and Website Re-Directs
As you might imagine, how to build and market a website is a HUGE topic and covering it fully is way beyond the scope of this website. But here's how to get started..
If you want a website, you'll need a) a domain name; b) a way to build your site (usually, special software) and c) a web hosting company.
*If you're an affiliate of a company that gives you a long or hard-to-remember domain name, click here to learn how (and why) to set up a domain re-direct.
Like choosing a business name, a domain name that tells people who you are or what you do AND conveys a benefit, if possible, is a wise choice. (e.g. ABCCompany.com is a lot harder to market than AllBreedsCatfood.com) Stick with .com domains; they're seen as more professional and are what Internet-experienced surfers expect.
However, it's tough to find a good domain name that isn't too long, isn't too awkward to spell and isn't too contrived.
Use your company name in your domain if you can (in fact, if you're reading this BEFORE you name your company, let domain name availability help guide your company name choice.) Try not to use hyphens unless you ONLY market online - otherwise, you'll lose sales to people who don't remember to type in the hyphens.
There are a few tools to help you generate domain names; my favorite is Nameboy.com. I typed in "pet" and "food" in the two keyword boxes and got back suggestions like PetsYum.com and PetsCuisine.com. Fun, free tool. Search for "domain name generator" to find other tools.
It's very convenient, by the way, to buy your domain name and your web hosting from the same company, so I wouldn't buy your name just yet... keep reading.
This is the biggie. What's right for you depends on whether you have more time, money, or energy... in other words, how much you want to do yourself and how much you want to pay others to do FOR you. A factor in making that decision is how big you want your site to be; a site like this one (large, growing) is more complicated to build than a 3-page "brochure type" site.
A word of advice: there's more to an effective website than the mere mechanics of how it's built. Anyone with a hammer and saw can build a house (okay, I'm exaggerating a bit...) but it takes training and experience to build a house that's sturdy, keeps out the rain and is comfortable to live in. You get the idea.
Here are some of the website building options I recommend, based on my own experience (building my own sites since 1999):
Website Building Option For Do-It-Yourselfers
SiteBuildIt is an all-in-one website building and hosting package that's more expensive (several hundred dollars) BUT includes every useful tool you're likely to want as you develop a website. It's also got a wonderful support forum AND an affiliate program. I wouldn't buy this if you only need a tiny site, but if you want to build a serious website WITHOUT a huge learning curve, this is your best choice. It's PROVEN by thousands of entrepreneurs.
If you want someone else to build your site for you:
Furry Friends Web Design:
These folks FOCUS on pet sites and more important, they know what they're doing, website-wise. Remember, it's vitally important to the growth and profitability of your business to build an EFFECTIVE site (one that's easy to navigate, fast-loading, and customer-focused). So don't hire your nephew to build your site, or the cheap "designer" who responded to your Elance.com request - until and unless they have the experience to make you look good on the 'Net. The folks at Furry Friends specialize in graphic design, website re-design, print and decal design, and search engine optimization/site promotion services.
Your website host is the company responsible for making the sure that website pages on your computer are available on the Internet to anyone who chooses to visit your website. Package prices vary widely; you do NOT need to spend $24.95 a month to get your website hosted! You can always upgrade when your site is a) large enough and b) gets enough traffic to warrant a more expensive plan.
I have a list of the web hosting companies I recommend on one of my other websites (I offer website design services in Columbia MO) - they're excellent choices!
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