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					Shop Talk
Websites 101: The search is over
By: Diana Kostigen

Is your website working for you? Sure, websites should be fun, but they also need to be
functional. Easy maneuverability, informative and consistency with your company’s
overall branding make for the most successful sites. So where do you start? With the
search.

It’s no fun playing the name-game, so you’d better have a good domain. Domain names
can be registered with sites like Go Daddy, Dotster or Mad Dog Domains. Just type in
the name you want and see it it’s available.

Not sure what to choose? This is no time to get creative. Domain names should be
simple, short and stick to your company’s true name. Got a long name? Better to go
long than short to avoid confusion, unless it’s more than three words. In this case a
shorter version works fine. For instance, “First Impressions Welcoming Service”
becomes www.firstimpressionswelcome.com.

So what should go after the dot? Go Daddy offers over 40 domain name endings from
.net to .biz. But in my book, best to go with .com. Even if your name is taken on the
.com, I’d still make it work using www.pegasusimage.com instead of
www.pegasusimagedesign.net for example.

Now that you’ve got your name you need a place to host your site. I like Go Daddy for
their affordable options, free extras and outstanding customer service. Go Daddy offers
three types of hosting, website hosting, virtual dedicated servers and dedicated servers.
Website hosting works great for most small businesses with plans ranging from $4.99 to
$14.99 per month depending on storage space.

Now that you’ve got the basics, don’t forget the extras. Once your website is online,
there are several tools to help. Go Daddy’s Traffic Facts is a great way to see who’s
looked at your site. For just a few dollars a month, at 11am I get a daily report sent to my
e-mail that shows how many visitors I’ve had, the pages they looked at and how long
visitors were on my site. It even breaks it up into zip codes and lists referring domains.

Tracking your traffic greatly helps in your marketing effort. It gives you the tools to see
if that new ad campaign is working and it lets you know what are your more popular
pages on your website. It even clues you to how easily your site is found- whether it’s
more local, targeted hits, or random visitors that stumbled across the site.

Traffic facts also reports on unique visitors, not just total visitors. This way you know
how many different people actually visit each day. For instance, yesterday I had 27
visitors on my site, but only 15 were unique- I had a lot of repeat guests.
Traffic Blazers is another great add-on to help increase visitors to your site. Traffic
Blazers gets your site listed on major search engine ratings like Google and Yahoo!.
Through the use of keywords and site optimization, you become more searchable. First
they analyze your site to show strengths and potential weaknesses, then they submit your
web pages to leading search engines.

They can even submit to local search engines like Google Local and Live Search (MSN)-
a plus for businesses who’s target is their own community. Finally, they send you a
report that give link popularity, keyword and competitor ranking, all just starting at
$29.99 per year.

This is the opinion of Diana Kostigen, chief executive officer of Pegasus Image Design,
an Asheville-based firm specializing in image targeting, marketing, advertising and PR
for small businesses. Write to her at diana@pegasusimage.com and visit
www.pegasusimage.com

				
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posted:5/30/2010
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