will begin to see why this is important.  What you are doing is from the very start setting up things so the search engines can find your business, find you and find your products.

Email to clients and customers normally needs to done with a double opt in. The FTC (Federal Trade Commission) requires this so you are not spamming people .  The best way to handle this is to have people sign up on a form.  They then will get an email saying they agree and must confirm and then they are sent to what ever page you want them sent to.  I have set up form like this on the right that takes you to this page.  The very best service to use to do this is AWeber and there is a link to them on the right.

TYPES OF WEB SITES

The first type of Web Site is done by a webmaster.  These types of sites are usually static, your webmaster sets it up for you. If you want to make changes or upgrade this type of site you have to contact your webmaster to make the changes and your webmaster will charge you for the time required.  The major downside is you cannot normally make changes or upgrades to this type of site.  my site etechnstuff.com is this type of site.  I had a webmaster put it together, I do not get it updated as much as I should.  The best way to deal with this type of site is to put together a list of things you need you webmaster to change.

A second type of web site is done with some sort of website builder, your are normally limited to a few themes (themes are how a web site looks and works)  Most web host provider including Blue Host have a simple web site builder.  I have one site that is done with a web site builder provided by the hosting company.  In this case it is my sales site.  The builder allows me to put together pages and add, update and change products.  This builder site is specific for selling products.  When I got this site I was selling items on eBay and needed a site where I could sell the garden windmills.  At the time I knew nothing about how to put together a web site and more importantly nothing about how to set up a merchant site where people can order things, go through a shopping cart, pay for the things, and send both me and the customer an invoice with what items they have ordered and where to ship the items.  While I can change, delete and add pages and I can change, delete and add products and categories, I cannot make changes to the layout other than change the basic theme.  There is not way I can get to the site controls.  This site cost me every month and if something stops working or breaks I have to put in a support ticket.  It takes 2-3 days to get something fixed.  yardgardenwindmill.com This site does work for me.  I get orders and payment from it.  It ranks high with the search engines and most importantly at the time I got it I simply did know enough about how sites worked to do it my self.

To me the most interesting type of site is where I can do everything myself.  I have found that by learning to use Word Press from Word Press dot org I am able to take full control of my sites.  While WordPress is normally thought of as blogging software you can do a whole lot more than just blog.  WordPress is free and it is open source.  You can upload it to your web host.  WordPress has Pages – which can look and act like regular web pages, and it has posts which are blog posts (and can be set up to be a lot more than just blog posts).  There are thousands of free themes and hundreds of paid themes so you will be able to find a look and feel that works well for you.  You can easily change themes.  WordPress has hundreds of plugins and widgets available so you can make WordPress work and look the way you want.  Learning the basics of WordPress can be done with a book.  On the right I have three recommended books to help you learn WordPress.  There are free tutorials and video tutorials available, on the right I have a link to WordPress Tip of the day which is an excellent series of tips on how to enhance your WordPress site.  There are some excellent WordPress classes available.  On the right you will see a link to Christina Hills – WordPress Creation Workshop.  Christina can take you from being a complete beginner to an expert on using WordPress.  Her course is fairly pricey however she does help you individually and she has live teleseminars and webinars where students can ask questions, she gives you a practice website to do assignments and to experiment with things.  Her classes are always fresh and up to date, she constantly upgrades her material and her instructional videos.  If you want to really learn WordPress I certainly recommend Christina Hills – she offers her full class a couple of times a year.  I actually had two WordPress blogs up and running when I took her class and sort of thought I knew what I was doing.  What I learned was while I did know how to get a WordPress site up and running and I knew some of the plugins and widgets to use I really was just little more than a beginner.  I am very glad I invested in her class and continue to learn new things there.  What you are seeing as you read this is a WordPress page on one of my WordPress sites.  This is a paid Flex theme from iThemes.

Another great place to learn WordPress is Go For Your Dream – there class is based on using their Premium theme called Dream Theme.  There is a link on the right.

WordPress Plugins

There are literally hundred of plugins that make WordPress do different things.  I am only going to talk about one here.  That is DAP – Digital Access Pass.  DAP runs behind the scenes and lets me control how much of this site you see, what material you have access to, it gives me control of affiliates and so much more.  DAP is a must have if you are using your WordPress site to sell information products, or if you have a membership site or if you want to allow some people to see parts of your site and other to see other parts of your site.  There are some excellent tutorials on the DAP site to help you figure it all out however I really recommend the Discover DAP series from Bob the Teacher to help you get up to speed with DAP.  And Yes Bob the Teacher is the same person who did the Discover CPanel series that I have recommended previously.

Now before you go out and buy Discover CPanel and or DiscoverDap I highly recommend that you consider joining the IM Success Library by Bob the Teacher.  A member ship to the IM Success library will give you access to at one level some of Bob the Teachers excellent training material and at the next level will give you access to all of his training material.  Everything you will ever need to know about Internet Marketing is in Bob’s library.  Bob is able to teach at level that is understandable.  There no hype, just solid instruction and help in understanding and doing things.  Bob is constantly learning from some of the most successful people in Internet Marketing and passes on what he has learned to his very dedicated and loyal followers.    There is a link to the IM Success Library on the right.  At least take a look and subscribe to Bob’s free material – took over the material and consider one of the levels of access to his IM Success Library.  I find my self going to his material several times a week.  The material is a tremendous help and worth a whole lot more than what he charges.  The biggest thing is one place where I can learn what I need to learn, get questions answered and just the time savings alone are more than worth the cost of access to the library.

Getting Paid for Products

Pay Pal is the best way to get paid for information products – Pay Pal will accept credit cards if the buyer is not a Pay Pal member.  I have a Pay Pal Pay Now button on the right.  It will charge you $0.10 and will take you to this page.  Information products include short PDF articles, eBooks, audios, videos, access to a teleseminar or webinar, membership to a members only site and various combinations.

Actually selling products

The first page your prospective customer for an information product that a customer should see is called a Squeeze Page.  You want your customer to do one action – to buy your product.  Thy click on the Buy button – they are taken to Pay Pal where they pay, they then go to where they can view or download the product and they get an email that has a link to the product.  I will put together a video and a written squeeze page which will take you to a PDF and also give your access to this page.  This is done by using AWeber and DAP

Search Engine Optimization

This is one of the key places where you can get seriously ripped off.  Shortly after you register a domain and you get your first site up you will begin to phone calls and emails from SEO places.  They will tell you how your website is not visible and how for $3000 or more they can bring you all sorts of traffic.  These people will continue to email you or phone you for as long as you have your site up. YOU DO NOT need these people!!! There only function is to rip you off.  You can learn to optimize your site yourself.  There are several books that I recommend which are over on the right.

You also will start to get phone calls and emails – (some from Google) that will tell you that the only way to make your site visible is to you use Google PPC (Pay Per Click) – when you do a Google search the items that come up on the right are PPC – people pay for keywords and their ads will appear on the right and above.  I will show you this on a screen capture.

You DO NOT need to do PPC.  I use strictly native search.  I do not pay anyone.  You will need to know about Keywords and how to optimize your site with keywords and there are some free tools that will help.  One of the key words I use is – garden windmill – type garden windmill into Google and you will see I am on page one and normally the first listing below the pictures for Google shopping – you can also find me as number one or two on Yahoo and MSN.  I do not use PPC, I do not pay for ad space to come up on the first page.  PPC is a waste of money.  I can probably make this page come up fairly high in search – I would need to use some of the keyword tools that I use.