Getting on the Internet with webhosting
Many people and companies need to have some web presence on the Internet, and thus domain registration and webhosting. The reasons to having this web presence vary, including selling products online, offering clients a knowledge base, getting email with your company name or last name in it, showing off your vacation pictures, or just protecting a name.
Domain registration, webhosting, and website design
Domain registration, web hosting, and website design are the three basic steps to getting your company or other entity on the Internet. Domain registration is like getting your name in the phone book. On the Internet, once you are in the "phone book", or domain naming service, you can get webhosting (or phone number in this analogy). Webhosting will give you email on your domain name, and a place to build your website. Once you have that, you can either build yourself, or, get a professional design company to build your website with you.
Domain registration gets you a name. Almost all domain registrars lease you a domain name for a specific period. In return, they often provide automated tools on their website to change your registration information, and possibly hosting. Domain registration is a high volume business, so it is sometimes difficult to find one that you can call and ask questions. Some registrars will talk to you, and a good way to check is to call their toll free number, and see if there is someone there, or if your call is returned promptly by the registrar.
Domain name governing bodies
The Internet Assigned Numbers Authority or IANA for short, is on top of the pile when it comes to domain names and internet numbers, or IP addresses. All iana does, is deligate number assignment, and domain name dispensing to other organisations. For generic top level domains, or gTLD's, the Internet Corporation For Assigned Names and Numbers or ICANN is the delegated non for profit organisation that looks after top level domains such as .com, .net and other generic domain names. ICANN in turn, accredits registrars (sometimes called registries) to actually do the domain registration and collect money from customers. ICANN then charges each registrar for the domain names that are registered. IANA also has an index of country code top level domains or ccTLD's for each country. Country level domains, such as .ca for Canada, are generally controlled by the country that they are for. In Canada, for example, Industry Canada oversees the .ca domain names services and delegates the domain registry to the non for profit organisation Canadian Internet Registration Authority or CIRA. Like ICANN, CIRA receives payment for domains only from .ca registrars.
Domain name system structure
The domain naming system is a hierarchical one. It starts with top level domains, or TLD's, and domain names are structurally below that. So if you look at the URL www.compeng.ab.ca, the top level domain is ".ca", and the sub-level domain is .ab, and the actual domain name is compeng.ab.ca . The www part is merely a "hostname", and has nothing to do with the domain name except that it is usually the place where web pages are served up for compeng.ab.ca (that domain does not really exist). More information about Canadian domain structure, and other TLD's are available on our site.
domains for sale and other pitfalls
If you see a domain name that is for sale, that is usually a red flag that should go off in your head. It is important to see the distinction, because if someone is selling you a domain name, and since it is impossible for them to avoid the annual lease costs, then what are they selling you?
Sqatters are people on the Internet that register previously owned domain names in order gain a profit selling a domain back to you. These people usually "sell" domain names. An unwary buyer may pay a large sum of money for a domain name only to find that they only have access to it for a year, and have to pay another large sum again if they want to retain access. Quite often, ownership is never really transferred, and the victim purchasing the domain has little recourse.
Arbitration, a legal solution, is generally out of the question for victims without at least a couple of thousand dollars to spend. If someone steals your name, then arbitration is usually the only way you can get it back unless you wait for the squatter to not renew the domain in the following year. There are many famous cases about this, and they usually involved a large legal department in a large corporation. For gerneric top level domains (gTLD) such as .com, and .net, arbitration can be initiated through the WIPO or World Intellectual Property Organization Arbitration and Mediation Center, for country level domains (ccTLD) such as .ca, arbitration is done through the country's registry, and in Canada, the .ca domain registry and dispute information is at CIRA.
expired domains and TBR domains
In Canada, CIRA provides incentive for domain holders to renew their domains. This is simply done by releasing the domain names that have not been renewed after a 30 day suspension period.
Each day a list of domains that are to be released are listed at the CIRA TBR domain page.
For other TLD's, the procedures and techniques vary. In Belgium, for example, When a .be (dot-be) domain has expired, it is up to the registrant, or domain title holder, to pay for the domain name. A domain is released only if written notice is given by the title holder that the domain is to be released.
For the .com gTLD, the procedures vary from registrar to registrar. stargate inc., a disreputable registrar in our eyes, charges a reasonable rate for domain registrations, but after a domain lapeses, they charge approximately $190USD to renew the domain before it is released to potential squatters!
The bottom line here, is don't be fooled by low low prices, and check out the integrity of the registrar that you are dealing with.
The next step after the domain registration has been completed is to get web hosting. The purpose, is to actually use your newly acquired domain name for something usefull like email, or a website.
What is web hosting?
When you have web hosting, all you are doing is putting your webiste on an Internet service provider's computers, or servers, that have a very high speed connection to the Internet. Once the site has been uploaded, it will be displayed on the Internet using the ISP's web server software. The webserver software just interprets the source code on the website, and displays the site.
Email for a domain name
Many people have email addresses that point to their service provider. While there is nothing wrong with this, it really is free advertising for the company that gave you that email address. Since you may have a domain name from step one above, you may as well use it.
web hosting setup information
After you purchase web hosting, your hosting provider will usually email you information on "ftp"ing your website to the server. The provider may also provide an email control panel, or email manager to allow you to set up email accounts. Some providers will give you a specific number of email accounts, and some will let you have as many as you want within a specific amount of space on the email server.
FTP, or File Transfer Protocol
FTP, or file transfer protocol is a primative means by which a person can upload or download files through the Internet, or any TCP/IP based network. It is commonly used to upload files to a website.
Actually much of the "ftp'ing" that goes on is actually not even using the original ftp protocol. FTP was built in the early stages of the Internet long before crackers (also incorrectly described as hackers by the press), started to purposely break things. Although it is still widely used, SSL (secure socket layer), or ssh (secure shell), encrypted transfers are now becoming the norm rather than sending data and passwords raw though the wire where they are vulnerable to viewing by others while in transit.
There are some good free ftp tools out there such as core ftp, and some ftp tools are inlcuded in the web authoring tools such as in Adove golive, Nvu, and Dreamweaver. Many ftp tools now support "ssh", or some sort of encrypted transfer protocol.
If someone is building your website for you, then you probably do not have to worry about ftp.
Website Authoring Tools
Web hosting usually includes email and website hosting, but rarely includes the actual building of your website. If you want to build one on your own, then you can, but choose the right tools. You will typically need graphics software like the "gimp", or adobe photoshop, and a good web authoring tool such as Nvu. A commercial or fine arts degree and a computer science or engineering degree is also usefull if you want to make your site look professional.
Many companies on the Internet will offer website design. It is important to understand that many companies and individuals have the ability to build a website, but very little experience. Ask to see five reference websites or a website design portfolio from the company or individual that you have in mind.
Even if you have a good design person, it is important that they can take the layouts that they propose, and convert them into a website. This process is called website development, and can be extremely technical depending on what you want on your website.
Once a graphic artist has prepared a layout for a proposed webiste, someone needs to convert those nice looking graphics into a website.
Graphic artists are usually good at designing beautifully laid out graphics, and Computer Engineers are good at building them
A company that has both is a good find. Sometimes individuals have both qualities, and those are hard to find.
An experienced computer scientist, or computer engineer will be able to determine what your usablility needs are, and build your website so that it is easily maintained, and robust. There is a very steep learning curve to building a website, and having an experienced web design company or individual will make your website work properly, and be easily navigable.
Traditional marketing strategies work well, and you can obviously boost your online presence by including your website address, and/or email in that material. While this makes good brand name recognition, it really is not as effective in generating visits to your website as would a search engine approach.
The problem with traditional marketing is that your costs per lead can be far greater, and your audience is not captive.
Imagine that you place a colour ad in the Newspaper. How likely is it that someone reading that newspaper is going to put down their paper, and go to their computer to look up your website? How much did you pay for that ad, and how long will it be in the paper? With a good marketing campaign, you can really get results, but your cost per lead can be far greater than a focused and effective Internet markting campaign.
Search Engine Optimization - Internet Marketing
To see the importance of search engine optimization, and Internet marketing, we must first see the actual market of Internet marketing, and to do that we must look at two factors: inbound links to your website, and search engine links to your website.
Where does the incoming traffic come from?
According to statmarket.com, of traffic to your website, 7% are from search engines, 64% know about your site already and have book-marked your site, and 29% are industry related .
People need to find the site before they can book-mark it.
What this means is that if you want to get new clients from the Internet, that you must ignore the bookmarks, and look at (7 / (7 + 29)) or 20% from search engines, (29 / (7 + 29)) and 80% from links from other websites.
In 2003 there were approximately 128 Billion searches per year. Those searches were made using 300000 search engines & directories.
The market breakdown for those searches are (in 2003) 32% Google; 25% yahoo; 19% aol; 15% msn; the rest 9% (all 299995 of them!).
As a result one must focus on the leaders and how they work.
How search engines work
For Google: software called a googlebot "crawls" through web pages that it knows, and follows links in those pages to other sites.
There are many "bots" and each one has a different function. Some will test for tricks such as invisible text (same colour text as the background), Some will look for phrases in the titles of pages. The function and nature of these bots are always changing to make the searches that people do more focused.
The bots crawl websites, and then store information about them in their database.
Other indexed (ones that crawl the web) search engines have similar methods.
Search engine submission
Many companies will charge you for search engine submission. This is actually easy to do, and is usually free. For Google, the Add your URL to Google Offers a free way to enter your URL to the google search engine. Never do this until your website is live, and do not do it more than once a month. Generally once is all that is needed. Similar submisisons exist with other search engines, and be carefull as their website is usually designed to get you to look at the paid advertising features for obvious reasons.
There are certain search engine optimization guidelines that you must follow when entering your web page information to the search engine.
Search engine directory submission
Directory submission is more complicated than search engine submission.
There are several rules that need to be followed when submitting to a search engine directory. Some rules are similar to the ones that you use to optimise your website including a title of 63 characters or less, and a description of 25 words or less. DO NOT go over these limits.
Details on search engine optimization
Research indicates that in a search engine web search 10% of people will click on the first item shown; 5% will click on the second, and 3% on the third. In order to get those high rankings, you will have to start to optimise your website by doing Search Engine Optimization.
You may loose your client within seconds if they do not find what they are looking for while using a search engine. To get a top spot on the search engine your site must be "optimised" for the search engine.
Optimization used to mean adding "keyword metatags" to your site header. This practice is virtually ignored by most search engines. You now need to use sentences to describe what the page is about. A picture is worth 1000 words, but of the search engine cannot see your picture, then it is not worth a thing.
Pictures are not really worthless, and a well presented site will do far better than a text only website.
Optimising your website using search engine optimization means that you must make your website easily navigable by humans, so that humans can find what they are looking for quickly. The search engine algorithms, or programs, are built to promote sites that do this, and they do this using search engine rules.
Search engine optimization really should be the first point in building a website.
What a good serach engine market study does is give you more information about what your customer, or website visitor is looking for.
Many companies blindly choose to build a website and then wonder why everyone is not breaking down their doors looking for goods and services.
Building a website is quite often a response to either making money by selling goods and services 24/7, allowing potential customers to pre-qualify your services, or increasing company productivity by offloading typical questions to existing or potential clients. The common response to these reasons is to do some marketing not only to see what your competitors are doing, but also to see what your potential clients want.
If you trick the search engine (also called search engine spamming), then you might pay. Can you risk google banning you from their website for 6 months, a year, or more? Don't use tricks to promote your site. Putting white text on a white background, for example, can be detected by googlebot. Stick to the fundamentals, and make sure your website is free of tricks, and traps.
Inbound Link Campaign
To better your ranking within search results on the major search engines, you must improve the value of your website using a link campaign. What you need is inbound links from other websites that are related to your industry. For example if you are an appraiser for houses, you may want inbound links from banks,and other lawyers. Google and other search engines will assess the value of your inbound links, and give you greater importance if your site is linked to by realted websites.
Many factors are involved with a search engine link campaign, and this is hugely work intensive. Just keeping track of the links that you have agreements with is tricky, and can be better managed with software that specialises in this sort of thing.
Other Internet marketing considerations
There are several other considerations that can be made with respect to Internet marketing including bookmarks, banner ads, email marketing, pop-up ads, and pay per click.
Website traffic from bookmarks
Personal bookmarks or favourites are a great source. According to statmarket.com, 64% of your website traffic will come from a bookmark, or a person's memory.
Getting people to your site with bookmarks, is equivalent to them going to your store because they know where it is, and they know and trust you. This is not really anything to do with search engines, but still has a lot to do with marketing, for example, making your website look good, and making sure that your geographical address is available on the site.
Banner ads are a good possible form of advertising and have their place. If the banner is not on a website that can give you the numbers that you need, or the focus that you are looking for, then this is not a good option. Many companies on the Internet offer banner ads, but check to see what the traffic is for hthe page that the banner is on, and see whether your target market is actually going to that page. Typically this is a lot of money to be spent for very few leads.
Email "marketing" is an attempt to duplicate mass mailing on the Internet and it is generally a failure. Most companies that do this have no ethical responsibility for actually even sending your message to anyone who even cares about it. Another important issue here is that if the target person did not ask to be sent this information, then that unsolicited email is considered spam, and you could be prosecuted for it.
Pop up ads
We all are sick of pop-up ads. These are not very usefull, and there is a ton of software out there to make sure that you message will never be seen.
Pay per click
If there is no way to compete on a competitive search term, then pay per click may be a good way to attract visitors for a particular search term. Pay per click is something started by overture, now owned by yahoo. Google also has pay per click, and so does Microsoft. Because google's pay per click actually says that a sponsor has paid for the ad, MSN and yahoo have now finally followed suit, and are demarking ads from paid advertisors so that the end user knows the difference.
For more information about our products and services, please phone us at (780) 239-8494 (within Edmonton, Alberta, Canada), (403) 998-8494 (within Calgary, Alberta, Canada), (306) 717-7709 (Saskatoon), (416) 993-7027 (Toronto) 1-877-968-7626 or 1-877-807-0777 (toll free within North America).