The strength of your online presence determines the success or failure of your business these days.
Putting together a good website can put your business on the radar – helping you find new customers while building retention and loyalty.
But an online presence isn’t simply publishing a site and slapping content and images on it. Customers need to learn to trust you before converting. With this in mind, we’ve put together a start to finish guide every business owner needs to know before going online.
9 Key Steps to Building an Online Presence from Scratch
Know what you want to achieve online
Almost every business benefits from an online presence. But before rushing in to throw content to your website, you have to first create an online strategy that fulfills your business goals.
There has to be a reasonable goal behind everything you’re doing— whether it’s setting up a website to boost conversions or starting an SEO campaign to increase leads. Otherwise, you won’t be seeing any ROI.
Following the SMART method means you can focus your effort, time, and resources towards an actionable goal.
What are S.M.A.R.T goals?
SMART, or Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bounded goals ensure that your objectives are attainable within a specific timeline.
This approach eliminates guesswork, sets clear timeframes, and makes it easier to track mistakes and missed milestones.
Great goals are well-defined and focused. Don’t be afraid to dig into those details. When drafting your plan, state the most significant goals that need attention. Think, why is this important for my business right now? Who do I involve when reaching this goal?
Numbers are an essential part of the business. Put concrete numbers in your goal to know if you’re on track and have reached the finish line.
Goals should be realistic and attainable to be successful—no one has built a billion-dollar business overnight. So, give yourself a reality check. Is this something your team could do? It’s important to consider any limitations that might impede your goal.
When setting a goal, ask yourself what it means to you. The goal needs to be what drives your business forward.
Lastly, goals must have a deadline. Having the right timeframe helps you connect the dots better and anticipate each task’s effort and time.
Choose the Right Domain Name
Choosing the right domain name matters, as it’s a reflection of your brand online. Keep the following in mind when selecting one:
Keep it simple and straightforward
Our recently published report, The Online State of Australia’s Small Businesses (2021), found that 59% of Australians agree that longer domains appear unprofessional.
That said, you’d want to choose a domain that’s easy to read, type, and remember.
Avoid symbols and other characters
In keeping with the previous point, avoid using special characters such as hyphens or even numbers. This complicates your domain name, making it less memorable and harder to find.
Avoiding trademark conflicts
Ensure that the name you plan on using doesn’t infringe on any trademarks or copyrights.
Finding the right price
There are several domain registrars out there, but not all offer the same price or quality service. Don’t hesitate to compare services to get the best value for your investment.
Avoid alternative extensions
The .com extension is the world’s most popular and sought-after extension. But if you’re a local business, you might want to go for country code top-level domains. In Australia, for instance, we’ve found that 82% of Aussies trust the .com.au extension.
Of course, this all depends on your industry. Educational institutions or non-profits should go for a .edu or .org address respectively.
Partner with the Right Web Hosting Service
After registering or reserving your domain, you’ll need to host your website.
A web host allows your website to be accessible online. There is a wide range of hosting companies out there, each one offering shared or dedicated hosting services.
Now, the best hosting service doesn’t always come with a hefty price tag. It’s all a matter of determining your current business requirements. To help you narrow your choices, we’ve compiled the following tips:
Choose the right technology
One of the most important things to consider is whether to use a shared server or a dedicated one.
Shared servers, as the name suggests, involves you sharing a server with other customers. Naturally, this means it costs less but comes with reduced performance.
Dedicated servers, on the other hand, gives you an exclusive space to house your website. It’s generally more expensive than shared servers. But it’s the ideal setup for businesses that require higher website performance (ecommerce sites, corporate websites, wikis, forums, etc.).
Virtual Private Servers sit on the middle ground between these two. These servers accommodate several users on a single machine. It may sound similar to shared hosting, but VPS provides a more optimal performance – without the hefty price tags of dedicated servers.
Review security measures
Distributed Denial of Services – or DDoS attacks – can quickly cause website or email outages. So, you need a web host that prioritises cybersecurity as much as performance.
Ensure that your hosting provider allows server management through an intuitive interface like cPanel.
Typically, servers are accessible through terminal windows. Doing it this way can be confusing unless you’re hiring a server administrator to do it for you.
Select the Right Platform to Build Your Website
There are different options for building your website. Depending on your skill level and budget restrictions, you can either build it yourself, use templates or “site-builder tools”, or hire a web designer to design it for you.
But before you build one, make sure you have a clear understanding of your website’s purpose. This will help you decide what website elements and functions the site needs.
The first step in creating a website for your business is deciding which platform to build your site. If you are doing it yourself, you have two options— using an Australian website builder or installing a CMS like WordPress.
Creating a website used to be a lot. It required a lot of time and effort, and extensive coding, design, and development knowledge. Thanks to site builders, making a website has never been this easy. It’s also a smart choice for anyone looking for a quick – and affordable – solution to getting online.
When researching options, you need to look at the platform features. Do you want to add forms? Or maybe you want to start blogging? Check if your website builder of choice offers these features and more.
WordPress back then was just a blogging platform. Now, it has turned into a powerful website builder and is the largest CMS on the market. The best part about it is that it’s easy to use and flexible – allowing you to customise your website with different plugins.
You can use it in many different ways, from simple websites to eCommerce marketplaces and everything in between. And due to its robust features, many top brands like Disney, Time Magazine, and The New York Times power their website using WordPress.
Web design agencies
Our recently-published report, the Online State of Australian Small Businesses 2021, found that 71% of online users find it essential that the website they purchase from look professional. And more than half (53%) of these users immediately leave a website when they find it difficult to navigate on their first visit.
The takeaway? Website owners must prioritise user experience and design to overcome trust factors online.
If you don’t have the time and resources to DIY, it’s best to leave your website design and development to the experts. Now, there is a misconception that outsourcing web design can be expensive. For shoddy agencies, this may be true. And they’ll keep milking you out for cash.
So, make sure you partner with a reputable agency by checking their company background. You also need to ask for a portfolio of their work, and reading testimonials and reviews.
Connect with your customers – no matter their device of choice
Most people around you are on their mobile devices. And consumers nowadays are likely to make decisions on the spot without ever talking to a salesperson.
Quoting the Online State of Australian Business Report, Baby boomers (77%) and Gen X (42%) prefer to buy via their desktops. And as expected, both Millennials and Gen Z shop through their mobile devices.
With those numbers in mind, is your website optimised for different devices? Are your ads all mobile-friendly?
By providing an optimised experience across different devices, you make it easier for people to connect with you online.
Build Trust with A Professional Email Address
Getting a professional email address is more than just a vanity project. By creating one, you improve your company’s reputation and credibility. Besides, most professionals still prefer email as their primary communication channel, proving that email addresses are critical to converting leads. Anyone can create a free email address on Gmail or Yahoo. But, when you invest in an email address attached to your domain, you show that you’re serious about establishing your brand.
Quoting our Online State of Australian Businesses report, Baby boomers (66%) and Millenials (60%) find professional email address important. The numbers are similar among Gen X (58%) and Gen Z (55%). A professional email address builds trust and boosts your company’s potential to attract new customers
Create Relevant, Engaging Content
Content has proven to be a useful tool for online engagement. But to catch the audience’s eye, retain their attention and spark engagements—it needs to be relevant. More importantly, it needs to answer your target audience’s top questions.
When you’re attracting the right attention, you drive more leads and boost conversion rates to your site. But the question is: How do you get your content to your target audience?
This leads us to the next important point in building your online presence: SEO.
Incorporate SEO Strategies and Tools
Consumers nowadays rely on search engines like Google to find everything. Regardless of what your business offers, your target audience is searching for products or keywords related to your industry or niche. And if you want to lead them to your site, you’ll need SEO.
SEO – or search engine optimisation – involves a series of practices to improve your website’s visibility on search engines. Aside from that, it converts visitors into potential buyers by ensuring that they have a good experience browsing your website. This means optimising your site for speed, fixing broken links, and adding alt texts to images or videos.
Investing in SEO tools helps your website get the traction it needs to put it on the first few results on search engines.
Our report shows that 71% of users use search engines than business websites (55%) and social media platforms (30%). These show how brands need to incorporate the right SEO strategies and tools to increase their online visibility on search engines.
With the right SEO techniques, search engines deliver leads directly to your site without costly advertising. Plus, it increases your brand’s visibility and sends more traffic to your website, which generates leads for your business.
Leverage the Power of Social Media
A great way to get people to visit your website is to leverage social media and marketing power. Social media platforms like Instagram have put the power back in the hands of the masses. These sites attract some of the highest engagement on the internet. Launching target advertising campaigns on these platforms help your website reach its target group of people.
Both well-established businesses, as well as start-ups, enjoy the opportunities social media provides. And aside from building websites, the Online State of Australian Businesses report reveals that 46% of brands have become more active on social media since the pandemic. Most frequently, if a potential customer hears about your brand, they go searching for it online—without this information, they are unlikely to convert into buyers.
Thus, start-ups need to have a pleasant and comprehensive social media profile on your target audience’s social media platforms. For example, B2B companies can leverage LinkedIn, while B2C companies fare better on Instagram or Facebook.
Stay sharp. Start learning with Crazy Domains Online Academy
In a nutshell, getting a website for your business is more a necessity than an option today. Having an online presence is always a good thing for any brand. People appreciate that they can connect with you through various platforms, making them more likely to trust and recommend your products.
Are you looking to get to know the basics of having an online presence? The Crazy Domains Online Academy courses is for you! With so much to learn and explore, our online course series empowers you to accomplish real growth. Learn at your own pace and discover tools that make your business succeed. Discover what it takes to start and run a successful business online.