Search

The Internet contains billions of documents in different languages so how can you possibly use it to find out what movie is showing in Pofadder ? Consider this, the Internet would be of no use to anyone, if you could not find what you are looking for.

This is where Search Engines come in. There are currently three main Search Engines, Google, Bing and Yahoo, as well as several minor search engines. Some like Baidu are language specific and some like Google Maps are specialist search engines.

What is Search and how does it work?
In order for a Search Engine to be be effective it has to catalogue data stored on the Internet. It does this by sending a Bot browse Websites and categorise them.

The Bot is simply a program that visits a Website and uses the clues that we leave when creating a Website. These clues are:
The Meta Tags Description and Keywords
Headers and Sub – headers
Bold and italicized text

Search Engines also take into account, if the Website has been shared on Social Media.

The Major Search Engines have another very important tool to help you find what your are searching for, Local Search. Google, for example has Google Business Pages, where you can register your business for free.

So when I type in Plumber in Cape Town City Bowl in Yahoo and Google I get a Plumber in the City Bowl and not one in New York.

Screenshot Google Results

Screen shot Google Results

Screenshot Google Reults

Screen shot Yahoo Reults

The Internet

A Website represents the core of any Internet or Web Presence. But what is the Internet? You cannot see it, you cannot feel it, you cannot smell it.

You may interrupt me here and say you can see the Internet, every time you connect using a mobile device or a computer. But, you would be wrong. Because you need two things to use the Internet, a mobile device or computer and a telephone line or 3G.

Google Defines it as:

a global computer network providing a variety of information and communication facilities, consisting of interconnected networks using standardized communication protocols.

But what does the Internet mean to you the businessman? It is a very powerful platform that allows you to reach a large audience. You can reach people all over the world at anytime.

Over time, the Internet has grown to contain Billions of pages of Information and since mobile phones have become smarter, more people are able to access the Internet.

The Internet is primarily a Communications Platform, you can use it to do face to face call using and Internet Application like SKYPE, you can send correspondence using eMail, you can transfer documents as attachments or you can upload them to an online storage facility such as Dropbox that allows you to share your documents and photos.

You can watch movies online or download them to watch later. You can buy a pair of shoes online, or book movie tickets – the Internet has grown to take over many of what we would previously have to get in our cars and drive to the mall to do.

From the above, you can conclude, the Internet is a very versatile platform that serves both you and your business.

DIY vs Paid Web Site Infographic

Infographic

The DIY Website – Conclusions

Every Business needs a Presence on the Internet in the form of a Domain Name. It may  not need more than just a Business with just contact details, but by registering a Domain, it has an eMail address customised to the business.

Internet Real Estate in the form of Domain Names is fast diminishing. DOT COM (Commercial) or difficult to find, as they are more universal that DOT COZA (Country South Africa) although if you are a sole trader and trade under your name, you could well find another sole trader with the same name.

Small Business Websites are not difficult to create, they need time and some technical knowledge. But creating a Website is only the beginning;

  • A Domain need to be registered.
  • Hosting needs to organised,
  • Websites need to be mobile ready,
  • Websites need to be Search Engine Ready,
  • Websites need to be monitored.

 You may use a service that gives you a free website and use a sub-domain name, but this really should be because you do not have the funds.

Doing it yourself or using a professional is your choice, I just recommend that you register a Domain and pay for the best hosting you can get – it is more professional that way.

Time to Spring Clean your Web Site before Winter sets in.

Your Web Site may not have cost much to create, it may not cost much to operate, but it has something in common with it’s more expensive cousins – it is a valuable marketing and sales tool.

The Internet is constantly evolving and improving, and the technology that drive your Web Site also change. So you need to make sure your Web Site continues to function properly by keeping the back-end up to date.

It may not seem that important, until you remember that new Web Sites are launched daily, if not hourly. Amongst these, will be new competitors for your business. You have the advantage of being there first – keep it.

Find out more about Spring Cleaning your Web Site HERE

WordPress – Two Options

WordPress is by far the most popular Content Management System available. It is very powerful and yet simple to use. It also comes in two different flavours;

  • WordPress.

If you decide to host your own WordPress site, you find it will work out much cheaper than WordPress Dot Com once you take the optional extras.

To host WordPress yourself you need your own Domain Name and Hosting Account.

The Domain Name is quite straight forward you can register it through your Host or yourself through ZA Central Registry  or through NameCheap.

Choosing a Host requires a bit of checking. Not all servers are set up for WordPress or similar and you need to check;

Databases:- Content Management Systems are Database driven. WordPress, the most common, needs mySQL to operate.

phpMyAdmin:- mySQL needs it to operate and you require at least version 3.5.5

As long as you can confirm the above, you are ready sign up and conquer the Internet.

Maybe this is where I should tell you to do a search online and see what people are saying about the Host you have chosen, before committing yourself.

 

WordPress – Two Options

WordPress is by far the most popular Content Management System available. It is very powerful and yet simple to use. It also comes in two different flavours;

WordPress DOM COM – Free Hosted Version.

This is one of the best kept secrets on the Internet. Ok so it is very popular and hosts many free Blogs and did I mention, it is free. Most people will assume that the free version is just for Blogs. You will find many great Blogs when going through the community pages.

But and here is the most important difference between WordPress and Blogger or Tumblr, you do not have to publish a journal or Blog, you can simply publish a Website. Before, you say “So, what?” and point out there are other sites where you can do that – here is the kicker – those sites do not run on WordPress.

Think it through carefully, you want your business to grow and if your business grows, your Website will have to do so, as well. You are going to end up employing someone full time, or outsource, the Website.

Your move from Hosted WordPress to WordPress hosted on your own server will be seamless and easier. Plus you know know and understand how to use WordPress (the differences are minimal.)

WordPress do have paid optional extras that include premium themes, custom domain names and extra space, allowing you to continue using them (if that is what you want) when it is time to upgrade your Website.

What you need to consider when doing a Website yourself.

Websites are not rocket science and are actually quite easy to create. But (there has to be a but, right?) simply building a Website does not guarantee traffic. And a Website without traffic is a waste of your time and money.

So if you are going to do it yourself, save yourself the embarrassment of having to have professional fix your mistakes later.

Objective

Ask yourself;

  • What is the purpose of this Website?
  • What are Goals for this Website?

Plan

  • Content
  • Colours
  • Layout
  • Navigation

Hosting

You need the IP addresses for your Hosting, if you intend to register your own Domain Name. Your Host will also be able to register your Domain at a nominal charge for you.

Domain Name

If you intend to register your own Domain Name, you can register;

South African Domains  DOT COZA through ZA Central Registry NPC

International Domains NameCheap

Software

The best software to use when creating a Website is the text editor on your computer. But to do so you need to know the various languages you need, HTML, CSS, jQuery and JavaScript. The best software to use otherwise is KompZer, a What you see, what you get – WYSIWYG

Mobile First

Your Website needs to be designed with mobile devices in mind. This means that the content including the graphics must resize depending on the size of the screen. Except it is not quite that easy, the content must be legible no matter what the size of the screen.

By creating a Mobile ready Website, you do not have the expense of having to create a send Mobi Website.

 Google Developers have published an article explaining this, here.

Search Engine Ready

By creating Search Engine ready pages, you get a better search engine ranking and help your target market to find you.

Before writing the content for your page, look at what your target market searching for and what search terms are they using? These words and variations of them need to appear in the content. You also need to use them in the Keywords and Description Meta Tags which Search Engines use when examining content.

Content

Write clear concise content, use pictures where necessary.

Graphics

Use graphics optimised for the Web at 640 x 440 pixels and in JPG format. Use to break up content, but do not overuse.

Share

Google looks for content that is shared and believes that people want share it, it must be good. Add sharing buttons to your content to encourage people to share.

FTP (File Transfer Protocol)

This is the quickest way to upload or download files to or from the server. The one I recommend is Filezilla

And lastly:

Track your visitors using Google Analytics

 

Free versus Paid Website Hosting

Everybody, especially Businessmen and women, like the word free. But as anyone who gives away something for free, there is a cost involved. When it comes to Websites, free usually means limited.

 Hosts will use FREE to tempt you. By giving you a (possibly) good limited service, you will be willing to upgrade when it becomes necessary. Others, will pay for the cost of supporting you through advertising (though this is becoming rare) but are most likely to try to sell you optional extras, like more space or bandwidth and even your own Domain Name.

 My very first Website was on a Free Service. It was there one day and gone the next. I then created another personal Website on Geocities by Yahoo, then one day Yahoo decided that this was not what they were about, so bye bye Geocities.

I have experimented with a variety of free hosts, hoping to find one that provides a decent level of service, it does not exist. There are several Websites available that offer you the tools to create your Website and host it, but you need to read carefully between the lines. You will not be getting the same as their paying customers.

When choosing a Host, what you get is very important.

Bandwidth: - the bandwidth used by of traffic to your Website. Not enough and you lose business.

Storage:-  The files, especially the photos, that make up your Website take up space. Too little and your Website will have trouble expanding.

Databases:- Content Management Systems are Database driven. WordPress, the most common, needs mySQL to operate.

phpMyAdmin:- mySQL needs it to operate and you require at least version 3.5.5

Control Panel:- The one I prefer and recommend is cPanel.

FTP (File Transfer Protocol):-  The easiest way to transfer files to and from the Host Server.

Sub – domain versus Domain.

If you own a Business and need a Website, you would most likely choose a Domain Name like yourbusiness.co.za. The co.za stands for Country South Africa.

Makes sense right, but what if you have to chose someoneelse.co.za/yourbusiness?
Not that great right?

The first one yourbusiness.co.za is a Domain Name which you register and own. The second one someoneelse.co.za/yourbusiness is a Sub – Domain and unless you name is is some one else you do not own.

Let’s look at these in more detail.

The central registry for South African Domain Names ZA Central Registry NPC. The names are registered and managed by their agents who will charge you a fee for the service. Once registered, it is valid for 12 months and you have the option to renew it when it expires.

Other top level Domain Names like DOT COM work in the same manner and andWhen starting off and mon be registered through the various registries and their agents.

A Sub – Domain is simply an add on to an existing Domain Name. You could use like
yourbusiness.co.za/blog. It comes in handy when you need to split your Website into different categories.

But when you decide to go the free route, you will end up with a Sub Domain added to an existing Domain Name. The company offering the free site will often register a short but catchy name to make it easier for you, The only way to get around it would be to pay for your own Domain name if they offer that option.

When starting off and money is tight you could consider go the free route, but as soon as you can, you need to claim your own Internet real Estate and register your own Domain Name.