Website vs. Social Media – Why Entrepreneurs Still Need A Domain

Colleagues using gadgets

In a world where social media is the main platform for conversation and communication between brands and their audience, how relevant are websites in 2019?

In the digital age, having a presence online is essential, but does that mean you need a website or are social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn enough for your brand?

Whether you’re a business owner, a life coach, a photographer or web designer, if there is one thing that you need, it’s a website. Don’t take our word for it though, let’s analyse the pros and cons of both and find out why entrepreneurs still need a website domain in 2019.

Social Media

One of the greatest differences between social media pages and websites is that social media pages are far easier, and faster to set up.

It takes around an hour to set a social page up, and you can even redirect your domain name (if you have one) to your social media page – This is known as domain forwarding.

It’s safe to say that just under half the world’s population are now using social media – that’s 3.196 billion people. Which means you can capitalise on the popularity of these sites. The audience is there, it just comes down to targeting and paid advertising for you to reach them.

One of the major benefits of social media for entrepreneurs is brand awareness. The possibilities for reach are endless.

In short, an in-depth social media strategy (compelling and relevant content), combined with a paid advertising strategy has the potential to grab the attention of prospective customers and increase your brand visibility, taking you to the next level.

Although all of this sounds great, there are some disadvantages to social media (which you can make up for with a website).

Let’s look at the pros and cons:

The pros of social media:

Social media has all the benefits of word of mouth, but just on a much larger scale. Only if used correctly will it give you the opportunity to reach millions of people who may be interested in what you do.

The advantages of social media include:

  • The potential for increased sales.
  • The potential for higher ranking on search engines.
  • Direct customer feedback.
  • You can easily conduct market research about your customers – greater insight into their interests.
  • Huge networking opportunities with customers and other businesses.
  • Easy to build solid relationships due to back and forth interaction.
  • The ability to engage with your customers directly in real-time.
  • Access to international markets (the audience is already there).
  • Set up is free and very easy to do.
  • Zero maintenance costs.
  • It’s international – access to prospective customers/consumers around the world.
  • You’re able to build loyalty between your brand and audience through your updates and the way you interact with your followers.

The cons of social media:

As awesome and entirely necessary as all of that sounds, there are some disadvantages to social media too.

  • You could spend hours creating content that gets little to no engagement.
  • Without daily monitoring, you will miss out on opportunities – your audience expects speedy responses.
  • If you don’t spend enough time engaging with your audience, you will lose their loyalty.
  • Negative feedback displayed for everyone to see.
  • Difficult to stand out (highly competitive).
  • You have to follow their design layout – Unlike a website, you have to follow the design layout of the platform you’re using.
  • A lack of control – there’s no stopping someone from mentioning/sharing your page in a negative light.
  • The level of reporting is much less than with a website as you only get the information the social platform gives you.
  • It’s expensive – without a social media advertising budget, it is difficult to serve your target audience.
  • It’s not yours – With social media comes a lack of ownership. The platform controls the content you publish through its terms and conditions control.

In short, there are many benefits to social media that are integral to the success of your business or brand, but it should be used in addition to your website. We expand on this below:

Having your own website

Having a website allows you to have full control over your brand. This is because it is yours – you have complete ownership over it.

How it looks and what it says is entirely up to, making it the ultimate platform to reflect exactly who you are, why you do what you do, what makes you different and the value you provide.

Further to this, having a website gives you security and certainty when it comes to your brand. There are no terms and conditions you need to follow, nor do you have to worry about it shutting down. As long as you pay for it, it will always be there.

Having your own domain also means that you can produce content that is exclusive to your brand, content in the form of blogs that can only be found on your website, giving you the opportunity to rank in search engines with specific keywords that relate to your services or product.

Having your own website means building a presence on your own terms, the way you want. Let’s look at the pros:

The pros of a website:

  • It’s perfect for referrals – your existing customers can refer your business to their friends with a single link, giving them access to absolutely everything about you.
  • It’s easy to update – with increased usability on most domain extensions, you can now update your own website. You don’t have to hire a programmer to do it.
  • It establishes a strong online brand identity – having your own domain makes you more credible, immediately building trust between your brand and audience.
  • Custom email addresses – also great for credibility, with a website you set up an authentic email address for yourself, your partners and employees.
  • You can email updates to your customer base directly from your website.
  • It’s cost effective – considering what you will be getting in return; a website build is often a once off fee and then you’ll have a home for your brand, forever.
  • Total control – by having your own website, there are much more options regarding the look, feel and features. Most domain extensions even come with various templates that you can customise to make your own.
  • Superior marketing – Communication possibilities are endless, allowing you to present your brand to your audience more creatively and uniquely. You can add videos, blogs, customer reviews, and FAQs. It’s yours to create.
  • Reduced operating costs – If you’re selling something, you’re able to add an online store, which could cut out huge operational costs such as renting a physical shop or having multiple employees.
  • An online site can be visited 24hrs a day – so no more turning away customers.
  • Fully trackable – you can track all activity on your site; where your visitors come from, how long they stayed on each of your individual pages, how many people visited your site, how they found you and how many people messaged or emailed you. This makes a website perfect for in-depth analysis and reporting.
  • Link building – if your content is strong enough and you have many sites linking to you, search engines will view your site as a relevant and valuable source of information, boosting your search engine rankings.
  • Increased sales – The more informative your site is, the more visitors you will get, and the higher it ranks across search engines, the more likely you are to make sales.

Remarkable isn’t it? Of course, there can be some disadvantages to having your own website, but nothing you can’t handle.

The cons of a website:

  • Maintaining it– If you have a big website that is rich in content, keeping it maintained can take a lot of time and effort.
  • Increased marketing efforts – No one said it would be easy! You’re going to have to work hard to gain increased traffic to your website. You’ll need an in-depth digital marketing strategy to do so.
  • Designing and set up – The more complex the functionality and design of your website, the more it will cost to set up. This process could also take quite a bit of time.

In summary:

Your website should be the heart of your online presence and social media should be your marketing tool. The two go hand in hand, and both are crucial to online success in the modern era.

So, to sum up our message here, in the digital age, you need a website, but you need social media too.

By having your own website, you have total control over your online presence, but you should be using social media to your advantage too. Ideally, social media should be used as a marketing platform for the purposing of driving traffic back to your website.

You can then use that traffic on your own terms, for multiple purposes depending on your brand’s objectives. This is why entrepreneurs still need a domain in 2019. Social media, on the other hand, should merely be used as a tool to reach new audiences, to interact with them on a human level and to grow your business.

If you’re looking to stand out even more, you will need a domain extension that encapsulates what you do and who you are. The chances of you achieving that with overused domain extensions like .com or .org are unlikely as most domain names are already taken.

Why not go with a domain extension like .icu? It’s the perfect domain extension for entrepreneurs as you’ll be joining a worldwide community of other like-minded people who are doing incredible things with their brands. We’re number 8 on the top 30 new domains list and you’ll also have a multitude of domain names to choose from.

Performing Routine Website Maintenance for SEO

In previous posts, I wrote about the 10 steps required to getting your online web presence started (https://nic.icu/marketing/10-steps-to-buying-a-domain-name-creating-a-website-and-ranking-in-google/). This included picking and buying a domain name, creating a website, and getting the website indexed and ranked in Google for some basic keywords. In another post (https://nic.icu/marketing/website-content-and-next-steps-for-new-websites/), I wrote about website content and the next steps for your website. How should it evolve and continue to bring in visitors? There’s some basic maintenance that you should be doing on a regular basis.

Some of that basic maintenance that you should be doing involves understanding what you need to do on a regular basis. I’ve previously mentioned include making sure your website is verified in Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools. That’s a good start, and there are some other things that I’d set up, as well, which are essentially “monitors” for you. If something changes about your website or something related to your website, you’ll want to be notified. Let’s review some ways to set up regular website maintenance and monitoring of your website.

On a regular basis, you, your marketing team, or someone on your staff should be performing each of these tasks. Below, I’ll go into detail about each one.

  • Review the links to your website
  • Review the traffic to your website
  • Review Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools Data
  • Monitor your website using monitoring tools
  • Perform other miscellaneous tasks.
  • Performance – this report will show you the total clicks, impressions, average CTR (Click-Thru Ratio), and the Average Position of your website. Generally, the graphs here should be going up or trending up. If there is a big drop-off, then you may have an issue that you need to look into. Below is a sample Performance report for the past 16 months for a website. You’ll see that the site’s clicks have been trending upwards since October 2018, which is good. There are a few times when it had a lot of traffic, and this was due to popular blog posts. The average CTR could be improved, as it’s only about 1.1 percent, which seems rather low. The Average position could be improved, as well, as this site may rank for a lot of keywords but they’re not ranking on the first few pages. Ideally, the Average position would be higher. This doesn’t mean that there aren’t keywords that the website isn’t ranking very well for, though. It could be that the site is ranking for a lot of keywords that are competitive in nature.
  • Coverage Report – this report will give you an idea of the number of pages that Google encountered that have errors, the number of valid pages that Google has indexed, and the number of pages on the site that Google has excluded from their index. This report requires a fair amount of technical understanding about what each of these issues means. Information such as URLs that are in the sitemap file but not found on the site (Submitted URL not found (404)), and pages that have crawl issues can be helpful to diagnose issues with the site. Generally speaking, if you’re reviewing this report on a regular basis, then you shouldn’t see drastic changes in the graph. The number of excluded pages shouldn’t be going up, for example.

  • Links – Google gives site owners information about which websites are linking to them, and the top-linked pages. You generally should review your site’s links at least once a month unless you find there’s a ranking issue or traffic issue with your site.

  • Security and Manual Actions – this area should be reviewed on a regular basis just to make sure that there aren’t any security issues (such as your site was hacked) or the site has been given a penalty by Google (a manual action). Ideally, these should both show that there are no issues detected.

Bing Webmaster Tools

Bing Webmaster Tools (https://www.bing.com/webmaster) gives website owners a lot more data about their website than Google typically gives site owners through Google Search Console. Once you’ve verified your site, it’s helpful to review the data that Bing offers. The Reports and Data tab has details like Page Traffic, SEO Reports, Inbound Links (links from other websites to your website), as well as Crawl Information. The tools they offer are also helpful, as well. On a regular basis, I’d log into Bing Webmaster Tools and look at the Reports & Data tab, as well as Search Keywords, and Inbound links.

Review Traffic to Your Site

By now you should have Google Analytics set up on your website and you should be monitoring it on a regular basis. Ideally, you should be seeing the traffic go up over time. For some sites, I have the Google Analytics App on my phone and I check the traffic in the mornings and sometimes in the evenings to see how it’s going. If there is an issue with traffic to the site(s), I will then use the desktop site to review it further.

Google Analytics

Google Analytics generally has a lot of data, which is updated in (almost) real time. There are generally two maintenance tasks that I recommend. The first one is to monitor the traffic to the site and make sure that you have goals set up. Goals should be set up so that you can track conversions. For example, a goal could be the filling out of a contact form. Once someone fills out the form, they are taken to a “thank you page”. You’ll monitor the number of people who fill out the contact form. Other goals can be set up that include viewing your contact page, or even getting to the receipt page or final confirmation page once they buy something on your website. The second task in Google Analytics that you should be doing on a regular basis is adding notes. These are referred to as “annotations” in Google Analytics. In the screenshot above, if you are looking at the traffic to the site (usually in Acquisition / Source/Medium) you can click on “Create new annotation”. You can choose a date and add a note. Typically, I recommend notating any changes to your website, your web server, or even maybe blog posts that had a lot of traffic. You could add a note about certain traffic increases, for example. Later, you can choose those dates and see if the changes made had an effect on the traffic to the site or not. If the note is there it may be helpful later. If It’s not there, then you may not remember what took place on that date.

Monitoring Your Website

Most of the other ways that I recommend that you set up involve monitoring your website. For example, I recommend setting up CodeGuard (https://www.codeguard.com), which will back up your website and notify you of any code changes on your website. This is helpful because you’ll be notified if someone hacks into your site and changes the code. You should be monitoring your brand online. There are a few ways to do that. You should set up Google Alerts (https://www.google.com/alerts) for keywords related to your products, your company name, and any trademarks that you own. For example, I set up both alerts for “Bill Hartzer”, “Hartzer Consulting”, and “Hartzer Consulting, LLC”, to monitor my name and my company name. If any of those keywords are mentioned on the web, Google will email me. Other ways to monitor your brand include the SEMrush.com Brand Monitor tool, which is one of the tools that you get when subscribing to SEMrush.com. SEMrush is a paid tool.

Other Tasks

If your site uses WordPress, then be aware that WordPress Updates are key. You should be updating your WordPress site to the latest version in most cases, and you should try to keep up with plugin updates, as well. Oftentimes WordPress plugins will need to be updated, as there may be a security flaw or the developer might have added features to the plugin. I recommend adding WordFence, a plugin that can help monitor updates, and notify you of any issues on the site. I use WordFence on all of my WordPress sites, and the paid version of WordFence on the critical sites that I care about. Other tasks that are worth mentioning as well include reviewing your current search engine rankings. Google Search Console data, as well as SEMrush.com data,  is helpful. If there are keywords that you’re ranking for but would like to rank better for, you have a few options. You can edit the current page or a post that’s ranking, you can add more content to the page, or optimize it using a tool such as Page Optimizer Pro (https://pageoptimizer.pro) to help decide on page changes. You can also create more internal links to the page on your site, which will help certain pages rank better. If there are more internal links to a page, especially if those links aren’t in the main navigation on the site, a page can get better rankings. Regular maintenance of your website, it’s content, and reviewing your search engine rankings is important–sometimes it’s just a few tweaks that you need to rank better and drive more traffic to your website. Setting up the proper monitoring methods, as well as making a regular check of your traffic and Google Search Console data should ensure that you don’t have any surprises that pop up that you need to deal with.

Website Content and Next Steps for New Websites

I recently wrote about the 10 steps required to buy a domain name, creating a website, and ranking in Google (https://nic.icu/marketing/10-steps-to-buying-a-domain-name-creating-a-website-and-ranking-in-google/). It only took a few hours (or less) to buy the domain name, set up web hosting, and get the site up and running. I also detailed how to get the new website indexed in the search engines, mainly Google. So what’s next? What is the next step to ensuring that you have a great new website that continues to evolve and help bring in new visitors? Below, I’ll detail several considerations.

First, it’s necessary to understand that a website is just like a living, breathing thing. It needs regular attention, it needs to grow, and needs regular maintenance. A houseplant needs water, sunlight, and occasionally might need to be sprayed for bugs. A website, similarly, needs fresh content (like water), needs mentions on the web and links (sunlight) and needs to be audited every once in a while. It needs to be reviewed to make sure it wasn’t hacked or has bugs like 404 errors and “not found” pages.

Website Content

In my previous article about setting up the domain name and website, I ended up with a basic 5-page website, which included these basic pages:

  • Home Page
  • About Us Page
  • Privacy Policy Page
  • Contact Us Page
  • Content Page

That’s great, but it’s still a basic website. We need to add more content, more pages on the website if we’re going to attract even more visitors from, let’s say, the search engine results. While a basic website is good for visitors who already know about the website or are navigating to it from another source like from a Facebook page or even a Google My Business listing (https://www.google.com/business/), you’ll need more pages. People search using a search engine to find information. If you have information on your site that they’re looking for, then there’s a better chance that you’ll be found for that information.

So what do you write about? What should you create? What information should you add on your website? There are several ways to figure this out. Here are a few:

Review Competitors’ Websites

Look at your competitor’s websites. Which sites are coming up in the search results for your main keywords that you want to be found for? Take a look at the pages that they have for ideas. Search for: “site:competitor.com” where “competitor.com” is your competitor’s domain name. That search will show you the pages they have on their website. You can look at the titles on the pages (the part that shows above the URL in the search results) to get some ideas. If they’ve optimized their page, then their main keyword will be there in the title of each page. You can spot come keywords and start from there with some ideas for pages you need to add to your website.

Keyword Research

Keyword research is important because it can help you identify what people are searching for and how many people search for those keywords every month. Keyword research tools give you the search volume, telling you how popular those keywords are. You’ll want to create pages on your site that talk about those keywords that are more popular than others.

Try using some keyword research tools. The one I like the best is SEMrush.com, which has a lot of really good keyword research tools and even tools to ensure your website is working correctly. This is a paid tool, but definitely worth the monthly cost if you’re serious about your website. Other keyword research tools include Google’s own Keyword Planner, which requires a Google Account, as well as Spyfu.com, and KeywordTool.io.

An example of keyword research from the SEMrush.com tool is below:

I used SEMrush to look for keywords related to a “DIY crafts” website that I was creating, for example. As you can see, there are keywords that would help me create sections, topics, or even pages on the site. For example, based on this keyword research, I’d want to create pages for:

  • DIY crafts for kids
  • Easy DIY Crafts
  • DIY Christmas gifts
  • DIY Easter crafts
  • DIY Halloween crafts

There are literally hundreds of other keywords and topic ideas right there for additional content and pages for the site. These additional pages can bring in a lot more traffic to your website, and give you something to work on: it would take me months to create pages for all the topic ideas I can get from SEMrush.

Other ways to get ideas for content are the related keywords and questions that Google will show us in the search results. For example, let’s look for DIY crafts in Google:

That’s a list at the bottom of the search results page that shows additional keywords. You can easily see DIY crafts for home décor, with paper, tutorials, crafts to sell, and crafts for kids and girls. As you do additional searches or click on those keywords, there are even more keyword suggestions at the bottom of each of those search results pages.

Regular Website Maintenance

Regular website maintenance, just like maintaining a car, is a must. There are several areas that need regular attention, for example. Some of these are more difficult to perform than others. And some require a specialist. As your website grows, there’s going to be more maintenance required unless you keep up with it on an ongoing basis. Here are the tasks I recommend performing on a regular basis:

Website Traffic Review

You most likely set up Google Analytics on your website to track the visitors. Make sure that you have some conversion set up there, so you can track, for example, how many people are filling out the contact form on your website. If you don’t have a contact form, you might want to track visitors who spend at least 1 minute on the website (or longer). Generally, your website traffic should be going up over time. If there’s a dramatic drop-off at any point, that can indicate that there is a potential problem. You’d need a specialist like an SEO consultant to help.

Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools

The Google and Bing search engines both provide free tools for monitoring your website. They give you a lot of good information and will alert you to errors. If there are issues, you can spot them and fix them. For example, if there are errors on your site, the “crawl errors” section in Google’s Search Console will tell you which pages are affected so you can fix them.

Links

Websites link from one website to another, which is natural. Websites gain popularity and will rank better in the search results if they have more links. So, if you get more links from other websites, especially on-topic links, you’ll get better search engine rankings. All websites should have quality links rather “low quality” spam type links. If you have heard of the website or it is a trusted website than you’ll want a link. Otherwise, if it’s a website that doesn’t have any links itself or if it’s not on the same topic as your website, there’s less of a chance that it will be a helpful link or a quality link for your website.

Websites like Majestic.com can help you determine which links to your website are good, which are not so good. They have a metric called “Trust Flow” what tells you how trusted a website is—the higher the number the better. They’ll also tell you all of the links pointing to you from other websites so you can keep track. Google and Bing, in their Search Console and Webmaster Tools sections, will tell you the links they know about, as well. Regular maintenance of your website includes reviewing the links to your site on a regular basis.

Once you’ve created your site and it’s up and running, regular maintenance, such as reviewing the issues, the website traffic, and the links to your site are a must. Adding content and appealing to even more website visitors can also bring in more traffic and sales. This is just a start—I’ve generally just given an overview of each of the website maintenance tasks. In a future post, I’ll go into some more detail about each one.

10 Steps to Buying a Domain Name, Creating a Website, and Ranking in Google

The following post was authored by SEO Consultant and Expert Bill Hartzer for .icu. 

Have you wondered what exactly it takes to get a new website up and running on the internet? It’s not only a domain name that you need–you need a website, which requires web hosting. So, essentially there are 3 main components that make up a website: the domain name, the website itself (which consists of website files), and the web hosting (where you put those website files). Once you have all 3, that makes up an internet website that you and I can visit through a web browser. Even though I have literally bought hundreds (thousands?) of domain names since my first domain name purchase in 1996, I thought about that process recently. What comes naturally to me because I’ve done it so many times, may not come naturally to everyone, such as you– who are reading this article. I have that process down so that it’s very efficient. I thought I’d share my process for buying, setting up website hosting, adding content, and getting the website to get indexed in the search engines. Here’s the process for setting up a website.

 

Finding and Buying a Domain Name

The first part of this whole process of setting up a website requires that you buy (register) a domain name. While you can set up a website without a domain name, the address (called the URL) won’t be customized to you or your business. You won’t have as much “control” over that domain name to do other things with the domain name, such as set up your own email address. There are a lot of other benefits to owning your domain name besides setting you your own email address. But, in all honesty, you won’t be as easy to “rank” in the search engine results without having your own domain name and your own website hosting for your website.

 

For a project that I am working on–a new service that provides recovery from “negative SEO” (where someone else tries to hurt your website’s search engine rankings), I chose to use the word “negativeseo” in my domain name. Using this exact keyword phrase that describes my new service tells visitors exactly what the website is about. While doing research to find the right domain name, I also chose to use a brand new domain name TLD (Top Level Domain). A Top Level Domain name is the “ending”, the “right of the dot” so to speak. You’re probably already used to hearing about .COM, .NET, and .ORG. However, about 5 years ago, ICANN, the organization that governs domain names, decided to let over 1,000 new TLDs be created by Registries. A registry is the “wholesale” company behind the ending. They make agreements with Registrars, who sell the domain names directly to the consumer. In this case, I chose to use a brand new TLD, which is the .ICU TLD. In this case, I thought it was totally appropriate and “crafty” to use NegativeSEO.ICU for my new “negative SEO recovery” service. I’m used to the letters ICU meaning “Intensive Care Unit”, which is located at a hospital. While this is one unique way to use the .ICU TLD for your domain name, it can also mean ICU as in “I SEE You”.

 

Once I had a domain name picked out, I went to a registrar of my choice–which was NameCheap.com. The price for the domain name was $.98 cents for the first year. Every year you must then renew the domain name, but the first year is about $1.00, which is a great deal. Once the domain name was registered, I needed to set up website hosting for the domain name.

 

Setting Up Website Hosting

Once you purchase a domain name or “register” a domain name, website hosting is required for the domain name if you’re planning on putting up a website. You don’t have to put up a website–but you can’t customize what appears on that domain name if you don’t have website hosting set up and a website set up. Website hosting requires a different fee (usually a monthly fee) than the annual fee to register your domain name.

 

There are so many choices that you have when it comes to website hosting. You can get hosting when you register your domain name. Or, you can do what I do, which is have your own web server that allows you to add several domain names (all with websites) on that same web server. If you are just setting up one website on one domain name, I do recommend using a separate web host such as HostDime.com, HostGator.com, or something like WPEngine.com, which is dedicated to hosting WordPress websites. In this case, I already have a web server at HostDime.com, so all I needed to do was log into my account and add the domain name on the web server. Once added, it allowed me to start configuring the website and add content (add web pages) to the website.

 

Configuring The Website and Adding Content

Once website hosting is set up, you’ll either need to configure your website–or use the built-in website setup tools provided by your website hosting company. Those who are more technical may want to have more control over how the website is set up, you’ll want your own web server. Otherwise, one of the most common CMS (content management systems) to manage your website content and web pages is WordPress. In a few clicks I was able to set up and configure the website–and then install WordPress for the website. Once it’s all set up, I needed to add content, add pages to the website. A basic website should have at least several pages:

 

– Home Page

– About Us Page

– Privacy Policy Page

– Contact Us Page

– Content Page (at least one content page, typically more)

 

For my basic website, at www.negativeseo.icu, I ended up with 7 web pages total, once I added a few services pages. I used a service called SEMrush.com that allows you to find out the common keywords that people to use when they use a search engine. This is called keyword research, and it allows you to put in a topic and see the keywords that are commonly associated or related to those keywords.  You can see how popular those keywords are, as well, so you can choose to create web pages around the more popular keywords. In my case, for “negative SEO”, I chose a few other keyword pages:

 

Negative SEO services

Negative SEO case study

Negative SEO tactics

 

Choosing these keywords and adding content to these pages were the first part of the overall Search Engine Optimization (SEO) process. SEO is the process of massaging, writing, and optimizing your website so that it shows up well in the search engine results.

 

Search Engine Optimization and Search Engine Rankings

Once I chose a few keywords and pages that I wanted to “rank for” or show up for in the search engine results, I needed to create text for those web pages, and optimize those web pages. Or at least start to optimize those web pages. My overall goal was to see how quickly I could buy a new domain name, create a really basic website with not much web design, and make it show up in the search results. I only did a few things–which was to create text on each web page, along with a good title tag that describes the web page. Adding a link from to each page from the website’s home page (in the form of a clickable menu), is also what I did.

 

Typically, when you launch or add a brand new website, SEO takes time for everything to work properly and for your website to show up exactly for the keywords that you want. It can take months or even years for your website to be optimized well enough for it to gain a lot of traffic from the search engines. This typically requires adding lots of good, relevant content on your website, as well as getting linked on other websites. Other websites will help your website “rank” because they add trust. When a trusted website links to your website, the search engines see that, and trust your website more, which give them the confidence to show your website more often in the search results. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of search engine ranking “factors” and combinations of factors. It’s really pretty technical, but the first step is creating content, words on your website, along with images and photos, that’s relevant to the topic of the website.

 

In my case of negativeseo.icu, I wanted to put up the website quickly–and just make it “work”. My goal wasn’t necessarily to “rank” for the keyword phrase “negative SEO” or “negative SEO recovery”. But initially to get it to rank well for the company or service nav, which is “negative SEO recovery pros”. Once the website was up and running, all I literally had to do was add the website to Google’s Search Console, a feature reserved just for website owners to get information about their website. As a part of Google Search Console, you have the opportunity to submit your website. I used their “Fetch and Render” tool, and within 2 minutes I had my website showing up in Google for the service name, “negative SEO recovery pros”. While it took me about an hour from start to finish (including actually writing the content for each page), I was able to get the brand new website, on a brand new domain name, to rank #1 for its brand, it’s service or company name. This is great–years ago I remember this taking days if not weeks to show up in the search engine results pages. Now, if you create a brand new website, and you go through the proper steps, it can show up within minutes, and you can start receiving traffic to it from the search engine results.

 

The Specifics: The Timeline

If you’re more technical, like I am, then you may be interested in the specifics details about how I made this new domain name and website, negativeseo.icu, on a brand new TLD, rank for its brand name so quickly. There are several steps, and I started them at 8:25pm Central Standard Time–and it ranked for its brand name and website name, keywords in the domain name, in about an hour from start to finish. Ranking literally took only a few minutes. The following is the entire timeline, from start to finish.

 

Timeline

 

8:25pm CST – Started buying negativeseo.icu domain name for a new website. Also purchased nseo.icu domain name at NameCheap. Registered the domain names for 2 years.

8:30pm CST – Payment processed, domain names purchased at NameCheap.

8:31pm CST – Updated the name servers on the main domain name to point to the web hosting/web server.

8:34pm CST – Set up the domain name’s web hosting on the WHM (Web Host Manager) on a VPS provided by HostDime.com.

8:39pm CST – Used cPanel’s WordPress Manager to install WordPress on the domain name.

8:41pm CST – Initial WordPress site installed, logged into WordPress site to add/update settings in WordPress:

  • Settings/General – New site name and tagline. Changed web address to http://www.negativeseo.icu
  • Installed WordPress Plugins. Security plugin, Yoast SEO, Forms plugin.
  • Updated Permalinks

9:00pm – Finished adding content to the site. About Us, Contact Us, Privacy Policy, and Home Page content.

9:18pm – Updated some site content and added menus.

9:20pm – Added CloudFlare.com to the site. Updated Name Servers on NameCheap.com website to point to the CloudFlare.com servers.

9:25pm – Updated the WordPress theme to a Genesis theme, sample child theme.

9:29pm – Added Google Analytics to the site. Set up Google Analytics account, added code to the header area of the website.

9:31pm – Added the website to Google Search Console, verified site as the site owner. Google auto-verified the website because I had added Google Analytics on the site. This makes it very easy to verify your site with Google. Previously, it was much more difficult, as you had to do the verification manually–by setting it up and then having the site verify that you’re the site owner.

9:34pm – The site is verified in Google Search Console, but it usually takes a few days before they provide data. This is a brand new site and brand new domain name, so even when there is data there won’t be much available. We have to add links to the website and ask Google to crawl and index it first.

9:35pm – Navigated to the Google Fetch and Render tool to ask Google to start crawling the website and indexing it.  https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/googlebot-fetch

 

9:37pm – Used the Google Fetch and Render tool to ask Google to index the site and crawl it with their mobile crawler and their desktop crawler. Google now has two different crawlers–one for mobile and one for the desktop versions of their index.

9:39pm – Google has now crawled and indexed the website. That’s 2 minutes after I asked Google to crawl and index this brand new website, that was registered about one hour ago. It is ranking for #1 for “negative SEO recovery pros”. This is not a highly searched-for keyword, and most likely no one has ever searched for this keyword phrase. However, it is ranking for its brand name within 2 minutes of requesting that it be crawled and indexed.

What Happened the Next Morning?

Next Morning – Checked the site in Google, and the site has all 7 pages of the site indexed. Still ranking for the site’s brand name. Moved the site from HTTP to HTTPs via CloudFare. Turned on the settings to enable HSTS, forcing the site to always load via HTTPs and not via HTTP. So, if http://www.negativeseo.icu is requested in a web browser or via a search engine crawl, it will load has https://www.negativeseo.icu instead. Once this was in place on CloudFlare, I updated the settings in WordPress (Settings/General) so that the site itself knows that it’s https://www.negativeseo.icu and not http://www.negativeseo.icu.

 

The reason why I had to first get the site crawled and indexed in the HTTP version is this: I wanted to see how fast I can get a brand new domain crawled and indexed in Google. That seems to be within about 2 minutes after requesting that Google crawls it. The only part that slowed it down was the installation of WordPress and the buying of the domain name. Once CloudFlare is added to the website (which gives us benefits such as speeding up the website via website caching and stopping bad traffic from hitting the website), they give us a free SSL certificate, which allows us to have the site on HTTPs. This does take time, though, and in this case, was under 12 hours to get completed. Normally, if you’re not on a time crunch, it’s best to wait until the website is ready for HTTPs before asking Google to crawl it.

 

The next day (next morning), I went back to Google’s Fetch and Render tool and requested that the site be re-crawled again, this time via HTTPs. This required me to do this:

 

– Log into Google Search Console https://search.google.com/search-console

– Add the HTTPs version of the site as a property

– Go to the Google Fetch and Render tool https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/googlebot-fetch

– Select the new HTTPs version of the website

– Do a “Fetch” of the home page

– Request Indexing by clicking the Request Index button.

– In this case, it’s important to request that they crawl the URL and its direct links.

 

Remember to go back to Google Analytics and make sure it knows that the website is HTTPs. I had to do this, since I first set up the website as HTTP and not HTTPs. Normally, you wouldn’t have to do this, as the website will already be set up as HTTPs.

 

It will take some time for Google to realize that the site has been moved to HTTPs from the HTTP version, and I’m not quite sure how long that will take. Generally I’d give it a day or two at most. This is not really a concern, at this point, for a few reasons, though. The site is indexed and when visitors click on the search engine result listing they will be taken (redirected) to the HTTPs version of the website. Usually I recommend that you ask Google to crawl the HTTPs version first and not the HTTP version first. As I mentioned earlier, I did get the HTTP version crawled first since I was under a time crunch to get it done. This won’t have any effect on search engine rankings or traffic to the site at this point, though, as it’s a brand new website anyway.

 

Getting Your New Domain Name Registered and Indexed by the Search Engines

Based on my detailed timeline and the process and procedures I went through to get the new domain name indexed in the search engines, here’s a quick overview of the steps I took. I was able to register a brand new .ICU domain name, put up the website, and get it crawled and indexed in just a few minutes. Minutes later, after requesting that Google crawl the website, they crawled and indexed it.

 

  1. Register the domain name.
  2. Set up web hosting for the domain name.
  3. Change the name servers of the domain name so they point to the new web hosting.
  4. Install WordPress on the web host.
  5. Configure WordPress.
  6. Add content on the website.
  7. Set up Cloudflare.com and HTTPs on the website.
  8. Add Google Analytics on the website.
  9. Verify the website in Google Search Console.
  10. Use the Google Fetch and Render tool to request crawling and indexing.

 

That’s it–those 10 Easy Steps to getting your brand new domain name registered, set up, hosted, and indexed in the Google search engine. Have any question about any of these steps, what they mean, and how they’re implemented? Feel free to get in touch with me.

How To Building Emotional Connections With Customers

customer connection, marketing

Marketing a business today is a constant game of Twister except on a much bigger mat, with more colors options, and dozens of other people playing at the same time. “Put your focus into SEO,” “Customer journeys are critical in empathizing with our base!”, “Blogs. Must. Write. Blogs” “No no, now Facebook ads are the way of the future! Get out of traditional media” “But WAIT- privacy issues are scaring consumers! Maybe we should rethink this!”  

And here we are- our spines turned into some unnamed yoga position, right arm curved underneath our backside, around our ankle and shaking with muscle fatigue, while our left foot must somehow make it around the downward facing dog position currently held by our neighbor and onto a yellow circle, or else we come toppling down.  

“Marketing” has somehow been lost in the myriad of checklist items and must-dos to be seen by our audience. What we need to realize is that marketing at its core has nothing to do with being recognized. As consumers, we see somewhere between 4,000 and 10,000 ads per dayRecognition by no means equals successful customer connection or attention grab. Most of the time we don’t even recognize these ads because we’ve become so inundated that we’ve found ways of shutting them out of our conscious minds.  

So, unless you’re an unconscious-plant-the-seed-and-let-it-grow-Inception-style guru, you need to get back to the basics and focus on building relationships with your base- not simply throwing out content and expecting them to care. As an example, think about customer service. Excellent customers service isn’t driving customer acquisition anymore. Why? Because who doesn’t offer it? It’s no longer a competitive advantage to treat your customers with respect and show them you value their business. It’s the new status-quo. Without it you lose. With it, you only keep your spot in the field.   

Where does that leave us then? What is the new competitive advantage?  

 

Well, it’s pretty simple: emotional connection. This might sound easy but it’s far from it and this is where the authentic and shining star companies make it out of the dark Twister tunnel and into a more sophisticated marketing platform. How can you do this? Lucky for you, we have a few tips on getting started.  

 

1. You must understand the need for emotional connection (no kidding?) 

All too often this idea of “building emotional connectivity” becomes another checklist item for companies because it sounds like the new “it” thing.  However, there are decision-makers across all industries that think emotional connection is a bunch of codswallop and people just want to be aware of their options and make the best choice. While this is incredibly false (and frankly senseless), if you aren’t a believer you might as well turn back now. The first step to building trust is credibility and if you don’t believe in the power of emotional connection, your customers will surely see through it. Authentic desire to build this relationship is a prerequisite to success.  If you recognize the need and have your thinking cap on- full steam ahead, my friend!   

 

2. Embed this philosophy into your organization 

It can be easy to form a surface level connection. We’ve all been there- we met a stranger and had a short discussion about a random topic, perhaps in line for coffee or at the supermarket. Emotional connection, however, is much more challenging and to realize this ambition it must be part of the company culture. Truly connecting with your customer base requires deep insight, customer empathy, and listening to their needs. Without this being an inherent value embedded within your organization, you may find it difficult to build this strong foundation with your customers.  

 

3. To connect is to listen 

When was the last time you interviewed current or potential clients? Have you ever interviewed lost clients to understand why you couldn’t support their needs? We’re not talking about a customer survey that takes 3 minutes. Dig deeper and challenge your organization to more fully understand the behaviors, desires, and thoughts of your clients. This can be as simple as a phone call or as elaborate as a detailed focus group. Either way, interviews are useful insights into learning about your current and future state from the horse’s mouth. After all, you’re trying to meet a need- why not just ask?  

 

4. Everything is an experience 

These days buying ice-cream comes with the frills of an “experience” and a sense of fun and customization. How can you incorporate this into your marketing plan? With constant connectivity, how are you activating and elongating the experience you provide your customers? Are you engaging with them in a personal way? Are you treating each customer as pivotal to the success of the business? Can you find new ways of connecting genuinely with human-focused qualities that remove digital barriers?  

 

 5. Connect with customer motivations 

Harvard Business Review article from November 2015 sums up 10 important emotional motivators that affect customers. While this list is not exhaustive, it gives you an idea of how to begin segmenting your customers based on motivations versus demographics. How could you see your marketing ROI improve if you implemented this more emotionally-driven and human-centered approach into your campaigns?  

This is directly from their website:

I am inspired by a desire to: Brands can leverage this motivator by helping customers:
Stand out from the crowd Project a unique social identity; be seen as special
Have confidence in the future Perceive the future as better than the past; have a positive mental picture of what’s to come
Enjoy a sense of well-being Feel that life measures up to expectations and that balance has been achieved; seek a stress-free state without conflicts or threats
Feel a sense of freedom Act independently, without obligations or restrictions
Feel a sense of thrill Experience visceral, overwhelming pleasure and excitement; participate in exciting, fun events
Feel a sense of belonging Have an affiliation with people they relate to or aspire to be like; feel part of a group
Protect the environment Sustain the belief that the environment is sacred; take action to improve their surroundings
Be the person I want to be Fulfill a desire for ongoing self-improvement; live up to their ideal self-image
Feel secure Believe that what they have today will be there tomorrow; pursue goals and dreams without worry
Succeed in life Feel that they lead meaningful lives; find worth that goes beyond financial or socioeconomic measures
SOURCE SCOTT MAGIDS, ALAN ZORFAS, AND DANIEL LEEMON
FROM “THE NEW SCIENCE OF CUSTOMER EMOTIONS,” NOVEMBER 2015

 

 

These 5 steps should set you on a path towards building much stronger emotional connections with your clientele, but you can’t stop here. You must continue to demonstrate genuine desire to build, bond, and bind with your customers in new, fresh ways.  

 

Still don’t believe me? Here are 4 companies that used SuperBowl ads to create an emotional connection. The proof is the Youtube-views pudding.