You have a business website now what?
I have helped a lot of small business owners over the years that have business websites but have little control or knowledge about them.
This fact sheet provides the basics all small business owners should know about business websites.
Ownership of Domain and controlling your TAG
The most important aspect of a business website is ownership of the domain and having control of the TAG. I have lost count of the amount of small business owners who when I ask “who a domain is registered to and who it is registered with” haven’t got a clue.
You may have used a web design or marketing company to register your domain for you, but did they register it in your name and what happens if you lose contact with all fall out with them?
My advice is that you learn the basics of registration, sign up with a main registrar, keep your access panel log in details very safe and register your own domains rather than relying on a 3rd party to do this for you.
By registering in your own name you effectively have control over the TAG and are not completely reliant on web designers or marketing companies.
If your domain is already registered speak to the person who registered it, say you have a register control panel now and that you would like control of the TAG and the domain moved to your control panel.
If whilst following this stage you discover that they registered the domain in their name rather than yours ask them to correct this and ensure everything is registered in your name (or your company name)
Any reputable web design company will have no problem with this; if they make a fuss alarm bells should start ringing.
Hosting and Back ups
With the domain now registered in your name and you having control of the TAG it means you now have total control of where your website is hosted.
Hosting is so cheap nowadays that I always recommend small businesses have their own hosting plan set up via a reputable host, even if not used to host your website you can upload your website to this space so that you always have an immediate back up should anything happen to your existing hosting.
Again, as with domain registration, use a host that provides an account log in panel and set this up all in your own name so you have full control.
Ideally the host will also provide a hosting control panel to, usually; cPanel, Plesk or Helm (there are others)
As with your domain registration panel always keep your log in details safe and secure.
You now have 3 control panels
Domain Registrar – Provides control of your domain and from this control panel you decide where your website is hosted.
Hosting Account – A main admin account with a host which allows you to set up hosting
Hosting Panel – Provided by your hosting company and how you control you’re hosting
IT IS VERY IMPORTANT NOT TO LOSE THE LOG IN DETAILS FOR ALL OF THESE
Although you now have hosting set up in your own name, you may find that your current website designer wants to host the site for you, provided you trust them this is nothing to worry about, there may be a number of reasons why it is better for them to host for you, but do ask them though and also ask if it can be hosted in your control panel but with them having admin access.
If you continue to allow your website designer to host your site it is important that you have a backup of all files too.
First you need to ensure that the contract you have with your website designer assigns ownership of any work created to you and that if for any reason you move hosts or web design companies that your existing website designer does not have the right to make you take down your site.
If you discover this will happen, alarm bells should ring and now is the time to either get something down in writing should the worst happen or consider moving now before you become too reliant on them.
Assuming everything is OK with your host, you can ask them to send you a backup of all files which you can store on you PC external hard drive or Disc and also upload these files to your spare hosting space.
It is also well worth your time learning the basics of FTP File Transfer Protocol , downloading an FTP program and using your spare web space to gain confidence in uploading and downloading files.
Note: If your site is database driven I will come to this later
I trust my website designer/host/registrar why bother with the above.
1. If they are trustworthy they will have no problem with the above anyway
2. What would happen if they were hit by a bus on the way to work?
3. What would happen if they closed their business?
4. What would happen if you had a dispute with them?
Whilst reliant on your existing provider any of the above could mean your site going offline, you losing your website and you even losing control of your domain.
By following the above instructions, should the worst happen you have total control and with one simple change in your registrar control panel your website can appear on your backup hosting within hours (if not minutes).
Marketing your website
As with registration and hosting you often find that the website marketing is done by a 3rd party which is totally understandable, but are they doing things in their name or yours?
A typical example is the old Google Maps now Google+ Local listings, if your web marketing company set you up a Google Maps listing is the control panel in your name or their name?
If in their name, how do you control things if you stop working with the web company?
As with hosting and registration it is always better to have control of your marketing and especially with Google have your own control panels.
Now this is where things get complicated
As Google merge all their services together it is getting more and more important to have a very clear strategy in place before going much further.
This is a typical example of a strategy I would use.
This depends on individual circumstances so don’t assume this is best for you.
I have a main Google account and use this for a Google+ Profile
This is used for general use, chat, controlling personal Google services like YouTube, Picasa, Google Local, Maps, AdWords, AdSense Analytics, Webmaster Tools, etc. (the reason why AdSense, Adwords, Analytics, etc. are in this account is because they are used on numerous websites)
I should have another Google account which is used for a Google+ Profile associated with a specific website or business.
Primarily used so when posting on Google+ all posts are in the persona of the business owner and related to this business or website. Authorship is set up and linked to the website this Profile has been set up for. This is very important as the Author details are displayed in the Google results and it is far better for anyone viewing this Google+ Profile sees the business orientated one rather than a general author page, this particularly important if you control multiple unrelated websites. (the reson I don’t is due to the cobblers shoes)
I have another Google Account that is used for controlling Google Maps/Places/Local
My 3rd account also has a Google+ Profile but this is rarely used and links to my other 2 Google+ Profiles.
The reason for this account though is primarily to control old Google Maps listings that have been converted to Google+ Local Pages and also for controlling Google+ Pages (Google+ Pages and Google+ Local Pages are different)
The following 2 are only really needed by marketing companies
I have another Google My Client Center Account
Used for controlling multiple AdWords accounts
I have a Google Engage for Agencies Account
Used (rarely) for Google marketing spiel, gives good AdWords vouchers though 😉
Why so many accounts you may ask, but trust me it is well worth it, especially if you are granting access to specific Google Products and Services to others.
Twitter and Facebook are the same
1 Twitter account for personal waffle, chat, etc. another for business related chat.
1 personal Facebook another Facebook business page
Why so many accounts.
You can give your marketing company access to control your Google+ Local listing without them gaining access to anything else, and still retain total control.
You can give your marketing company access to control your webmaster tools and Adwords without them gaining access to anything else, and still retain total control.
Basically what you are doing is having total control over everything without ever being reliant on anyone.
For the sake of a few hours research in to Domain registration, Hosting, FTP, Web design contracts, Google Account management and at a cost of around £20 a year you can feel safe and secure in the knowledge that you have total control and are reliant on no one.