Laying the Foundation for Your Online Presence

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Whatever your company provides, your online presence is your marketplace. To create your virtual store, you can’t just build and start inviting people in. Without a sturdy foundation, your entire empire could collapse, so make sure you start building from the bottom up.

Selecting a Domain Name

An obvious choice for your domain name is the name of your business. If you haven’t researched the name yet, you may be in for a surprise, though. Domain names are in limited supply. When good ones are sitting out there, profiteers often scoop them up and hold them, so someone else may own your domain name, even if it’s not currently in use.

Start researching your domain name as soon as possible, and buy it immediately if it’s available. Don’t give someone the opportunity to buy it out from under you. People will automatically expect a domain name to end in “.com,” so if the name of your choice is not available as a .com, you have a couple of options.

The first is to look at the .net or .biz options if they’re available. The second is to come up with a domain name that makes sense for your company, but is available in .com.

Consider adding your location or specialty to the end of your company name. If you have a company named Fireflies that sells flashlights, for instance, expect Fireflies.com to be gone. Firefliesmemphis.com or Firefliesflashlights.com may be available.

Think of selecting a domain name as choosing the right lot on which to put your store. The better the location, the easier it will be to attract traffic.

Registering your Domain

As you hunt for the perfect domain name, you’ll likely be doing your research on the site of a domain registrar. You can register the domain there or look for the best deal. Many Web hosts offer domain registration, too, so you don’t have to worry about keeping track of who to pay.

Expect to spend between $8 and $15 per year to keep your domain registered. Be cautious of free registrars, because they often lack the high-level security of paid companies. When you get ready to register your domain, always do a search online for coupons. Registrars often have deals that can save you on both initial registration and renewals.

Registering your domain is the equivalent of leasing the lot you’ve picked.

Choosing a Web Host

Once you get your domain registered, you’re almost ready to start setting up your store. First, you need someone to manage that store for you. That’s the role of a web hosting company. They provide the servers your website resides on, as well as security and technical support.

You must be diligent in choosing the right hosting company. Check out their qualifications by reading online reviews, and be especially aware of uptime. Uptime refers to the amount of time the server is running properly, meaning your site will be up and available for visitors to access.

Many hosts offer uptime guarantees, but that only means they will reimburse you for the time the site was down if it exceeds a certain number of hours. It doesn’t guarantee your site will stay up. So, find out what other people who have used the hosting company are saying about it.

It’s just like calling references.

Email

There are plenty of free email systems available, but some potential customers do have an expectation that, as a business, your website will have its own email domain. If you want your business email address to match your business URL, you can usually set this email up through the hosting company.

It’s like putting a mailbox out in front of your store.

When people get ready to launch a business online, they often have their desired result in mind, the stylish website and social networking presence that’s going to put their start-up in the public eye. Before you can start building, though, you must set the foundation. With the right base beneath you, your business will have plenty support on which to grow.