You’ve decided to buy a domain name to create a personal web site, either to write a blog about your interests; to share news and photographs with your friends and family; or maybe to launch your own home business. How can your maximise the potential of your web site and increase the number of visitors?
Here are some great tips to help you make the most of your personal web presence.
1. Do your research
Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. And it can also save you having to reinvent the wheel. Whatever type of personal web site you are developing, search the Internet to view examples of similar sites. Make a list of what features of those sites are most effective and least effective. You can then concentrate on copying the good bits and avoiding the mistakes.
2. Decide on the goals and objectives for your web site
Before you choose the domain name for your web site it’s worth giving some thought to what you want to achieve through it. Think about the following questions to help work out what sort of domain name would suit your site:
• What is the main topic of your web site?
• What do you hope to achieve with it?
• Who is your intended audience?
• What tone of voice will the site be written in?
• What action do you want visitors to take – do you want to inform them or sell to them etc?
3. Choose a domain name that matches those goals
Pick a name that will grab the interest of your target audience and enable them to instantly understand the aim of your web site.
4. Make sure your domain name is memorable
Try and keep your domain name short – two to three words maximum. Avoid complex or hard to spell words, as people will struggle to type them correctly and remember them. Try to avoid a hyphenated domain name, as it will make the name hard to pass on verbally (e.g. on the telephone).
5. Be flexible about your choice of domain name
However, as there are approximately 120-130 million domain names registered worldwide, it may be useful to have a shortlist of alternatives in case the name you ideally want is already registered.
6. Think about sources of traffic to your web site
The type of traffic you want to attract to your web site will also have a bearing on your choice of domain name, as well as influencing how you decide to publicise the site, and the features and content you include.
Traffic to a personal web site usually comes from three main sources:
• Search engines
• Referral traffic (from other sites)
• Loyal readers
Each of these audiences will benefit from a different approach. The key to building a group of regular readers is to keep the content on the site fresh and update it regularly. Adding features such as a forum, or comments section will enable your audience to interact with you and others who share your interests, which can help keep the impetus going.
You can attract readers from search engines by using keywords. Search engines use keywords within domain names to rank web sites. If you choose a domain name that contains generic keywords (like mobile, music blog, gamer) you could achieve a high ranking. If your web site contains advertising this kind of traffic can be valuable, as visitors who come via search engines are more likely to click on ads than regular readers.
You can also attract readers who follow links from other sites. If your site is a blog you could benefit from links from one of the larger blogs such as Slashdot. This can result in large amounts of traffic and although these visitors are less likely to click on ads if they decide to post links to your site on their own blogs this can help with your search engine optimisation.
7. Marketing your web site through search engines
If you are not able to use keywords in your domain name you can still use search engines to promote your web site to a larger audience. Most of the search engines and directories allow you to register your web site for free. You can also take advantage of free banner advertising on various link exchange networks.
8. Marketing your web site through social networking sites
If you belong to a social networking site such as MySpace or Facebook, or you are a member of a network such as a Yahoo Group, make sure that you post a link to your web site on your page, and post messages every time you update the web site or add a new feature. It’s free advertising that could reach a much larger audience than you think.
9. Making money from your web site
You can make money from your web site by placing adverts on your home page that generate revenue when visitors click on them. Google Adsense adverts are pay per click and can generate decent revenue. You could also sign up for an account with Text Link ads, who will sell small text ads on your site and split the revenue with you 50-50. You can also take advantage of free access to various affiliate networks such as Amazon and LinkShare. You can also make extra revenue by adding a donation button – if your site is giving people genuine value they may well be prepared to give a donation.
10. Keep developing your web site
The key to any successful personal web site is to generate traffic. In order to keep attracting visitors to your site, you must spend time developing it and updating it regularly. Add new content as often as possible, and carry out regular reviews of your layout and design. Keep your eye out for new features you can add to improve usability and if you are monetizing your web site, experiment with different revenue streams.
11. Use your domain name for your emails
In addition to your web site you can use your domain name for your email address. If you have an existing personal email account (e.g. hotmail) you can keep this, but use the domain name to forward your email.
12. Publicise your blog relentlessly!
When you have finished creating your new blog you can launch it to your public. Write an introduction to the blog and submit it to various share web sites such as Digg, Reddit and Now Public. You can also create an account with Technorati and ‘claim’ your blog in order to make it more attractive to search engines. And don’t forget to Tweet about it on Twitter!
It’s important to choose the right domain name. Choose a name that people will remember. After all, the right domain name will increase visibility, inspire trust and attract customers.
Here are some great tips to help you through this process.
1. Choose your domain name quickly
.uk domain names are being registered at a rate of one every 20 seconds and allocated on a first-registered, first-served basis, so a delay in decision making could mean someone else gets there first.
2. Choose a name that suits your business
You should choose your domain name so that it best represents your company’s interests. Bear in mind the brand, what you offer, your unique selling point and the implications of being alphabetically listed.
Think about domain names that solve a problem or names that describe the products or services your company provides e.g. ‘marketing solutions’. Either way, your name will help drive targeted traffic to your web site if you take this approach.
3. Keep it short and memorable
Short memorable brand names are effective, especially if relevant to the personality of a business brand. If you keep the name short and snappy it is also less likely that people will misspell it and more likely that they will remember it and pass it on via word of mouth. For the same reasons it’s a good idea to keep the number of words in a domain name to 2 or 3 at most.
4. Think about keywords and branding
There is some debate about whether it’s better to choose a domain name that contains keywords (that will increase your search engine optimisation) or to focus on a name that is more generic or related to your brand.
If you are particularly interested in attracting customers via search engines it is advisable to choose a name that is a keyword. Choose keywords that are the names of the products or services you will be offering on your web site. You could then use specific keyword software to see how popular your potential domain names are to customers using search engines.
5. Decide which Top Level Domain (TLD) to use
Companies based in the UK usually register a domain name ending in .co.uk, and recent independent research suggests that British Internet users are six times more likely to choose a .uk rather than a .com address when looking for information via an Internet search engine. 72% of respondents also said they would visit a British web site above any other.
There are however a number of other alternatives including .com or other Second Level Domains such as .org.uk (or non-commercial organisations), .me.uk (for individuals), .ltd.uk and .plc.uk (for Ltd and Plc companies) and .com, .info and others for generic usage.
6. Register your domain name in other suffixes
It’s not a bad idea to register several similar domain names. If you have ‘yourname.co.uk’ you could register ‘yourname.org.uk’ so no-one else can come in at a later stage and capitalise on your brand name using another major domain name type. You could also register your full company name and a shorter, easier to remember version.
7. Hyphens: Good or Bad?
If your ideal choice of domain name is not available, you might consider using a hyphenated version. One advantage of using them is that hyphens are said to identify keywords to search engines more clearly. The disadvantages of using hyphens are it makes your domain name harder to remember and more difficult to tell to a customer (e.g. on the telephone).
8. Take account of misspellings
Don’t use words that are difficult to spell, as people are likely to misspell your domain name, which may mean they don’t arrive at your web site. It’s also a good idea to avoid words that are spelt differently in some countries.
However, if you have a company name that is difficult to spell, it is worth registering domain names with common misspellings of it. You can of course point several domain names to your web site.
9. Before you register it, ask other people for their opinion
You might think your domain name is great, but what about other people? Ultimately you will be relying on whether other people find it memorable, understandable and useful in terms of attracting traffic to your web site.
A name that makes perfect sense to you may be too hard to remember or confusing to someone else. The easier the name is to spell, pronounce, remember and type the better. Web users are often impatient and if your site is not easy to find they may quickly give up trying.
10. Check whether your chosen name has already been registered
Use the WHOIS search facility on the Nominet home page www.nominet.org.uk to check the availability of all .uk domain names.
If the domain name is not available in any of the suffixes, you could try and contact the current registrant to see if they would be willing to sell the name to you. If the domain name includes your registered trademark you may consider using the Dispute Resolution Service to try and obtain the domain name.