Domain Registration

Simply put – your domain name is one of the most important pieces of your online presence that you can control.  If you don’t have control, or aren’t sure if you have control or not – please read this section to learn more about your domain, and how it relates to your business ventures online.



Your domain name is like your tags on your car, in that you must pay for the ‘rights’ to use them per year.  You never truly ‘own’ your tags/license plate – as it is the property of the state in which you live.  You can register the tags for multiple years, and the same goes for your domain name.  But don’t go sending a check to the department of licensing for your domain name – as that would be taking this analogy too far!   As a matter of fact, don’t ever send a paper check to a ‘domain registrar’.  If you aren’t on their own website – paying with a secure connection, don’t trust them.  Call the domain registrar directly on the phone if you must – but don’t pay for a domain or domain extension without going to your registrar’s website, or talking to a representative over the phone.


Domain Registrars

In the online world, the procurement of domain names is handled by a ‘registrar’ company, who will help the process of purchasing the rights to any domain name.  They check if a domain is already registered – and if the domain you want is available, will file the proper paperwork to hold the domain in your name for a designated amount of time.

Companies that will handle your domain registration have a variety of services available, many of which we’ll cover in other chapters of this book – but for building your online presence, we really want to focus on simply purchasing the domain name itself.


Domain registration companies:

  • GoDaddy (
  • 1&1 (
  • BlueHost (
  • Namecheap (
  • com (
  • Gandi (


Each provider has different prices – for different periods of time.  There are some that will offer deep discounts to first time purchasers, but will raise pricing when you go to resign/continue registration of your domain the next year.  Average price for a ‘.com’ domain name shouldn’t be above $20/year, so if your registrar is charging more – there could be an obvious reason…


Domain Auctions

Since the dawn of the internet, there have been ‘poachers’ who purchase dirt-cheap domain names, knowing that someday – somewhere, there is a person who will want a domain – and will be willing to spend a little more money to gain the ‘rights’ to use it.  To go back to my ‘vehicle tags’ analogy, it’s like acquiring ‘vanity plates’ – in that there are quite a few people who might want “2FAST4U” – so someone buys up the rights quickly, and places the ‘rights’ to that domain back online for a raised price.  When the domain owner registers the domain initially, they send a message back to the registrar stating that they would like to auction the domain – and for the time being, will put a ‘this domain is being auctioned’ webpage in place.  Anyone who is interested in purchasing the rights to the domain must contact the registrar to organize the transaction.  If you find a domain that has an outrageous price tag – this is most likely the reason, but don’t be discouraged…  just search for something similar that you can use for your business.


Domain Name Ideas / Research

When researching a name to purchase – there aren’t going to be very many ‘.com’ names remaining that are short enough to explain to someone on the phone without some sort of misspelling or intentional (some people call it clever) misspelling.  I don’t agree with intentional misspelling, as it can confuse your potential customer – and if they accidentally spell the name ‘correctly’, they are going to be visiting another website, possibly owned by a direct competitor.  The value of a ‘.com’ is gained in search engine results (instant boost over a ‘.net’ or ‘.biz’ address), in simplicity for your customers – but there is another value that isn’t seen often – in that you don’t need to use your full address all the time!

Local & Geographic Location

When you design your website – make sure to include your address and phone number at the top of each page, and if possible/readable – add it to some of the page headers.

Don’t hesitate letting your website visitors know where you are located, or what town you provide services.  If you look at your competitor’s website – you might find that it’s not as silly as it sounds, and we’re starting to get those details in on many websites.  Make it a part of your tagline, like “Cleveland Ohio’s Best Drywall” or “Hillsboro Oregon’s Finest Coffee” – and you’ll start to see the benefit in search engine results.  It also makes for a nice ‘local-feeling’ website, when you have a sense of pride in your town.

If your company doesn’t want to have a physical address listed online (say you run your business out of your garage or kitchen table) – it’s just as vital (more so, in fact) to have local information showing on your website.  Google will look at your website and compare it to other information found online – and if the information doesn’t add up – you might find yourself falling in search engine results.

For companies with multiple locations, make sure to add separate pages on your website for your top services, so that those pages can be found in search engines.  Title the pages with your city/region that you’d like to be found in – and make sure to add text on the page dedicated to that location.  For example, if your company handles chimney cleaning in Omaha, Nebraska – you could title the page “Omaha Nebraska – Chimney Cleaners”, and place the location in the content of the page – including other references to the location, such as landmarks or distance to/from schools or other points of interest.

Don’t want your business address shown?

Over the years, I’ve found that there are many companies that don’t want their location listed for a much different reason – either they are a ‘food truck’, delivering a product in different locations every day (sometimes several places per day) – or they have run across thieves who target businesses with valuable materials that need to be stored outside.

If you are one of these businesses, it might be a good idea to create a business ‘service area’ that covers all the places that you do business, and make sure the option for “Do not show my business address on my Maps listing” is checked.

Why D.I.Y? (The Dentist Analogy)

If you are thinking about designing your own website, or even having someone from your family design it for you – please take a minute and read this analogy – and truly think about what you are about to do!

Dentist – Option 1:  You think you have the experience, pain-tolerance, and time necessary to handle your own dental work.  The first step – is to try and numb the pain, grab a pair of pliers/drill – and start working.  You can imagine how this option turns out in the long run. You end up having to hire a professional to fix everything you tried to accomplish.

Dentist – Option 2: Hiring someone who really desires to be a dentist, but doesn’t want to take the leap into dental school – as they aren’t really 100% sure they want to be a dentist full-time.  This outcome brings you a solution, but not the best solution for your needs.  The next time you go to request help, they might not be there – especially in the middle of a holiday weekend when a tooth gets chipped and you need it repaired.  Use this option carefully, as some small businesses might not be available next year…  or the year after that.  Catalog any work done on the project including reports, credentials (username/passwords), conversations, timelines, updates, and make sure that you can get that information delivered to the next ‘dentist’.  Kind of like your dental record, this is valuable information that needs to be captured and stored in a safe place.

Dentist – Option 3: Hire a good dentist.  Although this sounds easy, it’s like the web design conundrum – How do you find a good dentist?  Do some research online, read reviews, try them out for a small service – and expand on the findings.  Talk to your friends or business colleagues, and if still have doubts – ask their customers.  Talk to other companies in their portfolio. There shouldn’t be any mystery if you talk to someone who had worked with them before.  If you like the dentist, they are professional, and the price/level of service are both acceptable – you shouldn’t ever have to search again.  The warning signs are also like a dentist – in that you would expect to have a clean presentation, organized tools, punctual schedule, quality services, and a clinical approach to documentation.  Although the price is higher than a DIY project, you will find comfort in dealing with a true professional company…  or dentist.

The purpose of this analogy should be fairly clear – you shouldn’t skimp on the price, as it’s directly tied to the professionalism, experience, and accountability of your provider.  Am I right?

Options for Do-It-Yourself Website Design

Website Option 1: If you have the time and patience to handle the website design yourself, by all means – go for it!  It’s a very good experience – and you could be very glad that you took the initiative to get it done.  If you doubt that you have the skills, patience, or time necessary to handle the project – or are simply too busy to get it finished (or started, for that matter) – reach out to a local web designer, and visit with them about helping for a small fee.  Establish your budget – and work within those limits.

Website Option 2: If you have a small budget, but are concerned about doing the work yourself – you should reach out to someone you trust  (either a local small business, a friend of the family, or another resource) to get it moving for you.  This also goes for small businesses who have a website online, but are disappointed with the service that they have received from a DIY provider.  If you try to get answers from your provider – but they reply with shady answers, or the answers they provide appear to be purposefully vague or overly complicated – it might be time to tell them to ‘dumb it down’ a bit, or you’ll have to look at another provider.

Website Option 3: If your business depends on leads from your website – it’s very wise to think of your website as an investment. If you’ve already started on the road to building your website, with little information from a professional – please, stop and contact someone who can get the job done for you.  When so much is riding on such a small investment – it doesn’t make sense to try and accomplish the website yourself, especially when you can get all the metrics/analytics from the website – as handled by a professional.

Positives & Negatives of Do-It-Yourself

It seems like Do-it-Yourself companies are sprouting up overnight, with new creative names – and attractive ‘template’ based designs to choose from.  These companies advertise the ‘easy way’ to get your idea online – and for the most part, they are right.  You can have a website online in as little as ten minutes for most of the providers listed in this section.

Examples of companies that provide DIY solutions:

  • Wix
  • Squarespace
  • GoDaddy Website Builder
  • Yodle
  • Weebly
  • Yext
  • Vistaprint


The issues with DIY aren’t seen directly – as the presentation by their marketing teams are highly focused on the benefits, and gloss-over the negatives – coating them in candy, so that you see them as a positive.  You don’t need to worry about purchasing a domain name! We’ve got you handled! So, easy! What they don’t mention – is that there are a variety of issues you could run across while using one of these providers, but I’ll go ahead and list some positives and negatives I’ve ran across during the last decade:

  • POSITIVE Ownership – You are in control of your website, and don’t have to worry about what will happen to your data, pictures, writing, and in most cases – you have a (somewhat) easy to navigate portal to edit the website. You don’t have to worry about ownership much – because you are paying someone else to own it for you.  They have to guarantee the website will be available 100% of the time, and you have the right to drop the website completely – and go with a different provider.  For the most part – all you have to do, is worry about the price and length of contract.  They will handle everything else for you!
  • NEGATIVE Ownership – if you use one of the services above, make sure that you own the domain and content that you put on the website before you sign a contract. Future ‘you’ will be glad you asked, as you may develop a great website that is mobile-ready, responsive, full of fantastic content – and the provider will then hit you with a bill that is staggering to say the least.  You grumble and complain, but the fact is – you don’t own the content on the website, so you have to pay the bill – or lose the content completely.  They don’t mess around with this – as they have an army of lawyers that will show you exactly which part of the fine print specifies that they can do what they want.  So, either you lawyer-up – or you submit your payment.  Verify ownership of your content.  A good way to go about owning your own content/website – is to use a service like – or focus on building your Facebook page.  Although you still don’t ‘own’ your Facebook page, and have 100% less control over the visual design of the page – at least you have a network of individuals who can find your information – and a relatively easy interface to work with.  WordPress on the other hand will give you the tools to create a website that can be run by a beginner or advanced user – allowing a multitude of plugins, options, security features and much more.
  • POSITIVE/NEGATIVE Sales Service & Customer Service – the providers above do not specialize in customer service, but you’ll find that the sales staff is very well trained. They hook customers into long contracts, and then exploit those contracts when they want to.  As far as customer service goes, they will point to different locations, send you tutorials, and lead you to ‘self-service’ portals – but the truth is, they just want you to continue paying for your service.  If you stop paying, that means that you aren’t a customer any more – so they care even less.  Additional options/features (contact forms, click-to-call, tracking/analytics) will also cost more than your basic package, which is already insignificant.
  • POSITIVE Analytics – Many small businesses have no access to analytics, so the addition of analytics to your online venture is a tremendous advantage over your competition. Numbers included in even the most basic analytics metrics will include:
    • Website Visitors
    • Where Visitors came From
    • What Page Visitors Landed On
    • If Visitors came from Search Engines (organic), Direct (clicking a link), or Referral (from another source on the internet).  You’ll see more information about these types of links later in the book.


  • NEGATIVE Analytics – each of the options above will provide a fairly easy to use portal where you can see your ‘clicks’, ‘visitors’, ‘leads’, etc. But (and this is a BIG but) – they won’t give you specifics on where the information comes from, or even give you advice on how to capitalize on the values brought by the metrics.  They will provide you with a phone number for ‘tracking purposes’ – but the fact is, they are in full control over the number – and all of the calls associated with the number itself.  If you’re paying per caller, you need to start thinking about where the calls are from.  If you’re paying because they show you have 80 clicks per month, start thinking about where those clicks are coming from as well.  Be suspicious – as you can become dependent on numbers, especially when they are presented by a company who is defending themselves during a ‘contract resigning’ period.
  • POSITIVE Contract – Having a contract doesn’t necessarily mean you’re hooked into a deal, and you should dread paying out for the next 6, 12, or 24 months. The contract itself can be a positive – as you can use it to leverage service for your business, especially in the beginning of the contract.  Get what you want from the provider – and visit with your provider when you need additional services.  If you want more images on the website (or foresee this being a recurring task in the future), make sure that frequent updates are included in the contract.  In some instances, there could be a variety of bonuses when you resign with a provider – including discounted rates, services, and other perks.
  • NEGATIVE Contract – Many of the providers are sustained by resigning contract holders to additional periods of time. If they have 10k contracts on the books, and 50% resign – they’ve made an additional 50% for the next year for no recordable work.  When you negotiate a contract, do not sign unless there is a deliverable on the table – included in the print of the contract.  If they do not meet that deliverable, you need a course of action – but most times, the provider will wait until the last possible moment to send the next contract, stating the urgency involved.  “Resign by Jan 1 to avoid website shutdown”, which you receive one week prior to your website being flushed.  You don’t have any time to come up with a plan, let alone actions to fulfill said plan.  They have you on the ropes, and they know it.  When you do sign a contract (with deliverables) set the expiration date in your calendar, with a couple months left over to contact them and ensure they are delivering on their promises.
  • POSITIVE Overall – You have your own website, and although you might have to put some time aside to get it functioning, you have a lot of control over the message and branding of that website. Each and every bit of information, and the display of that information will have your personal stamp of approval.
  • NEGATIVE Overall – Your website might not be 100% what you want (or need), so you’ll always have to think about the success of the website. If you have any changes or alterations/updates that need to be done – you should do them yourself.  If you have a member of your office that is a little tech-savvy, you might be able to delegate the task – but you are distancing yourself from the reason why you built the website yourself in the first place, which was to either save money – or have more personal input into the design.


So, after all the POSITIVE & NEGATIVE comments that I’ve gathered together – you should ask yourself which option makes the most sense with your desired outcome.


Too many small businesses look for the ‘easy & cheap’ way to get a website online, or any of the Do-it-Yourself options available.

Before moving on to the next chapter – I’d like to provide some simple math to help explain what happens with a DIY website project, from the very small details to the big picture.  When you make the decision to create your own online presence, it’s seen as a commendable effort.  You are saving your company money, and in the long term – you see the benefits of not paying yearly expenses for those services.  Although building your own website will look more attractive on paper, you must realize that your time is worth more while occupied with your regular operations.  If you spend only one hour per day for two weeks on your website, you’ll find that you’ve spent a total of 10 hours online creating, uploading, learning, and frankly – getting highly frustrated.

Creating a website for your own business is more difficult than it sounds!  So, if you charge (guessing here) between $75 and $150 for your time while working on your day-to-day operations, you are spending between $750 and $1500 to build your website.  You can justify these costs as being ‘write-offs’, or expense the time to overhead – or simply don’t record the time at all – but if you were to focus on bringing more income to your business – instead of worry about exactly how your website will appear online (because, you aren’t a web developer), you could have brought in enough money during that time (in billable hours) to be able to pay for a professional to create a much better, more efficient web experience for your potential customers to visit!

Mobile Ready Websites

Does your website struggle with size of text when viewed on a smartphone screen?  If so, you might be interested in what is called ‘responsive design’ for your future website.  Elements on the page will ‘slide’ around, and drop below other elements – instead of shrinking down to microscopic-sized pieces of information.  When the items slide/shuffle around – you’ll notice that the presentation stays the same – but allows your readers to be able to scroll down the page without having to ‘pinch/zoom’ to find the information they need.


Mobile-ready (‘responsive’) features

  • “Click-to-Call” – this allows your website visitors to easily click on a button, which activates the phone software of your device, entering in the phone number and effectively calling your business.  This has become very handy for people in a hurry, or simply don’t want to write down your phone number, then re-enter it again when they close the browser on your phone.  Again, keep it simple – and people will use it!
  • Social links – although this can also be used effectively on desktops, mobile-users have a much better opportunity to quickly click a ‘like’ – since their mobile phones are already connected to their social network apps. Most times, they don’t even need to log in – just a single tap, and you’ve gained another follower/like/poke/slap…     Can’t keep up with all the lingo, but you get the picture. (‘gram…  is that what they call it on Instagram? Like – ‘gram me on Insta?)
  • Swiping/sliding through image galleries – because, it’s fun to use the mobile features built into the device already. If you can make a gallery full screen – you can easily use the touch technology built into the phone to quickly swipe left/right to browse images in your gallery.


If you can use these features effectively, you’re on the way to making your website more effective for mobile users.  Another factor that you should think about when designing a responsive website, is that Google will boost your rankings in mobile search results – IF you have a mobile-ready website.  If you don’t have a mobile-ready website, it doesn’t hurt your chances of showing up higher…  but when you’re looking for any sort of advantage, you should start thinking of smaller opportunities.  They all add up in regards to SEO.

Stop reading, and go visit a successful competitor’s website!

Do they have a clean navigation, with clear and concise options? Check to see how many pages of content they appear to have on the site.  Make a note of (roughly) how many pages they have – and think about how you can integrate similar page to your website.  If your competitor doesn’t have a website – look to neighboring cities/towns, and do the research to ensure that you have enough information showing on your page to inform your website visitors.

Website Trends & Navigation


As with your logo design, you should be very careful to not jump on the ‘trend-wagon’ when designing your website.  Many new websites rely too heavily on parallax scrolling, flashy features, animations, and scrolling images, and not enough attention is paid to the presentation of the important information.  If you have too many ‘interesting’ things happening on the screen, is a visitor able to find the information they need to contact your business?  Are they able to find your service area?   Or do they simply get the feeling that the amount of ‘flash’ (not to be confused with Flash, the online animation code) is distracting enough to be a cover for lack of actual substance?



If your website has too many options in the menu, you can momentarily paralyze your visitor – as they don’t know which direction to go in your navigation/menu.  If you stop and put some thought into your navigation – you can easily direct your website visitors to the information they need to learn about what you provide, in terms of services or quality of products?  Keep things simple – and get the information on the proper pages that will give your visitor a pleasing experience.

Do you NEED a Website?

Your website is the culmination of all your business information, along with details on how you can help your potential customers with your variety of services or products.  If set up correctly, it’s possible that a company website can be a ‘perfect salesperson’ – delivering a curated presentation each time a potential customer visits the website.  You have total control over the information that is presented, from your images, content regarding your specific services – and contact information, so visitors can quickly call you.  The style of elements on the page should match your other branding efforts and marketing materials, and be clear and simple to navigate.



Before you even start on building your website (or having it built for you) – spend some time and establish the goals you want the website to achieve.  If you’re looking to get leads from the website, your website will have a drastically different interface than if your goal was to inform your visitors on your services and abilities.  It’s too easy to start a website without a goal – and end up with a poorly designed ‘face’ of your company online.  To have a clear, concise message delivered to your website visitors – just set your goals before you even think about designing your website.


Examples of Website Goals:

  • Establishing differences between your company and your competition
  • Gathering email addresses for an email newsletter (eNewsletter)
  • Showcasing your portfolio/gallery of work
  • Informing your website visitors of your specific skills
  • Getting website visitors to call your phone
  • Providing a signup form, for updates/scheduled appointments
  • Giving visitors a chance to sign up for a new account/posting content (news/blog)
  • Selling a product using a sales funnel process

There are many other reasons why you’d want to establish a goal for your business – but there is no reason why you would start a website without a goal in mind.  It’s best to write this goal down, and think about this goal during each step in the design process. How will this image help me achieve this goal?  Is there a better way to write this paragraph that will help me achieve this goal?