Tag: websites

5 Tips for Choosing a Dependable Website Partner

5 Tips for Choosing a Dependable Website PartnerLet’s face it. Business relationships sometimes end unexpectedly. And when that relationship is with your website partner, you might be left with an unfinished, unattended or hijacked site.

What’s a small business owner to do?

Choose your host

For starters, make sure your developer approves of you being involved in choosing a dependable hosting provider. Why not just host wherever your developer chooses? As a business owner, you need assurance that all website files will be safe and accessible when the relationship with the web developer ends. If the only party with access to those files is suddenly no longer your partner, you might find yourself locked out.

Own your domain

Next, insist on being the legal registrant of your website’s domain name. Just as you wouldn’t let your accountant own your bank account, your web developer shouldn’t own your website address. If a dispute arises and you are not listed as the legal registrant, you might be in for a struggle. Unless you’re the owner you won’t be able to renew your domain or protect it from hijacking. If a potential website partner is reluctant to let you register your domain, it might be time to look elsewhere.

Set expectations

In addition, set clear expectations up front—from start to finish. You can do this by asking targeted questions:

  • What work will be done?
  • When will it be done?
  • Is Search Engine Optimization included?
  • Who will have access to make updates, and how often will updates be required?
  • Will there be extra charges for maintenance?
  • Who will own copyright?
  • Will copywriting or editing be provided, and if so, how much will those services cost?
  • Will images or graphic design be included? If not, what is the process for obtaining and sharing suitable photos?
  • What’s the exit strategy, should either partner decide to move in a new direction?
  •  Will your designer need hosting or a server to do a custom build or use a popular content management system such as WordPress or Website Builder?

5 Tips for Choosing a Dependable Website PartnerWhy does it matter? If you don’t have a clear direction, you won’t be able to tell if you are on track. It’s also important to know if there are application passwords you need to record and whether the option you’ve chosen together allows you to make updates on your own or whether it will require a professional.

Stay involved

Once your website has been launched, let your website partner know you plan to remain actively involved. Then follow through. Visit it often to make sure it remains online. Just because no one has intentionally made changes to the site does not guarantee nothing has changed. Not being aware of issues can be disastrous if backups have become stale or unavailable by the time someone notices a problem.

Often, something as simple as an automatic update to core WordPress, Joomla! or Drupal files or an update that has been missed can cause all sorts of issues. Some errors have easy fixes. Others require the eye of a professional. Make sure you know in advance if your developer is qualified—and willing—to handle such things as they occur.

Maintain backups

Finally, before a single page is created, insist on full website backups. Will they keep them current? How will they keep them safe? Will they be within your reach? A backup is of no use to you if you cannot deploy it if your website goes down or has issues and your partner is suddenly unavailable. Even if you and your website partner’s relationship remains intact, you never know when your site might be hacked or some other unexpected disaster might arise. If your developer declines to maintain backups, it’s time to find someone who will.

In the end, only you can decide who is best-suited to build and maintain your website. Make sure it is a mutually beneficial arrangement and always be ready to adapt if necessary.

Your website visitors will thank you.

By RuthAnn Hogue, GoDaddy

RuthAnn Hogue, GoDaddyAbout the Author

Award-winning print journalist and traditionally published nonfiction author RuthAnn Hogue now spends her work days immersed in technology. When she’s not helping people with their hosting as the Hosting Support Agent for GoDaddy, RuthAnn volunteers her time as Marketing Director for Rag Collection. She also spoils four energetic Jack Russell terriers.

 

 

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3 tips for Choosing the Perfect Domain Name for your Business’s Website Address

3 tips for Choosing the Perfect Domain Name for your Business’s Website Address Finding the right domain name for your business can be a daunting task. I spent more time researching and deciding on my latest domain name than I spent choosing my daughter’s name. True story. When it comes to a domain name, there’s no such thing as “good enough.”

Here are three tips that’ll help you narrow down the list and get that one-of-a-kind, memorable name in your hands.

  1.    If you’re local, say it.

After my son decided to see how high the garage door would carry him if he hung on it while his brother pressed the open button, I needed to find a garage door repair service that was local. I jumped on Google and searched for “garage repair” in my city. The results included names of businesses that serviced my region — which was great — but I really wanted someone who lives and works in my community.

With that in mind, I only clicked on results that had the name of my city in their domain. Some of the other results could have been local, but I couldn’t determine that from a domain like “Smithandsonsgaragedoors.com.” Remember, your potential customers don’t know your business name but they know the service they’re looking for.

Before the end of the day I was $200 lighter, I had a garage door that closes, and my son now knows what the garage looks like from the ceiling.

  1.     Check out new generic top-level domains.

Not long ago, our online naming choices were much more limited because many of the short and sweet .com names are already registered. Finding the perfect name was like winning the Wonka Golden Ticket. That’s not the case anymore.

My social media feeds are packed with friends who are starting home-based businesses and grabbing fantastic domains using the new generic top-level domain (gTLD) extensions like .photography and .guru. The hundreds of new industry-specific domain extensions rolling out mean you don’t have to settle for a long domain name that’s hard to remember. Now, you can find a shorter domain with an extension that describes your business.

For example, if you live in Atlanta and want to find the perfect wedding photographer, you can register a domain name such as AtlantaWedding.photography. Many domain registrars have a list of gTLD domain extensions that describe exactly the industry you’re servicing.

  1.     Taken doesn’t always mean taken.

If you search for your perfect domain and find that it’s already been registered, that doesn’t always mean it’s not available. Many businesses find their dream domain in the domain aftermarket. Spend a few minutes researching domain auction websites to see if you find your perfect domain. You’ll pay a premium for these rare domains, but in many cases, it pays off faster than a brand new domain.

I have a friend who runs a surf shop in Newport Beach, Calif. She purchased a domain similar to greatswimsuits.com for a few thousand dollars and started a separate online store just selling swimsuits. Because the domain was short, easy to remember, and used common keywords, she increased her online sales and the domain paid for itself in a few months.

I promise you there’s is a perfect domain name for your business. And these tips can help ease the anxiety of finding it.

By Isaac Irvine, GoDaddy

About the Author:

Isaac IrvineA cheerleader for small business owners and buying local, Isaac “loves the heart and soul that local businesses put into their products and services.” He’s especially interested in writing articles and sharing advice about productivity and efficiently building a business. “It’s hard to run a business and balance family and friends,” he says. “I have young kids and a wife at home, so I know how important family time is. I love sharing tips and tricks that help small businesses grow and give them more time to spend with the people who support their dream at home.” When he’s not at work, you can usually find Isaac and his kids riding their bikes at the local skatepark or sampling local coffee offerings. Isaac is a native of Northern California who transplanted to Phoenix eight years ago to work for GoDaddy.

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Website DNA – 10 Tips to Build a Traffic-Driving Online Presence

Website DNA: 10 tips to build a traffic-driving online presenceThe backbone of any small business is its customers. Without a steady influx of patrons, even the most creative and well-run enterprises will naturally falter. It’s no longer a secret that having an effective online presence can help you reach and maintain the growing customer base you need, but what are the habits of highly effective websites? How will you know what methods do and don’t drive traffic? Trial and error is not an acceptable solution; we’ve got to get your traffic on the uptick as soon as possible! Fortunately, we’ve taken the guesswork out of what it takes to build an effective website.

  1. Use simple, clear navigation. Your site should be free of extra, unnecessary pages and and the pages you do have should be clearly labeled and visible.
  1. Write strong, meaningful headlines. If you had one sentence to explain what you do, what would you say? Convey that information as quickly as possible so your viewers know what they are looking at right off the bat.
  1. Include one or two calls to action for each web page. I’ve told you what I do; now there is something I want YOU to do. “Call in today!” “Click here for appointments!” “Subscribe to our newsletter.” Calls to action such as these boost your customer’s interactivity with your site and put more people in contact with you.
  1. Share your story on your About Us page. Who are you and why do you matter? Why are you in business? Share your passion for what you do, and add personalized visuals for extra power.
  1. Gather and publish testimonials. Positive endorsements from happy customers give your business amazing credibility. Talking about how great you are is a sales pitch if it comes from you, but it’s a testimonial if it comes from them. Ask your customers for their feedback and use third-party sites like Yelp to gather reviews. Be sure to ask permission to share them on your website.
  1. Add badges, logos and certifications. You went to school for XYZ, prove it! You’ve won local awards for best business, prove it! Adding these visual cues gives you a chance to associate yourself with a known, trusted brand. If you’re a Microsoft-approved technician who owns a computer repair shop, promote that affiliation — it will do wonders for building your credibility.
  1. Remove risk – offer a guarantee. If you aren’t willing to stand by your own service, nobody else will either. Give a price-match guarantee, show a warranty, or list your return policy. You want to tell customers that you are the best at what you do, but even if something does go wrong, you will still stand by them.
  1. Collect email addresses. Let’s keep in touch! How else will your customers know about your exciting news, special deals, or groundbreaking announcements? Offer a newsletter, tip sheet or guide. Send out samples or coupons via email to keep your subscribers engaged.
  1. Engage your customers on social media sites. Connect with your customers where they spend their free time — on Facebook, Twitter and other social networks. If somebody likes your business page or shares your status, consider that free advertising targeted to friends of people you already do business with.
  1. Offer visitors something special. There are four barbecue restaurants within two miles of my house. Four! Why would I go to one over another? What does each restaurant offer that the others don’t? Offer a new customer deal, a sale of the week, a unique recipe, or a referral service.

About the Author

Erik Wong with GoDaddyErik Wong is a small business consultant for GoDaddy and a freelance pop-culture writer. He has been a published author and blogger since 2008 and in his wilder years has been a featured writer for RealClearPolitics. When not writing, he enjoys watching loud movies and sleeping through his morning alarms.

 

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How a Geographical Domain can Help your Business

by Christopher Ambler, GoDaddy

How a geographical domain can help your businessLet’s dispel two myths before we begin. The first is that all domains that are not .com domains are worthless. The second is that generic domains like .com are dead with the introduction of hundreds of new top-level domains. Both assumptions are false, yet both need to be understood in order to take advantage of the new landscape in domain names. Especially when considering a geographical domain, making your choices with these two myths in mind can greatly improve your experience and chances of success in geographical marketing.

The myths suggests a truth, and that truth is that domain names are not a zero-sum game. There is no reason your business should not have a main, brand able, easy-to-remember domain name that “everyone knows.” Presumably it’s the name of your business. It’s most likely a .com if you’ve had it for a long time, or one of the newer generic top-level domains (gTLDs) if you are either new or going for a memorable name that sticks with people. It’s the name everyone knows you by.

That being established, intent-specific domains, in addition to your main brand, allow for innovative marketing campaigns as well as laser-focused targeting of demographics. Geographic domains fit perfectly into this strategy.

Find me!

A key benefit to a geographical domain is search. As more top-level domains begin to make their way into the decisions made by search engines like Google or Bing, geographical considerations are a leading factor. This is predictable, as the intent of a geographical domain is pretty clear and it is easy for search engines to recognize this.

By branding your business with a geographical domain, you’re not only creating a new way for customers to reach you, you’re also creating a new search pathway tied to your location.

When BillsBaitAndSushi.com is also BaitAndSushi.NYC, search engines are increasingly likely to return your result for searches like “Bait and Sushi in New York.”

Take pride in your town

Everyone is proud of where he or she lives and works, right? Consider a marketing campaign tied to your location. When Bill, the Tuna Ninja was considering a new marketing campaign, he knew that he had the best fish in Quebec and he wanted to be sure that everyone else knew it as well. A .Quebec domain that pointed to a landing page on his website offering discounts to loyal local customers was just the thing. When Bill then took out an ad claiming to have the freshest fish in Quebec and used his geographical domain name, people made the association and remembered it.

Look outward and expand

What about geographical domains for areas other than your physical location? One way to expand is to consider advertising in a new market. If a geographical domain is available in a market you’re considering (or, even better, if one suggests a market you’d not thought about yet), create a campaign. Find an angle, create a message, and put it on a web page linked to a geographical domain.

Returning to the idea of search, people seeking your product or service and adding a geographical region might see results based solely on the domain name’s indexing in the major search engines. Once you have them looking at your business in that mindset, you can make your pitch.

Especially with the trend towards more mobile usage, location-based suggestions are just one way geographical domains are finding their way into the mainstream. Take advantage of them!

 

About the Author

Chris AmblerChristopher Ambler is a Senior Architect at GoDaddy who writes sleek, performant, low-overhead Java and Scala code. In his copious spare time he can be found playing poker or listening to progressive music not in 4/4 time. He recently relocated to sunny California from Seattle. Christopher blogs at Bit Parts, and you can also find him on LinkedIn and Facebook. Connect with Chris on Google+. The world’s largest domain name registrar and Web hosting provider, GoDaddy gives small business owners the tools to name their idea, build a beautiful online presence, attract customers and manage their business. To get more tips for your small business—including articles, videos and webinars—check out the GoDaddy Training Hub.

 

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10 Things Every Business Website Needs

By Andrea Rowland, GoDaddy

10 Things Every Business Website NeedsLet’s say you own a bakery and you’ve got website for your small business. To you, it might be most important to showcase your amazing triple chocolate cupcakes. After all, you worked hard to make them and stage them just so for a recent photo shoot. Why not fill your website’s home page with enough photos of chocolate cupcakes to satisfy a chocoholic’s craving just by looking at your site?

Your customers, on the other hand, might just want your phone number — which is now buried beneath all those delicious images.

To be successful online, your small business website must have these 10 things:

  1. A great domain name. You need a domain name that shows who you are and what you do at a glance. It’s got to be easy to remember and type into a browser. With the availability of hundreds of new domain extensions, it’s never been easier to get just the right domain. To learn more, check out some strategies for registering a domain.
  2. Your phone number. It should be highly visible on your front page and, if it’s a primary mode of contact for your business, you also should include it on interior web pages. If you don’t offer phone consultation or support, make sure people know how to reach you.
  3. Your address. If you have a physical address, list it right next to your phone number on the home page.
  4. Your hours of operation. Customers want to know when you’re open (if you have a brick-and-mortar store), so make sure you make it simple for them to find out by including your operating hours on your home page.
  5. An email address.  Sometimes, people don’t want to pick up the phone. Make sure they can reach you via email. Using a free email address that doesn’t include your domain name? Perhaps you should reconsider.
  6. What you do. If you’re a bakery, this can be incredibly simple. If you work in a niche legal market, spell it out for visitors because if someone’s not sure, they could take their business elsewhere. Include a succinct description of what you do on your home page and more in-depth information on your products and services page.
  7. Who you are. People connect with people — that’s why social media is so popular (more on that to follow). Make sure your website says something about the people behind the website, preferably on a dedicated About Us page.
  8. Clear navigation. If visitors to your website can’t easily move from one page to another, they aren’t likely to stick around for long. Read more about navigation for your website here.
  9. Easy-to-read content. While it might seem like swapping links with other sites or creating a lot of advertising space is a good idea, if it makes your website hard to read or navigate, you’re working against yourself. You don’t need to be a professional writer to create strong website copy, but you should do a bit of planning in advance.
  10. Compelling visuals. Well-executed (i.e. sharp and well-lit) photos and videos can help turn browsers into buyers. They play an important role in telling your business’s story, and make a website more enjoyable to view. You can even create them yourself with your smartphone.

Just like owning a small business, creating and maintaining a successful website is an ongoing process of love and labor. But if you nail these 10 content basics, you’ll be well on your way to a website that’s as sweet as the icing on those triple chocolate cupcakes.

About the Author:

Andrea RowlandA former small business owner and newspaper journalist, and a published nonfiction author, Andrea Rowland helps craft compelling communications for today’s go-getters through her work as a copy editor at GoDaddy. Connect with Andrea on Google+. The world’s largest domain name registrar and Web hosting provider, GoDaddy gives small business owners the tools to name their idea, build a beautiful online presence, attract customers and manage their business. To get more tips for your small business—including articles, videos and webinars—check out the GoDaddy Training Hub.

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4 Security Tips for Website Plugins

By Andrea Rowland, GoDaddy

Some WordPress Plugins can mess with website securityPlugins for websites built on platforms like WordPress® are wonderful … until they’re not.

Plugins can make your small business website stand out from the competition in terms of customization, speed, and integration with other systems — like social media networks. Plugins such as WordPress SEO by Yoast can help people find your site. You can monetize it with plugins like Ads Elite for Joomla!®. Separately or in bundles such as Jetpack for WordPress, they can take a so-so site to stellar status by improving its appearance, functionality and performance.

Plugins also can compromise your website if they’re not secure.

“While plugins and extensions provide useful features, it’s important to keep your website’s security in mind if you consider using these tools. A single security vulnerability in a plugin or extension can lead to the compromise of a fully patched application,” Kurt Payne, a seasoned developer over at GoDaddy, notes in “Zip it up: Security tips for plugins, themes and extensions.”

To keep your website safe while enjoying the myriad benefits of plugins, Kurt suggests four basic plugin security tips:

  1. Delete unused plugins. If you don’t have that code on your website, hackers can exploit it. Learn more about deleting plugins here.
  2. Be careful about where you get your plugins. Unless you get your plugins from a trusted source, you’re in danger of installing a plugin that contains malware. Malware is a type of malicious code that includes viruses and spyware, which can cause problems ranging from unwanted pop-up ads to the theft of passwords and other sensitive information.
  3. Use strong passwords. You hear this all the time, but really, this is where online security starts. “There are large, automated password guessing swarms of computers out there trying to break into WordPress sites, so keep your password hard to guess,” Kurt stresses. Here’s a helpful resource for generating strong passwords.
  4. Keep your plugins up to date. Kurt recommends a handful of resources to help you keep track of and manage necessary plugin updates, including:
  • WP Updates Notifier – This plugin monitors your WordPress installation for needed updates and alerts you via email.
  • ManageWP – If you’ve got more than a couple WordPress sites, this dashboard enables you to more easily manage and update them at once.
  • InfiniteWP – Another single admin panel to manage multiple WordPress sites.

Pro tip: Kurt even developed a plugin, the P3 (Plugin Performance Profiler), to help you target WordPress plugins that are causing site slowness.

Be sure to read the full post to get all of Kurt’s helpful hints for keeping your website’s plugins, themes and extensions secure.

About the Author:

Andrea RowlandA former small business owner and newspaper journalist, and a published nonfiction author, Andrea Rowland helps craft compelling communications for today’s go-getters through her work as a copy editor at GoDaddy. Connect with Andrea on Google+. The world’s largest domain name registrar and Web hosting provider, GoDaddy gives small business owners the tools to name their idea, build a beautiful online presence, attract customers and manage their business. To get more tips for your small business—including articles, videos and webinars—check out the GoDaddy Training Hub.

 

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