A domain is the www.yoursitename.com that people type in to find your website. Think about it like a license plate on a car. You have to register your domain name, just like you would an automobile plate with the state, with a company that sells them. I prefer to use GoDaddy to do this because I bundle all the services you need together in one place. You can, however, purchase a domain from anyone and have a website hosted with another company. Domains are paid for annually and typically run around $12-20/year. When you have a domain you can create sub-domains such as jobs.yoursitename.com for free. This is handy if you want to break up the content of your website by certain categories.
A host is a server where the files of your website reside. If we use an analogy, the files that make up the pages of your website are the ‘car’ and the host is the ‘garage’. As mentioned above the domain is the license plate. You need all three things to make a website: Domain, Host, and files. GoDaddy provides both Domains and Hosting, the files are created by the web designer. Hosting plans vary by need, depending on how many visitors you get and how big the website. Most websites only need a Basic plan which can run somewhere between $9-25 per month. You have the option to save some money by paying an annual rate, instead of month to month but I like the freedom to drop a Host if I’m unhappy with their service. For the record, I’ve been using GoDaddy for over ten years and their 24/7 tech support has my 100% approval.
GoDaddy is a large, established company that has a 24/7 tech support line. Yes, it can take a while to fix a problem but in the past ten years I’ve been using them (since switching from Bluehost), they’ve been able to solve every problem. They have automated tools that install applications, WordPress specific hosting that utilize these tools, and an interface that’s clean and easy to use. A one-stop-shop for everything we need.
WordPress is a CMS (Content Management System) it’s a template for building websites. A collection of files that help you build a basic, blank, website with a simple user interface. You can start without a CMS and hand code a site from scratch but it takes hundreds of hours. By using a CMS you save yourself time, money, and effort. The interface that WordPress uses allows anyone to create pages and news posts without having to know anything about website coding. Making content creation fast and convenient. WordPress also allows second and third-party plugins which add a dazzling array of abilities to your website. With a few plugins you could transform a standard website into an online store, a social forum, run contests, or add charity donations all without having to know any coding. Even though I know how to code and make a website from scratch, using WordPress saves me time which saves you money. A $1000 website can be had for as little as $400, leaving me more time to concentrate on content and branding or any special plugins we need to integrate.
WordPress Themes are what give your standard WordPress website life. They are a group of website files, photos, graphics, and pre-built web pages that can be downloaded and installed. This further reduced the time you need to spend building and branding a website from scratch. Themes can enhance Word press’s abilities and the way you build pages. I use ProteusThemes because they are beautiful, modern, themed by industry, easily re-brandable and come with a world-class page builder. I’ve found them to be a highly competent company that produces high-quality work. Their support is reliable and their features numerous, and you can go to their website and try live demos on dozens of Themes. In fact, you can download ANY of their themes to give your self a trial run and see if you like it before committing. I have a yearly subscription that I maintain and can create an unlimited amount of websites, with any Theme I want.
Search Engine Optimization is when you take your basic website and make all of its content more accessible for search engine crawlers. Search engines are the primary way people do research and find new products, services, and information. The sheer number of websites that exist today means that discovery of a website and listing all of its content, is far too large a job to do manually. Google, and all search engines use an automated ‘bot’ to ‘crawl’ across the internet, finding and categorizing websites. Making your website content easy for the ‘bot’ to read, understand, and properly categorize is the primary goal of SEO. SEO involves correctly tagging and marking up your website, which means there is some coding involved. Titles, descriptions, content tags, formatting, and even how your website pages are arranged are a factor. SEO best practices are an ever evolving technology as Google and other search engines find more and different ways of correctly categorizing sites. There are limited guides to success in this arena so that Google can stay ahead of people trying to ‘game’ or take advantage of the system. That being said, we stick to Google’s basic guidelines and try to present clean, authoritative, relevant, content so that your website ranks well. SEO also involves submitting your website’s Sitemap to Google Webmaster Tools, which is a red flag for the ‘bot’ to come over and check you out sooner. Submitting a Sitemap will also give you access to important search engine data on how the ‘bot’ views your website and even on how to improve it.
Paying to place ads on search engines, social media networks, and websites is called PPC (Pay Per Click). Essentially you run an ad, people click on it, that click costs something. Each ad network is a little bit different in how they handle costs and budgeting, so going into things I suggest people just concentrate on 1) Google AdWords and then 2) Facebook. I’m not going to lie, PPC can be complicated, so we’ll sit together and go over what we need to do and how to maintain ads online. Google AdWords – Running ads on Google’s search results pages, maps, YouTube, and various websites that have opted-in to display Google ads make up Google AdWords. Ads can be text and link only banner images, or videos. You can run ads on search pages only, or you can opt into the Display Network. The Display Network is a collection of websites that have agreed to run Google Ads on them for a percentage of your click cost, many major news sites utilize this to earn revenue. The Display Network also encompasses YouTube as well as some TV and Radio and can be used to re-target demographics. To start we need to establish several things: Business Location, Service area, Ad Content, how to segment different ads by topic, Contact Information, Payment information, Budget/Time, and starting Keyword list. Facebook PPC – Running ads on Facebook is a lot simpler and cheaper, but you won’t see the response rate that Google provides. If you find Google AdWords too expensive then Facebook is where you should start. Ads run in the timeline of people who visit Facebook every day, as they scroll down they are placed between regular posts. To get going we need to establish several things: Business Location, Service area, Ad Content, Demographic to target, Contact Information, Payment information, and budget/time.
Just like it sounds, Local SEO is SEO focused on being found in a particular location by someone looking for your services/products. This is generally accomplished, on Google, by displaying a map with local businesses. Google My Business is an official place to tell google all about your business and setup a profile. It’s also an excellent place to advertise for FREE. In addition to listing all your business information, services, products, hours, photos, and description you can make Posts. Posts are like a blog post, they can be informative or focused on running coupons and specials. It costs nothing to use so I highly recommend signing up for it and using it. Google My Business is an essential tool for any business, anywhere.
You may have a list of customer's emails and you want to start sending them messages. If you don’t you may want to start collecting email to make a list. Once that list is put together we use MailChimp.com to send out communications, whether they be informative or sales-oriented. Each email sent is tracked on if they are opened, not opened, delivered, not delivered, and if something was clicked on. Everyone checks their email everyday, sometimes multiple times a day. Email marketing is still a valid and powerful tool for reaching your customers and should be included in every marketing campaign.
A Marketing Campaign comprises of a communication that you wish to push out to all the available marketing channels available to you. If you’re running a special on tires, you want to push that out to Google search, the Display network, Google Maps, Facebook, send an email, or even put it on TV. After hammering out the details of the communication we create the art and media to support each channel. Then we decide on the budget and length of time to run the campaign. This is a holistic way to market online, instead of concentrating all of your effort in a single channel.
Schema Markup is a specific form of SEO coding focused on a few key topics: Businesses and Organizations, Events, People, Products, Recipes, Reviews, and Videos. Some very specific code is added to your webpage to highlight one of the above topics, which the ‘bot’ then translates and feeds back into search results in a variety of ways. Say you’re a bar who’s running a Karaoke event. If you use schema markup properly the bot can take that information and place it a Knowledge Box, or make it part of a unique Google Events 'near you' box on search results. Google is always finding ways to use schema information and display it in highly viewable, highly clickable ways. You may have done a search for a famous person and had the search results produce a large profile box in the upper right corner. That is a Knowledge Graph/Box, the ‘bot’ used schema data to create it. Video on your website should also use schema markup to make it more usable on searches and to increase your chances of being viewed.
Monthly Analysis and Next Steps comprise research and reporting into marketing campaigns and visitor behavior on your website. I use Google Analytics and the reporting data from your PPC ad providers to paint a picture of how a campaign progressed. How many views, clicks, where they went, what happened, did they come back, what various sources they came from and what keywords were used. I have a standard report and data sheet for this sort of reporting. Next Steps includes a summary of my findings as well as a recommendation on what we should do going forward. It’s not enough just to see that clicks are up or down, businesses need good advice on whether a particular kind of advertising is working and what kind of ROI is being generated. Sometimes things don’t work the way they should or maybe they’re better than expected. My experience in this field is deep and recognizing trends is part of what has helped me excel at budget forecasting and risk management. You don’t have to ‘guess’ when you’ve got my expertise guiding the way.
A general consultation would involve an interview with you to understand what you’ve tried and what you have in the way of online marketing. I will take a look at your campaigns, reports, website, and other online properties. After doing some digging around I’ll draw up an evaluation and present my opinion on what your next steps should be via face-to-face and documentation.
I do edit photos and graphics myself, I have the full Adobe Creative Suite and over two decades of experience using such tools. I can provide photo editing of existing photos and graphics. I can create graphics and I can find free stock photos for most situations. I do not provide paid stock photos (Shutterstock is an example) that expense would be something you’d have to pay for. I can produce results for digital and print.