Owning or managing a small business website requires (unfortunately) that you know way too many terms, phrases, and acronyms. Here are five that every small business owner needs to know.
Anytime you come across any words, acronyms, or phrases that are unfamiliar with, you can easily find their meaning by doing a Google search or going to http://wikipedia.com. Here are a handful you’ll definitely want to understand.
Oh boy. This one is hard because people have preconceived notions of what a blog is. All you need to know is that a small business blog allows you to easily create posts (special tips or company news) related to your business that can help attract prospects and be of interest to customers. The two biggest benefits of a blog as a marketing tool are that it provides great content so you’ll more easily be found in the search engines and it can be automatically sent to customers and prospects that are on your email list.
CSS stands for cascading style sheets. It is a way to build a web page where all of the information regarding your font colors, styles, etc. are located in a single file. There are a few reasons why CSS are essential. First, they make it so less code running under the hood of your website. Therefore, your web pages will load faster (less waiting as the visitor). Second, because there is not as much code for the search engines to read, there is less gobblygook to get in the way of Google reading your page so it will show up more prominently in the search engines. As for design, CSS are very important because your web person can make one change, in one file (for instance a font size or color), and that change will be reflected throughout your entire website (you don’t need to make changes page by page).
DNS stands for domain name system (also known as domain name server or domain name service). If your domain name happens to have been purchased at one place (like GoDaddy) and your website is hosted someplace else (like BlueHost), you have to tell GoDaddy where your website is being hosted for it to come up when someone wants to visit your website. It’s a lot like call forwarding on your phone. To do this, you’ll change your DNS settings at GoDaddy. You (or your web person) would go into the GoDaddy control panel and add some info provided by your web host (for instance NS1.BLUEHOST.COM and NS2.BLUEHOST.COM) in a place called DNS Settings. It’s surprisingly simple if you have to do it yourself.
This is the most popular traditional desktop HTML/CSS website editing software. Unless you want to become a web designer, don’t ever get started with it (the learning curve is brutal). Instead of using software like Dreamweaver (or Microsoft Expressions), we recommend you use WordPress as your website editing platform.
This is the process of actually selling goods on your website. If you want to sell stuff on your website, first you need a great website (which is why we created Website Blueprint). After your website is up, it’s time to select your best ecommerce solution. Get started with E-Commerce for Dummies. WordPress also has ecommerce plugins that will help you as well.
The process of persuading a website visitor to opt-in (provide you their email address) in a form on your website in exchange for something of value (article, special report, coupon, etc.). Then you can stay in touch with that person by sharing helpful information and company news. In the end, email marketing helps you stay in touch and lightly sell your subscribers on becoming a client or customer.
FTP (file transfer protocol)
Yuk! It took me way too long to get my head around FTPing (I don’t know why, it’s not my kids 7th grade algebra). Here’s the deal. Your website files, folders, and images sit on a server (like BlueHost.com). Sometimes you may want to upload a image to replace another image on your website. An FTP program allows you to drag that photo (file) from your computer to your website (just like it was another folder on your computer). Basically, FTP gives you access to your websites files and folders as they sit on the server. My hope is that you will rarely, if ever, have to mess with an FTP program. It’s not that it’s really that hard, it’s just one more thing you shouldn’t have to mess with.
Google AdSense (not Google AdWords)
Sometimes called affiliate marketing. It’s the decision to put other website’s ads on your website. I can’t imagine any small business website would have enough traffic that it would be a good idea to sell (or make available) space on your website to put other peoples ads. Plus, it looks junky. But I wanted to tell you what it was so you never confuse the phrases Google AdSense and Google AdWords.
Google AdWords, aka PPC (pay-per-click) online advertising
Ever noticed when you do a search in Google that most of the time there are a couple website links and little descriptions at the top and right side of the page with the words Sponsored Links above them? Those are mini-text ads that people have paid to be there. When you click on those ads, the businesses that placed them are charged a fee (often under a dollar and sometimes up to a few dollars). It’s easy to open a Google AdWords account and place ads yourself. But it’s also very easy to pay way too much for the amount of traffic that you’ll get. After you’ve done all your websites SEO, you may decide to look into AdWords down the road. If so, start with the book, AdWords for Dummies.
Google Analytics (Web Stats)
This is a free program from Google that does an amazing job keeping your website statistics. Thanks, Google! You can access your web statistics anytime online and even have them emailed to you in a PDF document every week. Why they don’t charge, I don’t know. (OK, I’ll be quiet, they might hear me.)
The computer language that allows your web pages to be visually appealing, instead of being seen as a bunch of letters and characters. Want to see what your web pages HTML code looks like? Go to View > Source Code in your Internet browser. All of those characters, brackets, and text somehow tell a web browser how to visually display that web page for you (no followup questions). There are some things a small business owner can add or change in their HTML code that will not break anything. But I’d try to avoid it at all costs. You’ll probably always want your web person to mess with your code (unless you’re geeky and like to live dangerously).
RSS (most commonly, real simple syndication)
A blog can send updates to people that have subscribed to your blog through an RSS reader (even more confused now?). All you need to know is that it is the technology that allows us to automatically get out your blog posts to many different places (RSS readers, via email, to your Facebook page, etc.). Google’s Feedburner program will provide your blog’s feed address.
SEO (search engine optimization)
The process of getting your website to show up in Google and the major search engines. SEO consists primarily of having the right text (keywords) on your web page in some specific areas (page titles, descriptions, body text, links, etc.), submitting your website to the major search engines, and getting other websites to provide links back to your website.
In order for people to view your website, your files and folders need to be online. A server/host is essentially a powerful computer that allows you to store your websites files and folders so they can be seen by others in their Internet browsers. Every website needs a host. It costs less than $10 a month for most small business owners with basic needs. BlueHost.com is the web host we recommend.
These are the two most popular blogging services. Though Blogger (which is owned by Google) is more simple to use (and I am all about simple), WordPress is what you’ll be using for reasons that far outweigh any extra learning curve you may have. Primarily because it’s not just a blogging platform, it’s a complete website solution that can grow with your business.
If in the future, when you hear words, acronyms, and phrases that are unfamiliar, use wikipedia.com or a Google search to find the definitions you’re looking for.