In starting up a business, one of the first things you consider on putting up is your company website. Websites are useful in advertising your company profile, products and contact information. They can reach not only your neighbors but other countries as well. And in putting up a website, you might consider hiring a web design agency, but is it the only thing you need? You must define your website’s needs first.
Your company website needs a descriptive domain name.
Your website’s domain name is your website’s address, commonly known as the Uniform Resource Locator (URL). Many people think that their company’s name is enough to be registered as their website’s domain name. A recent study shows that Google algorithm updates, including cuddly animals like Panda and Penguin, consider domain names as one of the major factors in keyword searching. The algorithm was designed like this: if a person is serious in his company’s website and its contents, he should have left a keyword on the URL at least. This means that if my company’s name is Affordable Furniture, my website’s domain name should be like www.affordable-furniture.com, not just www.affordable.com. In addition, it will be helpful if the webpage for my products has an address like www.affordable-furniture.com/products.html rather than www.affordable-furniture.com/gallery.html. This is part of on-page search engine optimization (on-page SEO) which I’ll discuss later.
Most web hosts offer domain name registration along with their web hosting services. There’ll be more about web hosting services later.
Your company website needs clean and appropriate web design.
One of the basic things your company needs is clean and appropriate website design. There are many web design agencies out there that do web design without even considering their client’s products and services. Yes, quite surprising but true. Consider my friend Tom who owns a pet shop right across our street. He has a website for his pet shop which he paid for $500. He asked me if I could do a re-design because he thinks his website didn’t fit well for a pet shop. When I saw the website, I immediately thought I was looking at a safari travel agency rather than a pet shop’s site. I did a re-design based on what he wanted and added some other stuff the website needed, and voila, I got one satisfied customer. And I only charged him half the price (well, he’s a friend).
Web design encompasses both professional webpage graphic design and clean coding. As the owner, you should make sure that the web designer or agency you’ll be hiring is knowledgeable of the latest developments on the web. View their portfolio first to see if they can really make their clients happy.
Your company website needs fast and reliable web hosting.
Web hosting is the service of providing web storage to websites. It’s like storing your website in your computer’s hard disk, the only difference is that a web host’s hard disk is available online. In choosing a web host, you must consider not just the space capacity but the bandwidth and uptime as well. A good web host provides 99.8 – 99.9% uptime guarantee, does routinary back-ups of your files and makes the data secure through anti-virus protections and firewalls.
Your company website needs content management system.
As the website owner, you should ask the web designer or web developer to give you the ability to edit the contents of your website in case the need arises. Editing can be done through what we call content management system (CMS). It’s not wrong to ask for CMS, in fact, your web designer or developer should provide you with CMS even without you asking for it. Unfortunately, many website owners fail to ask for CMS and suffer from modification fees. Be reminded that you are the company owner and that you should be able to modify contents on your website. Remember, it is YOUR website.
Your company website needs search engine optimization.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of tuning up a website for it to appear on search engine results. As the website owner, you desire high-ranking results on search engines. Unfortunately, only websites with good foundation in SEO can reach the top. SEO involves two things: on-page SEO and off-page SEO. On-page SEO is the actual modification and improvement of website content in order to emphasize proper keywords. On-page factors include, but not limited to, wrapping keywords on appropriate tags, setting keyword as alternate texts on images and assigning keywords on URL (as sighted on a previous example). Off-page SEO, on the other hand, mainly focuses on link-building. The search engine algorithm is designed in a way that if your website content is interesting and worth to be indexed by search engines, there must be other websites that are linking to yours in a “do-follow” way. The higher a website’s reputation is, the more search engines index its content and the higher Google sets its PageRank. Inbound links coming from these quality websites are important in link-building and off-page SEO.
Website owners should be aware of Black Hat SEO. Black Hat SEO is the process of getting high rankings on search engines in an unethical manner. This can be through keyword stuffing, white texts, setting up of doorway pages, comment spams and other methods that are deemed to be trickery. These methods can only be effective for a short-term period. Once Google detects that you are using unethical methods, your website can be banned for a long time and may lose credibility and reputation. After the recent Penguin update, many websites who had high rankings previously got low ranks, and some were even perpetually banned by Google. The wise Penguin just found out that these websites were using black hat SEO. To prevent the use of Black Hat SEO, don’t be afraid to ask your SEO consultant regarding his methodologies.
As you can see, your website needs a lot of things — not only design. The next time you’ll be hiring a web designer, keep in mind this list.
You need more than just a web design agency — you need a partner. Bernie Bustamante is a web designer, developer and SEO consultant. She’s an advocate of web design in the Philippines. Visit her digital firm at Web Design Philippines.