Online Basics

Getting Online

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Category: Online Basics , Choosing A Domain Name

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PROBLEM: People are looking for your product or service online, but you're nowhere to be found.

SOLUTION: Get a Web presence.

As technology improves and the world shrinks, customers have more choices than ever and they are starting to search for what they want on the Internet instead of in the phone book. If you have a product or service for sale, or if you have information you'd like to share, how do you stand out? In fact, how do you even get noticed? In the information age its never been easier to grab yourself a slice of the American Dream and the easiest way to do that is through the Internet, a great level playing field where anyone can seem as large or small as they want. If your competition is online and you're not, you might as well be selling out of the back of a covered wagon.

To get online you'll need a few simple things. You'll need a computer with an Internet connection, you'll need a name for your website and a place to put it and, most importantly, you'll need a way for people to find your website.

Let's use an imaginary company as an example. Bensel's Pencils sells pencils made from exotic wood. Unfortunately, nobody's ever heard of them, but of they get online, the whole world can see what they have to offer. The first thing they need is a Domain Name, also known as a web address. Like their logo, their letterhead and their sign out front, Bensel's Pencils' Domain Name is part of their identity. It tells people what to type to be taken to their site. Domain names can be registered through a "Domain Name Registrar", a company charged with managing the registration process for its customers.

The next thing they'll need is space to hold the files that make up Bensel's website. They can use a dedicated computer of their own, or they can rent space from a hosting company. If they choose a hosting company that has a secure data center, and a strong record of reliability, then they'll be protected from power outages, theft and a host of other things that could go wrong. In order for customers to be able to contact Bensel's Pencils over the Internet, they'll need email. Its fine to use a free email service, but an email that uses their Domain Name will seem more professional.

They'll also need the actual content of the website itself, comprised of words, pictures, charts, product and price listings, and anything else they want customers to see. Next, if they're going to collect sensitive information from customers, they'll need Internet security to protect users' names, addresses, credit card numbers or any other sensitive data that a customer might entrust to an online business. This specific type of security comes in the form of an SSL Certificate, a kind of handshake between the user and the host that encrypts the data over a secure connection.

If they want to sell online, they'll need some sort of online store to allow customers to browse, select and pay for items on the Bensel's Pencils Web site. And finally, they'll need some form of Search Engine Optimization or Search Engine Marketing to help potential customers find the site once it's up and running.

Some companies offer many, or all, of these services bundled together, with live support, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to answer any questions.

Once they have everything in place, they're online! Voila! Bensel's has gone from a local specialty shop to a worldwide vendor. How simple was that?

Let's go through it again. To get online you need a Domain Name, so you stake your claim in some online real estate, you create content to have something to put in that real estate, you host those website files, you enable email so your customers can talk to you, you set up security to protect your customers, if you have a product or service to sell you can set up an online store to allow your customers to shop, and you use Search Engine Optimization and Marketing to get the word out.

BAM! You're on the internet! Problem solved!