Ready to take your business online? With so many options, it can be hard to take the leap, but we’ll take you through why you need to Get Online and the best ways you can do it.
Why Should Your Business be Online?
As individuals, almost everyone in the UK is online now or has access and over 50% of the world’s population now has access to the world wide web.
We all recognise the power of the internet and how it has become an important part of our lives. In the business world, more and more leaders understand their prospects are searching online for their product or service. After all, don’t you do the same?
The phone book was once the first place we’d turn to find a service provider. The phone book has been getting smaller and smaller in recent times, while the internet continues to grow.
Phone book publishers have their own reasons behind shrinking phone books and assert “[t]he Yellow Pages are used 19 times a second” according to a spokesman for Yell. Google, on the other hand, processes over 40,000 search queries every second according to Internet Live Stats.
Assuming all things were equal, and accounting for China’s population, there are 348 Google searches per second in the United Kingdom. If you’re starting a new business today, having your own online presence will play a pivotal role in your success.
Solo contractors are increasingly seeing the competitive advantage that having an online presence brings to their work. Freelancers understand that at the very least, they need a portfolio website that appears when prospective clients search their name.
If you already have a business but don’t yet have your own online presence, you’re at a disadvantage to your competitors that do.
How Can You Get Your Business Online?
There are two ways we recommend to get your business online, using:
- Website builders
- Content Management System (CMS) and hosting
Both options come with their own set of plus points and drawbacks. Let’s take a look at how using a website builder, or the CMS of your choice on a hosting plan could work for you.
Website builders are great because they allow you to Get Online with minimal technical knowledge. From the now extinct Geocities, to Blogger, to Wix and Weebly, website builders provide a quick and relatively easy way to get an online presence.
Although free website builders are a quick and easy way to get started whatever your budget, one drawback is the negative impact they have on the ability of your brand to Grow Visibility. If you went with a service called example.com, your website’s address would be yourname.example.com.
One manufacturing company we provided consultancy services for used a wordpress.com website which meant the URL was theirbrand.wordpress.com. We advised they add the blog to their company website as theirbrand.com/blog, which would provide benefits for both SEO and branding.
Website Builder Upgrades
Almost every website builder will offer upgrades that allow websites they host to use a custom domain, removing the website builder’s branding from the URL. If you have the time to spend making your own website, but don’t feel confident installing a CMS and taking care of hosting, this would be the best way to go.
Not everyone has the in-house expertise required to integrate a WordPress (or other type of) blog into their current website. The next best thing would be to buy a domain name and build your website using a builder like Wix, then paying to use your domain name with their service. Alternatively, you could purchase your domain through their service, for which you are usually billed monthly.
Website Builders to Avoid
Although website builders provide a great service, we’d recommend you avoid those provided by domain name registrars. You’re very likely to end up with an over-priced website with limited features that often isn’t as secure as the main players in the website builder market.
CMS and Hosting
The other option is to use your own CMS and choice of website hosting with a domain name to Get Online. You will also need to purchase a domain name via a domain name registrar if you wish to use this option.
First of all, you’ll need to decide on a Content Management System (CMS), then build it yourself if you want to go the DIY route. Alternatively, you could hire your own developer or a marketing agency to build one for you. We almost exclusively use WordPress as a CMS for customer’s websites and host them on our website hosting servers.
Choosing a CMS
This is the most important decision you can make when going the custom route of choosing your own CMS and hosting. We’ve seen people take the wrong advice and use a good CMS, but one which wasn’t suited to their purposes and not adapted to suit them. Even the correct CMS can be a poor choice if it isn’t set up to serve you in your unique situation.
The most popular CMS by far is WordPress, with 33% of the top 1million websites in the world using it. Once installed, it’s relatively easy to use and get the hang of for a basic user. If you just want a website with several static pages that require very few changes once in a blue moon and you may or may not want to blog, WordPress is a great choice.
Another popular CMS called Magento, is popular for e-commerce websites. However, Magento can be slightly more complicated for a beginner and isn’t as blogging friendlily as WordPress. Drupal, Jooomla and MODX are other good choices with varied customisation options.
Choosing a Host
Choosing a good host can be hit and miss, but if you’re just starting out, you won’t need the fastest host to Get Online, but you will want them to be reliable. A quick Google search for ‘website hosting’ returned about 535,000,000 results, with adverts filling the top and bottom of the page.
It’s really overwhelming and a very competitive space which even some website builders place adverts for, though they are only able to host websites built with their own CMS. Some of the top organic (non-advert) results are also domain name registrars.
There are a host (:lol:) of review websites out there which can be a great help. Almost all of them operate on an affiliate basis, which means if you purchase hosting from a provider after clicking one of their links, they receive a commission.
Get Online Now
Now, you’re ready to start the process of taking your business online. You’ve seen why it’s important and explored some options to achieve that.
Will you Get Online with a website builder, look for your own host, or avail of our hosting service?
Whichever option is best for your business, we’re here to help you build your new website or take the next step and Grow Visibility.
Get started here