8 June 2006

How do you create a successful business online? That is the question I was asked last night at a seminar on Optimising your Online Presence. The event was commissioned by Manchester Digital and organised by Don’t Panic and was attended by around 70 marketing professionals from the North West.

I break down true online success into 3 categories.

1. Invest in the right infrastructure
2. Respect the search engines
3. Put your web site at the heart of your business

1. As the managing director of a hosting company, I am in danger of looking biased when I say that your hosting platform is a key ingredient, but I am well placed to give this advice. Since 1999 we have seen the rise and fall and the rise again of this fantastic industry. With over a thousand successful clients we are in a good position to analyse what companies are doing right and also what they are doing wrong.

There are some definite trends emerging. Out of every successful client we host, each one of them takes their hosting environment very seriously. Why? Because customer experience is important to them. They have learnt that fast web pages mean happy customers.

Have you ever gone to google or yahoo, typed in something and then clicked straight back because it took too long? Of course you have. You do it every day. Well there is a danger so are your potential customers. You might think your site is acceptable, but then again, is it cached in your machines memory? So wherever you host, do it right.

2. Respecting the search engines is a complicated conundrum. It was described by one of my fellow speakers yesterday Clare Johnson from Adoofa, as a “dark art.” She is absolutely correct when she said that no one can promise to put you top of the search engines and guarantee it. The reason being is that you would come across someone equally competitive who potentially will knock you off your pedestal. All you can do is treat it as a race that never ends. Once you are committed, you see the benefit and you are hooked.

There are so many pitfalls to SEO (search engine optimisation) that I cannot do the subject justice, so I will be revisiting this topic regularly, and inviting others to contribute.

3. Put your web site at the heart of your business and give it the resources that it needs to survive. I went on a solicitors site yesterday as I am moving house. I knew who I wanted to use, I just needed their phone number. I gave up looking after clicking through about 5 or 6 pages. The irony is that firm of solicitors has clearly spent a lot of money developing its online brand. Yet they are able to make fundamental mistakes which will frighten off prospective clients. I would never do business with someone who does not clearly show their contact details on a web site. I also prefer to do business with people who are passionate so this needs to come across in every aspect of your business dealings. Again there is much to discuss on this topic too and I am keen to explore this in great detail and hear from other marketers about their experiences.

To get a brief summary about last night from Jonathan Bowers communication manager at UKFast click on Jonathan’s link
So what questions do you have? Where do you need help?

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