Facebook Responds to Mobile’s Need for Speed

Instant Articles will be Available to All Publishers

Read about the benefits for you–as a reader and as a local business owner:

Facebook instant articles image

Slow loading time on mobile is the bane of all internet marketers at this time. So many people get their information from mobile devices that they cannot be ignored. As more and more platforms and apps recognize this, they are scrambling to increase the load speed.

This is great news for the mobile users. However it has also allowed them to become less patient and more finicky about how they received data. Since there are sources where the information loads quickly, the users tend to migrate to those outlets.

Bottom line: if you want to keep up, you have to satisfy the mobile users’ need for speed.

Facebook has been working on doing precisely that with Instant Articles.Touted as a way for publishers to get content to their readers more quickly, this program has, to date, only been available to a select group of publishers for testing.

The wait for the rest of the publishing (and marketing) world is almost over! Facebook has recently announced that on April 12th Instant Articles will be open to all publishers. Yep, ALL publishers. No size restrictions. No location limitations.

We built Instant Articles to solve a specific problem—slow loading times on the mobile web created a problematic experience for people reading news on their phones. This is a problem that impacts publishers of all sizes, especially those with audiences where low connectivity is an issue. With that in mind, our goal from the beginning was to open up Instant Articles to all publishers and we’re excited to be able to do that in a way that makes it fast and easy for all publishers to reach their audiences on Facebook.

This is a great idea for Facebook–they will be able to keep their user base rather than seeing them head for greener, and faster, pastures.

Here is what also sounds great for the publishers: publishers retain full control! Control over the content, control over how it looks, and control over the advertising! Facebook will even allow publishers to show content that has ads that are not part of the Facebook product line–without taking a cut.

With Instant Articles, publishers have full control over the look of their stories, as well as data and ads. They have the ability to bring their own direct-sold ads and keep 100% of the revenue, and track data on the ads served through their existing ad measurement systems, or they can monetize their content through the Facebook Audience Network. Additionally, publishers can use their existing web-based analytics systems to track article traffic or use third-party providers. They can do all this while accessing a rich suite of multimedia tools to create dynamic, interactive stories, that will load quickly everywhere on Facebook, regardless of where in the world their readers are.

Instant articles using the same technology that is currently used to upload photographs with speed.

And speaking of photographs, rather than being limited to the size of your mobile phone screen, users will be able to tilt their phone (yes, tilt, not swipe) and see more of the photograph. Users will be able to zoom into the photo and see an interactive map of where the photo was taken.

Videos will also run seamlessly with this technology. In all, it is an awesome user experience.

Although geared for media outlets, this technology will have a big impact on any local business who engages in content marketing. And let’s be honest, content marketing is an important part of being found on the internet today.


To learn more about the opening of Facebook Instant Articles, read Josh Roberts’ original post here

Read more about Instant Articles here.

To learn more about how you can take advantage of Instant Articles as a publisher, read this documentation from Facebook

Photo courtesy of Facebook

Build Your Brand: Why SEO is Important

Google Says Better to Hire SEO NOW…So Why Do So Many People Wait?

seo branding

For a lot of people, SEO is an afterthought.

It’s strange, as even Google says that IF you have to hire an SEO, you should do so early rather than late, like when you’re just planning to launch a new site.

Now, why would Google say that?

Because SEO isn’t a topping that you can just pour on top of your site. It’s a base ingredient.

Yes, this applies to websites–but to your brand, too. Don’t wait until later or you will miss out on much on a lot of good business $$$.

Why is SEO important…important enough for Google to tell you that it IS indeed important?

 
Google (and other search engines…but Google is still, at least for now, #1) rely on providing a good ‘user experience.’ They want the people who are using their search engine to be happy and to find what they are looking for.
 
After all, if they don’t, Google knows that they will start searching using some other tool. This is exactly what happened to the phone books, right? We all used to look things up on the phone book until Google made it so much easier to use the internet.
 
Google wants to have happy customers because if people find what they are looking for, then businesses will advertise on Google. It is all economics.
 
So what does Google want from you, your site, your brand? They want speed, a site that is easy for their robots to understand, that is mobile friendly, that has fresh content….
 
If you think SEO is not related to this, you would be wrong. SEO affects so many levels of the user experience.
 
Check out this diagram from Peter Morville. It gives a basic idea of what it feels like to be searching for something online.

user experience honeycomb tfE2pU

Think in these terms, they are the very foundation of a good user experience. Evaluate your website and brand based on them.

  • Useful: Your content should be useful and relevant.
  • Usable: Your site should be easy to navigate.
  • Desirable: Your design should appeal to your target audience.  
  • Findable: You should focus on content and make searching for information easy..
  • Accessible: Your site should be mindful of people with disabilities.
  • Credible: Your brand must show signs of authority and prompt trust.

Most of these attributes, like being useful, usable, findable, accessible and credible map directly to SEO. After all, search engines gauge the overall user experience and decide if your site is the best result to show.

If you haven’t already optimized your brand for the search engines, this is the best time to start, because you probably want to market to the MILLENNIALS. 

 The millennials are used to having information at their fingertips and making purchases IMMEDIATELY!

This is why it is so important that your business is able to be found online RIGHT NOW.

This is exactly what SEO does for you. It allows people who are looking for what you have to offer–right now–to find YOU as opposed to finding your competitor.

Most people today are purposefully searching online. They are not responding to spam-vertising. This is what we call, “in bound marketing” as compared to “interruption marketing” which would be like the old school type of advertising on the television or radio.

inbound marketing

 

One of the most important parts of branding, and marketing in general, is that you have to put yourself in the shoes of your prospective client.

No business can appeal to all buyers. Who is your ideal target market? Why are they looking for the service or product that you offer?

And consider HOW they are looking for you. This is an essential part of SEO. You and your colleagues may have specific terms or jargon that you use repeatedly, but that doesn’t mean people who are outside your industry–people who are prospective clients and customers–know that slang.

“Keywords” is a term that we use in the internet marketing space. Some people believe that keywords are dead. Well….they are and they aren’t.

The WAY in which keywords were used in the past is indeed dead. But keywords, the basic concept of them is very much alive. In essence a keyword is simple a word that a person might type into the search bar to find something…if you offer that something and have used SEO properly then that prospective customer will find you. Because of SEO and keywords.

That is a short summary of how SEO is important to your business and your brand.


Read more on the topic from Neil Patel Here: via How to Use SEO to Build Your Brand

 

WordPress Users Vulnerable Unless Updated Immediately

Read Why it is Imperative to Update Now

This is a major WordPress security as well as maintenance release.

Certain bugs were fixed, as well as an open redirection vulnerability.

According to WordFence a security plugin for WordPress sites:

Because we expect an exploit to appear in the wild so soon, we recommend an immediate upgrade to WordPress 4.4.2.

Sadly, unscrupulous people seek out ways to attack any website or platform. Twitter has been shown to be vulnerable as well as your website.

Many, if not all sites will update automatically. But be safe and double check that this important WordPress security release has been updated on your site(s).

If you are not sure how to know what release you have, take a look at this image as a guide. Simply click on the Dashboard icon in the left column. Then, once you are on your website’s WordPress dashboard, look in the “At a Glance” section. It will tell you the version of WordPress you are running and what theme (greyed out in this picture.)

WordPress 4.4.2 security release

Be sure to take security precautions seriously. If for no other reason than trying to fix a hacked site is a royal pain in the…neck and nether regions.

Keep blogging and marketing your business. Just take precautions, as you would with your brick and mortar business


Thanks to our friends at WordFence for keeping our sites safe. Read their article on this update here.

Read WordPress.org’s info on the release here.

No You are NOT Calling from Google

Is Google Finally Responding to Small Business Complaints?

robocall diagram from FTC

Last September it was announced that Google was going to take on robocalls that purport to be originating from their offices. Of course the calls are not from Google, but are from SEO companies inappropriately (and illegally, btw) make false claims in order to scare small businesses into hiring them for their services.

At least one firm, Local Lighthouse Corp, has been sued by the big G for this. But there are many others out there.

The suit claims that Local Lighthouse Corp “sales agents have made and continue to make various false and misleading claims during Defendant’s telemarketing calls to confuse consumers regarding the true source or nature of Defendant’s services and the relationship between Google and Defendant” and “exploits such confusion to induce consumers to enter into contracts costing hundreds of dollars in recurring monthly bills.”

So how do these calls work, and what can a small business do about it, and how do you know they really aren’t calls from Google?

How Do RoboCalls Work?

The image above (from the FTC) shows the process of a robocall.

Typically, the calls start with a recording that prompts recipients to press a button in order to speak with a representative about claiming or updating their Google My Business Listings or to hear how they should be performing better in Google search or AdWords.

The aim may be to sell local search optimization services or to get login information to hijack business listings or spam Maps listings.

These types of automated calls are illegal in the United States because the recipients haven’t given written consent to get sales calls from the company doing the calling.

Depending upon the reasons for the call, the company may be using fake phone numbers, false identification, and lots of “middlemen.”

What Recourse Do I Have?

First: If you answer a robocall–your best defense is to HANG UP.

Second: if you have answered a call, pressed a button, or they left a message (unlikely) and claim to be calling from Google: report it to Google

This is a new directive from Google. In the past, they directed harassed businesses to either add their number to the Do Not Call Registry, or complain directly to the FTC or FCC.

Third: Do not engage with the caller (if a real person) It gains you nothing and will only be frustrating

Fourth: if you continue to get the calls, note the number and disregard if possible. Unfortunately, once you have answered the phone they know it is a real number and will more than likely continue to call. Report it to the FTC or FCC. But note: the FCC says it received more than 214,000 complaints about unwanted calls in 2014.

What if the Call is Really from Google?

There are only a limited number of reasons that Google will actually call your local business.

If they do call, it is always a live person calling, not an automated call–unless you specifically requested a call.

Why would Google call? Mostly to verify details about their products.

For example, if you have recently claimed your business listing on Google, they may call to verify the information in the listing. You have done this, right? If not, please do that right away. If you don’t have time, or are unsure how, contact an expert in local search marketing such as IATW, (970) 292-7063.

Google might also call if you are using their products such as AdWords.

Are robocalls dead because of this news?
Not in our experience. Yes, we get the calls, too!
Bottom line, if someone tells you they are calling from Google and they are going to get your business ranked on the first page of Google–hang up. Local Search Engine Marketing experts may call you. Some will even claim they can guarantee you results. But none will claim they are Google.

Google Partners

One thing to note however, Google does recognize that there are SEM companies working to help your small business be found on the internet. In an effort to “assist” these companies Google has developed a new program for Google “Partners.”  This may make it more difficult for small businesses to determine if the SEM company is legit or not.
While it is possible to become a Google Partner, small businesses should be aware that the requirement to get that badge is selling a lot of AdWords. In other words, you do not need to be a “Google Partner” to help local businesses with their internet marketing efforts. And the requirements are such that most partners will be larger agencies with higher expenses–resulting in higher costs passed on to you.

Is Your Website Safe from Hackers?

WordPress Users Take Note of Security Updates

If you have a website then you may very well be using WordPress. We love it, it is easy and flexible, and one of the most popular website platforms around.

That being said, as with any website, it is important to be sure that your site is secure. The last thing you want to do is find that someone has hacked into it…

Read this article from Wordfence, one of the specialists in WordPress security.

WordPress Security January Roundup: Core XSS and 4 Plugin vulnerabilities

Facebook Takes Aim at Yelp and Angie’s List

Will Local Search Move to Facebook?

Read how Facebook may be preparing to become the local services search engine:

Facebook services page

Local businesses have recognized for some time now they need to have an internet presence. The days when potential customers used the telephone book to find services, whether a doctor, restaurant, or plumber, are gone. (If you didn’t know that already, please read Why Local Search)

While there may have been a few telephone directories in the past, the options for your potential customers is more varied now. One of the biggest advantages for individuals looking for the best provider is that these options include “social proof,” also known as reviews.

Google has long been the major search engine for big business as well as local business. But that status is not guaranteed, especially as they keep changing their system, frustrating users and businesses alike.

Other options include services like Yelp and Angie’s List.

Facebook started moving into this territory as well. To conduct a search in their area, a Facebook user simply types in the URL Facebook.com/services and they will see a screen similar to the one shown above.

Although your home city (what you registered when you created your Facebook account) will be displayed, you can easily change that by simply typing in the city and state where you happen to be. That means if you are at work or on vacation, you can still use this new service.

Like many other directories, and most notably Angie’s and Yelp, Facebook has compiled a searchable directory.

Car won’t start? Use Facebook to find an Automotive Repair shop nearby that can get you back on the road.

Facebook search automotive repair

This appears to be a silent test. No announcement has been reported coming from Facebook. But the word is leaking out…and here are out thoughts…

A Facebook spokesperson recently issued this statement about the feature:

“We’re in the early stages of testing a way for people to easily find more Pages for the services they’re interested in.”

The site is pretty easy to use. It is simple and straight forward.

Although many other sources are purporting this new service is only available on desktop computers, we had no problem accessing it from either an iPad or Droid phone. Clearly, not a conclusive test, but still a good sign for mobile users.

Facebook services lame images

A user can find a business by clicking on one of the pictures or scrolling down to the list. At least for now, the pictures offering services was pretty weak. First, there were only 8 options offered. Worse, the pictures had little or nothing to do with the category–the “Medical & Health” category featured a picture of a local sports bar!

The challenge with the list method, “Explore other services” is that it could easily lead someone to believe these are the only categories that Facebook is serving up. This is not true, and we actually found that simply typing into the search box was the easiest method of finding the type of business you are looking for. Just start typing and a list will show up that you can choose from.

All Encompassing

What we like about this search method is that it appears to be all encompassing.

Facebook is not trying to specialize in only home services or only entertainment, or other limiting factors. That means we don’t need to switch between Angie’s List, Yelp, Hot Frog and any number of other directories to find the businesses we are looking for.

The restrictions?

Well, the business must have a Facebook page. You do have one, don’t you?

How are the results determined?

Since Facebook isn’t issuing a big announcement about this service we are left to wonder how they are serving up the businesses. It doesn’t appear to be biased towards the number of ratings. Or is it?

During our, non-exhaustive search our conclusion is that if you already like a business, it is going to come up first in your search.

On the other hand, if you have not liked a business page in that category then you are likely to be served up the highest rated businesses first. Now, how the algorithm determines the highest ratings seems to be a combination of the number of different ratings and the number of stars they were rated. *whew* That sounds like too much math for me!

Bottom line:

If you don’t already have a Facebook page for your business, it is important that you get one, pronto.

If your business already has a page on Facebook, be sure it is optimized so that users in your area can find you–that, in a nutshell is what local search is all about.

If you don’t know how to do either of these things, contact us and we can get that done for you.

Google Changes for Local Business (Yes, Again)

Google+ and Social Media Walls Tumbling Down for Local Business

Read the latest on changes the Google+ is making and how it might affect your local business:

Google Mobile searchimage

Google Now Crawls Facebook

It has now been announced that Facebook is “allowing Google to crawl and index its mobile app.”

What does this mean for your local business? It means that Google Search results on Android devices will begin to show more Facebook information.

This is currently only in Beta and only available for Android devices, but if a customer or potential customer is using Google to search for something you carry, it is now possible that if you talked about it on Facebook it might show up in their search results.

Facebook logo

Not only could it show up, there will be a link that will take them directly to the Facebook app.

Of course not every status update you make on Facebook will be indexed. Currently there is only a small percentage of Facebook information that is being indexed.

As is the case with all Google searches (mobile and desktop) pages with higher authority will be more likely to be indexed and served up.

Facebook claims that your PRIVATE info will not be indexed.

web search

While it is too early to tell, there may be some added benefits for local businesses in terms of mobile search results.

This could bring more non-Facebook users to your FB page. It could also bring people in who are FB users, but not currently logged into their FB page.

One of the theories behind this shift is that Google has lost ground in the mobile search arena. Earlier this year they announced a deal with Twitter for search. Now Facebook. It may be that the social media walls are beginning to crumble, allowing for some transparency between the platforms.

Then again, this could all go away as Facebook improves its own search engine.

What should I do?

  • Keep posting on your Facebook page, talking about services/products/events that are important to you, your business, and your community.
  • Make sure your profile is optimized.
  • Optimize your Facebook pages.
  • Keep posting on other social media platforms that fit your business and community.

Google+ Redesigned

google-plus

There have been rumors flying around for quite some time that Google was going to get rid of the Google+ pages.

While it doesn’t yet look like our local business pages (no matter what Google decides to call them) are going to disappear completely, we are seeing changes in the structure.

If you have logged into your page lately you probably will have noticed the change already. Touted as being simpler to use and more mobile-friendly, the big shift is that “Communities” and “Collections” are now the focus.

They are separating functions, removing things like Hangouts. G+ is also moving away from connecting with other people, in a Facebook sort of way.

You can still have a Google+ profile, but we are told that will be migrating to a generic profile called “About Me.” Anyone can create an About Me profile, and the G+ profile will not be a requirement for commenting on YouTube videos and the like.

What does this mean for my local business?

Don’t panic if something that you used to have on your business page seems to have disappeared. It may come back.

We will have to wait to see what the future brings on all things Google. It may be that we will start to make updates on an About Me page rather than G+.

What are communities?

They are like groups in Facebook. You (personally or your business) can join various communities which are centered on specific topics. The groups may be private or open. You can choose whether or not you want your membership in a group to be public on your profile or not.

What are collections?

Collections are a place where you can curate content. Similar to Pinterest with content not just pictures. Other people can follow (subscribe) to one or more of your collections.

So if you have a business that sells two (or more) distinct product lines, you could create a collection for each. If you are a hair salon, as an example, you might have a collection on hair styles and another on hair care products. A furniture company might have a collections based on rooms such as bedroom, living room and dining room. A candy company might have collections based on types of sweets, such as chocolates, hard candies, and chewy candies.

What should I do?

Don’t panic. Don’t despair. Don’t dump your Google+ pages. Remember, Google+ is part of Google and therefore connected tightly with Google Search.

This is a beta test. Google moves in waves, so you may not even see a difference yet. Even when/if you do, it might not last.

  • Become familiar with collections.
  • Think about how to create your own collections. This is where you will be posting ultimately if things go the way Google says it will. The content you post in your collections will be indexed.
  • Keep your profile current and optimized, but make sure your website and Facebook pages are as well.

Remember, Google seems to like to make changes for local businesses. In the end, their goal is to provide a good experience for their users. Those users are the people who are searching for your business! Does Google always get it perfect? Nope, but they do seem to be willing to say “mea culpe” and try to fix it.

Focus on your business. Use the tools you have that are working for you. Learn some new ones if you don’t have enough business or have mastered those.

Don’t try to know it all–be willing to admit that just maybe you aren’t perfect at it all either, and reach out for help if you need it.

Lifesaver


Thanks to Social Media Examiner and Silicon Valley Business Journal for the intel!

Small Business Saturday Success: It Isn’t Too Late

Northern Colorado Local Businesses Win with Small Business Saturday

Read how your business can benefit by taking part:

Small Biz Sat Image

What is Small Business Saturday?

Small Business Saturday is a “shopping holiday”–a special day, like Black Friday and Cyber Monday. It falls on the Saturday immediately after Thanksgiving.

That means this year the big days in (Saturday) November 28, 2015.

While Black Friday is geared for large retailers and Cyber Monday is an internet purchasing event, SBS is a day for small, local, brick and mortar businesses to get their share of the holiday action.

The first Small Business Saturday was held on Nov 27, 2010, with the concept originated by American Express (who has the trademark on the term, btw.)

#SmallBizSaturday, #smallbusinesssaturday, and #shopsmall are commonly used on social media sites to promote the day.

Why does it work?

Yes, it does work. Last year nearly $6 billion dollars was spent during Small Business Saturday.

There has definitely been a shift among many consumers to support their local businesses. There is even some backlash against the impersonal nature of shopping online. There is something to be said after all for the ability to see and touch something in person. And there are the people–that would be YOU the store owner and your employees. People like to do business with people they like.

Sure, everyone wants to get a good deal, but they also want to feel good about the experience.

Local governments are supporting the event. Let’s face it, local businesses support local governments because they pay local taxes. It is in the best interest of the entire town, village, city or county to have local dollars stay local. Most employees of local businesses live near by, at least relatively speaking. So when we buy locally we are helping out our neighbors earn paychecks as well as helping our community take care of itself.

The national GoLocal Cooperative also gives five great reasons to buy local:

  • Buying from locally owned businesses keeps your money circulating three times longer in the local economy.

  • With that money, local businesses create the majority of new jobs.

  • Local businesses are, by far, the best supporters of community projects and nonprofits.

  • Because they live here, local businesses provide the best customer service and support.

  • Most of all, supporting local business and products strengthens and preserves our unique community.

The day has been so successful in the US that the event has also been adopted by shopkeepers in the UK since 2013.

How can my business take part?

Team Up: Consider teaming up with another local business.

Say you own a candy shop. You might offer discount coupons so when one of your customers buys some treats they get a discount at the neighboring coffee joint, and vice versa.

Or maybe you offer a small sampling of another store’s products and they offer some of yours. So your top selling Christmas candy shows up at the local bakery and some of their specialty cookies or cupcakes are in your case as well.

Consider creating package deals. You might create a basket that has cookies and coffee, chocolates paired with a great Merlot.

At the very least you can cross-promote a compatible business–be willing to tell your customers about other shops in the area, and have sales fliers and their coupons available to hand out.

Talk It Up: promote the day, your business, and each other

Have fliers or posters up in your shop alerting customers to SBS.

Use Social Media to start generating buzz–now! And keep posting about the day. Let people know what you will be doing special for that day.

Be specific in your advertising–whether that is fliers, ads in the newspaper or online ads. Let customers and potential customers know why they should come to your store on Sat the 28th. Offering a discount? Are specific items on sale? Donating proceeds to charity? Are you having special entertainment or activities? What will you be doing on the 28th that makes it imperative people show up on that day, as opposed to any other day?

If you are holding a special event or donating some of your proceeds to a charity then be sure to do a press release. By getting the word out you have a much better chance of having more people come to your store.

American Express is offering some free promotional tools. It is probably too late for some of them, but there is some printable signage as well as email promotion ideas available here.

Small Business Saturday image from American Express Corporation

 

Buying Domain Names for Products and Brands

Internet Advertising that Works the TANKShould a local business buy a separate domain name for every product or brand they carry?

It would seem like a simple question. For most retailers this would be impractical if not impossible.

There are times when having multiple domain names is a really good idea.

If you are the creator/manufacturer/owner of a brand or product then by all means you should have that domain name for those items. Even if it means you own a lot of names.

Owning the domain name doesn’t mean you actually have to build the site–although you might want to. What it does do for  is prevent someone else from scooping up the website and stealing visitors. Whether it is a competitor or just someone looking to benefit from your marketing, you don’t want to lose that internet traffic.

Case in point, recently on the television show Shark Tank some entrepreneurs were encouraged to change the name of their product. Now, I disagreed with the advice they were given, but that is a different story. What was the real travesty was that they got all this great publicity from the television show–but never bought the domain name. Instead a couple other people did and got a lot of free traffic! Fortunately for these entrepreneurs the websites had no relation to their business at all so it was clear to anyone who landed there that there was a mistake.

You love your existing site and just want to create a new page for your product–that’s fine, but still plunk down the few dollars it will take to secure the name. Then have your webmaster redirect the new domain to point wherever you want it to…your existing home page, a new product page, whatever. You keep all the traffic and all your marketing efforts are for your benefit.

With a little planning your website doesn’t have to tank.

Hosting Your Local Business Website

I’ve had a lot of people ask about websites lately–specifically, where to host their website.

As the saying goes, nothing in this world is certain except death and taxes. Therefore I will preface this post with caveat there is not one right answer for every business, not even smaller, local businesses.

With that disclaiInternet Advertising That Worksmer out of the way, I will tell you what I generally advise clients (and anyone who asks.)

It is a good idea to own your own website. That means you have purchased the domain name rather than relying on a free site.

Fortunately, that is not usually a big expense. If your exact business name is not available as a domain name (www.YourBusinessName.com) then there are some options, but if possible, secure your name. There may be reasons that we would advise buying other domain names (instead or in addition to your business name)–but that should be handled on a case-by-case basis. A domain name typically costs less than $10 a year to buy and renew. There will be plenty of people who want to charge you a lot more–but before you plunk down your hard earned money, realize that it probably isn’t necessary.

A domain name is great, but it doesn’t do you any good all by itself. You have to have “hosting.” Webhosting is a service that you must pay for to have your domain actually online. Think of it like renting a storefront. You can have a great business name, but if you want to have customers buy from you, you need your store. The webhosting is like the building. Once you have the building, you fill it with items to sell and your decorate it. That is comparable to building the website–you decide what you want on the site and how you want it to look. You determine how you will interact with your customers, what the function of the site is, etc.

Now that we are clear on the basic terminology, let’s get back to webhosting. You have many different options when it comes to hosting your website.

You can have your website hosted for free, but for most businesses it is worth spending the money to have the website hosted elsewhere. Some companies will provide a domain name as part of their webhosting service. Many companies will offer an affordable package that gives you a domain name, hosting, and designing for a low monthly fee. This may be the right option for your business, either in the beginning or long term. It may also be a terrible choice for your business. Knowing what purpose your website will have can help determine your hosting needs and what is your best internet solution. These may change and grown over time, and you can’t possibly know everything that you will ever need in a website. Don’t worry too much about what your business will look in 5 years, at least not for your website. Focus on what you need right now, and what you envision for the upcoming year.

The exact cost of web hosting will depend on how much “cyber-space” you will be using. Similar to the size of your storefront, the more bandwidth and disc size you need, the more hosting will cost you. Most local businesses will not need to spend thousands to have a website. But if you host a lot of videos directly on your site, you will need more space than someone who has a lot of still photos. Will you be making sales on your site? Will people have to login to access your site or will all the content be open to anyone? Are you planning on collecting email addresses or other personal information on your site? All of these things impact how your site will be built–and the type of security and hosting that you might need.

Internet Advertising That Works As your online presence grows and you get more visitors, you may need to boost your hosting package, especially if you sell products online, so choose a hosting company that will allow you to grow over time. Sure, you can change hosting companies later, but it is often easier (not to mention less expensive) to upgrade rather than actually move your site. That doesn’t mean you should feel trapped paying for a lot of services that you don’t currently, or may never, need. You wouldn’t rent a store that is 10,000 square feet if you only need 1,000 right? Pay for what fits for the near future and hopefully you will be able to expand where you are…but you can always pack up and move if you need to.

When looking at hosting your website, you want to choose a company that has good reliability. Just like you don’t want to have the lights go off while customers are in your store, you want your website up when people are looking for you–and that can be a lot more hours than your brick and mortar store is open. You don’t want your customers to find your website is down or running too slowly. A minor inconvenience one time may be okay, but people are fickle and they will move on if your site regularly doesn’t meet their needs.

In the old days, it was necessary to know a lot of computer coding in order to build a website. That isn’t the case any more. For most local businesses, simple sites are great. You can do a lot of the work yourself if you want–even if you don’t want to build it, you can do some of the updating. Your website might include a blog or a photo gallery that you update, letting your customers know what you are up to. This can be fun and a great way to engage with your audience, and a way that you can save money.

How much interest you have in working on your website AFTER it is built can also be a consideration in what your site looks like and where it is hosted. If your intention is to engage with your customers and add pictures or a blog, then you don’t want a site that requires a lot of coding to get that done.

Internet Advertising That Works  On the other hand, “simple” sites can have challenges too. Unless you know how to build a website that will do what you want, then your energies may be better spent on other aspects of your business. This is a good time to remember that you don’t have to be a master of everything. Would you attempt to do the electrical work in your building? Or would you give up, throw in the towel on your business because you don’t know how to put up the lights? Would you take the time away from getting your business running to learn how to do the electrical work? Most people wouldn’t, they would hire an electrician or whomever they need to fulfill their vision.

The same should be true for building your website. Find someone you trust to help fulfill your online vision. Let them know your goals for today and the near future. They can help you plan out the best website for your local business, including making recommendations for hosting your website. Just like you will have to direct the electrician where you want the lights to go, and about any special equipment you have so he can be sure you have the proper outlets and power type, you will need to direct your website designers on your needs and desires. Just as a good electrician may advise you to make changes to save money or for safety, your website designer may make suggestions to improve your site–including where to host it to suit your needs.

Hosting your website is part of the puzzle, but an important part. By working with someone who understands your business you can be assured you are getting all the pieces put together so the picture of your business is clear to not only you, but to your customers as well.