Every good business owner spends a lot of their time thinking about how to drive more customers to their company. Although every industry is different, the basic methods for building and maintaining a successful business, such as customer service, quality products, and managing expenses, tend to be universal.
One of the most important elements to the long-term success of any company is establishing a respected and well-known brand. Before the widespread use of the internet, this typically meant a combination of expensive advertising in newspapers, radio, and television, as well as carefully managing the customer experience in your physical storefront (if you had one) and with the actual product itself.
Branding and Your Website
With the ubiquitous nature of the internet today, the single most important impression you will make on your customers is your website. Every single company, no matter how large or small, absolutely must have a good-looking website. With the development of website building tools like WordPress, there is simply no reason not to have a clean and functional website where customers can go to find information about the company.
Your website will often be the first impression you make on potential customers, and (depending on the industry) might be the place customers interact with the company the most. It is absolutely essential to choose a domain name that is easy to remember and accurately reflects the business. Your domain name should be simple, fairly short, and easy to spell.
Unless you are a non-profit or other type of organization, be sure to use a “.com” suffix. The “.net”, “.org”, etc. are considered second-tier if you have a for-profit business, and more importantly, they are very hard to remember. If your website domain is www.mybusiness.net, customers will sometimes enter in www.mybusiness.com, confusing them and potentially driving your business to the client with the .com suffix! You are better off using some iteration of your business name (www.mywidgetbusiness.com, etc) than you are going with a .net or .org suffix. If you’re willing to spend the money, you might even be able to buy the domain name you want off the current owner.
Once you’ve chosen your domain name, you need to stick with it. Changing a domain name can be incredibly difficult because informing customers of the change can be difficult and appears unprofessional. More importantly, your email addresses (which should be using the @mybusiness.com domain) will ALL have to be changed. For most companies, this would cause unacceptably high amounts of chaos and downtime, so make sure you get the domain name right the first time!
Once you’ve decided on a domain name, it is important to choose a website hosting company that can effectively serve the needs of your website’s traffic. There are a lot of website hosting companies out there, and choosing the right one can be difficult.
When choosing a hosting service, you must decide if you want to use shared hosting or dedicated hosting. Shared hosting is a service offered by most web hosting companies, in which the information for your website is stored on their servers and all traffic to your website is directed to their host servers. This means that visitors to your website are accessing data on your web hosting company’s server and are dependent on the internet connection the web host has at any given time. A website hosting company that does not properly invest in hardware infrastructure and a robust and high-capacity internet connection will have crashes and downtime that directly affect your website’s operation and Google search ranking. In addition, “shared hosting” means that you will be sharing server space and an internet connection with other customers of the web hosting company. If the web host gets greedy and takes on more customers than their servers can handle, or if one of their customers is a data hog and uses up unreasonable amounts of bandwidth, this again will be reflected in a slowdown of your website.
One alternative is to use dedicated hosting. Like shared hosting, a dedicated host is run by a website hosting company. However, a dedicated host gives each customer a specific and set amount of server space and bandwidth. Although this option can be better than a shared host, it is not a cure-all. If the website host is using outdated servers or a weak internet connection, your website will still suffer connectivity and speed issues.
Your website is the first impression your company gets to make. Make sure your research and investment in it reflects its importance.
This post was written by Jeff Shjarback. Jeff Shjarback, MBA is a Digital Marketing Consultant, Writer and Blogger that enjoys blogging about online marketing, small business, lead generation, economics, innovation & emerging technology, future trend analysis and business philosophy. To learn more about Jeff, you can visit his Google Author Profile.