Bear Web Blog

Bear Web Blog features our Webmaster’s Blog & Our Designer Street Blog.

Webmaster’s Blog is for business owners, marketing managers, webmasters & web content managers that are all aiming to gain a greater understanding of the internet and how it can be applied to their business.

Designer Street blog is where design meets functionality with expert commentary by the Bear Web Design Design and Development Team who have produced over 400 custom websites.

Submitting Websites to Search Engines

Submitting Website To Search Engines

With Search Engine Optimization being such a hot topic today it is good to actually understand some basic steps in getting your website submitted to key search engines.

Peter Beare, BeareWare This by no means guarantees your website will immediately obtain any significant page ranking (position within the search engine) but it is definitely the first steps in the process.

Don’t Search Engines Automatically Find Your Website?

That an assumption a lot of people make. It is not always true and it also may take some valuable time for a search engine to find your website. Based on this we think the best thing to do is to submit your website(s) to the key search engines as soon as your website is launched. Do not assume a Search Engine will list your site. There are many reasons why a search engine may not find your site or list it – so the website owner (and their webmaster) should take responsibility in this area.

How Can you Tell if A Search Engine Lists Your Website?

If you go to Google.com or Yahoo.com or MSN.com (which have a combined 95% of the search engine markets) and type the name of your domain you will be able to establish immediately if the search engines lists your website. To be specific you would type – www.yourdomainname.com. If the search engine doesn’t list the site it will return a message such as:

Your search – www.domainname.com – did not match any documents.

Suggestions:

  • Make sure all words are spelled correctly.
  • Try different keywords.
  • Try more general keywords.

So this message means our site is not listed – So No One Can Find it?

Correct – no one can find it through a search engine lookup. For example someone goes to Google and will type your company or organization name. If Google does not have your website domain name in its list – then it will not have any information about your website. The core denominator is the domain name – all information about your website is connected to your domain name. So bottom line is if you are not listed in a search engine – then you are really REALLY hurting your chances for clients and new prospects finding you.

Wouldn’t This Be Our Web Designer (or Webmasters) job to make sure we are listed?

You would definitely assume this to be case but the reality is that quite often a web designer or webmaster simply don’t take the time to do this – or will assume that the search engines will find the site themselves. It is highly recommended when you are having a new website designed to verify with the development team that your domain will be submitted to key search engines – (again those engines being Google, Yahoo, MSN & Windows Live).

To make sure though – you can submit these yourself although you may need some help from your webmaster in terms of validating the website (which is required by each search engine). You will have to register an account with each Search Engine to be able to submit and manage your domain names.

Regardless of your level of expertise you should be able to submit your domain name to search engines directly yourself. Here are the step by step instructions on submitting to the top 3 key search engines:

GOOGLE:

Start off by establishing an account. Go to www.google.com and select “Create An Account.” This will provide you with a permanent Google sign in (username and password). Once signed in your will land on your account main page. The area you will be working in is Webmaster Tools – but you will notice the following options:

AdSense 
Analytics 
Base 
iGoogle – Settings  Add content  
Maps – My Maps  
Notebook 
Webmaster Tools

For today’s blog we will focus on Webmaster Tools – but I am sure you can see the value (and power) of google with the other options available to you. When you select Webmaster Tools you will end up on the page called Dashboard. This is where you will submit your domain name. ALWAYS submit your domain name as www.yourdomainname.com – in particular with secure server certificate there is a difference between www.yourdomain.com – and yourdomain.com. Once submitted you will be required to actually verify the website. This is Google actually checking to verify that the site you have registered with their search engine is in fact a valid site.

Google gives you 2 ways to do this – easiest being simply placing a text file that Google creates for you into the root of your website directory. Once you have placed the validation file in your root – you can verify your site. Google will check to make sure it is there and you are now verified. From this point on Google will visit your site from time to time and actually start adding the keywords to your listing index. One submitted and validated Search Engine Rankings can now be obtained.

YAHOO:

Start off by establishing an account. (Warning you have to use a yahoo e-mail when doing this – No idea why!). The actual web page to use is Site Explorer – http://siteexplorer.search.yahoo.com/ – when you add your domain you will be prompted to sign into your account (or establish an account).

Currently with Yahoo you get to validate your account – which is the same basic method as Google – you upload a file that Yahoo has created and then validate the domain name. The only other option that Yahoo is offering right now is an opportunity to add feeds to your website – which is aimed at helping you increase traffic to your site – (by increasing the quality of and content of your site). This is quite a nice feature.

MSN & WINDOWS LIVE:

Start off by establishing an account as you did with Google and Yahoo. Here is the actual page you need to link to – the area is known as “Webmaster Center” – http://webmaster.live.com/. This area will actually serve both the MSN Search Engine and Windows Live (both owned by Microsoft).  As per Google and Yahoo you will add domain names to your account and a validation process is required. An XML file is created by Webmaster Live and you publish the file to your website root and then validate the site.

Webmaster Live has some nice additional tools that I am sure they are developing and launching as soon as they can to help in terms of grabbing “any” market share they can against Google. In each account you have a summary, profile, crawl issues, back links, outbound links, keywords and sitemap. These are quite handy tools that may be helpful in analyzing your website and your search results.

As mentioned above these 3 search engines currently have around 90-95% of the search engine market so I would not recommend submitting to any additional search engines unless they have some demographic match that you are aware of and are very specialized search engines. I believe most other search engines will pick up your site from Google so this will not limit you on those other sites. But submitting your domain name is time consuming and so keep that in mind.  If you are really pushed for time then Google currently has around 80-85% of the search engines market so if you have only time for one submission make sure it is Google.

Having a great website is the first step to being successful online. But having it well positioned in search engines will really increase your ability to attract new traffic thru search engines.

Be sure to spend the time to make sure your website is listed in the top 3 search engines. It will be well worth your while.

Cheers Mate,

Peter Beare – Webmaster
Interview with a Webmaster – Full Blog – Click Here

Send us your comments and questions – Click Here 

Peter Beare, BeareWarePeter Beare is CEO of BeareWare, a Website Design & Development Company located just outside of Nashville, Tennessee. Since building his first website for a local sports club in 1998 Peter has been a webmaster. Over the last 10 years Peter’s duties with BeareWare have included website planning, design and development, website marketing and sales, as well as database application programming & project management. But when all is said and done, Peter is still a webmaster and this is “Interview with a Webmaster“.

Internet Not As Open Down Under

While sitting at Melbourne International Airport waiting for my flight back to the States I assumed a Wi-Fi hotspot would be have an open unsecured network available to so I could get online and get some work done while waiting for my departure.

Peter Beare, BeareWare

And as happened throughout my visit to Australia – from a Wi-Fi access point of view I was once again disappointed.

Home & Business Services appear comparative

So before I scare you off to much the overall broadband and cable options for residents and small business in Australia seemed relative similar to that in the US. Most of my time visiting my family in Australia I had Wi-Fi access in each residents I was staying at (secured wireless networks) – and I have to say that was very enjoyable to use. But outside your residence or work environment the internet openness down under disappears quickly.

Getting Online At Mickie Dee’s

While staying at my parents holiday house in Rosebud (around 50 miles from Melbourne) – their house had slower access (ADSL). Having plenty of work to do and requiring high speed access to do it – I was informed by a family member that all McDonald’s Restaurants in Australia have Wi-Fi.. I was extremely happy with this discovery – a Mickie Dee’s was only a 10 minute walk from where I was staying and the McDonalds stores in Australia are second to none so I was happy to plan my afternoon around some good food and drink. (McCafe being a really big part of the stores success in Australia)…

So I arrive at McDonalds and order my “value” meal – and then find a comfortable place to sit, eat and surf. Before ordering I confirmed that the restaurant did in fact have Wi-Fi which was confirmed with a smile. I was feeling good – everything going to plan. So I thought…

I fired my laptop up and then immediately found the Telstra Unsecured Network (Telsra being the AT&T equivalent in the Australia). Immediately I landed on the Telstra Website which immediately made me realize I was going to need some form of additional access to get online.

OK – I have to pay to get online

So after quite a bit of searching and verifying that I was not a Teltra customer (which still had fees associated with the access) I found the option to simply purchase time to get online. For $29.00 dollars I could buy 2 hours. I have to admit this did not float my boat. But I wanted to at least get a bit of work done so I selected the 2 hours option. I entered my credit card info in – and then – I waited – AND – waited – AND waited.

The https call (secure call) to process my payment simply froze on my screen. It did not particularly please me to have my credit card numbers sitting on the screen as they were – (as people were walking by with the McHamburgers and McFries) but I knew that a refresh of the page may actually repeat the transaction. So I sat and waited. After approximately 10 minutes I decided to close the processing page and try again. So I go back to the payment screen and try again – and sure enough the same problem happened. After 10 minutes I knew I wasn’t getting online.

I had a hunch that the folks actually working at McDonalds would claim that this was a Telstra problem – (not a McDonald’s problem) – so I was prepared when I went to the counter to inquire as to what I could. Of course I was told immediately that this was a “Telstra” issue but I quickly identified to the girl that the sign out front stated “McDonalds” not “Telstra”. This logic eventually landed me with the manager. The real problem I had was the double processing of my credit card. Not getting online was a pain – but potentially being charged twice for not getting online was an outrage.

We only work here

Ultimately I did end up with the store manager and explained my situation and requested a note from her (on letter head) stating date and time and store number so I had some form of proof that I clearly did have a problem using the service. After much convincing the manager gave me a “napkin” receipt and was very happy to have me out of her hair. The separation between McDonald’s and the Wi-Fi system continued as a theme throughout the conversation. It was apparent a support number for this store could have really made a difference to both the customer and employee in this case. Maybe this will come in the future. As of this date I have not seen the charge come thru on my credit card so at this stage my napkin remains close at hand as my trusty receipt.

Please Starbucks Say it Ain’t So!

So after that experience I went back and worked as best I could on ADSL. Not great but at least I could e-mail people. The next day I was off the MCG (The Melbourne Cricket Ground) to see my beloved Kangaroos play an Australian Football game.) I got dropped off early to pick up some special tickets and had around an hour to kill so I decided to walk into the city. A lovely 10 minute walk along the Yarra River had me in down town Melbourne. I finally found (a very empty) Starbucks. Upon ordering my coffee I inquired about Wi-Fi. The initial answer was yes we have Wi-Fi – but upon further questioning I established that access was thru “Telstra”. Imagine Starbucks charging you get online!

Then as stated in the opening of this blog – my final Wi-Fi destination was Melbourne International Airport. Surely this would be an open unsecured network that I could use. And again the answer was NO. This really surprised me as the amount of passengers that travel thru Melbourne for business must be in the millions over the course of the year. So again I thought I would check the cost – $20.00 for 2 hours online.  Without sounding like a big bragging American (Bigger is better) – I have to say that this was really eye opening for me. Having access online (without paying constantly for it) is critical to my business operations.

It Costs You More To Stay Connected Down Under

So the reality is to stay connected in Australia you will be paying fees while in any form of transit. And when I say cost I mean cost. Let’s take the average business trip that lasts 1 week. Folks like myself would require around 3 hours access per day – and probably an hour or so in the evening. Without actually staying at hotels this time round in my trip to Australia I will assume the access in hotels is also the same (Thru Telstra). So lets take 5 days time $60.00 a day ($29.00 from Telstra for 2 hours) – and budda bang – budda bing – you have spent $300.00 in your week of business. If you are international visitor then you may be looking up to $420.00 per week – and that is with limited access.

Of course you can always use your mobile device (instead of Laptop) – and maybe there are some traveling plans that Telstra offers – but you cannot do that many things on a mobile device. It is primarily for communication – you cannot update websites (which many business people work from or thru today) or work on sales and presentation documents. Frankly this really makes a business trip much more expensive (and possibly less productive).

The Internet Should be Open To The Little Guy…

From the day the internet was invented (Thanks again to Mr. Al Gore) – small business has been able to make themselves more competitive on the internet than with any other medium. And it has come at a very small cost. When you charge access fees (as is the case in Australia and is not the case currently in the US) you really reduce the opportunities Australia has to be competitive in this arena (POINT BLANK).

I also must say that when you consider the small cost of providing Wi-Fi in a store (or location) – wouldn’t the first Australian chain – such as a coffee house or restaurant or hotel be absolutely packed to the rim if they offered free Wi-Fi. What a small cost to pay for a full house of business. It is good to understand this as lots of companies in the states will sell products and services to Australia in our merging global markets and in the States you just assumed the internet is the same playing field.

But being a proud Aussie (and one that does plan to develop a business presence in Australia in the future) keep in mind if form follows fashion with countries emulating business trends and behaviors from the US then maybe sometime in the future Australia may be a bit more internet friendly to the business traveler and the playing field will be once again even.

With Australia being such a great country to do business with so I sure hope so…
 

Cheers Mate,

Peter Beare – Webmaster
Interview with a Webmaster – Full Blog – Click Here

Send us your comments and questions – Click Here 

Peter Beare, BeareWarePeter Beare is CEO of BeareWare, a Website Design & Development Company located just outside of Nashville, Tennessee. Since building his first website for a local sports club in 1998 Peter has been a webmaster. Over the last 10 years Peter’s duties with BeareWare have included website planning, design and development, website marketing and sales, as well as database application programming & project management. But when all is said and done, Peter is still a webmaster and this is “Interview with a Webmaster“.

Our First Content Management Class!

July 21, 2008

First Content Management Class – A Great Success

Coming from a background in managing PC based products I have seen how important education is to product users. As a windows developer in the 90’s I really learned how important is was for programmers to be connected to their users.

Peter Beare, BeareWare

Many programmers tend to be removed from users (and are not always comfortable in the user environment – or simply struggle to actually relate to their user base).

As a product programmer I remember my boss walking into my office and asking me if I would go to a client’s site to train a client on using the system (that I had been a primary developer of). I actually jumped on the chance – and from that first ever training session I have always had a strong focus on the client from a systems point of view. It was actually the best thing I ever did as it made me a much stronger programmer and gave me a very clear picture as to who I was really serving.

But That Was PC products – Isn’t The Web Different?

Actually the internet is simply a different operating environment and in general your ability to use the systems (websites and internet applications) is critical to success and efficiency online. In particular the Web Content Management Systems (CMS) are probably the most used websites in the world today. But just like the amount of education that went into PC (Windows based Products) – today I believe that Web Content Management Classes are a vital requirement for business that has a CMS websites.

Back in my PC days I actually went from the systems programmer to Professional Services Manager that included a full training department under my wing. This was not something built overnight – after visiting new client sites for training for approximately a year or so we saw the need to create classes. Once we started holding classes we simply never looked back – the classes included our primary PC product, add-on produces and also a Report Writer Class. I left the company to start BeareWare in late 2000 and I am sure the training programs are probably huge now as the company has continued to grow and prosper.
 
History Repeats as I visit Client Site for CMS Training

Over the last 2 years as BeareWare has developing more and more websites part of that process has been visiting new clients site for a final review and training session before their website goes live. I  believe this is critical to a clients success and it is currently one of the huge black holes with companies that design websites.

The fact a content management system allows you to update your website in no means assures a web owner is actually capable or confident about doing this. Of course it is easy – (if your name is Waldo the Web Dude) – but I have no doubt that education in this area will absolutely increase the results for client and give them a great base to grow from. Adding to that is the reality that if inform a client upfront of our recommended training I think it helps them recognize that the long term success of their site requires both us and them and a lot of work. Like any other aspect of business – having a website and making it a part of your business requires hard work!

Of course as you know every website is unique in its design – but the amazing thing is that they are not necessarily unique in operation. A Content Management System is basically the same system and just like PC applications of the past they have lots of options and require training and education to use these systems efficiently.

Over the last 2 years of going to client’s sites and taking clients live I have really learned about our client’s abilities and also their challenges with learning how to use a CMS system. And watching the development and improvement of clients over the past 2 years (and their overall website success) – this has really reinforced to me the importance of education.

With all our client reviews and training we provide a custom CMS Users Manual. For quite some time I believed that each client training was really unique in nature (as clearly their website was) so I did not actually consider the thought of CMS classes. But as we did more and more websites and training sessions I really started to see how similar the operation of a CMS site and add on components.

So a Web Content Management Class It Is!

I announced our first CMS class in June of 2008. The class was set for early August. Part of the organizing of the class was giving clients options to attend – even clients that have previously had onsite training session. I created two classes – Introduction Class (2 hour morning class) and an Intermediate Class (2 hour afternoon class). To my delight both classes received good sign up. It was particularly pleasing to see that BeareWare’s clients are as positive about web education as we are.

We were very fortunate to have a great training facility as part of the class (Lebanon Wilson County Chamber of Commerce rocks!). Clients bought their laptops to the class and we had Wi-Fi available for each attendee to sign up. And from my opening welcome our clients were full of questions as we ran through our class agenda. The room had clients from various different industries but the questions were always easily relatable to everyone.

And The Class Was Interactive

The nice thing about our training setup (WiFi and client laptops) was that each client could update their websites specifically as we went thru training modules (Our class is agenda is completely based on updating your site so every module gave everyone the opportunity to take control of content areas. I quite often saw clients showing other clients specific items as we worked thru our program. That was also very pleasing.

And of course I could bring up any clients site to assist or demonstrate site updating (yes – CMS sites can have multiple uses that can be updating the same website at the same time).  Even covering different 3rd party products really had a great amount of attention. Surprising to us was the interest in 3rd party products and add-on components. Many clients saw products that were good fits for long term web planes. We actually found the class environment really helps promote new product to clients as well.

Discussing SEO and SERP Really Added Excitement

As well our very hands content updates our class really reached a buzz when we looked at Search Engine Optimization and Search Engine Ranking Page. When any owner (or Web Content Manager) gets to talk about a tool such as a search engine that can deliver new customers to their door step (perpetually) you can imagine the interest.

Having our clients understand SEO is really pleasing again. I have heard horror stories of companies spending $1000’s of dollars for SEO services that they simply don’t understand. And as with most complicated areas that are not understood it is easy to how web owners can be really confused, deceived, and financially abused by SEO companies (who can magically place a companies website at the top of a search engine – and bring you thousands of new leads). Just like any aspect of life – if it sounds too good to be true it probably is – and if you really on things you don’t understand you are eventually bound to get burned.

I believe empowering clients with information is one of the greatest services a website design & development company can provide. So at the completion of our first class we really felt we had completed a very successful day. Our client’s enthusiasm was so pleasing. It is really great to be able to work with folks that are willing to head into new technologies with open minds. There is no doubt that web classes including CMS classes will really enhance our clients success. More classes are in the planning for our upcoming winter and spring of 2009.
 

Cheers Mate,

Peter Beare – Webmaster
Interview with a Webmaster – Full Blog – Click Here

Send us your comments and questions – Click Here 

Peter Beare, BeareWarePeter Beare is CEO of BeareWare, a Website Design & Development Company located just outside of Nashville, Tennessee. Since building his first website for a local sports club in 1998 Peter has been a webmaster. Over the last 10 years Peter’s duties with BeareWare have included website planning, design and development, website marketing and sales, as well as database application programming & project management. But when all is said and done, Peter is still a webmaster and this is “Interview with a Webmaster“.

Empower Your with Web Jargon

Empower Yourself – Learn The Web Jargon…

Teaching a Web Content Management class recently I included a “jargon” take home test that was handed to our attendees at the end of the class. I have always been very sensitive to computer jargon since my college days where I studied comptuer science.

Peter Beare, BeareWareI actually have always been uncomfortable with using it – in particular when you know the jargon to be confusing to the person that is not an actual computer geek.

Isn’t Web Jargon just a continuation of Computer Jargon?

Definitely a byproduct started by the smartest guys in the room (the computer geek – not the former Enron Directors)… The computer industry is around 30-40 years in age and with technology changing rapidly jargon has always been a big part of its culture. But I must say with the web world (around 10 years old) appears to have taken jargon to a new dimension. And being in complete sync with the web – every new process that is established opens up the door for a new term of jargon. This new jargon will quite often appear in sales and marketing of online products which is really an issue from my point.

So Jargon is Used Deliberately in Online Selling?

I think it is – and it is definitely used to increase sales. Being the sales person responsible for selling web services for BeareWare I am very aware of the confusing aspects that the most computer literate folks have in some of the key areas of web design, web development, domain management, web hosting and web content management. But I have to admit this could not be exemplified more than buying a domain name which on some registrars is at the point of absurd in terms of what you are offered (or asked to buy) – as part of the domain registration process. Quite a lot of the jargon has simply been created to give validity to “questionable add-on” sales products and to cash in on the lack of knowledge of the person making the domain registeration.

Do you Want Fries With That?

I was recently buying domains for a client on a registrar (for this article lets call the registrar Stop Momma). My client maintains a domain account with Stop Mommy and I logged in ready to acquire the new domain names we needed. I was buying 2 groups of domains so I typed in the names of each domain I wanted. All were available except one – which came up with our first piece of jargon – It was a “Premium Domain” that was being sold thru the registrar. So first question – what is a “Premium Domain” name. Interestingly enough each domain was costing $8.90 each but this “Premium Domain” name was selling for $3,195.00. (that’s right – over three thousand dollars).

In this case the phrase “Premium Domain” name is used by all registrars and also domain brokers (companies that broker the sale of domain names). Premium “implies” some significant value in the domain which may OR may not actually be the case. So it was a BIG NO to the Premium Domain. (I had passed the first “JARGON TEST”).

I have to say the screens were so totally confusing (at the very bottom of the screen) is the actual “proceed” to checkout. The main screen is full of options and suggestions (all with cost attached to them). One option asks would you like to make your registration “private”. A private registration is where you get to “hide” the actual owner of the domain name from public view.  For the life of me I do not know why you want to do this – and to be frank I don’t why ICAAN allows for this. The claim is that the spammers will be able to access your name and e-mail address and will bombard you consistently with spam. From BeareWare’s point of view it simply makes our job harder when a client calls needing help with their domain name (and of course they don’t know who the actual registrant is as their registering is a private registration.

Next at our Stop Momma Registrar we are offered the entire gamut of web services ranging from “Web Hosting” to “Custom Web Design”. Of course the whole purpose for my visit to Stop Momma was to register domain names (and only register domain names) – but you could imagine the small business person at this point in time – do we need private registration – do we need web hosting – (and of course there is reinforcing marketing behind every question – quite often laced with the some fear overtone if you don’t. select the choice).  Already you should be seeing the importance of arming yourself with Jargon knowledge – you will pay for it if you don’t…

So after I get thru the Web Services offers I finish up with a page listing every “similar” domain name on the market that may be available including other extensions such as .net., .org, biz, etc). The funny thing about this offer is the web page states “You have made a premium domain name purchase” – why you should now secure other domain name extensions. This is a classic – I was offered a “premium domain’ for over $3,000.00 in one of the initial sales screens – but now for just $8.90 I own a “premium domain” – and should registered every extension and any remotely similar domain to protect my investment.

I finally pay my account at Stop Momma and then end up on an another sales page (that has my payment receipt embedded in it). To honest I am thankful I am finished. Although this is just a small example of the jargon that is used in the web industry – I think the message is clear that may vendors on the web will sell with deliberate jargon to bolster sales – lets face isn’t their job as is any business to make money – so the best way to help empower yourself is to spend some time understanding the language…

Here are a few jargon items from BeareWare’s Online Webtips just to get you going:
 
Primary Website Statistic:
A websites primary statistical measurement is Unique Visitors (not Hits). The number of visitors dictates e-commerce and prospecting results.

Website Hits Terminology:
HITS are the number of graphics loading on any particular webpage. Hits have been used to inflate the perception of website activity. Website hits are irrelivent.

What is a Registrar?       
A Registrar is a company that provides domain registration to the general public. They are authorized and governed by ICAAN in performing this role.

Who Governs Registrars?       
Registrars are authorized and governed by ICAAN to register domains with the general public. Registrars making money on every domain they register.

What is Search Engine Optimization?       
Seach Engine Optimization (SEO) – Is the process of optimizing your position in a search engine based on key words and phrases.

Search Engine Positioning:
Search Engine positioning cannot be guaranteed by anyone. Positioning is based on a set of proprietory parameters set by the Search Engine.

What is Opensource?       
Opensource is software developed under a set of principles & practices with source code available to users.

Technique on Website Research!       
A great way to research a new website is to look at competitors and industry sites that you find appealing. Be sure to spend some time on each site. 

What does URL mean?       
URL is the website address of a website – http://www.beareware.com – is BeareWare’s URL

What is a Keyword Domain?       
A keyword domain is a domain name that contains a keyword that describes your business, products or services.

What is a Title Tag?       
Your title Tag is your websites top line (at the top of your browser). It is beneficial for SEO to have your keywords included in your title tag.

What is a BLOG?       
A blog is a website, usually maintained by an individual, with regular entries of commentary, descriptions of events, or other media content.

Cheers Mate,

Peter Beare – Webmaster
Interview with a Webmaster – Full Blog – Click Here

Send us your comments and questions – Click Here 

Peter Beare, BeareWarePeter Beare is CEO of BeareWare, a Website Design & Development Company located just outside of Nashville, Tennessee. Since building his first website for a local sports club in 1998 Peter has been a webmaster. Over the last 10 years Peter’s duties with BeareWare have included website planning, design and development, website marketing and sales, as well as database application programming & project management. But when all is said and done, Peter is still a webmaster and this is “Interview with a Webmaster“.

Significant Domain Announcement

June 30, 2008

Significant Domain Announcement by ICANN…

I am sure many of you do not know who ICANN is. But for anyone that is responsible for your organization’s domain planning and marketing ICANN is someone you should learn about.

Peter Beare, BeareWare

ICANN is the world wide governing body for domain name registrations and the associated guidelines. ICANN stands for Internet Corporation For Assigned Names and Number. They have existed since the inception of the internet and are comprised of a board of directors, officers and operating staff. I am proud to say an Aussie has been President/CEO since 1993 (Dr. Paul Twomey). The board is comprised of people from around the world that have a variety of backgrounds and disciplines. ICANN’s main offices are located in Marina Del Ray, California and Brussels in Belgium.

And just this week ICANN made one of the most significant decisions on the future of domain names…

OK – how about a quick background on Domain Names…

Domain names are purchased from Registrars. Registrars are organizations that sell  domain names (under the authority and guidelines of ICAAN). Registrars are organizations such as GoDaddy, Aplus.NET, Network Solutions just to name a few. ICANN to date has allocated the following extensions that registrars can commercially sell (I have included a basic explanation as to the purpose of the domain extension – or in some cases the intention):

.com – Commercial organizations
.net – Intranets (Internal networks for organizations)
.org – Non profit organizations
.info – Really opened up alterative ways to get a domain (no specific intenion) 
.biz – Business organizations (no known difference from .com)
.mobi – Mobile websites (for mobile web devices)
.us – Organizations based in the United States
.bz – The country of Belize- opened up for any commercial use
.cc – Cocas Islands – opened up for any commercial use
.tv – Television based organizations

There are then other domain names that are held for private government or education
use – .gov or .edu – as I am sure you have seen before. Apparently there are
29 domain extensions that currently exist although I don’t know them all…

And then you have the country codes for domain extensions for countries outside the United States (which seems to have defaulted to the .com extension at least initially. Here are just a few examples:

.au – Australia
.gb – Great Britain
.uk – United Kingdom
.ca – Canada
.it – Italy

These country code extensions exist as an extension to .com (for example – .com.au (would be Australia). These domain extensions have been sold as a general bases to organizations within a particular country. From what I understand initially you could not register a domain name without your particular country code. I don’t believe this is now the case.

I would also note this was a loose interpretation from day one. Many organizations and folks (and squatters) in Australia, Canada or United Kingdom registered .coms – so the rules of having to purchase domains only with your own country’s extension was never a clear and fast rule. But based on the country codes and the logical bases of business around the world registrants are located all over the world and are assigned the rights to sell domain names in regional areas. (so therefore you cannot buy a domain name from another country thru a registrar commissioned to sell US based domains. (sorry to be so confusing – just telling you like it is!)

So that is where we where until the new announcement last week!

In a nutshell ICANN has approved the release of new class of domain extensions…

The big news out of Paris last week where ICANN was holding their annual meeting was the announcement of new domain extensions that are known as gTLD’s – Generic Top Level Domains domain extensions that could actually be a company name, an industry or a geographical place like a city. To explain this (and using the examples I have seen) – lets say that the domain extension – .nyc is released. This would be the logical extension name for New York City. Now when you think about the number of business located in New York City this would seem somewhat logical with the .nyc identifying they are located in New York City.

From what I understand – ICANN will accept applications for specific extension such as .nyc which I assume would give the owner basic registrar rights to sell (or license) the domain extension. Specially what they can do with that extension is not clear right now but I am will make the assumption the extension will then be sold just like any other registrar would sell them.

So lets say there may be 10,000 business that buy .nyc domains which will be probably based on a set of guidelines set by the owner of the .nyc domain. A good example would be that you must be a legally operating business (or organization) located in New York City to be able to purchase the extension. Just to make sure you are following – an example might be the New York Yankees – http://www.yankees.nyc.

Now lets have a look at another example that is industry based (versus geography)…
 
I have already read that .travel will be a very likely candidate as a domain extension. (The Travel Industry). In this particular case the domain extension is industry focused. (as apposed to .nyc which is geographically focused). Identifying which organization might be able to apply for this type of name is simply not clear right now. But once they obtain that name then the extension could be used in a variety of ways.

It may be that a large travel wholesalers acquires the domain name and then sells (or licenses) the extensions to their affiliate network – so you may end up with 10,000 .travel organizations. For example – http://www.australia.travel – which might be be an affiliate that specializes in Australian Travel. What the .travel extension assures you of is that the website will be industry focused – and as you would clearly know by know – .com could be anything. You can bet Real Estate will also be looking at this very closely – most likely .realestate will be a much sought after extension.

SO This is definately “GUESS WORK” at this stage…

I must say that with this announcement by ICANN it is really a guessing game who and what domain extensions will become available and really what applications will be accepted. Actually it appears to be very general in terms of FAQ’s posted on ICANN’s website in relation to the new launch. There is no specific date planned (sometime in 2009) – and basically you apply by application. There will be an application fee – but it is not clear how much the cost would be. And the rules and guidelines for the actual domain extensions are not listed anywhere.

You could assume the rules of other domain extensions would exist and that the owner of the domain extension would make their own rules (to maintain the integrity of the domain – and therefore maintain its value). Just to emphasize this point – .info extensions are now selling for $1.95 – (versus the standard $10.00 for .com’s) – based on the supply and demand of .info’s. In other words it is not seen as a very strong domain extension.

You can definitely bet that trade marks will be closely looked at in this process (more so than ever before). I am sure the only groups that can register .coke – will be Coca Cola.

The main clarification from ICANN is that these domain names will help create greater opportunity to their stakeholders (NO IDEA WHO THEY ARE SPECIFICALLY) – and also creating greater “clarity” and “opportunity” with domain name convention. I did notice that one of the ICANN board members is with GOOGLE – so that might give you some idea as to where some of the board’s direction and influence come from. I suspect GOOGLE would be clearly a “Stakeholder”.

So What Does This Mean to Search Engines?

Improving the Internet and in particular the ability for a search engine to get a web browser to “what they are actually looking for” is a high priority. From everything I have read – Web 3.0 will be the advent of much smarter search engines. Working with many clients (and my own company) on SEO – I am amazed at the amount of non relevant information that comes up on searches. So with that in mind – does this naming convention help in the search engine department?

Well my current answer is I hope so! We won’t really know until the domain names start to show up (and end up in search engines). It may be that this preludes search engines that are specifically industry or geographically focused. Of course don’t think there hasn’t been lots of search engines (including Yellow Pages) that are focused on industry categories and geography already. The fact is GOOGLE is what everyone uses to search the web. More likely these domains extensions may have a higher ranking in google when the topic is searched for – whether it be geography or industry based.

In other words someone wants to find a travel website to do some research on their upcoming trip and they search google for Australia + Travel. In today’s current search this brings up websites that contain the phase “Australia” and “Travel”. When you think about that that is a lot of ‘irrelevant websites” ranging from tourism websites to Johnny’s school project on Traveling to Australia. It may well be that a website such as www.australia.travel may have a high ranking based on its extension.

This works the same for geography. Lets say you are looking up landscape gardeners in Wilson County (TN). So you go to your favorite search engine (or you just plain old google it)… with the search words – Landscape Gardener + Wilson County + TN (as there are multiple Wilson Counties in the United States – 3 that I am aware of… makes you wonder which one might end up with .wilsoncounty as an extension) – but for this example lets say it is Wilson County, TN.

With google currently when you type in these search phrases you end up with your top ten searches including 2 Curriculum Vitae’s that mention Wilson County, a 2001 Gardening Conference website held in Wilson County, a Myspace Account from someone who lives in Wilson County, several search & business listing engines, and a few actual landscaping business.

Again it would make sense that if a .wilsoncounty extension exists that the business you are searching for with a .wilsoncounty extension  would have higher ranking (than someone’s resume). BUT – I will have to say the words you use in your search could still make it harder work for searcher (no matter how smart the search engine is). Of course if you think about this for more than a minute you may also wonder about the .gardener extension or .landscapegardner extension as an industry. It may very be that companies continue to use multiple domain name as they simply cannot control the searches key words…

Where do we go from here?

As I state constantly in my weekly blog education and learning is a key commitment to your success on the internet. For our BeareWare clients we will be looking closer at ICANN’s announcements (and more objective articles as they appear on the web) to make sure we can let our clients if and when an application may be relevant to file and what effect this may have on their business or industry in the future.

I have recognized over the last 12-24 months that geography is really important in relationship to websites (and SEO). Frankly who cares about a business located in Hong Kong when you are searching for a company in your home town. (which is more often the case than not).

The premise of being of the world wide web and accessible to people all over the planet are only important to people selling a product or service world wide. The rest are really focused on a demographic which includes a defined geography. So if ICANN does open up geography such as big cities or counties or states – and the search engines can use these extensions with assurity that they are geographically accurate – this may well be a good thing. I think the same applies for an extension within an industry.

So be sure to think about your own business, industry and geography and talk with a domain planning professional to help keep you up to date with this very interesting development…

Cheers Mate,

Peter Beare – Webmaster
Interview with a Webmaster – Full Blog – Click Here

Send us your comments and questions – Click Here 

Peter Beare, BeareWarePeter Beare is CEO of BeareWare, a Website Design & Development Company located just outside of Nashville, Tennessee. Since building his first website for a local sports club in 1998 Peter has been a webmaster. Over the last 10 years Peter’s duties with BeareWare have included website planning, design and development, website marketing and sales, as well as database application programming & project management. But when all is said and done, Peter is still a webmaster and this is “Interview with a Webmaster“.

Should We Leave It to the Professionals?

Should We Leave it to the Professionals?

I was listening to my favorite jazz station last week when I heard an advertisement for a web design company. I always like to check out the competition so I went to their website and did my “snooping” around.

Peter Beare, BeareWareI did however notice one statement on their site that rang a bell with me based my education theme for this week’s blog. The statement said “Leave it to the Professionals”.

Well isn’t that good advice?

Yes it is but in this particular case the basic premise was that the client should sit back (basically removed from the project) and let the professionals develop their website and then provide the appropriate management services (Couldn’t you imagine the client on a beach sipping a Pina Colada watching sales just rolling in off their website). This statement really clarified a distinction between our company and theirs. In actual fact it is the exact opposite philosophy we have with our services and products. We need the client involved and the greater the client’s knowledge (and involvement) the greater their website results.

But wouldn’t that be money well spent?

Well in Web 1.0 (the early days) there is no doubt we had similar type relationships with some clients. The client would generally want a website, want you to manage it, and want great results. It was definitely more in the mode of “You are the professionals – so make it happen – BABY! (for $75.00 a month)”. But to actually make this happen you have to have a great understanding of the client’s business. This is not only relevant during the web design phase but also when you are managing a client’s website. You have to be very involved in the day to day operations to manage effectively.

So that may explain the missing “Webmaster” to some extent?

Actually I am sure everyone has heard the “Webmaster was supposed to be doing this” story. I can just hear the client now – “That lazy good for nothing webmaster was supposed to update the website and help us generate new sales. The website hasn’t been updated once since we went live – I thought we were getting 1000’s of hits and yet I didn’t see many new sales coming off our website and I cannot even get the guy on the phone….”

So to restate this scenario (or game plan) – you had a webmaster you are not communicating to consistently (if at all) responsible for updating your website. They are not in the flow of your marketing and advertising plans and have a limited knowledge of your organization (and what it does). This seems to make sense to me that the webmaster probably didn’t do a lot of updates. Most likely the webmaster did not know what to update. Of course being proactive with the client would really have helped this situation but as the slogan goes “Leave it to the professionals”…

A successful website is ALWAYS going to be a TEAM EFFORT!

There is absolutely no doubt that collaboration (an ongoing team effort) between the web design and web hosting company and the client is going to produce the best results. With the web design process the project is usually a more likely place for good team work to take place. But the web design process is usually over within 30-60 days on small business websites. And that is when the management of the website and content comes into play.

With content management systems becoming the norm in the market place the client has become equipped and is now in a position to manage their own content. But that doesn’t mean they don’t need guidance, direction, coaching and support. In web 1.0 the big hole in the web model was usually between the webmasters capability and client’s assumptions (or hopes) of the webmasters services.

In Web 2.0 we are really seeing the bigger hole is going to be the client having a great website with a tremendous set of tools that they simply don’t know how to use (or understand that well).  Thus companies like BeareWare are now providing training and classes (ongoing education) for Web Content Manager which includes instruction, documentation, support and an emphasis on ongoing skill development

BECAUSE – When it comes to the internet knowledge is power!

I imagine at this stage that our blog’s heading “Sit back and leave it to professionals” has most likely been erased from your mind. It just ain’t the environment or the medium to sit back in and let someone else make it happen for you (and of course charge you a much higher service fee than is really necessary for you to spend). The internet will continue to have significant impact on company’s sales, marketing and operations. Companies that want to really maximize their website results must invest in ongoing education and frankly they have to be involved!

In supporting and working with BeareWare client’s over the last seven years it has always been rewarding to see client’s develop in terms of their knowledge of their own website and the internet. This first started with the building of their website and their initial feed back and results from their website. Then semi-annually or annual visits with clients to review their web statistics really helped us develop an understanding of the client’s understanding of their website.

Our clients have grown with us!

Now with most of our existing clients upgrading to Content Management System (and all new clients immediately using Content Management Systems) we have now been involved in client training and support for over two years. I gotta say we have learned a lot – not only our clients! Again the reward of seeing our clients taking charge of their websites and updating their content has been great to see.

So let the Web Content Management Classes Begin!

And in keeping inline with our client’s ongoing development and also our own experience we are now preparing for our first Web Content Management Class coming up in August. This is our first formal commitment to ongoing education and we believe this will be a great growth area as we empower our clients. With hot topics such as SEO being part of the agenda it’s going to be great having different website owners together in the same room sharing experiences and I am sure – many questions.

And the end result will speak for itself…
 
To finish off today’ blog I thought I would share a success story:
 
Just recently we launched a new client website and I went to the client’s office to introduce the client to Web Content Management. In this case it included two actual websites, an online shop and an events calendar. We always provide a training manual with our training session and we went thru a normal 1 1/2-2 hour training session. Quite often the client is quite during this process as they are taking in a lot of information and I will always be monitoring their level of comfort to make sure we understand their potential support needs. At the end of this training I asked the client if they had any questions and the answer was a very positive “NO”. They seemed to have a good grasp of updating the content and evidently they were ready to take the reins.

Around a month or so later this same client requested assistance with some minor design changes and in reviewing their websites I was very pleased to see the entire sites content (which may have constituted 15-20 pages) had been updated very professionally by the client (without ONE SUPPORT CALL). This included updating the online shop and events calendar.

The client stated he was very happy with the website to date which was very pleasing to hear. But the fact the client had taken charge of his website – it just doesn’t get any better than that! This client had already become the Web Content Manager and there is no doubt the companies website will play a major role in their future success.

Cheers Mate,

Peter Beare – Webmaster
Interview with a Webmaster – Full Blog – Click Here

Send us your comments and questions – Click Here 

Peter Beare, BeareWarePeter Beare is CEO of BeareWare, a Website Design & Development Company located just outside of Nashville, Tennessee. Since building his first website for a local sports club in 1998 Peter has been a webmaster. Over the last 10 years Peter’s duties with BeareWare have included website planning, design and development, website marketing and sales, as well as database application programming & project management. But when all is said and done, Peter is still a webmaster and this is “Interview with a Webmaster“.

Webmaster or Web Content Manager?

What is The Difference between a Webmaster and a Web Content Manager?

As our website world becomes more defined and refined in Web 2.0 there is a distinction that most organizations should start to consider and that is the difference between a Webmaster and a Web Content Manager.

Peter Beare, BeareWare Our content management systems have taken what was traditionally a one man (or women) technical operation and it has become a multi-skilled environment that now requires key marketing and sales focus within your website. Content Management Systems have started to allow us to streamline the process of managing the website as well as given us the ability to allocate the right person for the right job.

Wouldn’t they be the Same Person Anyway?

Not necessarily and pending the size of your organization they could be distinctly different people (even different organizations).  Traditionally there is no doubt that the webmaster was the all encompassing Web Guru in particularly in smaller organizations. The Webmaster would be the person creating (seeking) and managing the information content (words and pictures) and organization of a web site and also managed the computer server and technical programming aspects of a Website. The may have also been the person that designed and developed the website.

Sounds like the Webmaster is KING – why would you need anyone else?

That is a good question and one that I have seen answered with a new client recently. The client’s website was designed and developed and maintained by a very good “Webmaster” that would probably fit the description above to a tee. Everything in the website was accurate, each area designed clearly and descriptively, and each piece of software (3rd party software) interfacing with the website correctly. The website was in great working order….

SO WHAT’S WAS THE PROBLEM?

The problem was the website had little marketing consideration. The site assumed that if they linked to a 3rd party site the job was done. There was very little static content to update and no allowance for advertising and marketing campaigns. They key basis was the website was a working piece of software. The perception was there was no need to convince anyone of anything from a selling point of view. The bottom line was the website was a good functioning website working absolutely correctly but had very little marketing appeal. 

And I would bet there are 1000’s of websites which fall into this category. Was this a deliberate plan by the webmaster not to focus on marketing? Probably not – it most likely was the fact the webmasters skill set strongly matched the tasks described above – a technical background, helped build the website, setup the hosting account (or server), routed the domain name, added the user e-mails and then performs the task of updating content and information.  The webmaster probably had no background in marketing.

Webmasters Generally Have Strong Technical Skills (not Marketing Skills)

This is now becoming much clearer as companies go from the “direct” webmaster relationships to a Web Design/Hosting Company that now supports a Web Content Manager. The Web Content Manager is much more focused on the content information on the website and much more in-tune with the marketing of the organization. You can see by this brief description that it would always be very valuable to include the Web Content Manager in the actual web design process from day one. (So the site is focusing on marketing and sales in line with the technical decisions of the website.)

At the same time A Web Content Manager is still a very new position (and of course another piece of computer jargon to many mentally exhausted folks) – but the Web Content Manager is definitely the new kid on the block and every company large or small wants to develop, nurture and grow this position. Here are some of the tasks a web content manager will focus on (and develop knowledge of) when managing content. I have also include “Webmaster” comments to clarify role differences. These descriptions are from an upcoming Web Content Management Class that BeareWare offers to clients (and prospects).

Understanding Website Structure

To effectively manage your website you must have a base understanding of the structure of the website. This includes where the website actually resides, your domain name, the composition of your website (programs) and the actual structure that your website is made up. This includes learning the operations of your administration control panel and having a good understanding of your website support agreement.

** Your Webmaster will have a high technical understanding of website structure *** 

Managing Your Website Content

Managing your websites content starts with a strong understanding of what good content is and why it is so important for your website. Lets start with a look at each area of your website that contains “updatable” content and how to update your website. This includes learning how to update text, images, multi-media, and documents in static content and content management.

** Your Webmaster will not be involved (or have little involvement) in this process ***

Website Content Management, SEO &Web Analytics

Now that you have developed a good understanding of your website structure and have the steps involved in updating your website content. It is time to apply these principles to a permanent plan in website content management. This would include promoting good content management policies and techniques throughout the organization. A sound knowledge of SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and how content influences SEO results should be incorporated into a meaningful measuring system of your website (Web Analytics). Your website results should be clear, understandable and renewed often.

** Your Webmaster will help you with SEO – No content involvement **

Associated Website Products

A Web Content Manager should develop a strong understanding of all the Ad-On products Shopping Carts, Calendar, Photo Gallery, e-NEWS and 3rd party software such as Real Estate and Travel Planners. Knowing how to make sure your online shop is sparkling with great product pictures and correct pricing is a great example of good web content management. This area is way to often left in the hands of the Webmaster who cares about the software working – not necessarily whether a producing selling.

** Your Webmaster will support you in using any software tools. Their role would be to support your usage (and training) and ensuring the software programs are working. **

Advance Content Management

Advance Content Management includes developing strong skills for updating Static Content, New and Blog Content, Menu Items, Modules and Templates.  A good skill set should be developed for image management (and techniques), multi-media and document management as well as link management (internal and external to your website).

** Your Webmaster will generally not be involved in advance content management **

The Purpose Driven Website

Finally we focus on the overall management techniques of your website ranging from web content (sourcing) to web analytics, SEO, e-NEWS & Blogging. Establishing a full understanding of what content is most effective on your website, when you should link to other websites and when you should be building content. (and having a long term content plan).

** Your Webmaster will be a part of the team that makes your website successful but from a marketing point of view the Web Content Manager is going to bring home your bacon! **

I think the list above will start to really show a separation of skill sets and people. And no this was not a devious plan by computer people to double up on people working on your website and doubling up on your cost. In actual fact most of our clients have their Web Content Manager lurking within their organization – usually the marketing person.

And when you remove the webmaster from your monthly web management process your monthly fees become more hosting based and generally are reduced. Ultimately and more importantly you stop paying a technical company to assist you with marketing that is simply not a skill set and the company is generally not in the companies marketing flow. 

Even with our own company – BeareWare – we have gone from a company that managed all our clients websites 3 years ago to having 95% of our clients now using CMS systems and establishing (or have established) their own Web Content Manager. We still have plenty to do from a webmaster point of view and as a Web Design company we will always have a very strong marketing focus on all aspects of the website.

Helping a company achieve their desired results online is definitely a team effort. Relying on a technical webmaster (or a hosting company that is not involved in your day to day operations) to actually make key and decisive marketing and sales initiatives is more a pipe dream than a reality.

Great web content management really connects the client to their website. It is an exciting position and the reward for a company with a good web content manager can be tremendous.  So spending time understanding the difference between a webmaster and web content manager can start to direct your organization in really growing its brand online and obtaining the absolute best results from your website…

Cheers Mate,

Peter Beare – Webmaster
Interview with a Webmaster – Full Blog – Click Here

Peter Beare, BeareWarePeter Beare is CEO of BeareWare, a Website Design & Development Company located just outside of Nashville, Tennessee. Since building his first website for a local sports club in 1998 Peter has been a webmaster. Over the last 10 years Peter’s duties with BeareWare have included website planning, design and development, website marketing and sales, as well as database application programming & project management. But when all is said and done, Peter is still a webmaster and this is “Interview with a Webmaster“.

Is Your Website Purpose Driven?

Is Your Website Purpose Driven?

Is your website a purpose driven website? Sounds like a corny question from a self help book doesn’t it! But in realty many website today are “happenstance driven” websites versus purpose driven.

Peter Beare, BeareWare You website should have specific purpose(s) that can be measured. A website will inevitably serve your organization in many ways but it is critical to be able to clarify the purpose of your website so you can verify whether it meets that purpose.

What is a Happenstance Website?

A Happenstance website is a website that basically happened. For many organizations this began with someone in the organization who was the “tech” guy or gal who had the ability to build a website. I am sure if you think back to your companies first website the issue was not was the website any good – it was the fact it existed – period. And that immediately made your tech folks the web experts. Not by experience, not by formal training, not by marketing or sales background, but in many ways by default. Without being to demeaning the fact that someone could get a website online gave immediate certification to being a web guru with this title soon graduating to “Webmaster”.

I don’t know how many companies are still operating on “happenstance” with “Mikie” being the expert in this area – but my suspicion is both big and small companies both fit into this category. I use the name “Mikie” from the cute cereal commercial that would have “Mikie” eat the cereal first (ala alot of websites were built by folks who were the first people in the organization that could get a website up first). In general I am seeing more and more good websites out there but many organizations have their website in the technical operational expenses column only (and not sales and marketing). Happenstance was good in the first generation of websites. But I am glad to say that generation is well and truly over. A business can now have well defined goals and missions attached to their website and these should be set by business owners and directors.

Tech People Are generally NOT the Best Web Designers!

Welcome to internet age known as Web 2.0! What this really means is the world wide web is actually starting to make “more” sense. The Web 2.0 description is affectionately used for recognizing the second generation of the internet. In essence it signifies things are working better online and the first generation of dot com million dollar madness and the home brew websites are now a part of the past. Today it is actually possible to design and develop a website that has objectives that can measured.

Hopefully this doesn’t sound TOO ROBOTIC? I will be the first to say the possibilities of what a website could do was intoxicating in the Web 1.0. I was as bedazzled as the best of them. The bottom line is web 2.0 sees the web design craft developing and the steps involved in developing a website are much more refined . Part of the process in developing a purpose driven website is establishing what skill sets are required for the job. Tech people who have clearly held court in the past are not necessarily your best choice for future web development.

Most tech folks time and expertise is traditionally spent in software and hardware operations within an organizations. They tend to care whether it “works” or not – and within their work environments that has dictated their world. But websites are no longer about “just working” – they are about specifically performing for the business. The complexity of their results have now dictated a much more sophisticated development focus.

Keeping in mind that the tech persons background is usually very solid in the overall understanding of the web and they should definately be a key team member when it comes to your website but the optimium word here is “team member” working in unison with the business owners and the marketing and sales team. Today a good website development starts with a good development team working with a good web design company.

Helping to expand on the changes that are now happening in the web development world here are a few comparisons between Web 1.0 & Web 2.0…

Web 1.0   Web 2.0

Double-Click
Britannica Online
Tech/Webmaster Dude
Personal Websites
Taking Over The World
Domain Name Speculation
Page Views
Web Hits
Publishing Websites
Stickiness (Cut & Paste)
Website Works 

–> Google Ad Sense  
–> Wikipedia
–> Web Design Professionals 
–> Blogging
–> Realistic Demographic Targets 
–> Search Engine Optimization 
–> Cost Per Click 
–> Web Analytics
–> Content Management Systems 
–> RSS Syndication
–> Website Produces

In essence we have graduated to a better overall environment in Web 2.0. Some improvements are better pieces of software such as content management systems, some are better methods of sharing information such as syndication (RSS feeds) and some are just a greater understanding of the web environment best summarized in web analytics (versus the woeful statistic of HITS). We also have professional people who have grown into the industry (or grown up in the industry) that are far more qualified to produce results.

A Purpose Driven Website IT IS!

I think the formality of the word purpose really helps establish how your website should be operating. Your website should be a planned part of your business and the basis of just having a website without specific aims and measures probably has very little value to your organization. So let’s start with the basics to help get you focused on a website with purpose:

1. What is the primary mission of your website?

Your mission should be very much determined by your business plan and marketing models. Generally most companies are selling services or products. Your website will be a “participant” in that process. If you are selling Travel services then your websites primary mission might be to establish qualified travel prospects. If you are selling online retail your mission would be to sell products online. If you are promoting local tourism your mission might be to attract as many visitors as possible to your website so they can see the main attractions of your area. Your business really determines your mission and your website should be an extension of achieving that mission.

Your mission should include geography. Your mission is to sell your services and be a leader in defined demographic area. Unless you current business sells world wide (or even nationwide) looking for national and world wide sales thru your website may not be the best place to start. Your region may be Middle Tennessee or it maybe the South Eastern United States Region. It depends on your product and on your business plan.

A small retailer may sell a specialized product all over the world. Each company should set this boundary. The key point is you must identify a target demographic online. With SEO becoming such an important player in online marketing your keywords will very much be associated with your target demographic. Remember this is your primary demographic in your primary mission. It should be VERY SPECIFIC!

2. What is the primary measurement of your website?

I actually think measurement is sometimes much harder to establish than the mission. But a website without measurement has very little purpose and value for your organization. Your website has the capability of tracking unique visitors, repeat visitors, page impressions, advertising click thrus, (hits for those that are still confused), inquiries, and ultimately sales. Your website (like your business) comes with some intangibles that may not be as easy to identify. In the selling cycle a prospect may use your website to reinforce or ultimately help make the decision to go with your company. But keeping that in mind what black and white measurements do you select that can be checked periodically and can return a clear result.

3. What are secondary missions of your website?

Secondary missions are very important on a website. Because of the websites scope and capabilities you can have many additional missions that you can track and measure. Let’s say your primary mission is to provide services in Nashville and then your secondary mission is to provide those same services in 5 key cities outside of the city of Nashville. These missions may be very well established with the recognition that SEO is about keyword geography as much as it is about keyword services.

So in this case we focus our sales efforts on the five key cities that are just outside of our primary mission demographic. Many could argue since you are already covering the major areas with your primary mission wouldn’t it be logical for the people in five smaller cities to search the big cities first (as in Nashville in their keyword search) when looking for your service. My answer is YES and NO – THEY MAY or THEY MAY NOT. It isn’t about what is logical as much as it is about covering both scenarios. Being redundant here ensures that if that prospect searches for your services in the “big city” they search for your services in the “small city” you are represented both ways.

4. Who are the key players that will ALWAYS focus on your website?

OK we have the mission(s) of our website established and we have the demographics identified. This is good – you are currently ahead of most website owners if you are in this position. But now who are the key players that will help make and keep your website focused and mission based. When you develop a website a lot of energy and effort is given by both the web design firm and the client. It can be a ton of work and a significant project. The project is complete and the website launches. Your website was designed specifically to meet and grow your mission within your target demographic. But then everyone goes home and the last person out needs to turn the lights off…

NO NO NO – it ain’t over – ITS just beginning! And your decision on who is a key player on your website team could very well determine the long term success of your website. It would be great to think that the website by its “fabulous” design will simply take your company to the top but the reality is your websites needs key staff involvement. The content on a website generally does not stay the same to long.

SEO is teaching us that there needs to be an ongoing improvement process with content. (This will never end). Then you may have experts blogging within your team. Your team will want to ensure your website has expert content and will continue to supply expert content. This is a key ingredient for future success. Then there may be advertising programs (on your site and online such as google Adwords). Corporate Marketing campaigns are now coordinated with your website. And then you start to read your stats…

5. What reporting systems will you use to measure results?

Now that the A-Team has agreed to meet periodically to review the results of the website what are the key reports you need to review? The ones that are important to your companies identified units of measurement (which must be established in the design and development phase). It is irrelevant that people from all over the world visit your website when you are focused on selling widgets in the Middle Tennessee Area. Establishing your reporting system and then incorporating your reports into a periodical meeting will actually do more for your understanding of the website that any other event.

I must admit I LOVE meeting a with clients and reviewing their stats. One of the most challenging and rewarding things I get to do. Quite often we will see a statistic and I will ask the client to explain the result (not vice-versa) – and THEY CAN – because the statistic is a measurement of the business behavior and activity of their clients which they fully understand. And then a light bulb goes off as client begins to understand the full extent of their website and takes full ownership of the website (versus being completely dependant on their webmaster).

And ultimately we encourage (remind and bug our clients) about checking and reviewing their stats. This process should never end and you will be amazed after a year or two how in sync your website and your overall marketing plans become. It is initially some work and more than anything there is the education factor… “Why are we looking at these stats – We need to be out SELLING…” but the reality is your website is out selling every day. With care and nurture it will one day become your companies best salesman. Knowledge of your website results are where that nurturing begins…

A good way to finish off today’s blog is to take your current website and ask yourself our 5 starting questions about primary mission, measurement, secondary mission, key players and reporting systems. As you begin to ponder these questions you will inevitably look a lot closer at your website. When you do this recognize (no matter what the immediate pain) you are now heading towards a purpose driven website – and that is a really good place to be!

Cheers Mate,

Peter Beare – Webmaster
Interview with a Webmaster – Full Blog – Click Here

Send us your comments and questions – Click Here 

Peter Beare, BeareWarePeter Beare is CEO of BeareWare, a Website Design & Development Company located just outside of Nashville, Tennessee. Since building his first website for a local sports club in 1998 Peter has been a webmaster. Over the last 10 years Peter’s duties with BeareWare have included website planning, design and development, website marketing and sales, as well as database application programming & project management. But when all is said and done, Peter is still a webmaster and this is “Interview with a Webmaster“.

So What Do You Know About SEO?

So What Do You Know About SEO?

Recently SEO (Search Engine Optimization) has become a key topic in my prospect and client meetings. The buzz on the street about SEO seems to have made it to Main Street with small business folks looking at their potential to attract new clients thru Search Engine Listings.

Peter Beare, BeareWareAlthough most folks are not totally familiar with what SEO is or how it works the premise of “unlimited” new prospects finding you on search engines is almost creating a “gold fever” mentality…

OK – So What Exactly is SEO?

Search Engine Optimization is the process of improving the quality of a website and its content and keywords in relation to its position in a search engine. (In other words your optimizing your website’s position in a search engine). Before I get into the what – who – and where – let’s just be clear about why your positioning is important. When someone goes to Google and they want to search for a service or product – they will type the keywords they are searching for. If they know your company name then they will type your name directly. The real focus (and buzz) on SEO is the new prospects that may not know your company but are actively searching for services or products that your company provides.

Based on the keyword search the search engine then returns a list of matches – generally 10 per page (with potentially 100’s and 1000’s of other matches on additional pages). If your company’s services and product are listed in the first page you are considered to have a number one keyword page ranking. Chances are good that the searcher will click on links within the first page (maybe searching the second although not as likely). So if your service is listed on the fifth page of a search engine result then you probably won’t have this prospect heading to your website.

So SEO helps bring you prospects?

Correct – and that is why it is important. SEO is all about a prospect that doesn’t know you or your company but finds your company’s website thru a keyword search match. Generally a company will have primary keywords (that are closely tied to their primary mission) and then can have many additional keywords pending how many products and services they offer and the key content that describes them.

For example lets take a company that sells Widgets in Middle Tennessee. Nashville + Widgets would be primary keywords with Nashville being the biggest city in Middle Tennessee and thus the biggest market for selling widgets. If someone is searching for widgets in Nashville (using keywords Nashville + Widgets) and you have a number one page ranking then you would be one of ten listings that the web searcher will see on the first page of their search.  There’s certainly a chance they may take your link and end up on your website!

ALRIGHTY THEN – if we get a number one page ranking we’ve got it made?

I have heard of companies spending $1000.00’s of dollars per month to get number one Google rankings on the premise of attracting new business. I can fully understand the gold fever mentality here (to a reasonable extent created by SEO Specialists selling their services) – but a prospect coming thru SEO is a portion of how your company markets and sells itself to knew prospects. Other traditional ways include advertising (both web, print, radio and television media), client referrals, selling campaigns such as mailers and brochures, cold calls, and many forms of networking as well as your companies reputation and standing in your business community. Don’t loose site of this as SEO will not replace your traditional selling and marketing methods. It will enhance them and provide greater opportunity.

So a number one SEO ranking is good – SEO in general should become part of your sales and marketing portfolio but you still have to have all the other pieces of the puzzle to convert a prospect to a client. Having a great website for starters will help you actually convert an SEO link to a bonafide prospect. It will be your websites job to showcase the products and services that your company provides while highlighting your companies expertise. The SEO link may get a new prospect to your website – but the website has to do the selling. In emphasizing this I must say I have spent a lot of time researching SEO and checking out websites that have number one page rankings. Many of those websites WILL NEVER have a chance of converting the prospect into a sale as their websites are not good. (So in other words – companies spending $1000’s on SEO and not having a great website to convert SEO results is not a good plan).

So SEO Specialty Companies CAN Guarantee a Number One Ranking?

A quote from Google themselves can shed some light on this question…

“No one can guarantee a #1 ranking on Google. Beware of SEOs that claim to guarantee rankings, allege a “special relationship”  with Google, or advertise a “priority submit” to Google. There is no priority submit for Google. In fact, the only way to submit a site to Google directly is through our Add URL page or through the Webmaster Tools and you can do this yourself at no cost whatsoever.” – GOOGLE.COM

I must say when I googled “Google” to get this statement. It was surrounded by advertising promoting SEO “Number One Page” Rankings Services.  That is pretty funny and also tells you how “new” this industry is. Google sets the parameters and produces the rankings on their search engines. They also sell advertising on their search engine in this case including advertisers selling services that Google claims cannot be guaranteed. The bottom line you cannot buy search engine rankings (definitely not at Google) and Google has never identified the specific formulae they use in rankings. So this is not a pure science – but you can improve your ranking using SEO techniques. So let’s have a look at some of those techniques:

SEO Ranking Techniques:

1. Keyword Use in Title tag:

If you look a website and read the title line (at the top of your browser) you will see the keywords used in the title tag. Let’s look at this example of a particular service being offered in Nashville with the following tagline: “Nashville Greenways  | Greenways, Inc. |  Sidewalks, Bikeways, Railways, Busways, etc”. The keywords are specifically Nashville and Greenways and then the additional services related to greenways. The Company is also identified in the Title Tag but this is not a necessity. The expectation is that someone will go to a search engine and type “Nashville + Greenways” in terms of their keywords search. These keywords in your title tag line can significantly help your SEO rankings.

2. Keyword Use in Body Text:

Having great content on your website is imperative when it comes to keywords searches. In other words you need great content on your website that describes your the key services and products you provide. A good case to help emphasize this is linking to “good information” versus having that good information your own website. Having valuable links for your web visitors is a good technique but your key information (that in particular is related to your keywords) should not be thru a link to someone else’s website. Taking time and effort to have great content on your site is very worthwhile.

3. Keyword in your domain name:

It appears as though having a keyword in your domain names is advantageous from a Search Engines Ranking. Of course this is a double whammy in my book because if your domain name is really good – people may type the domain name directly and by pass the search engine altogether. If not the keyword in your domain seems to help in rankings. For example – if you are a tennis club in Nashville then a domain name such as www.nashvilletennis.com – would be a great keyword domain example as it has 2 keywords – Nashville & Tennis.

4. Verifying Your Sites Accessibility:

It is important to ensure that your website is actually listed on search engines (and this is not guaranteed!). So your webmaster should make sure your website has been submitted to all key search engines. The tops search engines (Google, MSN, Yahoo) have webmaster tools that will help the webmaster ensure that their client’s website is listed. Search engines also “crawl” the web constantly look for websites and establishing the content (keywords) that exist on that website. A search engine may initially fail to find or read your website (which can be caused by many goofy things like your website link timing out). If this happens the search engine will try to read the website again at a later point but until it reads if correctly your website may not be listed in the search engine (at all). So it is imperative to make sure your site is accessible to the search engine.

5. Internal Keyword Links:

If you have ever read a Fox Story online (or CNN) – quite often you will see a person’s name or specific subject that is hyperlinked. I have quite often clicked on these links thinking I was going to be taken to information about the person. What I actually was linked to was another related article on the same website. This is an internal link. It provides SEO ranking but this can also be very annoying and confusing to both prospects and clients. This should be well thought out and only used in moderation and when appropriate.

6. Age of your website:

Google uses the age of your website as part of its ranking system. Although this appears to be a newer ranking parameter it gives the impression that if your websites exists for a long period of time it may well be a tie breaking parameter to a similar website that is brand new. The age parameter is based on the first date that google indexes your website. I have read articles stating having longer domain name registration periods (say 5 years versus 1 years) may have a bearing on rankings but I have not ever seen a clear statement from Google on this. Keep in mind that owning a domain name in no way constitutes the existence of a website. I think the most important thing here to keep in mind is that a good quality website that has been around for a long time will most likely have high rankings.

7. External Links:

Google often makes reference to the importance of quality links. Some say this may have the highest of the SEO rankings but it is also take the most amount of work. The aim is to get your website linked by other websites that have similar keyword topics and the concept is the more quality links that your website obtains the higher the ranking Google gives your website. This area really needs a good game plan for implementing and there are a lot of very questionable SEO practices out there that people are paying a lot of money for that may give short term results. Generally reciprocal links are a good way to approach this providing value to both parties linking. Other things that will help increase links are press releases, blogs, e-news and good content that other websites will link to based on the value of the information.

8. Anchor Text on External Links:

Expanding on the External Link – Google ranks websites based on the keywords that are applied to the link text (that is actually the text that is hyperlinked) – which is called the Anchor Text. Of course this is extremely hard to control…  “Hey Webmaster you are linking to our website can you change the words “Click Here” – to “Visit The Best Pub In Nashville”).” In other words you are depending on how the webmasters sets up these links. I think a good strategy here is to provide the logo and text that companies can use when linking to your website. This actually makes it easy for the webmaster to incorporate and it removes any guessing games from their end (and so it saves the webmaster time and it bring better ranking results to you).
 
9. Relevance of Linking Sites:

This is also an expansion of the External Links but this is a very important parameter as this no doubt Google introduced to keep the “web” as uncluttered as possible. When you are exchanging strategic links you want to stick with exchanges that are related to your topics and keywords. In other words a chocolate manufactures website creates link for its dealers (that sells their chocolate) would be a very relevant link. A link from the chocolate manufacturer to the local art gallery (that has nothing to do with chocolates) will probably not get the art gallery high scores on the relevance link. In other words the link has no association with the websites keywords (or topic) of the chocolate manufacturer. Therefore Google will not rank this link high in relevance.

10. Importance of Linking Sites:

And for today’s blog our final parameter is the importance of the website that is linking to you. The best example I can think of here is let’s take a tourism website. Say the primary website is Tourism Australia with a mission to promote Australian Tourism World Wide. With out any doubt their website would be seen as “Important” by Google and other search engines. Let’s say that they list on their website Travel Agents (Specialists) that have taken courses and received certification from the Tourism Board. If the Tourism Website links to the Travel Specialists websites then this would be advantageous to the Travel Specialist from a ranking point of view.

Develop Your Knowledge About SEO

I think this a good starting list and a good place to start to get an understanding of what is involved in SEO. There are more parameters than these ten that I have listed although these ten parameters are reported to be the most important in the rankings system. We (BeareWare) assume a large responsibility to make sure our clients websites are designed and managed with respect to these good SEO techniques. In our view good SEO starts with your web design and should not be viewed as an independent separate discipline.

With due respect to the many companies out there that offer SEO Specialty services we also see SEO as a long-term strategy. I think paying an SEO company to help you develop a long-term plan could be money well spent. And this is not to say we don’t want every client we have to obtain number one page rankings as soon as possible but the reasons they will achieve these rankings are based on the parameters described above which really comes down to hard work by both the web design company and the client.

Understanding SEO is really valuable to the small business owner. Be sure to do your research before embarking on SEO relationships and be sure you fully understand the process. Don’t expect miracles and recognize most great results are going to be the result of great work! 

Cheers Mate,

Peter Beare – Webmaster
Interview with a Webmaster – Full Blog – Click Here

Send us your comments and questions – Click Here 

Peter Beare, BeareWarePeter Beare is CEO of BeareWare, a Website Design & Development Company located just outside of Nashville, Tennessee. Since building his first website for a local sports club in 1998 Peter has been a webmaster. Over the last 10 years Peter’s duties with BeareWare have included website planning, design and development, website marketing and sales, as well as database application programming & project management. But when all is said and done, Peter is still a webmaster and this is “Interview with a Webmaster“.

Does Your Company Have a Domain Strategy?

Does Your Company Have a Domain Strategy?

Today most businesses have domain names. Over the last ten years business large and small have recognized the “need” to have a domain name (website name). 

Peter Beare, BeareWareSome businesses got their actual names as their domain name – the XYZ Company got www.xyz.com. Some business got domains close to their names for example the Melbourne Steel Company got www.melbsteel.comEven Walmart started out with www.wal-mart.com before the “dash” basically was considered confusing and ultimately www.walmart.com was settled on. And then there was the businesses that got a descriptive name (versus their corporate name) such as  www.myrealtysells.com which was a descriptive slogan used by a realtor as their primary domain name.  No matter what the industry and what the method most organizations have ended up with a domain name one way or another.

Ok – So Most Domain Names are Pretty Much Set?

GGG (that is text for Good Golly Gosh) – you could not be SO wrong about the address system of the internet.  It is pretty much recognized that we are now in “Web 2.0” – which is the second generation of the internet – the premise with Web 2.0 is things are much better than the first generation of the World Wide Web. (and Web 3.0 is just around the corner). Things are making a lot more sense to folks today than they did 5 or 10 years ago – but in terms of domain names I am not sure the learning curve ever really happened. Most business folks would have had their computer guys (or their webmasters) register their domain names.  And to many the domain name is just an administrative internet name that is by all rights the companies being used every day with e-mail, business literature and website activity…

Not Sure The Learning Curve Ever Really Happened?

Based on the industrial age the internet is basically in the early 1800’s. In other words it is still “BRAND SPANKING NEW” – and there is so much learning (and changing) still going on in this industry. I know this because every single day I learn more about this industry and also realize how much I still don’t understand.  But to me the most basic building block on the internet is the domain name. And one of the keys to understand the value of a domain name is to understand how people get to a domain name which in essence is your websites address. 

In short – you get to a website thru a web browsers – you type in the URL www.takemethere.com  – or you get there thru a search engine where you type your keyword search  – or the visitor is delivered thru a referring link (advertising or strategic link exchange). That is it! Your web visitor has three ways of getting to you – Domain Name, Search Engine and Referring Link.  The better your domain name the better shape you are in. If people remember your domain name they can go directly to your website – GREAT. If not they will look for you a on a search engine. Pending “their” search keywords (not yours) and the search engine’s algorithms the results for finding you may vary. And last there is referring links thru strategic links and advertising which can be very effective and of course come with cost. 

No Worries – They Will Find Us On Google!

Oh YEH – No worries! If you know of a formulae to guarantee your ranking (positioning) in Google in the short term please let me know. If not then I think maybe we are starting to see to importance of the domain name.  First and foremost your domain name is your primary web brand and one of the most significant extensions of your corporate brand. Frankly it is it and a bit from my point of view. Certainly not anything that I would leave to chance such as hoping the webmaster keeps the registration up to date.  And that is probably one of the basics to start with in understanding your domain name. It is up for registration annually and it can be lost around 30 days after registration has not been paid for (It can also be registered up to 10 years).  I cannot tell you how many companies have lost their brand domains by not understanding the importance and the process and/or relying heavily on a webmaster who probably didn’t get it either (or didn’t care). Having a good understanding of domain names is good corporate practice – end of story!

Ok – So Once A Domain Name becomes available again – Can you re-register it?

Here’s hoping – GOOD LUCK! Many things change quickly on the internet and the laws governing domain names are probably due to change one day (but currently it is so WIDE OPEN right now so possession is 100% of the law). The registrars that you have the domain name registered with has first right to do whatever they like with your domain name one it expires. That includes selling it to a higher (and eager bidder) – and don’t ever be fooled – Registrars are out to make as much money as they can.  There are several companies that now offer a service to back order a domain name when and if the domain owner forgets or decides not to re-register. Usually in this case the domain name is sold to the highest bidder. The registrar HAS NO responsibility to inform the owner that their name is expiring. They will attempt to contact the primary contact (the Registrant) via e-mail but I would estimate that many owners simply are not listed correctly on their domain registration information. The registrar will send a renewal notification to the “registrants e-mail” – and that is it. IMAGINE LOOSING YOUR DOMAIN thru not understanding this process – you just wouldn’t believe how many companies have done this! 

But It’s Not All Bad News – There is LOTS of opportunity with domain names

I think I have at least proven that the domain name is not to be put to far to the side of your business administrative tasks.  But more importantly domain name(s) should not be an administrative task that “has” to be done once a year – but frankly domain names should be on your companies business development brains all of the time.  Why – because domain names bring web traffic. And from what we understand domain names with keywords as part of that domain name may get up to 25% higher search engine ranking.  That’s right – the better domain names your company has the more traffic that will come to your website and generally the more “qualified” traffic produces the best conversions and results for your website.

So why would you need more than one domain name?

That is a great question. Let’s start with the basics. Your company name is XYZ Company – so we have your company domain name www.xyz.com . It is on your letter head and business cards and your company employees use the domain for email. Your company’s website is www.xyz.com. Now – let’s take what the xyz company does – let’s say it owns and distributes Magic Brew as one of its product lines.  Now with many folks drinking Magic Brew, and stores selling Magic Brew and supermarkets carrying Magic Brew one way to get more people to become more loyal to your product (or discover your product) would be to register the brand domain name www.magicbrew.com. Imagine how many people on the web would type this domain name directly (looking to find about Magic Brew) or going to a search engine and typing the keywords “magic brew”.

Let’s take it a step further – maybe we should register www.drinkmagicbrew.com which really has the keywords drink & magic brew (the domain name being suggestive and easy to remember). I call this a descriptive domain but it could also be a slogan for advertising purposes.  Finally with a new summer advertising campaign in the wings we have a new marketing angle about Magic Brew called Health Benefits. Magic Brew of course has many claims to being healthy. So when the advertising campaign rolls out – instead of using a long URL link such as www.magicbrew.com/healthbenefits the company will use www.healthybrew.com – and route the visitor to a sub domain that is designed specifically to identify and market the health benefits of the drink and also linki to the primary brand website. 

So now our company has its primary domain name, it has a great brand domain name for one its products, we have a domain name that is the company slogan and a domain name that is part of our upcoming advertising campaign. We have an account setup with a registrar – and we have 4 domain names in our portfolio. Generally your domain names will cost around $8.60 per domain per annum if self managed or around $35.00 per annum if the account is managed on your behalf.  From an advertising expense point of view – you have spent $35.00 on your domains and you have the following domain strategy:

1. Company– www.xyz.com – Primarily serving customers and prospective outlets.
2. Brand – www.magicbrew.com – Promoting & marketing to outlets & consumers.
3. Slogan – www.drinkmagicbrew.com – Promote sales of products to consumers.
4. Advertising – www.healthybrew.com – Reinforcing benefits of using product.

Now this is an elementary example of using domain names but let’s just look at statistics over the next 12 months based on these domains and the traffic they may bring:

Domain Name Visitors (2007) Conversions (‘07) Visitors (2008) Conversions (’08)
xyz.com 6,300 (unique) 73 (new outlets) 7,560 (unique) 170 (new outlets)
magicbrew.com 15,000 (unique) ABOVE 30,000 (unique) ABOVE
drinkmagicbrew.com Launched in ‘08 13,700 (unique) 2,700 (coupons)
healthybrew.com Launched in ‘08 6,300 (unique) 3,000 (coupons)

In my mind EVERY company should have a domain strategy!

So now by looking at the graph above you can see the activity that has been created with the domain names that have become key players in product promotions and branding.  If we simply decide our “xyz.com” is fine and we put all 3 other domain names as menu options (but not actual landing pages) we may not have had anywhere near the visitor volume we saw. Why – because web visitors are not going to dedicate time to “finding” our product. Searching a corporate distributor’s website for a brand is something most consumers aren’t going to do and the corporate distributor’s website is primarily designed to attract new outlets (not necessarily consumers) and at best direct consumers to outlets. With the additional 3 domain names we can see the way new consumers may find the product.

The product brand – www.magicbrew.com will have 2 types of visitors – those familiar with the product and those discovering the brand. They may very well discover the brand thru our slogan domain – www.drinkmagicbrew.com which promotes being cool and hip when you drink magic brew and then our advertising domain – www.healthybrew.com is focused on a totally different market segment – the health conscious that want to drink magic brew for its health benefits.  Although all 3 of these domains focus on consumers it is clear that consumer demand is part of the process of creating new outlets (that hear from the consuming wanting the product and decide to carry the product).

In essence we now have 4 websites with these 4 domains. The additional domains can be as simple as a one page landing page (sub domain) that links to the details products or distributor website.  From a search engine point of view each of these domains will establish a form of ranking based on the parameters of the search engines. And of course the conversions are seen in our graph.  A coupon tracking system helps measure the responses of our slogan and advertising domains while our distributor and brand sites identify new outlets that came on board thru the website (initiated interest in the product). And according to our sample graph we had around 50,000 additional unique visitors with our new domain strategy. Imagine driving an additional 50,000 to your website that starts with a solid domain strategy and of course a great product!

Start small – but look into the future!

With the strategy described in today’s blog many a small business could state that we simply don’t have the current budget to develop the additional sub domains and launch the advertising campaigns. And my response to them is absolutely fine – but this is no way this should stop you from investing a small amount to secure these domain names that can be held by your organization until you are in a position to launch them.  And the premise of waiting to register the domain names is simply ignorance. They most likely won’t be there when you decide it’s time to do this and even worst you will find some joker from the Ukraine that owns your product domain name. He will gladly sell it back to you for a hefty fee or you are faced with the heading into internet litigation which is currently the greatest black hole I have ever come across.

In other words the most important aspect today is securing your internet brands. With a good domain planning organization and a registrar account you can setup you domain strategy for the next 10 years and beyond and then when the time is right launch your websites and campaigns.  Many folks today believe that building a website initiates the purchase of a domain name and frankly they would be wrong. 
When you consider a domain name may be with your company for the next 100 years and how many websites you may redesign during that time it should be obvious what comes first.  The next time your company has a business development meeting it may very well be a great time to ask the question “Do We Have a Domain Strategy?”  and then let the planning begin!
 

Cheers Mate,

Peter Beare – Webmaster
Interview with a Webmaster – Full Blog – Click Here

Send us your comments and questions – Click Here 

Peter Beare, BeareWarePeter Beare is CEO of BeareWare, a Website Design & Development Company located just outside of Nashville, Tennessee. Since building his first website for a local sports club in 1998 Peter has been a webmaster. Over the years Peter’s duties with BeareWare have included strategic website planning, design and development, website marketing and sales, as well as database application programming & project management. But when all is said and done, Peter is still primarily a webmaster. And this is “Interview with a Webmaster.” 

Contact

Bear Web Design
2622 Bluefield Avenue
Nashville, TN 37214
(615) 504-6845

Bear Web Design - Web Design Agency | 2622 Bluefield Avenue | Nashville, TN 37214 - (615) 504-6845

©2021 Bear Web Design. All Rights Reserved.