I am a handmade jewelry artist that employs online networking opportunities to increase my internet presence, which raises my brand’s exposure while offering useful information. Like most internet newbies back in the day, I started out with a freebie web provider and site provided free domain web address. I used it for graphics sharing years ago when that was something fun to do with the advent of personal websites on the internet. Now that I make and sell jewelry, I have gradually moved over to a more professional looking website that I pay a reasonable fee for and have also purchased my own web domain address in order to cement my brand with a web home. “…retailers can track consumer interactions across multiple touch points—the store, the website, the contact center, or through mobile devices—they have a unique ability to deliver a personalized experience that increases loyalty and, as a result, the bottom line” (Strauss & Frost, 2012, p. 252).
Web providers and internet accessibility have dramatically improved over the years. Also, the fees have greatly reduced and site functionality with more creative templates is more obtainable. For those that wish to go beyond a freebie website into the more advanced and brand specific options available, having a website is now an easy task.
Creating a personal website is beneficial to house basic information, product photos, links to social media, customer testimonials and many more items that you wish to remain stationary for customer reference. “…companies can use the brand Web site, blogs, and other social media to tell the company story” (Strauss & Frost, 2012, p. 340). Website creation is a relatively easy process now with the drag and drop templates that require little to no special coding skills. You can also create a free webpage or choose a paid option, depending on your intentions for business, budget and desired site traffic. Some commonly used, inexpensive web providers are Wix.com and GoDaddy.com with multiple packages, storage amounts, emails and domains. You can also do an internet search to compare multiple providers at a glance.
There are options to either utilize a free domain through the web provider or pay a fee for a customized domain. When choosing a domain name for your website, think in terms of your brand and what name comes naturally to mind when clients think of the product you are selling. It should be short, memorable and identifiable to your company (Domain Superstar, n.d.). Even if they don’t have your exact web address, a general idea of your domain name will show in the top search results if your domain is unique. It is better to get a paid domain name because search engines will recognize exclusive names instead of attachments to web provider root names. Example: http://www.Wix.com/sparklebymonica will probably not be top rated in a search request for “A Touch of Sparkle by Monica”, whereas; www.sparklebymonica.com would be higher up the list retrieved. This is because Wix.com is a provider with many customers utilizing their free sites which all start out with their name in the root, therefore diluting the search results relative to Wix.
It is also best to avoid choosing names that are too similar to trademarked brands or commonly used phrases. “Under the federal Lanham Act article 27, trademarks may be registered with the government. Registered or not, however, they may still be protected under the act. To pursue an infringement case, claimants must prove that the trademark is protectable” (Strauss & Frost, 2012, p. 105-106). A Trademark is typically protectable based on how distinctive it is to the brand.
Once you think about the website domain options and create your website with the provider of your choice, content is the next important step. What is your reason for having the website? What content rich information do you want to share with friends, family and/or customers? A website is your opportunity to relay the story of who you are and your purpose. If you are a business, sharing a connection to your brand and products at the convenience of their schedule is a great way to increase exposure while gaining brand loyalty. A great way to have better ratings in the search results is to ensure you have fresh content and backed by things called metatags which are keywords and phrases that web crawler’s use to pull content from your site that is most relevant to a person’s search query (Strauss & Frost, 2012). Although more important in the old days of internet, keywords are not as viable in some of today’s search engine results, however meta descriptions and content links are still important (ipullrank, 2013).
Another thing to think about when populating your newly created website with fresh content is to incorporate social media links and applications that are tied to you or your brand directly on the website. This ensures that customers who may use social media such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram can link with you there in real time to share with their networks. Also, there are many social media apps and embed codes to install a wall viewer on your website so visitors can see real time conversations from your wall which may be of interest for them to follow there or participate in and share with others. The use of social media along with a stationary website can immediately expand your audience, sometimes exponentially with little effort after you have successfully created social media accounts and linked them to your site accordingly. Of course, it is also important to remember to market your social media sites by participating in conversations there on other profiles you follow which introduces you to like-minded followers and may result in additional followers to your own profiles and site traffic. (That will be another post.) Engaging your audience with content they want to pass along to their network is beneficial to optimizing your page’s importance in searches as well as increasing your reputation as a trusted information source or expert for a particular product or service (Simmons, 2013).
And finally, it takes time to research web providers and decide on how in depth you want to go with branding, exposure and marketing, but do not be discouraged if you feel overwhelmed at first. For many people, a simple blog or social media profile is all they want for announcements to their friends and family on personal events and photos. Websites and connected social media are an important skill to learn and maintain, especially for business purposes. These online channels also help to get the most out of such an inexpensive viral advertising benefit verses the costly old school print ads and radio announcements. Depending on your time, budget, commitment and purpose, having a multifaceted internet presence is no longer just for the techno wizards and corporate giants. Anyone can create, connect, cash in (if that is your goal) and communicate by utilizing marketing strategies and free social media opportunities.
Strauss and Frost. (2012). E-Marketing (6th Ed.). New Jersey: Pearson Education publishing as Prentice Hall. (105-107, 252, 340).