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Ruminations from open’s internal braintrust

Expertise is organic. It must be constantly nurtured if it is to grow and flourish. This is one of the fundamental pillars of OPEN’s internal culture.

Marvin Chaulk, Vice-President, Senior Consultant
OPEN Communications

openblog

the opinions and musings behind the expertise

Blog Author: Stephen Wheeler

Hooray, My Company’s on the Internet! Now What?

Stephen Wheeler

Posted: July 5, 2013

The Beginner's Guide to Owning and Caring for Your Very Own Webpage

Welcome to the internet, my friend!  Even if you feel like you are late to the party you are certainly welcome, let us show you around.  There are a few things you need to know about internet advertising.  A webpage is not just a sign you stick in the ground and forget about, it is more like a tree.  It needs to be tended, cared for and nurtured before it will bear fruit, so we are going to teach you how to cultivate your very own website and help it reach its full potential.

Stake Your Claim
The longer you wait to get a webpage, the harder it will be to get the domain name (ie. Your web address / URL) that you really want.  You may want to use a site like GoDaddy.com to investigate what domain names are available to you.  If the address you want is not available, you will be offered possible alternatives.If a domain name has fallen into disuse or not used at all, you may be able to acquire it from the owner (this of course depends on how much you are willing to pay). The basic rule for domain names is keep it short and sweet.

Be Clear and Upfront
When it comes to the internet, the only limit is your imagination, but being limitless means it can also be easy to get lost.  It can be tempting to try and cram all the latest bells and whistles into your page with text and videos flying in from every direction, but before you begin you have to ask yourself:

  1. Who is the audience I want to reach?
  2. What do they need from me?
  3. What do I want from them?

Asking yourself these questions will help bring focus to your website. Nobody wants to hunt for the information or services they are looking for so make sure you don’t waste your visitor’s time. You may want to tell the story of how you founded your company but that means nothing to someone who is just looking for price quotes, so keep your layout intuitive and user friendly.

Is e-Commerce Right for You?
With online services like PayPal, eBay and Groupon, it is getting easier all the time for small businesses to offer their for-sale goods online.  Or perhaps your company offers services? Online forms can help customers get price quotes, make reservations, or even put down deposits; there is a great deal of potential for online integrations.  Talk to your web development agency and perform a cost/benefit analysis for your business to see if e-Commerce is right for you.

Keep It Fresh
Create a plan to have regular updates to your page.  Changing your content on a regular basis will encourage return visits and help improve your search rankings.  By creating a schedule and adhering to it, you can take a lot of the stress out of creating web updates and keep your users engaged.

Promote! Promote! Promote!
Before your page can work for you, you have to work for it.  If you have a website, you have to shout it from the rooftops.  In this decade, customers don’t reach for the phonebook, they reach for their smartphones, so you want to make sure you are getting your name out there.

  • Put your web address on everything! Business cards, pens, t-shirts, cars! If you own it, URL it!
  • Take advantage of online listings. Services like Yelp* or canpages.ca can help people find you.
  • Look to social media to help get the word out. Social networking can help put a face to a business.
  • Paid advertisements, properly targeted, can help generate much needed web traffic.

A webpage is not just a webpage anymore. It is your representative in the online community; a digital storefront window for the whole world to see.  A well maintained website can return its investment many times over, because you are not investing in the internet, you are investing in yourself.