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How to Get Your Business Online

by Jody S. Ginther

Step 1: Choose a domain name.

A domain name is your identity on the internet. For example in: http://www.fortuneandfitness.com the domain name is "fortuneandfitness.com." Keep your domain name as short as possible or easy to remember. Make a list of at least three similar or alternative names in case your first choice is taken.

Do a search with a major search engine to see if the name is taken. (Some web designers don't recommend using a search engine on a domain purchasing site unless you are ready to buy it now. The theory is that some sites may raise the cost of domain names that have been searched for recently or someone may buy them to sell to you at a higher price.) Your domain name should reflect something about your business, product, or service.

Step 2: Buy your domain name.

A host is a company that provides a service to store your web site on their computers for internet access. If you buy a hosting package that includes a free domain name be careful. They may be the registered owners of the domain name and you may have to pay a much higher price to renew it in the future. Another problem is that even if they say you have the domain "for life" this often means so long as you keep them as your host. If you change hosts you could loose your domain name.

I recommend buying a domain name directly from a domain seller like GoDaddy.com - World's No.1 Domain Name Registrar

You can do a web search in Google for the "10 best domain sellers" or "domain seller review." Make sure the article is not too old. I normally buy a domain name for ten years so the price can't go up every year. Unless you are just test marketing, I would suggest buying it for more than one year.

Step 3: Design a Website

Either design it yourself or hire a web designer to make your web pages. If you plan to do it yourself, you will need to learn the basics of html and/or get your hands on some software to help you. You can start with the free version of CoffeeCup to help you make your site. Study some html at:() Html is easy to learn and is the most compatible ac-crossed the internet. You have to remember there is a trade off if you want to make your site too fancy with a lot of CSS, video content, high graphics etc. If you use drag and drop programs to design your website or use some of the latest web programming languages, you may actually damage the amount traffic to your site. Many "bells and whistles" will not look right in some browsers and some elements may not be search-able to search engines. A good rule of thumb is to keep it simple. Look at Google, Yahoo, or Bing's search pages. These are pretty simple designs for very practical reasons. Look at other sites for ideas.

If you are hiring a web designer, shop around and make sure he has made some high traffic sites. Don't allow him to design a site with only a few pages. Search engines may require ten or more pages before considering your site finished. Make sure your web designer includes meta tags other details of designing a site to get it noticed. A web site can look great, but be unsearchable by standard search engines, robots, spiders, and other software used to find it or index the site's content. Your site must be internet friendly or it is useless no matter how nice it looks. You will also need to update and maintain the site often if you want it to be successful.

Step 4: Choose a Hosting Service

A hosting service is just a company that stores your website on their computer. Some hosting services specialize in certain types of websites. Choose a hosting service based on your needs and current hosting service reviews. Do a search on the top ten hosting services for 2010. Read more than one review before choosing. Some host services are very helpful through all stages of your online business and some expect you to know what you are doing. We use Inmotionhosting.com

Step 5: Publish and Test Your Site.

Your web site designer or hosting service will help you publish your site. To publish your site just means to transfer your completed web site design and files to the host's computer. Once it is published, go have a look. Test the links with different browsers like Explorer and Firefox to make sure it does what you want it to do and looks like you want it to look. You will probably have to make several changes before you get what you want on different browsers.

Step 6: Submit Your Site to Search Engines

Having a web site does not mean anyone will find you. You should spend some hours submitting your URL or web site address like:
"http://www.FortuneAndFitness.com" to search engines. Do a search in the search engine to learn how or where to submit your URL. Most major search engines do not require a fee. Paying for submission is not necessary for your web site to be successful. Once you are listed on major search engines like Google, Yahoo, or Bing, many other search engines will add your URL. Many smaller search engines use the larger search engine data bases and will find your site if it was submitted to the major search engines. Be patient, it can take a few days to months for your site to be checked and indexed after it is submitted.

Step 7: Begin To Promote Your Site.

Promoting your site and getting traffic are continual parts of your online business. Site promotion and marketing are beyond the scope of a short article. This topic would require at least one book to cover the basics. To begin with, you want as many quality links pointing at your site as possible and you must make as many people aware of your site as possible. Don't fall for link buying/exchanging programs offering instant riches. If you link to bad sites, you get a bad ranking and it will damage your business. You must research what high quality sites are related to your kind of business to get the proper target market visiting your site.

Use social networking sites, email, advertising, and design a marketing plan to help people find your site. Two words to learn about are; ranking and traffic. Internet search engines will rank your site in comparison to others. If your ranking is high, companies will pay more to advertise on your site. Site management and promotion should never end. It will take research, time, and effort to have a successful online business.

Step 8: Site Maintenance

Hire a web developer or learn to maintain your site. A good web site must be continually checked for broken links and other problems.

Update your site. Everyone hates thinking they found the information they are looking for only to find out the site and information are out of date. The web is full of obsolete sites and information. Don’t let your site become one of them.

The internet is in a continual state of change. Make sure you keep an up to date internet marketing plan based on these changes. You can find an outline of a general business marketing plan in the Marketing section of this issue of Good Business Magazine. I hope this brief overview has been helpful. Good luck.