This is a guest post by Ruan Oosthuizen.
Effective and complete domain management is a composition of processes with essential elements that if used together forms a system that determines the success of your business or blog online. Many start a blog without a “business plan” and soon find missing elements that are harder to implement at that point in time.
However, doing some much required research and planning before you put much at stake by starting your online journey, you’ll find that there are good practices and some other “not so good” practices to follow. There is no right or wrong, I agree. However, I do feel there is effective and ineffective ways of doing things and anyone in their right mind would want to start with what is effective instead of later having to go back and try to implement things completely out of sequence when at that point they should be focusing on something else.
A set of essential elements shared below will assist you in this process of getting into good rhythm and adopt good practices right from the start from choosing a brand name to data recovery, ensuring you become the ultimate domain manager.
1. Choosing A Brand Name
Choosing a brand name is quite often handled with less attention to detail as it rightfully deserves. One important factor to keep in mind when looking at brand names is that you will become known for your brand name, or if you do it wrong you simply won’t. The objective is that you do so choosing a brand name carefully will count much in your favor.
Your brand needs to represent you, your products, services or topic of discussion. You need people to want to be associated with your brand name once they make use of your products, services, training material or whatever it is that you represent. They need to feel that you can be trusted, are reliable but most importantly they need to feel that they will get what they came for.
2. Registering A Domain Name
Registering a domain name sounds simple to most people and I agree; the actual process of typing in a preferred domain name to check its availability and then ordering it right away is not rocket science.
However, choosing a domain name from a marketing point of view as well as other technical angles is not that simple and certainly not just an address to your brand name.
There are many opinions and mixed feelings with regards to a domain name from an SEO point of view. Just by having domain name analysis included within a leading research application like Market Samurai for instance tells me that choosing a domain name that includes some closely relevant or even exact match words to your main keywords within your domain name still does make a noticeable difference in domain authority and general search engine ranking.
Looking at choosing a domain name from a marketing point of view, I would like to ask you a simple question:
If you are looking for training material, consulting services or one-on-one coaching related to marketing, would you rather click through to a domain called firepolemarketing.com or spreadingtheword.com? Okay, looking at the last domain it is not all that bad either but somehow firepolemarketing.com just immediately catches my attention as it includes exactly what I am looking for. I’ll definitely would want to investigate that domain before I would the other one. I think you get the picture.
Your domain name is much more attractive and effective from a marketing point of view if it includes a part of what you are offering.
3. Hosting Your Domain Name
There are literally thousands if not millions of web hosting providers out there and each have their own composition of packages and hosting plans. Taking in consideration that every 7 seconds a new blog is started one can easily argue that surely there could be a cut of the pie in terms of hosting opportunities for that many companies.
The reality though is that only a few of them can proudly hold their name up high and say that they offer excellent solutions, services and support. Choosing a hosting provider is a process of thorough research, determining what your specific needs are, comparing various companies and the packages they offer as well as testing their level of support even before signing a fixed term contract with any of them.
Yes indeed I said “testing” the level of support before signing anything. Remember that people promote all hosting providers as affiliates and believe me that some have never even used the companies’ services themselves.
So how can you test them before signing anything?
It’s actually quite simple. Obvious and noticeable indicators of some form of customer support are visible links to a knowledge base, contact information and most these days that have live chat support where you could just click on a button and then you have a support technician on the other end ready to handle your request.
A sure and effective way to test their reliability however is to submit some form of request to their live channels. Naturally I am not suggesting that you just submit a dummy request with no actual valid request really but rather ask a simple question like:
“If I currently have a site with another host, would I need to do the files transfer myself or would you be able to assist me with this? If yes, more or less how much downtime can I expect?”
Then all you have to do is:
- Notice how long it takes them to respond to your request.
- See if they able to solve your request.
- Ask if you are happy with the approximate time they will take to complete the task.
- Determine how effective and clear was the person on the other side, i.e. did they talk a language you could understand or did they throw a ton of technical terminology at you and basically made you feel like a total idiot?.
The rest of the process is very simple. Simply choose the one that scored the most points in terms of support excellence.
Comparing prices and packages are also an integral part of searching for your ideal hosting provider and should also be taken into careful consideration but keep in mind that in terms of price, cheaper is not always the best route to go. I’d much rather pay a few bucks more to a company offering excellent support and reliability than a much cheaper company that takes days to get hold of.
Furthermore the majority of web hosts today offer packages that are specifically designed and should have the necessary functionality that you would need but it’s always good practice to make sure the package you decide on offers sufficient resources for what you need.
4. Web Design And Implementation
After you have your brand name, domain and hosting sorted out, it’s time to think about designing your actual site and get it online as soon as possible, within reasonable time of course.
If you are skilled knowing development languages like HTML and CSS this process may be something you’d like to handle yourself but if not, I’d suggest doing some research and finding yourself an accredited and trustworthy designer to do the job.
In terms of getting an idea of what you want, one option you have is to play around on the internet (chances are that you’ve been doing that already for some time) and look at other sites, get ideas, add your own and draw yourself, whether physically or mentally, a picture to get a better idea of what you need. You might also speak to your designer for ideas and suggestions which are always welcome.
5. Traffic Generation And Marketing
You’ll notice that traffic generation and marketing is before content creation, testing and tweaking in this post. This is for a reason. The majority of “gurus” out there will probably nail me for this, but people whom have achieved great success in terms of traffic generation and marketing like Jon Morrow (Copyblogger & Boost Blog Traffic), Derek Halpern (DIYthemes & Social Triggers) and Danny Iny (Firepole Marketing) will agree with me that getting your audience and driving targeted traffic to your website needs to be done before you create a ton of content on your own website.
This is for the following two reasons:
- Content without traffic is useless.
- You need to build credibility, trust and connections or relationships before you can create specific content that your audience wants from you.
The other nice things about getting traffic first is that once you have the traffic, you can interact with your audience and find out exactly what they need from you. I mean you do have a brand by this time and also you targeted a specific audience but how they want it from you and in what form is just as important as the products or solutions itself.
6. Content Creation, Testing & Tweaking
Once you have the targeted traffic, sound relationships and connections built as well as a better idea of how you could possibly offer your solutions to them, you can start creating content directly to them. Do various experiments, test certain strategies, try what works for others and then test what works for your specific audience and what not. Do the necessary tweaks to the content by implementing what’s working and then focus on that by creating more of what works and put the things that don’t work for your audience out the way.
Remember that this is an on-going process and you’ll need to continuously exceed expectations with excellent content that meets your audience’s exact needs and requirements, so testing and tweaking everything from various angles on a constant basis will help you to keep what works and throw out what doesn’t.
7. Backup Solutions And Maintenance
We all would like to focus on the above category and just make a killing out there all the time. The sad truth and reality is that at some stage things do go wrong and we all like to be prepared for when that does happen.
When you have a site getting thousands of visitors each month and you have killer content that took you hours to research and create, the worst things that can happen is something that goes wrong like your server may go down, you might get hacked by “aliens” not knowing what else to do with their time or some sort of natural disaster might strike.
Backing up your entire site and all the files but also your database files is essential when you don’t want to lose everything that you’ve worked so hard for. Backups should be done on a regular basis especially when you’re site has been around for a while and you have many assets that need protection.
Above you have a complete system you can work with to help you become a successful and effective domain manager. With the above I’d like to refer to the tripod theory and I know there are more than 3 legs in this one, but let’s assume they are spread wide apart (although none is more important than the other) and if you take one of these out, the table just won’t stand its ground and fall apart.
Some of these are once off elements and don’t need attention after it’s done but keeping your close attention on the others will be the difference between poor and unsuccessful domain management and highly effective and complete domain management that’ll take you to pole position.