Note: this blog post is based on our first podcast episode.
The online world can be daunting to someone who's not so tech savvy. Even to me, a web developer, there are way too many tools and methods to improve your online presence that I can't even keep up. However there are some essentials that we can discuss here.
Google My Business
"Google My Business" is your first stop as a business owner. The benefits include:
- Show up on Google Maps - more and more people are searching for businesses through Google Maps
- People are able to leave reviews on Google Maps
- Allows you to build a free website - it is basic but can get your business information across
What is a domain?
A domain name (like facebook.com) can help make your business look more professional. People attach more value to businesses that have a proper domain name.
Under the hood a domain name is simply a pointer to a computer somewhere in the world. Every computer on the internet has an IP address. Some of these computers have the files for a website on them. For example, I could put the Wicked Sites websites files on my computer and allow people on the internet to access those files. However for them to view my website, they'd need to know my computer's IP address, which right now is 22.214.171.124. If I had set it up properly, someone could paste that IP address into the URL bar in your browser, and the website would show up. However, 126.96.36.199 is pretty hard to remember, so instead you can buy a domain name (like wickedsites.com.au), and tell that domain to point to 188.8.131.52.
You can also use your domain for your emails - eg firstname.lastname@example.org. You can usually set this up through the same place you bought the domain. However, I recommend using Gsuite because it gives you gmail and other useful Google services.
What is a website?
At a bare minimum, a website is a file that has some text in it that describes the website. Web Browsers like Chrome and Internet Explorer are able to interpret this file (which is written in a language called HTML) and work out how to display the website (eg. a logo up in top left corner, a heading here, a paragraph there, etc).
Why have a website?
- Provide information about your business
- Increases trust - shows you're professional
- Branding - makes you more memorable
What are some different kinds of websites?
- Basic static site: usually a couple of pages - Home page, About us, Contact - enough to provide some info about your business and get some branding out there (show off your logo, colours etc)
- CMS: stands for content management system - this is when you want to keep adding content, such as blog posts. There are services and platforms that help you with this - the biggest platform is Wordpress. Note that Wordpress is the name of the software - there are a lot of online services that offer Wordpress hosting. We here at Wicked Sites offer our own CMS when you subscribe to our CMS plan.
- E-commerce: These sites allow you to sell products. So they have a shopping cart and ability for customers to enter their credit card details and buy things. This can be combined with a static site or CMS - it basically just means it allows for payments. We offer this ability at Wicked Sites
Blogging simply means writing articles for your website. These are all discovered by Google and allow you to show up in their search results for different "keywords". For example, if someone types in "magnolia tree" into Google, the keywords are "magnolia tree". This presents a list of results, ranked by Google's search algorithm. Naturally, everyone wants their website to appear up the top of the rankings, because most people click the first or second result and provide you with free traffic. If you write lots of blog articles mentioning some niche keywords, then you have a chance of ranking highly for those keywords. Remember, the more niche, the more likely you will appear at the top because less people would have written about it.
Design is not just about making your site look pretty. It also is about the user experience and asking yourself "what is the purpose of people visiting my site?". Do you want visitors to call you, or fill out a form, or book an appointment? The information provided on Google Maps is often enough for most people to find out the basics about your business - your website presents an opportunity to do more than just provide basic information. At Wicked Sites we recommend installing a widget that helps visitors book appointments - you just fill out what time you have available in your calendar, and this widget will allow visitors to book in appointments around your schedule. It also asks them to provide a Google review afterwards - this is great for building trust and generating new business.
And there you have it - that's some of the bare basics on websites and other tech for small business. I hope that made things clearer. Keep an eye on our podcast page for more podcasts on these kinds of topics.