15 Steps to Grow Your Business Online

featuredarticleimage2You started your very own business; congratulations! Now that you’re a business owner, have you ever wondered about the possibilities for advancing your business online? This article will walk you through the essentials necessary to growing your business online.

3 Major Components of a Website

First thing’s first: Does your business have an online presence? Having a website allows your customers to easily find you by putting information about your business online. If you have merchandise, creating an online store will allow you to sell to them online as well!

  • Secure a domain name: Your domain name is a reflection of your business. Branding is important so create one as relevant to your business as possible.
  • Find a hosting company: A good hosting company is integral to operating your business online. Find a host that can meet your business’ needs and is capable of scaling with the growth of your online presence.
  • Build your website: The look and feel of your website is also important. There are several options available if you are inexperienced with creating a website from scratch. WordPress is a good starter platform to use and also includes free templates that you can customize yourself. If you don’t want to build it yourself, there are numerous options available to you online.
    • One is to have a web-design professional custom craft a website exactly as you want it. Feel free to check out our webdesign options here.

5 Important Considerations:

You will need to increase visibility in order to use your new website as an asset to drive traffic to your business.

  • Responsive: Is your website optimized to be viewed on any screen? With the rise of mobile search traffic, Google has included mobile-friendliness as a criteria for ranking websites viewed on mobile browsers, making it very important to have a version of your website be responsive on a mobile device.
  • SEO: Search engine optimization (SEO)  is making the content on your website refined so that search engines like Google can find you easily to show a potential customer’s search query. SEO is important to ensure that when people use keywords relevant to the services you offer, that you become one of the top search results.
    • Check out this article for more information about boosting your SEO here.
  • Updates: Once you have your website up, you need to maintain it by providing fresh content for your customers. Keeping things new will have them coming back for more. Find a comfortable cadence that you can maintain and update it to showcase new products, deals, or incentives.
  • User Experience: Have your friends and family go through your website and try to purchase or request services. Are there any hiccups or roadblocks in the process? Have them QA the content for flow and if any questions are going unanswered.Analyzing and making changes to this can help reduce bounce rates and shopping cart abandonments.
  • Competition:  Look to your competitors and check out what their process is like. Pay attention to where their services lack so that you can make improvements onto your page accordingly.

4 Marketing Techniques to Start Today

Now that you have a fully functioning website that has online visibility to your customers, the next step is marketing your business.

  • Target Customers: Make sure that you don’t wait for visitors to just come to you. Actively look for an audience that may be interested in your products and services. Develop an audience and demographic you want to target.  All social media platforms have statistics, as well as Google keyword planner. Do some research on what your customers are looking for using their tools.
  • Network: Make connections with people relevant to your business and industry. A large network can help you expand both your business and your potential customer reach. This will also bolster your company’s brand identity. LinkedIN is a good resource to meet industry professionals.
  • Email Campaigns: Capturing an email is just as important as capturing a sale. Emails can build a refined and targeted list of people that are genuinely interested in your product or service. Emails can be used to send your customers updates on new items they might be interested in, upcoming sales, or even just a thank you coupon code for their next visit. Give your customers an incentive to keep coming back! Use tools like Constant Contact or MailChimp integrations.
  • Advertise: Want more people to know who your business is and what it offers? Find advertising opportunities where people with relevant interest can learn more about your business. Google AdWords is a great place to start.

3 Crucial Customer Support Responsibilities

Finally, you want to ensure your company upholds a high-quality of service to keep your customers satisfied and coming back. This may seem “obvious” but don’t let the obvious fool you. Countless businesses lose sight of customer service as their business grows. Here are the best ways to stay engaged with your customers:

  • “Oh, the Humanity!”: Let your customers know that your business is run by real people that care about them. When your customers love your business, not only will they be returning customers, but they will also recommend you to people they know, enhancing both your brand and customer base.
  • Customer Feedback: Give your customers an opportunity to review your business. Ask for and welcome consumer feedback. This information can be very valuable in figuring out pain points of your customers as well as ways to improve your business and stay competitive. When you make changes to improve their experience, your customers will love you for it!
  • Customer Support: When your business doesn’t offer customer support, your consumers are left in the dark to figure out everything themselves. If they can’t figure it out they may never want to return to your business. Support is essential to the post-consumer journey and can give your customers the confidence to buy your product, knowing that help  is available.

Following this guide will have you well on your way towards a healthy and successful online business!

 

Team Member Profile: Tony Klepper

team_member_profile3Hometown: Oklahoma City, OK
Position: Manager: Training & Quality Assurance
Been with InMotion Hosting since: May 2010

How did you get started in the web hosting field?
Surprisingly,  I didn’t go to school to learn about computers or technology. I actually went to school to be a pastor. I had created a few websites and played around with Linux at home, but nothing  on a professional level. InMotion allowed me my first opportunity in the web hosting field. I started out in Tier 1 Technical Support, and quickly moved to Tier 2-C. There I became the Team Lead, and soon moved to the Training Department. Since being hired at InMotion from 2010, I have learned something new every single day; and I love it! 

What is your current role at InMotion Hosting? What do you like most about it?
I am the Manager of both the Training, and Quality Assurance teams. Basically, I get to help people improve and become better  at their jobs each and every day. My job is the perfect fit for me because it has a  great blend of several things, all of which, I enjoy doing. I get to teach and inspire young minds. I have the opportunity to continually learn new software and techniques in order to teach them to others. Even with all the training activities, I haven’t lost the ability  do some coding. You can find me still jumping  onto the command-line on a server to do some troubleshooting. All that, coupled with being able to lead an awesome team of extremely talented individuals is something that  I couldn’t ask for more.

Coolest gadget you own, want to own or have read about?
Well, until every gadget I was promised from “Back to the Future” is available, I guess I would have to settle for something like Oculus Rift or some kind of augmented reality glasses. Ones that actually work without any bugs!

What would you like to tell us about yourself?
Even though my team loves to remind me how much older I am than them, I still feel like a kid. I have been married for 16 years to an awesome wife, and I have two great boys. I have really had a pretty adventurous life so far. My wife and I have lived in China. We have been to Tanzania, Africa, and Thailand. I have been to Costa Rica, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, and probably some others that I have forgotten. I also have a collection of knives and swords from every country I have ever visited. I love to have fun, and every day is a new adventure.

Describe your personality in one word?
According to my 10 year old: FUNNY

What is Reseller Hosting [ infographic ]

With InMotion Hosting, you’ll never feel like you don’t know something about one of our products. That’s why we believe that before you sign on with the #1 support provider in the web-hosting industry, you should be confident in what you’re buying. Check out our infographic below, and once you’re confident about our Reseller Hosting product,  you can start on your own reseller journey!

What is Reseller Hosting [ infographic]

Now that you know what Reseller Hosting is all about and the 7 steps it takes to succeed as a reseller, start step #1 by signing up with the best Reseller Hosting provider:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Capture

 

6 Ways to Be Productive This Summer

SummerIMAGE

The inevitable slow-down that is often associated with the summer months is upon us. School is out, the heat is in full swing, and summer vacations are on everyone’s mind. The high temperatures of the summer months may leave you with low energy levels at the office as you fantasize about relaxing at the beach, kicking back and sipping on a mai tai, and wanting to be anywhere but the work place. Don’t let the summer daze bog you down! Use this time to be productive both in and out of the office.

Here are some things you can do to stay focused and productive, even when the summer heat has you daydreaming.

1)      Keep Cool: It’s summer time and the heat is sweltering, but it doesn’t mean you have to be! Make sure you are comfortable in your workspace, even if it means cranking up the AC, installing a desk fan, or finding a different location to get your work done. Don’t let the heat cause your productivity to melt with it. Keep hydrated throughout the day, or take a quick break to catch some fresh air and pick up some iced coffee. Have some fun with it too, try out a new juice or refreshing smoothie.

2)      Start with the Hardest Tasks: If the morning is the time of the day you feel the most energy, start it by tackling your hardest tasks. It only gets hotter into the afternoon, but if you’ve got your momentum rolling at the start, it’ll be hard to put a stop to your productivity. Prioritizing the big tasks when you’re the most productive can increase the chances of you finishing your responsibilities for the day. Close any distraction that might get in your way, like Netflix, your cell phone, or your favorite social platform. The ability to multitask is a great skill, but it should contribute to your work productivity and not subtract from it.

3)      Target your Goals: Finding yourself with a lot of free time this summer? Focus on your goals, whether it is life goals or career goals. Figure out what you need to get done in order to reach them. Don’t wait until the busiest time of the year to get cracking. This is a great time to reassess your goals, especially if you feel like they are out of reach. Remake and adjust your goals if you feel that priorities have changed and tailor them to your current needs. Break down your goals if they seem too large for you and make reaching them more feasible.

4)      Summer Campaign: Summertime means summer sales! If you have your own business, consider creating a summer campaign to boost your sales for the summer. Advertise ‘Hot’ deals for a nice sizzling summer theme and plan out a marketing strategy that will help you target and reach out to your audience. Summer campaigning can effectively increase your business revenue so use this time wisely!

5)      Learn Something New: Keep your brain in tip top shape by challenging yourself to learn something new. Some fun tech ideas include learning how to code, putting together your own robot with a raspberry pi, building your own customized computer desktop, or attending a tech conference to learn about new technology that you are interested in. Keeping your brain busy for the summer will help you be more productive. Use what you learn and see how you can become more efficient, save money by doing something yourself, or start something new.

6)      Plan a Vacation: Do you find yourself day dreaming about that boat cruise you didn’t take, or that travel abroad you didn’t have the chance to schedule. PLAN IT! Instead of fantasizing about what ifs and maybes, grab a calendar and plan your next vacation. Having something to look forward to can alleviate the stress of the work environment. If anything, your next vacation should be something you work towards by finishing up all your work before your adventure. Planning ahead of time can also save you a good deal of money with cheaper airfare and hotel deals. Plus, putting in your vacation request now will guarantee you’ll be able to take it versus waiting till the last minute when everyone’s trying to take a vacation at the same time.

 

Team Member Profile: Jake Jacobs


jake jacobsHometown: Toledo, OH
Position: Support Supervisor
Been with InMotion Hosting since: October 2013

How did you get started in the web hosting field?
I had experience in intranets from my accounting and tax practice. After selling the business, I acquired a job with my family as a webmaster. In that position I started using Joomla! in the Mambo days. I also developed and co-authored some components for that Joomla. Eventually it spawned into a business that provided Joomla support and services. Doing the development work gave me exposure to web hosting which I found to be very exciting.

What is your current role at InMotion Hosting? What do you like most about it?
I am the Third Shift Support Supervisor. I love working third shift.  The team is smaller than the other shifts so it feels like a close family.  We tend to communicate more face to face rather than via a messaging system.  We are constantly looking out for and helping each other so we can thrill our customers.

Coolest gadget you own, want to own or have read about?
My Android phone, LG3.  I am lost without it.

What would you like to tell us about yourself?
I love my job at InMotion Hosting. I moved up quickly in the company.  I plan on staying with InMotion until retirement.

Describe your personality in one word?
Mature.

What is SEO and why is it important for your business?

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) refers to the method used to increase a website’s position on search engine results pages (SERPs) on sites such as Google, Yahoo, or Bing. Developing an SEO strategy for your business can help draw consumer traffic to your website as well as grow your sales and revenue. To get you started on your SEO strategy development, here is a little background to understand how search engines, such as Google, use metrics to rank organic search website placements.

The goal of a search engine is to provide unbiased results that deliver information you are looking for as quickly and as accurately as possible. In order to do this, search engines are capable of identifying all relevant information online and ranking them in order of quality and relevance. There are hundreds of factors that are involved when search engines rank websites in an organic search. Amazingly enough, they can analyze billions of pieces of data in as fast as 0.5 seconds! The actions you take to optimize your site will have a direct effect on your SEO ranking. Components such as H1 tags, the words used in your website meta description, content and keyword density, permalinks, and backlinks are some of many things that you can leverage to boost your ranking.

Here is a quick overview of these components and how they relate to the most frequently used search engine, Google:

  • H1 Tags: These are the larger headers you use to title your content. For example, the H1 for this article would be the title, ‘What is SEO and why is it important for your business?’. This article page may surface on the google search results when someone searches for keywords that are present in the H1 tag like ‘SEO’ and ‘business’. Make sure your H1 tags are relevant to the keywords you want to be showing up for.
  • Keyword Density: This is the amount of times that the keyword your audience is searching for appear on your website. Make sure to mention your keywords, not only in your H1 tags, but also in the body of your content. While you want to include your your keywords often, don’t oversaturate your content. Remember, Google will also consider the use of synonymous keywords.
  • Meta Description: This is the description you provide search engines in your <meta> html tags. The meta description you use for your website should also include the keywords you want your target audience to search for.

meta description

  • Permalinks:  This refers to permanent URL links that are specific to your website. It is advantageous to include your keywords in these permalinks in order to be considered for higher ranking on Google. For example, if you have a gardening website and want your consumers to find the keywords “lawn products,” it would be optimal for you to have a page with a permalink such as: http://www.gardening.com/lawn-products.
  • Backlinks: This is when other websites link back to yours by providing their viewership with your website URL. For example, if Forbes mentions your business on their website and includes a link for their readers that leads back to your website, this would be considered a backlink. The more of these you have, the better your opportunities are to be higher ranked in your keywords. However, the source of your backlinks also play a factor in ranking. Google values quality and the bigger the source your backlink come from (ie. Forbes, NY Times, .gov addresses etc.) the better chances you have for being ranked higher in your SERPs. Be advised that buying backlinks from websites is considered ‘black hat SEO’ and is not recommended.

Here is a quick video from Google Search Evangelist, Matt Cutts who speaks briefly about how all of these factors affect your website’s ranking on a keyword search:

SERPs on desktop vs mobile: Is your website mobile friendly?

Search engines are constantly evolving and changing their algorithm in order to keep up with the constantly developing new technology. With the rise of the mobile device, more and more individuals are searching on the go. Google has noticed the increased mobile traffic of its users and has rolled out a new addition to their search ranking metrics. If your website is not mobile friendly (responsive, optimized to be viewed on various mobile screen sizes), Google will rank your website lower on the search rankings. However, this will only affect your mobile search rankings. Search rankings from a non-mobile device such as a desktop computer or laptop will not be affected. This is something to keep in mind if you know your specific target market is more likely to search for your keywords on a mobile device (i.e. your product is a mobile app).

What about paid rankings?

If your business has expendable revenue, achieving that #1 spot on a search engine can be money well spent. The image below identifies the advertisement sections where you can bid for certain keywords and be placed above the organic searches. Remember that google also prioritizes these paid ranking advertisements as seriously as their organic searches. The more relevant your website is to the search keywords, the better positioning you will get and possibly cheaper pay per click pricing. Be advised that certain keywords can be more expensive than others. Make sure to budget appropriately.

Organic_vs_Paid_

Your SEO strategy should be a long term process

Getting placed on the first page of a Google search doesn’t happen overnight. Your SEO strategy needs to be a continuous process. As technology develops, search engines also adapt to these changes by altering their algorithms that define how you website gets ranked. Stay on top of your SEO strategy and make sure that it is up to date.

Your SEO strategy will go a long way for you and your business with the proper maintenance. Not only will you have your current customer base, but you can passively accrue traffic to your website by being present in the top 5 searches for your keywords. Customers will be able to find you and your business easily when looking up relevant information that pertains to your business. A good rule of thumb to keep on top of your SEO strategy is to research the tactics used by your competitors.  Google your own keywords and see who places in the top 5 searches then analyze their websites to see how and why they are  being placed in the top rankings. By working on the components mentioned in this article, you should have a good head start on boosting your rankings.

Team Member Profile: David Bryant


 

Hometown: Royal Oak, Michigan
Position: T3 Systems Architect I
Been with InMotion Hosting since: September 2013

 
 

 

How did you get started in the web hosting field?
I had taken an internship with InMotion’s corporate IT department while I was in school. Applying my Linux background to the job earned me a part time position as a Systems Administrator, and the rest is history.

What is your current role at InMotion Hosting? What do you like most about it?
I am a member of the Tier 3 Systems Architecture department.

Coolest gadget you own, want to own or have read about?
I would love to get my hands on a high end router for my home network, ideally one that I can build myself.

What would you like to tell us about yourself?
I got my start with writing code on an Arduino microcontroller, teaching myself C while following tutorials. This instilled a deep passion for technology, and ultimately led to my love of Linux and hacking. Had I not tinkered with the technology in my home, I would not be where I am today.

Describe your personality in one word?
Mean.

The 8 Minute Promotion

The 8 Minute Promotion

8 minutes is the amount of time it takes for the sunlight from the sun to reach the Earth. On the flip side, 8 minutes is also an important number to us, as that is the amount of time it takes to sign up your domain, and hosting to get your website online.

Soon (and by soon we mean June 21st) the official day of Summer will be upon us. Pagans used to call this day “Midsummer,” and even Shakespeare took the celestial event as a name for one of his plays with “A Midsummer’s Night Dream.” It’s a special time of the year, and we want to celebrate it with you!

We want to know what YOU are doing on your website, your blog, or your online store to promote Summer.summer-special-icon

If you are an InMotion Hosting customer email us with your website, and a short description of how you’re using digital marketing to get more traffic, or get more sales. Pictures or screen shots are a plus!




The winner of the most creative promotion, creative/graphic, or engaging social post will be featured on InMotion Hosting’s July newsletter. It’s a great way to promote your business, and it’s our way of saying thank you to you!

 

How to Get the Most out of Social Media Week 2015

Social Media Week is launching this June 8th to the 12th, and the shores of Santa Monica will be buzzing with hype as the whole week calls on the tech hub of Southern California to present its best and brightest in the field.

InMotion Hosting is only happy when you are. When your website grows, the happier you become and the harder we work to keep you growing and managing that growth. Just over the past 5 years, we’ve been proponents of social media. You should already know the importance of social media and how useful these platforms can be for you! Check out these resources to get familiar if you need a refresher:

We created ‘QuickTagger

How to use Twitter to Drive Traffic to your Website

Social Media Plugins for your Website

Using Social Media to Bring Traffic to your Site

Adding Social Media Buttons to your Website

And now it’s time to get back into the rink and find out the tech, trends and fresh ideas of social media. InMotion Hosting will be at Social Media Week 2015 because that’s where new innovations will be talked about – and where the trends of the industry by the industry leaders will be dictated.

We will be gathering data and intelligence and we’re not looking to keep it for ourselves.

If you want to get the most out of the week, follow us  sign up here and we’ll send you a comprehensive list of our notes from the event as well as any offers we hear of, and new tech that’s coming to market

Send me Social Media Week notes:

About Social Media Week
Social Media Week is a leading news platform and worldwide conference that curates and shares the best ideas, innovations and insights into how social media and technology are changing business, society and culture around the world.
Human connectivity is being reimagined and SMW seeks to understand how humanity and technology will come together to change the ways we live, work and create.

WordCamp Miami: Connections Old & New

wcmia-header

So I just got back from WordCamp Miami, held the past weekend at Florida International University. It was one of the best, most well organized WordCamps I’ve ever attended. Kudos, to a new friend David Bisset for organizing such a good event.

We arrived in town on Thursday. Unfortunately, layovers pushed my flight back enough that I missed the South Florida Meetup social event. I was more than disappointed that I couldn’t make it. If it was anything like the actual WordCamp, I’m sure it was amazing.

Friday night at the speaker/sponsor dinner which was held at BJ’s Brewhouse, we caught up with some old friends like Nikhil. At 15, he’s really a bright up and coming star in the WordPress community. You should watch for big things from this kid.

We also met up with Syed from WPBeginner. While he’s been a friend of InMotion for some time, I’ve never met him until now. He’s a super nice guy. We also caught up with Rami from WebDev Studios. I got introduced to him at WordCamp Lancaster. I was surprised he remembered my name to be honest. It was impressive and speaks to the type of guy he is. I caught up with a dear friend, Michele Butcher. If you haven’t heard, she’s one of our WordPress Evangelists for events like WordCamps.

We called it a night after I grabbed my swag for speaking. As usual, WordCamp Miami didn’t disappoint with a computer tote, a watch (yes! a watch), some snacks, and the coolest deck of playing cards. The playing cards all had WordPress functions on them with an example. Someone spent some time planning those out!

Saturday Morning arrived early. I have to admit South Florida is beautiful in the morning (at least before it becomes sweltering hot and sauna-like). We headed over to the campus and got set up. Mike, Jason, and I spent the day talking to some really great people at our booth. We had some of the coolest swag too. Where else can you get a USB hub and post-it holder? Of course, from us!

Lunch was chicken and ribs with all the sides. It was pretty tasty. The most impressive feat was they fed all the attendees (somewhere around 800) without too many hiccups. I know from years of catering, feeding 800 people is no small task.

Off to the afterparty at Dave and Busters. We didn’t stay long, and after some great conversation and a few games of pool we called it a night. After all, my team mates were flying out in the morning and I had to still wrap up some preparations for my talk “Growing your Non-Profit with WordPress”. If you want the slides for my talk they’re here.

WordCamp Miami “Growing your Non-Profit with WordPress”

Part of my talk is about Give, a donation plugin. I use it and actually really like it. It’s easy to use and the developers who built it, Matt and Devin are easily accessible. I got to meet both of them on Saturday. I’m glad too. I was able to use them as an example when I speak. Where else could you have access to the developers of a plugin so easily?

After my talk wrapped up, I was quite surprised by the amount of questions I received. I’m hoping I was able to help some of the non-profit community with my 30 minute talk. It’s awesome to know I am a part of the WordPress community which is one of the most close knit groups I’ve ever encountered within techonology.

Oh did I mention, I have my own trading card too! How freaking cool is that?! It’s uber nerd status as quoting my friend Scott.

WCMIA Trading Card

I have to say, thanks to the WordCamp Miami organizers for putting on another amazing event. Thanks to all the new people I met and the old ones I got to catch up with. This won’t be an event I soon forget!