You have just started your business, and you want to establish your online presence. Where do you start?
In this post, I describe the foundations of your online presence. There is nothing glorious here – it’s all nitty gritty business stuff, and of utmost importance. You should
- Purchase a domain name
- Select an appropriate business email and phone number
- Identify your office location or service area
- Specify your business contact information
I know, it all sounds mundane, and it is, but it’s very important, and here’s why
Your Domain Name
You should try to purchase a ‘domain name’ that corresponds to your business name or activity. Why? Because if you don’t, someone else might buy it first, and it’s gone, ‘forever’.
Your preferred domain name might or might not be available, and you may need to explore various alternative names. Fortunately, domain names are inexpensive (~$15-20 per year), and it therefore makes sense to purchase a domain name as soon as possible, even if you don’t plan to build a website right away.
When exploring the availability of domain names, you will see a variety of options for suffixes (.com .net .org .us .biz, etc.). Dot coms are usually best suited for business purposes, if available. You can also purchase multiple domains.
If you have not already registered your domain, do so now! I recommend Namecheap (~$15/year for .com’s) or GoDaddy (~!7/yr for .com’s), but you can register domains from many different companies (I am an affiliate for Namecheap).
For more information, see Domain Names and Hosting.
Select an Email Address and Phone Number
Decide what email address and phone number you will use for your business. If your business is new, you might be using your personal contact information, which is okay – your life is simplified.
However, while more difficult to maintain, a business email address and phone number will protect the privacy of your personal contact information, and your business will be more credible. But, you will need to manage and monitor multiple accounts.
Business Email: I recommend a Gmail account for all new businesses, such as [email protected] And, if your business is more established, I recommend an email associated with your domain name, such as [email protected] See how to setup your email on High Peaks Media accounts.
Business Phone Number: If you are on a budget, you can get a free business phone number through Google voice, which offers forwarding of calls and text messages to your personal phone number (you can also receive voice and text messages by email). However, responding to calls and texts using your Google number is a bit of a pain. I use a Google number, and I currently use the smartphone apps Google Hangouts or Google voice to place calls and send SMS messages, or www.voice.google.com on my desktop.
Establish Your Office Location or Service Area
Google has specific requirements for listing your your business:
- If you serve clients at an office location (home or commercial), your office must be well-marked by a sign with your business name.
- If you serve clients in a shared office, each business at that location must have a unique physical address
- If you serve clients off site (e.g. at their homes), determine the location of your service area(s) (center and radius of service). Note that the larger the radius, the greater the reach, but also the more competition you may encounter from other businesses in Google search results.
For more information, see Google Business and Map Listings.
Clarify Your Business Details
To improve your visibility online, you must use the identical business information in every listing and in every reference on the web.
For example, you must decide if you live on Such-and-Such Street, or Such-and-Such St. (Street vs St vs. St.). It matters (to Google).
Let me know if you have other details to add.
Image credit: Snappa.com