Danni Kirwan, Marketing Executive
How do your customers find you? In the past, it may have been as simple as a quick flick through the yellow pages or a recommendation from a friend. These days, phone books have been replaced by search engines and recommendations come not just from friends but from anyone with internet access who cares to share their opinion. Although this is great for consumers, where does it leave businesses that haven’t yet found their home in the World Wide Web?
Online visibility is now a key factor in the marketing strategy of many businesses – both big and small. As consumers become more internet savvy, companies need to be in the online arena if they are to compete. Case in point: If you wanted to book a hotel or flight ten years ago, you’d go to your travel agent and hope they could get you a good deal. These days, you can compare and book online in minutes, all with a lowest price guarantee.
But you don’t have to be a five star hotel or an international airline to take advantage of the accessibility and convenience of the internet. If you would like to get your company online, then the information below will give you an idea of the basics:
Registering a domain
Registering your domain will be your starting point, first you’ll need to choose a domain name (and check that it’s available) and the type of domain that you wish to register. Ideally, your domain name should be as close to your company name as possible. So if you’re registering a new company, then you may want to check that a domain name − the same as or similar to the company name − is also available.
The most common types of domains registered in Australia are “.com” and “.com.au”. Although “.com’s” can be registered world-wide for any purpose, “.com.au” domains are only for use by Australian businesses. If you wish to register a “.com.au”, then you will need to provide proof that you have officially registered a related business or company name – such as your ABN or ACN number. There’s also a range of other domains available for specialised purposes , for example “.org.au” for non-profit organisations and “.id.au” for Australian individuals.
Hosting – giving your website a home
The next thing you will need to consider is hosting your website. Essentially, Web Hosting is what allows your domain or website to be found on the internet. Your web host will store your web files (the data contained on your web pages) on a server, and then when someone searches for your domain name a request is sent to that server and your web page will then load.
Like domains, there’s a lot of options to consider when you are purchasing hosting. The cost of your hosting will vary depending on factors such as the amount of memory and number of email addresses included in your package. If you purchase hosting alone you will also need to hire someone to design a webpage for you − in some cases hosting and web-design are sold as a package.
If you don’t want the ongoing responsibility of building and maintaining a website, then you may wish to consider email forwarding. Email forwarding allows customers to send emails to your domain, which are then forwarded to your existing email account. This allows you to present a professional corporate identity to your client without the expense of web hosting or design.
So where’s my website?
A common question we are asked on the Cleardomains helpline is “why can’t I see my website in a Google search?” When you do a web search, your browser trawls the internet for what it believes to be the most relevant results. You can improve the chances of your site being found by using relevant keywords and phrases on your site, and building quality links to other sites. Improving your websites presence on the internet (and thus your search rankings) is called search engine optimisation (SEO). There are many companies that provide SEO services if you need help making your site more search engine friendly.
How much does it cost?
The market for domains and web-hosting is world-wide, and thus quite competitive. Cleardocs’ sells domains and hosting though Cleardomains Domains start from $29.95 per year for “.com” and $79.90 for two years for a “.com.au” domain.
A range of hosting is available to suit different needs, and starts from $11.00 a month.