Small Business Guide to Getting on the Internet

Do you own or work for a small business that is facing the challenge of establishing a website and Internet presence but have no idea where to start? Do you have questions about the process, expected costs, do’s and don’ts, and feasibility of website design and don’t know who or even what to ask? We help businesses launch successfully onto the Web everyday and offer this step-by-step guide as a resource to you as you consider your Internet options. In addition, we have put together an FAQ section to address some of the most frequently asked questions.

Step #1: Define Your Goals

The first and most critical step in creating a successful online presence is the careful articulation of your Internet goals. What do you want your web site to do for you? Web sites can do many different things: business promotion, e-commerce, customer service, employee recruitment, new customer acquisition, client retention and more. Knowing what you want the website to do for your business will dictate the design and technological capabilities of the site. Further, it will enable you to better communicate your expectations to the web development team.

Step #2: Do Some Research

After developing a rough sketch of your overall goals for the site, the best place to turn is the Internet itself by doing a little research. Search on Google for websites within your industry and for your competitors’ sites. By doing so, you can get great ideas and develop a better understanding of the market and your competition within it. Take lots of notes and jot down URLs that have something of interest to you.

Step #3: Select & Register a Domain Name

The next step in the development of any new web site is to determine what domain name you will use. While you can certainly locate and use free Internet space, for most purposes, it is preferable to secure your own domain name, e.g. www.yourcompany.com. Even if you are not ready to proceed with the development of a web site, we recommend completing this step as soon as possible. As more and more people and businesses get onto the Internet, your choices for domain names becomes increasingly limited. To determine the availability of your chosen domain name and register it, you can use services like www.godaddy.com or www.networksolutions.com.

The fees for the domain name license are separate from any of the services offered by dandelion marketing. Once you have chosen a domain name and determined that it is available, we are happy to register the name and manage the process from that point. As your Internet marketing company, we coordinate with the various parties involved, providing you with a seamless, full-service Internet experience.

Step #4: Select Providers

Creating, posting, and managing a successful web site requires graphic artists, webmasters, web hosting services, and Internet connection services to connect to the Internet and route your email. You may want to interview several companies to ensure that you will be receiving the level of service, design, and follow up that suits your business and its objectives. Some questions that may help in your evaluation of companies include:

  • What work has the company done? Request a list of URL’s of web sites that they have created. Are those sites appealing to you? Is the functionality and design in line with your expectations? For links to some of our clients’ pages, Click Here.
  • What do the clients of the provider say about them? Get referrals of people you can talk to. To see what some clients of dandelion marketing have to say about us, see our portfolio.
  • What will the web development company do to market your new Internet property? How will they help you get visitors, and more importantly new customers, to your site? dandelion marketing is certified in web positioning and search engine placement; click here to learn about our Internet Marketing Services.

While there are companies that offer all of these services, often you may elect to cherry pick providers to get the best in each category for your needs.

dandelion marketing works with many providers and is able to provide a seamless Internet team to you by pulling together the best providers to meet your needs. We manage the process for you so you don’t have to worry about who is doing what. To ask us specific questions, please complete the contact form by clicking here.

Step #5: Site Development

This is the time when your planning and ideas take shape. The five basic stages of site development are:

  1. Establish site architecture – develop a flow chart to illustrate the major sections and organization of the site.
  2. Create a design theme – translate the goals set in Step #1 and the image and tone of the business and brand into a design concept that includes layout, colors, and graphics.
  3. Sign Off on Design Components
  4. Build Out Web Site
  5. Integrate content – the content may include a company overview, an online catalog of products, biographies of key personnel, industry information, links, and/or a submission form.

Step #6: Web Site Marketing

  1. Site Optimization: The site needs to be built such that it is search engine-friendly. This means that the  search engines spiders need to be able to follow the links throughout your site and find the important information about your site’s content in prominent places. The most important factor in search engine optimization is CONTENT – lots of good quality content is your best bet when seeking search engine success. In addition, it is critical that your site be designed with META tags and other tags (title and alt, for example) to make your site as attractive to the search engines as possible. dandelion marketing provides search engine optimization services and Internet marketing consulting, and we are happy to talk with you about ideas.
  2. Social Media:
  3. Incoming Links: Another critical site marketing tactic includes obtaining links to your site from other-related sites. These need to be good, legitimate links from quality sites that provide information and value to users. Links to your site from Free-For-All sites or like sites will actually hurt your site in the search engines and will never send good leads to your site. Examples of good link placements include professional organizations, chambers, other related businesses, industry blogs, news sites, and industry-specific directories.
  4. You may elect to boost your online presence with online advertising. This can take the form of banner ads or pay per click campaigns. These options should be considered within the larger context of your company’s marketing plan and budgeted accordingly.
  5. Promoting the new site in your existing marketing outlets: Finally, you will want to ensure that your site is promoted along with all your other company information in offline marketing pieces such as brochures, letterhead, advertising, business cards, signage, and company trucks/cars.

Ready to get started? Let us know how we can help!