We asked our experts for their top tips for creating the perfect online presence. From choosing a domain name and hosting provider to designing and driving more traffic to your site, here's their best advice:
Keep it Short
Good domain names are short. As a guide try to go below 12 letters and never exceed 20. And avoid using hyphens, as they can create confusion.
Use Keywords in Domain Name
Try to embed the most relevant keyword/s into your domain name. Register all variations of a word such as ‘auslighting.com.au’ and ‘ozlighting.com.au’ to avoid competitors getting a hold of it.
Australians tend to trust businesses with .au domain extensions. Australian search engines will also give preference to these domains over the traditional .com extension. You can even register a few domain names that point to the same site.
Avoid Trademarked Names
A person who is not the trademark owner and registers the trademark as a domain name engages in trademark infringement—even a domain name as innocent as sonytvsales.com would be in violation.
You can use ‘whois lookups’, to search for the registration information on domain names, including owners email addresses and expiry dates. You can contact the owner to pass it on or wait for it to expire so you can register it. And remember, creative names can be very effective and memorable.
—Andrew Koloadin, director, Digital Pacific Web Hosting (www.digitalpacific.com.au)
Keep one topic per page. A general guideline is to have no more than two ‘screenfuls’ on a page so people aren’t scrolling downwards forever. If you do have more than this on your page, add a ‘back to top’ or another menu at the bottom of the page.
Limit the menu size to seven options or less—any more than that is hard to take in and gets confusing. Use a crumb-trail where possible. It just shows the path to the current page, with links to go back when desired.
Use up-to-date photos wherever you can. Paint a picture. If you don’t have a content management system, ask for one that’s basic to use. If you can use email, you can use a CMS.
As a guideline, limit width of paragraphs to less than 700 pixels and avoid scrolling sideways at all costs. It’s easier to read plus those using smaller screens can see everything.
—Sorna Devadas, owner, 5 Pages (www.5pages.com.au)
Search engine marketing tips
1. Get with the lingo
Know the search terms customers use to find your business on the Internet and use them on your website: titles, headers, sub-headers, meta tags, and general content. Try to secure relevant key phrases as domain names. A unique, topical name like melbourne-florists.com.au should rank higher in search engine results than myfloristshop.com.au if potential customers use the search term ‘florists in melbourne’.
2. Content is King
What you write on your web page is what appears in the search results. If the text does not relate to what customers are searching, your site will most likely be ignored, thus, lowering your search engine ranking.
3. Spread the word
Get back links from relevant credible sites. Google, in particular, will rank your site based largely on how many other sites have had visitors click from their website to yours.
4. Don’t forget to sell your wares
Once they’re in, turn your site visitors into paying customers or genuine prospects. Do you want them to buy online (in the case of e-commerce), sign-up to your newsletter, fill out your contact form or download your whitepapers? Whatever it may be, make the most of their visit while you have their attention.
—Robelen Bajar, marketing manager, Business and Consumer, Melbourne IT (www.melbourneit.com.au)
Picking a host
1. ‘Glocal’ focus. For the majority of business it is important that your support and service is local. Also, if you have overseas clients, consider partnering with a global provider with a local presence (Glocal) for support and billing.
2. Deep technical knowledge and support. It is critical that your hosting company is has the depth of technical support to help you deliver the best out of your site. Regular R&D, training and accreditation of staff is essential to stay on top of the latest trends.
3. What is your hosting providers security or back up policy? Ensure that data centres are fully redundant with back-up power, internet connections, and extreme firewalls built into the network.
4. Green Hosting. Socially responsible hosting companies are considering the effects that they have on the environment and looking at ways to reduce their carbon footprint.
5. Size and reputation are important considerations. Do your research and ask questions such as, how long they have been in business, ask for a list of key clients, how large the firm is, and what accreditations and qualifications they have.