Creating A Google My Business Account

The following short video will show you how to quickly set up a Google My Business account. The second video will show you how to add a new user to manage your account for you.

How to create a Google My Business Account

How To Add A User To Your Google My Business Account

Now that you have your Googe My Business account set up and verified you can add a manager to your account.

How Many Hours To Build An Online Store

How Many Hours To Build An Online Store

Creating an online store can be simple or complex, but I’m going to take you through the general process of the average WooCommerce custom website with full eCommerce.

Custom design & development of the home page and theme elements.

The homepage of your website should be custom designed so that it does not look exactly like one of your competitors.  This usually requires a few design ideas going back and forth over a few days.  However, sometimes with a client that is more particular, this process can go on for a week or more until a design is created that fits the vision of your client, while still looking professional and easy to navigate, allowing it to convert better.

The time range is between 12-36 hours to fine-tune the design perfectly.  This includes the most important elements of your website, such as the header, home page, and footer.  The header and footer will go through most of your website.  Any custom development such as scripts, slide shows, galleries can increase the time greatly.

Adding Internal Content Pages

A content page usually contains around 1500-2000 words provided by the client and a few images.  These pages are custom designed to match the overall look of your home page and theme.  Each page usually takes around 4 hours to complete, which includes adding content, images, SEO tags, links, graphics and getting feedback from the client as well as any edits required.  As the average small eCommerce website has at least 5 web pages, this adds about 20 hours to the project.

Creating Categories

Categories are like pages, which contain the products within them.  Each category page usually has content and 1 image which relates to the products within it.  The categories also have SEO tags such as a title, h1 tag, and possibly links to other categories, pages and or products.

The typical small online store would have around 4 categories, each takes about 30 minutes to create, which adds 2 hours to our total.

Adding Products

Each product on your website is like a landing page on the Internet.  There are many ways a product details page can be set up, but the average setup contains the following items.

  • Product images, usually around 3-5 images.  These images will need to be correctly sized both dimensionally and in actual file size.  This normally requires some time in PhotoShop to correctly size each image so they are matched visually and then optimized so they load quickly online and take up less server space.  They will also require the correct names, and tags called “Alt Tags’ which will help search engines know what the image represents.  These images are then added to the product they belong to via the administration area.
  • Product titles, descriptions, tags, UPC codes, prices, sale prices, colors, sizes, shipping rates, stock levels, and possibly other features.
  • SEO tags for the product SEO title, description 
  • Internal links when possible
  • Stock Level if required
  • Upselling and cross-selling products
  • Weights, product dimensions
  • Shipping Zones

Normally this can take between 30 minutes to 2 hours depending on how many features, images, and so on are required for each product.  So if your store has 20 products then it would take between 10 hours – 40 hours.

Basic USPS Shipping Setup National Only

Shipping can require many hours depending on the client’s requirements.  For the estimate, we are sticking to the basics, which would be USPS basic setup.  This requires us to configure the USPS plugin to accurately calculate your shipping based on the weight of your products.  However, as mentioned above, there are many ways to set up your shipping and some take much longer.  This method usually only takes about 2 hours to set up and test.

Sales Tax Setup

Again, there are many different requirements for sales tax based on the client’s needs.  This outline is only for the basic, one nexus sales tax setup.  A nexus is the region/s you sell in and have a nexus in.  Normally we have to import around 1000 or so zip codes with their corresponding sales tax rates, into WooCommerce. And configure the site to use them.  This normally takes around 2 hours to set up and test.

Set Up Yoast SEO Plugin and Optimize The Website.

This is one very important step that many web designers either forget to neglect.  However, it needs to be completed to ensure your web pages are indexed correctly in Google and other search engines.  For an eCommerce website, we recommend installing Yoast for WooCommerce.  We do not include this as it’s a paid service, but we do install it as part of the SEO setup. Around 3 hours.

Configuration & Setup of Website & Plugins

Every website will require some plugins, such as speed optimization plugins, spam blocking plugins, security plugins, shipping plugins, and others.  Normally an eCommerce website requires at least 5 plugins, which is estimated to take around 4 hours to install and configure.

Website Training

A normal website is quite overwhelming at first and an eCommerce website is even more so.  However, once you get the hang of a few tasks, such as processing orders, adding, updating, and deleting products and pages, then you will have a much easier time learning the rest.  We usually spend about 2 hours training a client how to use their website.  This is normally broken up into 1 hour on the phone and 1 hour creating a short video tutorial to show them around their new website.  Adding 2 hours to the project.

Website Hosting & Email Setup

After the website has been accepted and tested we then move the site onto the server where it will go live.  Normally this requires between 4 – 8 hours, depending on the complexity, the host it’s going on and the ability to communicate with all parties involved efficiently. 

Domain Name Setup

If the domain name is not currently pointed at the server, we will set it up so that it loads the new website.  This normally takes about 1 hour.  However, it can take up to 48 hours of non-work hours waiting for the domain to connect completely.  This time is not charged for, but should be noted.

Adding your website to Google Analytics

If you want to know if your website is receiving traffic and from where then one of the best and free options is to use Google Analytics. This usually takes around 30 minutes to set up.

The above is only the basic setup of an online store.  But it’s enough to get you started and in business.

Total Hours

  • Custom design & development of the home page and theme elements. 12-36 hours
  • Adding Internal Content Pages 20 hours
  • Creating Categories 2 hours
  • Adding 20 between 10 hours – 40 hours.
  • Basic USPS Shipping Setup National Only: 2 hours
  • Sales Tax Setup: 2 hours
  • Set Up Yoast SEO Plugin and Optimize The Website. 3 hours
  • Configuration & Setup of Website & Plugins: 4 hours
  • Website Training 2hrs
  • Website Hosting & Email Setup 4-8 hours
  • Domain Name Setup 1 hour
  • Adding your website to Google Analytics ½ hour

Total Estimated Range: 62.5 to 120.5 hours.

Top 10 Benefits of Video Marketing for Your Small Business

Top 10 Benefits of Video Marketing for Your Small Business

Maintaining a high rate of customer engagement, while minimizing the marketing cost, is the aim of every small business. Small business video marketing has emerged as the best technique to achieve this goal.

Video marketing guarantees a lot of benefits for small businesses. Plus, nowadays business videos are easy and inexpensive to create. You can produce videos and use online video editing tools to give the content a professional look.

But, what are the actual benefits of video marketing for small businesses? Here are 10 of them.

Strengthens Your Online Presence

The term ‘online presence’ has grown far beyond setting up a basic small business website with the name, logo, and address.

With billions of websites online and millions joining their ranks every week it’s important for small businesses to effectively use marketing techniques to interact and engage with the target audience.

Today, video marketing has become an indispensable tool to establish an online presence.

In this highly competitive world, using video content is an effective way to build a brand and gain credibility that’s so needed for small businesses to attract more customers.

Unlike big companies, small businesses don’t have large digital marketing budgets. They need a tool like video content to strengthen their online presence and maximize its benefits.

A well-made video will not only introduce the business to the audience, it’ll encourage them to learn more about the company. By adding a link or two in the video, you can take them to your website, where they’ll find out more about your business and what you have to offer.

Video content can convert viewers into ambassadors. People captivated by what they have seen will share their experience and opinion in the comments section and/or press the share button to spread the word. One way or the other, video marketing helps your business become a prominent online entity.

Helps Improve Search Engine Ranking

The Google Search Engine has grown from strength to strength because it provides what the users want and are looking for. Very soon, we’ll see more than 80% of all internet traffic seeking video content. Hence, Google loves videos because users love video content.

The search engine giant has a soft corner for video content because it keeps people engaged. The little super high-tech crawlers that Google sends to analyze the websites have found that videos keep people longer on the web page.

Let’s be honest, most of us never venture past the first page of a search engine. Studies too have arrived at the same conclusion. It was found that 75% of all search engine users, browsers only the first page results.

One way to increase your website’s chances of appearing on the first page of the search results is to use video content. Websites with videos are 50 times more likely to be listed on the first page of Google.

Increases Brand Awareness, Affiliation, and Connection

On an average day, Facebook alone witnesses more than 8 billion video views. This number is a small slice in the big social media pie. From the stat, it’s easy to gauge how much people like videos and are responding positively to it.

Our brain processes visual content quicker and better than text. Compared to texts and images, the experts have found that videos get 1200% more shares.

Videos have the remarkable ability to grab our attention and hold it for a considerable duration. That’s because video content provides both visual and audio stimulation. A well-made video activates multiple areas of the brain, which means the audience is deeply engaged with the content.

Deeper engagement signifies the viewers have gone beyond mere interest in the visual content. They develop a stronger connection and affiliation towards the content and the message.

Video marketing is crucial for small businesses. With the right message and a killer video marketing strategy, videos can spread brand awareness and create a pool of loyal customers who’ll come back to you again and again.

Helps Educate the Customers

Passing of information and knowledge that customers need to make an informed buying decision is crucial for the growth of a small business.

Sometimes products and services are sophisticated. Hence, educating customers through text content can be a complex task. Small businesses need to deliver complex information in an easily understandable way to boost sales.

The beauty of small business video marketing is the transfer of information through the medium that the audience wants and prefers. A study found that more than 60% of the website visitors decided to buy after watching a product video.

Videos work because they inform, delight, and educate the customers about your product and service offerings. This medium shows, instead of telling the customers the best features of the product. Plus, video content spells out the problems that the customers face and explains how the product or service will solve the problem.

For a small business, creating videos that educate the target audience about their offerings must be on top of their to-do list.

A digital agency can use a wide variety of videos to transfer essential business information to customers. Product tour videos, company culture videos, whiteboard animation videos, instruction videos, and FAQ videos are just some of the common video types small businesses are using to reach out to customers.

For example, the whiteboard animation video is ideally suited for communicating ideas. The use of animation allows businesses to weave a story around the information. Moreover, an animation video is easy to consume and recall. Research by Dr. Wiseman found the use of whiteboard animation video increased the recall ability of information by 22%.

Supports Email Marketing Efforts

In the present scenario, there is a vast difference between video emails and other email communications. Adding videos to your email communications hooks the recipients and within seconds engages with them. The following are other benefits of video email marketing:

Increases the Reach: Adding the word ‘Video’ in the subject line increases the open rate by 19%. Also, sending video emails boosts the click-through-rate by 65%.

Saves Time: The recipient is freed from the task of reading a long mail. Complex subjects are easily explained and understood with the help of video content.

SEO Benefit: In addition to delivering the message, video emails also encourage the recipients to share the content on social media platforms. This leads to brand awareness, more traffic, and improved search engine ranking.

When designing a video email, it’s easy to get carried away. Some append just the video to the mail; and some include a long text, images, and video. Both tactics could undermine your marketing efforts.

For email marketing to succeed, solid video content must go hand-in-hand with great email templates. An effective video email design must include the business logo, contain the right color scheme, track the right KPIs, and possess all elements that highlight the video content.

Drives Conversions and Sales

Small business video marketing has a key role to play in every step of the purchase funnel.

Brand and product videos create awareness, instruction, and explainer videos boost engagement, and testimonial videos build credibility and trust. Video content engages the prospective customers and moves them along the sales funnel.  

More often than not people turn to videos before making a buying decision. According to Wyzowl, 90% of people found product videos helpful and 90% have seen an explainer video to understand a product or service.

There is more. Nearly 8 out of 10 people decided to buy a product after watching a video. Adobe, in its research, found those who watched a demo video are 1.8 times more likely to buy than the rest.

Small businesses that use videos on their website have a conversion rate of 4.8%. This is nearly double the rate of conversions in sites that don’t have videos.

Every small business must use video marketing because 72% of businesses believe the strategy of using video to increase conversion works. Furthermore, nearly two-thirds of all businesses believe video content boosts sales.

The incredible conversion stats after watching video content makes it one of the best marketing tools for small businesses.

Builds Trust With Customers

Trust is a vital element in expanding the customer base and generating repeat business. Customers are more likely to take that extra step of buying a product or service if they trust the business.

Small business video marketing establishes the trust bond between the two parties. In the case of small business, introduction videos allow viewers to know you, understand your business, and like your offer. All these will eventually make them trust you.

People hate sales pitches. They are usually skeptical about claims made by businesses. They feel it’s another marketing ploy.

It’s easy for them to trust a business if an unbiased voice has something positive to say about a product or service. That’s why every small business must use testimonial videos.

Businesses have found that video content is the perfect way to enhance the customer experience. Engagement with customers doesn’t end with the sale. For small businesses to thrive, a long term relationship with customers is indispensable.

You can include after-sales thank you videos, customer onboarding videos, live customer support videos, knowledge base videos in your customer support framework.   

Customer support videos also save valuable resources like time, effort, and money. The customer service department of Dell was overwhelmed by service calls. So, the company decided to introduce video content, which resulted in a 5% drop in service calls.

Boosts Social Media Engagement

You can’t rely on search engine traffic alone to boost your business. Take your company to your target audience by marketing your videos on social media platforms.

Many are still relying on blogs and images to gain traction among the target audience. But, in the past few years, we see social media platforms lean towards video content. As a small business, you need to seize the opportunity to stand out.

Small business video marketing has more engagement potential than other forms of content. Produce videos that resonate with the viewers. Also, engaging videos are more likely to go viral, which will drive traffic, conversions, and sales.  

Appeals to the Mobile Users

The small but mighty mobile device has the young population hooked to the screen. Information reaches people faster through a mobile device than any other instrument. In their research, Ipsos and Google found that mobile devices have a big impact on business success.

Small businesses can achieve greater marketing success by building video content for mobile users. It’s a mutualistic relationship where both benefit.

More than 40% of all YouTube videos are watched on hand-held devices. People like watching videos on mobile devices. That’s because users are less distracted, which helps in better engagement and understanding of the content.

Besides, mobile-friendly pages with video content load faster. Higher page speed helps boost ranking and reduces bounce rate. Small business video marketing is a win-win situation for mobile users and businesses.

Gives Better Return on Investment

We have sufficiently established that video marketing can do a lot more than creating awareness. Video content is the most versatile tool. You can use it to engage new customers and retain old ones. It can help build trust and aid in customer support services. Videos can drive traffic to the website and boost social media engagement.

On the whole, the time, money, and effort you spend on small business video marketing are worth it. According to a survey, 89% of marketers agree that video content gives them the best ROI. Over 80% of the video marketers say that video marketing has increased traffic, helped in lead generation, and directly improved sales.

The various benefits of video marketing and the high ROI have prompted 95% of video marketers to say they plan to increase the spending on video content. 

Final Thoughts

Video marketing is a boon to small businesses. Videos are easy to create, they aren’t too expensive, and they help in conversions, sales, and customer support. There is nothing that video content can’t do.

If you haven’t included videos in your marketing plan, then the 10 benefits mentioned here would have convinced you by now. Adopt video marketing for a positive and long-lasting impact on the business.

Author bio:

Cristian Stanciu is a freelance video editor, owner, and post-production coordinator of Veedyou Media – a company offering video editing services to videographers, marketing agencies, video production studios, or brands all over the globe. I can catch up with him on his blog or on LinkedIn.

A List of The Top 20 Ways To Promote Your Business Online

A List of The Top 20 Ways To Promote Your Business Online

Do you want to grow your client base? Do you need to drive more traffic to your website? Many companies thrive online. The internet has given people a greater ability to expand their client base. In fact, at the time there are 4.66 billion users online across the world, so if you learn to properly promote your business on the internet, you have the opportunity to gain many more loyal clients. But what are the ways professional marketers expand their companies online? Want to know all of the secrets of the best marketing teams without having to hire more full-time staff? Below, we’ll go into the top 20 pieces of digital marketing advice. Keep reading to learn more!

1. Get on Social Media

When you want to promote your business online, you need to have a professional social media presence. Many people use social media as a way to interact with their friends. They also find the pages of companies they like on there, and they follow them. This gives you the ability to engage your clients and potentially find new ones. Some social media platforms allow you to create a specific business page for your business, so you can focus directly on that page and promote it to your social media followers and customers. Using social media you can share all your content, new and old. When you create a new article, we recommend sharing it on all your social media profiles, and also mention each post in your newsletter, if you have a newsletter.

2. Learn About Social Media Ads

Do you know how to run social media ad campaigns? Once you’ve made successful social media accounts, you have the opportunity to create paid ads. You do this using the platform’s built-in ad maker, which allows you to target your ads to a specific audience. Depending on the social media ads platform you are working with, they will offer various methods of promoting your business via their social network. Facebook, Twitter Pinterest, and Linkedin are all good to start with.

3. Define Your Target Audience

But to which audience should you target your messages? This is where defining your target audience comes in. Your target audience consists of anyone who is likely to purchase your items. You should do research into the exact demographics of who is most likely to buy from you. Then, use this information to craft your ads to prompt them to make purchases.

4. Hire a Professional Website Design Service

Did you know that hiring a website design service actually helps you get more clients? When people access a website, they need to be able to navigate it with ease. If you want them to make a purchase, clearly state what you offer and make sure they know where to go on your site to buy it. Professional website design services give you an engaging website that boosts your sales.

5. Learn About Search Engine Optimization

Put simply, search engine optimization (SEO) is the process by which business owners get their websites to perform well in search engine inquiries.

SEO functions by using keywords and links. When you use the right keywords, the search engine algorithms will pull up your website in response to potential client searches. Links help the algorithms determine how reliable the information on your website is, which influences in which order your website shows up in the search results.

6. Use Local SEO

It’s extremely difficult to rank well in search engine results worldwide. That’s why you should partake in local SEO practices to get more customers in your area and shrink your competition pool.

Use keyword research tools to find the most common keywords people in your area employ to find businesses like yours.

7. Use Google Ads

Want to appear higher up in search results? Use Google Ads!

Google Ads lets you create advertisements that then get pinned near the top of search results. This helps more clients find you.

8. Email Marketing

Email marketing keeps your clients engaged. When you get a list of your client’s or potential client’s emails, you can send them information on deals or business updates. This reminds them of you, builds rapport, and encourages them to buy from you.

9. Send Emails Around Holidays

If you want to improve your email campaigns, start sending targeted emails around the holiday. For instance, if it’s Mother’s Day, share why your products make the best Mother’s Day gifts. This makes your clients more likely to make a purchase.

10. Hire Experts

If you have the resources, hire some professional marketing experts. Whether you choose to hire full-time staff or a marketing agency, these people have the expertise you need to do well.  When you have a team working for you, you stand a better chance of doing well.

11. Study Your Competitors

Want to beat out your competition? If you do, you should study your competitors.

Knowing what your competition does in terms of marketing and what they offer their customers will help you know how to make yourself stand out.

12. Conduct Tests

Unfortunately, not everything works best for every company. So, if you want to know how to grow your client base, you need to know what works well. To do this, conduct some tests, and don’t be afraid to change your approach.

13. Stay on Brand

Every single part of your digital marketing efforts should remain on-brand. Your brand consists of who you are as a company. Are you professional or casual? What tone and style do you use?

14. Maintain Media Relationships

People may not realize the power of the media when it comes to finding customers online. When you keep the media in touch with what’s going on in your company, you increase the likelihood they will write pieces on you and link back to your website. This drives traffic to your platform.

15. Use Images

Online, people don’t like to read huge blocks of text. Often, they’ll just scroll past this, especially if they are on social media. So how do you get their attention? Use engaging images.

16. Make Videos

Likewise, videos engage your clients better than text. They catch their eye and give you the ability to tell the audience a story, which creates an emotional bond. People who have an emotional bond to a brand are more likely to buy from it.

17. Interact

Don’t just create social media profiles. Use them to interact with your clients! Hire a social media manager who can handle client requests and respond to comments. This makes you appear approachable.

18. Have Online Sales

Everyone loves a good deal. If you sell products, advertise your sales online. This causes more people to become aware of them.  If you don’t have any discounted products or services, you may be able to add something of value instead, such as an additional product or service free when they order. This is sometimes a good method of getting rid of any stagnant inventor.

19. Hold Virtual Events

Consider holding virtual events. This allows people to attend from wherever they have a video connection and keeps them abreast of your company’s news. This can be used for brand building or promoting your business, products and or services to a target audience. You should always promote your events via all your marketing channels months before the actual even starts, so anyone that is interested has time to schedule.

20. Get on Google My Business

Google My Business is Google’s business listing service. It allows you to advertise what you do, provide links to your website, and get customer reviews. Having a Google My Business listing helps more people find you.

Want Us to Help You Promote Your Business?

Do you need help with your efforts to promote your business online? Digital marketing is an important part of growing your clientele. By following the tips above, you’ll be able to build a thriving online platform and grow your client base. Want help with your marketing? Let our experts help. Request a quote today to learn more!

Local SEO & Marketing: How to Promote Your Local Business Online

Local SEO & Marketing: How to Promote Your Local Business Online

Do you want to know how to market your brick and mortar store online? 

With most of the world’s 7 billion people logging onto the internet, the ability to perform well online has never been more critical to the success of your business. While many stores operate well within a physical location, knowing how to present yourself on the internet helps you build your online presence and maybe even attract customers to your store.

So, do you want to get involved in local marketing online? Do you want to learn more about local SEO? 

If so, keep reading! We’ll go into everything you need to know below!

The Advantages of Marketing Online

If you already have a bustling in-person business, you might be wondering why you need to participate in online marketing. Why should you take the time to learn how to market (or pay someone to do it for you) when you’ve already built a business of which you’re proud?

Having a well-performing online presence is absolutely crucial to growing your client base. While your store may do well with physical advertising, word-of-mouth, and attracting passersby into your location, you can still benefit from trying to get people online to buy from you.

As we mentioned above, most of the world’s population logs onto the internet. This means you have the opportunity to expand your client base far beyond your local area. Savvy business owners always want to look to the future and discover how to grow their profit margins. By putting yourself online, you open yourself to a whole world of new customers.

Bolstering your online marketing also boosts your local clientele. If you’re a shop that serves a specific audience in your area, for instance, knowing how to conduct local marketing on the web will gain you more customers.

In turn, this gives your more opportunities for revenue and the chance to develop more loyal clients. 

Search Engine Optimization

Have you heard of search engine optimization (SEO) before?

Most people who do research into the world of marketing online run into it. Put simply, search engines such as Google and Bing use algorithms to sort web pages after a user makes a certain inquiry. Marketing experts keep track of how these algorithms work and came up with a method, SEO, to help their businesses make it to the top of the search results.

SEO functions using keywords and links. When you use SEO for business, then, you need to figure out which keywords people are typing into search engines to find services like yours. You accomplish this by using keyword research tools or consulting with professional online marketers who specialize in SEO for business. 

Then, you try to incorporate as many of those keywords into the content of your website. This shows search engines your content is relevant to the people who are looking for your services.

Linking

Next, you want to establish reliability. When algorithms review online content, they’re looking for information that is both relevant and reliable so their users get the best results. They do this by looking for links. The more someone links to your website, the more reliable the algorithms believe your content is.

While you can’t always control who links to your website and who doesn’t, you can do your own linking. Link to pages on your own website and interesting, relevant information you find on other places on the web. When you link either within your website or to another site, the algorithm ranks your content higher.

What Is Local SEO?

Let’s face it, though: there are millions of different online stores in the world, and ranking well as you compete against so many companies is extremely difficult.

But did you know you actually might stand a greater chance of growing your business locally? 

Think of it this way: whenever you run an inquiry about a type of product or service you need, search engines often give you local listings. For instance, if you search “Bookstores near me,” the search engine might bring up your local Barnes & Noble or indie book shops. If you were to make the same search in another town, though, the search results would be different.

That’s because algorithms actually use the location of people’s laptops or mobile devices to determine which results are the most relevant to that user. They pair people with products and services in their area.

This is good news for you. When you use local SEO for small business purposes, you get the opportunity to expand your reach locally and narrow down your competitors to just the people in your hometown. This especially serves brick and mortar stores well, as people in their area are able to locate them more easily.

Using Local SEO

So, how do you implement local SEO?

Again, SEO depends a lot on keywords, and local SEO is not an exception. The key to ranking well in your area is knowing which keywords people in your region commonly use to find businesses like yours. Fortunately, you can use keyword research tools to determine which ones are the best for you to use.

When you implement SEO for business, you should start seeing more traffic to your website, which gives you the chance to convert them into customers. 

Want to Improve Your Local Marketing?

Are you looking to improve your local marketing and local SEO?

When you implement SEO services for small business, you should see an increase in the number of people who come to your website. By using local marketing techniques, such as local SEO, you open your client base to the opportunity for growth and expand your business. 

Do you want some help making your online presence the best it can be? We can help! Our talented team specializes in making you stand out on the web. Request a quote today!

Preparing For Your New eCommerce Website

Preparing For Your New eCommerce Website

This article is for anyone that is currently having a New eCommerce Website developed, or is planning on developing one in the near future. If you are a client and your developer is in the process of building your new online store, this article should help you prepare the things you and your developer will need to streamline the process and get your website finished correctly and faster.

Depending on the arrangement you have with your developer, it’s very possible that you will be required to provide the content for your online store, such as images, text, prices…  The listed items in this article include the most common requirements, your particular requirements will vary depending on what type of online eCommerce website you are building.

Domain Name

The first and probably the most important element for your online business is the domain name.  A domain name is a name you select for your website, the URL.  For example, our domain name is sellersbay.com.  It’s usually a good idea to try to get the .com extension when searching for a domain name.  Ecommerce websites require a higher level of trust than regular websites that are not accepting transitions and exchanging money.  It’s important to select a domain name that sounds professional, is as short as possible, brandable, and no dashes.  An example of a good domain would be.  ********.com and not *****-********.shop

Other extensions are becoming more and more popular, but in my opinion, the .com is still the best.  Other options are .net, .co and hundreds of others.  If you can’t find the domain you would like for your business, try looking on auctions, such as https://auctions.godaddy.com/ or other such domain auction sites.  Sometimes the best names have already been taken, but you can find them on auctions for a few hundred.  The name of your business should be used as your domain whenever possible.  If your business name is XYZinc.com you could look for domain names such as xyz.com, xyzinc.com, xyzwidgets.com, widgets being whatever you sell.  The goal here is to keep it simple, professional, and memorable.  As far as purchasing your domain name, first ask your web designer, developer if they resell the domains, sometimes they do and they can give you a discount.  However, always make sure the domain name is in your name as the owner and keep your login details private and secure.  If you lose your domain, you lose your business, make sure all measures are taken to secure it.

It’s also a very good idea to register your domain name for a lot longer than 1 year.  If you are serious about your business and plan on being around for a while, then you should purchase your domain name for at least 5 years.  There are a few good reasons for this, one, it’s strongly suspected that Google’s search algorithm takes this into consideration when ranking websites. And it would make perfect sense because if you are not planning on being around then why would they rank you higher than someone who is?  Also, there is less of a chance you forget to renew your domain and lose it inadvertently. 

Logo & Branding

If you don’t already have a logo for your business, it’s advisable to first have your logo created and then build your website around it.  The reason is, it’s much easier to create a logo and to create an eCommerce website, and it will give you and your designer the color scheme and feel of your website and some other hints, such as what fonts to use and the overall focus of your business.  If possible, and if needed, it’s a good idea to also have a brochure, letterhead, and any other branding materials completed during this time.  You will likely have to create content for these materials, which can then be repurposed for your website. Keep in mind that any content you have that has not been used online in some way can be used on your website if it’s suitable.

eCommerce Website Hosting

The 2nd most important element of your online business is your hosting choice.  It’s extremely important to select a well established, trusted, and secure environment for your new online store to be able to grow close sales and keep your customers coming back for more.  

Types of Website Hosting

There are many types of website hosting available, but most of the time the level you choose directly relates to your budget and how fast you think your business is going to grow. For example, if you have a brand new, unknown product you want to sell online and you only have a few customers or none yet, then it’s usually a good idea to start off with a shared hosting environment, but one that will allow you to grow.  To do this, I recommend using a hosting provided that you can start with a shared but upgrade to either a dedicated server or cloud hosting.

Difference between Dedicated, Shared and Cloud Hosting

Although there are other hosting options besides dedicated, shared, and cloud, I will only be clarifying these three options for now, as they are the most common.  

Dedicated Servers

Dedicated servers are dedicated to your business only, hence the name.  There are two types of dedicated servers, managed and unmanaged.  If you have an in-house server administrator, then lucky you, you can afford to purchase the unmanaged dedicated server and save a few bucks each month.  But we recommend the managed dedicated server, which means the hosting provider takes care of all those pesky changes you will need during your many years, hopefully, in business.  Managed dedicated servers are a great choice for most eCommerce stores because you can usually expand by adding more drives to your server.

Cloud based hosting

Cloud hosting consists of many servers sharing resources, it’s similar to shared and dedicated in some respects.  It shares resources with other servers in a similar way to shared hosting, but it is highly configurable, expandable, and flexible.  This is the best option if you think your company is going to be very big and requires lots of space and bandwidth to grow quickly.

Server Bandwidth

Depending on what type of eCommerce business you have, it may require large amounts of bandwidth and storage.  Bandwidth is the resources used during transactions, think of your home internet, if you watch lots of youtube videos, online movies, video games, this all uses resources.  It’s the same on your business hosting account.  If you get lots of traffic on your website and lots of sales then you will use lots of bandwidth.  It’s important to find out what the limits are going to be on your account before you sign up and spend months building your business on their servers.  

Storage Space

Besides bandwidth, the next consideration for your hosting is how much server space they will allow. Server space, just like your home computer’s hard drive, is required to store the images, database, content, and other files your website will accumulate over time.  

Email Server

There are a few options when it comes to your online store’s email server.  Your email should have your domain name at the end, so if your company website address is xyzwidgets.com, then you will want email accounts such as myname@xyzwidgets.com so you look snazzy and professional.  To do this, you need to get an email server setup for your domain name.  The good news is that most hosting providers include email hosting and it’s very easy to set up a new email account.  The bad news is, it’s usually not a good idea to use your website server for email, as it can use a lot of valuable resources.  I recommend getting your email accounts with an external service, such as rackspace.com or Office 365.  

Security

As we all know, security is very important for any website, but even more so for an online store or any eCommerce website that stores the personal details of its customers or clients as well as accepting payments of any kind.  This requires an SSL certificate, in fact, Google now penalizes websites that do not have an SSL certificate.  If you have ever gone to a website and been greeted with a warning that the website is not secure, this is probably because they don’t use a website security certificate.  The good news is that in many cases it’s free to have one installed.  But if you have the budget for it, it’s best to pay for more recognized and secure certificates such as GeoTrust or one of the leading brands.  This shows you take your website security seriously, which puts your customers’ minds at ease and gains trust, more sales, and more return customers.  

Privacy Policy

If you review most eCommerce websites, they usually have a privacy policy in the footer of their website.  This privacy policy should be reviewed by a lawyer for accuracy and completeness. Have it written by a lawyer and add it to the footer of your website.  Legalzoom.com has reasonable prices for this.

Shipping Policy

For your shipping policy, you can usually review a few of your competitors, and write yours in a similar way, without copying their text directly. Keep in mind you obviously want to use your actual shipping requirements. This should include your carriers, shipping time requirements, and anything else you think is important concerning your shipping setup.

Tax rates

I won’t go into too much detail on tax rates, but it’s very important that you know where you have to pay taxes and where you don’t, as well as how to pay them.  This is a question for your accountant and depends on what country you are living in, as well as the city and other tax-related issues.  It is important that you find out the correct tax rules and laws for your location and configure your online store accordingly.  Preferably automating as much of the process as possible.

Payment processing

Without payment processing, something strange happens, nothing!  You need a method of accepting payments or you won’t get any.  The most common options at the time of this writing are PayPal and Stripe, but there are hundreds of other options.  Here are just a few.

PayPal.com

PayPal will allow you to accept online payments from anyone that has a PayPal account, but even if they don’t have a PayPal account they can still pay you with a credit card.  It’s very simple to set up a PayPal account and most online stores have plugins to install PayPal and it can be set up in minutes.

Stripe.com

Stripe offers a very similar setup process to PayPal but is for credit cards specifically. All credit card processing is done on the Stripe servers, and their rates are comparable to PayPal. Most of the websites I set up use either PayPal, Stripe, or both.

Here are some other things you should consider.  I will be adding to this article and expanding on each of the points noted below.

  • Shipping carriers
  • Shopping cart
  • CMS
  • Who to hire to build it?
  • How to select the right developer
  • Preparing product images
  • Product details
    • Short description
    • Long description
    • Price/Sale price
    • Quantity on stock if keeping stock
    • Colors, sizes, and other options
    • Shipping price
    • SKU
    • Tags
    • SEO title
    • SEO description
  • Social profiles
    • Profile page layouts
    • Content for profiles