If you want to start at the beginning of this series on creating a successful SEO strategy, click here. You can find the previous Chapter about avoiding Get Rich Quick schemes here.
In Chapter 3, I will cover the basics to starting an online business. The following information applies to starting any type of online business, whether it is affiliate marketing, marketing your products or services or something else.
Step 1. Decide what you plan to sell online: Affiliate Marketing will be discussed in a later chapter as will ecommerce and other specifics. But you do need to start with a plan.
Step 2. Build a Keyword List: Once you have completed step 1 and know what you are going to sell, you need to figure out which keywords and phrases your target audience types into a search engine to find what you offer. How to build a keyword list will be its’ own chapter. Here I am just covering the basic steps to creating an online business.
Step 4. Register your domain name: You will read a lot of advice about domain names online. Some good, some bad. First, you do need to register your personal name and your company name as domains. Then, look at your keyword list. Pick the top key phrase you want to target from that list. You will need to register a domain name that has that top key phrase as the first word or words of the domain name. What you add after that is almost irrelevant as long as it is somehow related.
Example: You want to sell green widgets, so your top key phrase is likely “green widgets”. You check to see if greenwidgets.com is taken. If it is, you try greenwidgetsblog.com, greenwidgetsglobal.com, greenwidgetsonline.com, greenwidgetscheap.com, etc.
The generic keyword domain name is the one you will buy hosting for and where your website will actually reside. The company and personal domain names will be “pointed at” or “redirected to” that domain name.
This way you can still use the company domain name on all of your letterhead, business cards and other offline marketing tools. But the search engines will recognize your website through the keyword rich domain name and it will provide some SEO benefit from that.
3. You will need to get web hosting; There are a lot of options when it comes to web hosting. Do I get a dedicated server? Is cheap web hosting okay? What is a C Class? What is an IP Number? How much storage space will I need? What about bandwidth? Is a windows server or a linux/apache server the best choice? Those are just a few of the questions about web hosting.
First, if you are serious about running an online business, do not be a cheapskate when it comes to hosting your website. How fast your web pages load affects SEO and your conversion rate. Whether or not the hosting company has the latest version of MySQL, PHP and other apps you may need is important. How good is their technical support? Those are just a few things to consider. Cheap web hosting is not the answer.
If you ever plan to install wordpress, article dashboard or dozens of other software apps, then linux/apache is a better way to go than a windows server. Windows operates differently as a server. It is proprietary. That means you will have fewer choices down the road.
So I always recommend linux/apache. We can work with a client who has a windows server already and there are ways to force other software to work on your windows server. Basically, if you choose a windows server, almost everything you do later will cost more money.
You will not likely need a dedicated server when you are starting an online business, unless you are going to offer free video or music downloads.
As far as storage space is concerned, almost any web hosting plan offers plenty of space. Bandwidth is different. Avoid those who tell you you get unlimited bandwidth. It usually is not true, or at least it becomes not true as soon as you use more bandwidth than they wanted you to.
4. Plan out your website: We start by creating a “paper version” of your website without considering design. You need to know what pages will be created and how users will find those pages. Below are the basics all websites should have.
Then you need to decide what other pages will be created and where the links to those pages will be placed, such as; you want to create a page with all of your prices on it. Will the link to that page go into your main navigation or the footer. Likely the main navigation here.
Now let’s say you want to create another page that has custom pricing options. The link for that would likely be in your prices page but not in your main navigation for all pages. So, there is a hierarchy to structuring your website and that should be planned out before you start.
5. Choose a platform for your website: Are you going to build it in HTML, PHP, WordPress, Joomla or some other platform? In later chapters we will discuss the advantages and disadvantages of several popular platforms. For now, this is just to help you understand the steps to creating an online business.
6. Template or Custom Design?: If you hire a web designer to create a custom website for you, it will cost you money. How much depends on you and what you want built. Do not spend more than 20% of your budget for starting an online business on web design. You are going to need the rest of your money to promote your website and get traffic.
You can get website templates for free or for a very low cost compared to hiring a web designer for a custom design. Many of these templates have a very professional look and feel and once you get them, they can be edited to fit the style you want.
7. SEO and Content: Most web designers know how to create a pretty website. Some even think they know a little about SEO. I have had clients tell me that they have a relative or someone they work with that says they know SEO and web design and they won’t charge very much.
Avoid hiring your friends and relatives to build and optimize your website. Even IF they really do know something, you will find it harder to get rid of them if they do not perform the way you need them to. Hire professionals. You can always fire them!
I included SEO and Content in the same step because they are intertwined. You cannot have effective SEO without good, original content. You will not make sales without good, original content, written by someone who knows how to sell your product or services. You cannot optimize the code without knowing what the content will be and you cannot write the content without knowing how the page will be optimized.
Having an SEO professional build your website is the best choice. They can tell your designer or one they choose what design elements are needed. An SEO pro can optimize the pages of your website as they write content that will sell your products and services.
That’s it for the basic steps. In later chapters, we will get into more specifics. But you need to understand the process in order to have a successful online business.
Thanks for reading! Your comments and questions are welcome!
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