By Chris Danks
It would be pretty safe to assume that the majority of businesses have already taken their company online. If you’re yet to do so or are in the early stages of establishing a business, getting online should be near the top of your to-do list.
Unless you’ve been residing under a rock for the past couple of decades, you’ll be aware that the Internet has become kind of a big deal. Not only has it affected people’s lives on a daily basis (socializing, shopping, etc.), but it’s completely changed the business world by revolutionizing virtually every industry. So, again: kind of a big deal.
If you’re a small business owner and are yet to take the leap onto the web, there’s no time like the present — and having some knowledge and guidance in the early stages can help you catch up to established online businesses. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when taking your business online.
1. Establish the Purpose of Your Website
Before you have to make any decisions about website hosting services, web design, or any of the other aspects of an online business, you first have to establish what the purpose of your site will be.
Businesses that sell products or services online via electronic transactions will have what’s known as an eCommerce website. These have completely changed the way people choose to do their shopping, whether it’s everyday goods or big ticket items, and has made small business owners legitimate competition for big-name brands.
Other companies use a website as a primary marketing tool and an ideal way to reach out efficiently to their intended audience. Although they aren’t selling a product or service online, they are selling their ideology as a company. There will also be various calls-to-action (CTA) prompts such as “fill in this form” and “call this phone number” to make it easier for visitors to get in contact with the company.
2. Get a High-Quality Web Hosting Service
Before you can create a website, you’ll need your own little corner of the Internet to do so: your web space. You’ll also need to register a custom domain name, both of which can be acquired from a website hosting company.
While free web hosting may be a very appealing option to companies with a tight budget, this option can be very restrictive, while the benefits you get from paid hosting are extremely useful for business. Not only does it provide you with a more reliable service, advanced hardware and more disk space, but you also have much more creative freedom in regards to design and content.
There are a few different types of web hosting to choose from, so it’s a good idea to read up on each and decide which would suit your needs best. This will prevent you from purchasing something you don’t necessarily need, or a service that doesn’t have the resources to keep you online.
3. Create a Website that Befits Your Brand
For companies in the modern business world, the importance of establishing your brand can’t be stressed enough. Every single aspect of your business’ products, services and marketing will contribute to your audience’s perception of your brand — and a vital resource of any brand is their website.
You need a site that makes your audience want to be associated with your brand, meaning that the design, web copy and images all have to be of the highest quality. You also have to consider the quality of your website in regards to loading times and its ability to be user-friendly; both of which can be affected by your choice of web hosting and web hosting provider.
4. Understand that Blogging is Great for SEO
As a business owner, you’ve probably heard of search engine optimization (SEO). If you haven’t, you should probably read up on it as soon as possible. In short, SEO is a set of rules or guidelines for website and blog owners to follow that will improve their ranking on search engines, thus increasing the exposure and traffic of their site.
Search engines love websites to have consistent, high-quality content, which is why a company blog can prove to be extremely beneficial for SEO. It’s also a brilliant way for your audience to connect with the faces behind the brand and a place to read news, announcements, rants or any other content that you put out.
A blog is relatively easy to maintain, but the most vital point is to put out content consistently. Whether it’s once a week or a couple of times a month, doing so will show people that your brand is alive and kicking.
5. Fully Embrace Social Media
Social networks such as Facebook and Twitter have become nothing short of a phenomenon. What started off as a modern and more exciting way to speak to people all around the world, social media has become a marketing dream for businesses.
Facebook recorded 1.86 billion monthly users at the end of 2016. That figure alone should tell you the scale of what social media has become. Whereas in years gone by, the business world would be dominated by large organizations with outlandish marketing budgets, it’s now a much more level playing field for small businesses, thanks to social media. Embracing social media will give you access to millions and millions of people, allowing you to market your product or service to a global audience.
In an era when modern technology has an impact on everything, as a business owner, it would be foolish to ignore the benefits it has to offer. Whether your company uses a website for eCommerce purposes or as a platform to market your business, creating something worthwhile that speaks to your audience will have the potential to increase your exposure and further establish yourself as a brand.