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How to Choose a Domain Name


19. July 2009 18:29

Before you can launch a website on the World Wide Web, you need a domain name so that visitors can locate your website by typing in your web address, e.g. www.odysseyagency.com

Decide on a Name

In an ideal world you will be able to purchase the perfect domain name for your business, such as www.businessname.com or www.productname.com , but in reality a lot of the most popular domain names will have been taken already, hopefully not by your competitors!

If you are unlucky and your perfect domain has already been taken and is not up for sale, you will have to find the next best domain.  Fortunately many websites that sell domain names have a feature to help you choose variations of a name that aren't already registered.

Don't forget that as well as .com and .co.uk, there are other so called top level domain (TLD) extensions such as .net, .org, .info, .biz, etc so it might be worth considering one of those.

Protect Your Brand

Domain names can be purchased fairly cheaply and lots of businesses typically own more than one domain as this can help protect their brand on the internet.  For example you may choose to purchase hyphenated versions of your domain name e.g www.odyssey-agency.com and country-specific domain names if your are trading in a specific country e.g. www.odysseyagency.co.uk 

Having several domain names can also be an advantage if visitors are typing in your domain name from memory and add a hyphen or type the wrong domain extension (.com rather than .co.uk) because they will still end up at your website.  You may even consider buying domain names that are common misspellings of your website.

Country-specific domain names will also normally get preferential search rankings from localised search engines such as Google UK.

Choosing Your Domain Name

Choose your domain name wisely as it can be costly and time-consuming to change it later on.  Here are a few points to consider when choosing the domain name for your business:

  • Think about the goals of your business, will you still be selling the same product in 5 years? An example would be Carphone Warehouse, does anyone still own a car phone? Luckily this doesn't seem to have affected their business.
  • If possible try to include keywords in your domain that relate to your business. A good example of this is B&Q's domain name www.diy.com.
  • Try to keep the domain name short and easy to remember.
  • Try to buy a domain that represents your brand.
  • Does the domain name you have in mind appeal to your clients/customers?
  • Purchase domains names of your trademarked products, even if these wont be your main business URL.
  • Does the name you want have a different meaning in a different country or culture? This is especially important if your business is international.
  • Was the domain name previously registered? If so was it owned by a spammer and banned from search engines?
  • Is the domain name you have in mind available as a .com and .co.uk and a .net etc?
  • Avoid buying domain names with too many hyphens as these can look spammy* and be difficult to communicate to others verbally.

Purchase Your Domains

I would recommend that if you register any domain names you like sooner rather than later, as there is a good chance that if you leave it too long they will no longer be available.  I would also advise that you do not type in domains into your web browser just to see if they are taken and instead use a registration tool on one of the many domain name registration sites.

 

* Websites with domain names consisting of lots of keywords separated with hyphens are considered spammy because this was a technique abused by some search engine optimisers (SEOs) to try and help their sites rank better.

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Category: Domain Names

Basic Blogging Tools


29. June 2009 15:08

There aren’t many tools you need to blog.  In fact most blogs will just require a web browser such as Internet Explorer or Firefox and an internet connection because they use a web-based interface for posting to your blog.

There are however lots of tools on the internet that make the process of blogging even easier and you will probably find you will discover your own favourite blogging tools as you continue to develop and write to your blog. 

There are tools such as RSS (Really Simple Syndication) readers to help keep you up-to-date on what the blogosphere is discussing on the subjects that matter to you.  There are social services such as Twitter that allow you to follow and share information with peers, colleagues and “thought leaders” within your industry; there are also online bookmarking services such as Delicious which allow you to bookmark web pages which can be accessed from any computer, anywhere in the world and also shared with people in your network.  Other tools like Microsoft OneNote which is part of the Microsoft Office package allows you to collate snippets of information as you browse the web.

A fairly recent discovery for me was Microsoft’s Live Writer, a free Windows blog editor which works with most blogging platforms and makes blogging as easy as writing a Word document. 

If you spend a lot of time away from a computer and an internet connection, its always handy to carry a paper-based notepad where you can jot down any blog topic ideas and outline or even write full posts.  If you have internet access on your mobile phone, you might find Google Reader Mobile useful to read your news subscriptions on-the-go.

5 Free Blog Tools

  • A paper-based notepad – jot down blog post ideas, post outlines or full blog posts
  • An RSS reader – keep informed of the latest topics of discussion (e.g. Google Reader or Bloglines)
  • Live Writer – a free Windows blog editor
  • A social bookmarking account – gather share and organise interesting web pages (e.g. Delicious)
  • A Twitter account – network and share information with peers and key figures in your industry.  Tweetdeck is a must-have application for all Twitter users.

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Category: Blogs

10 Reasons to Start a Business Blog


26. June 2009 15:08

If you are unsure whether your company should be blogging on your corporate website here are ten reasons why you should consider it.  You might also want to read our overview of blogging to understand what all the fuss is about.

  1. A blog is an inexpensive marketing tool.
  2. They allow you to talk to your customers in an informal way.
  3. A blog is a good way to inform and educate visitors about your products and services.
  4. A blog can make your company seem more approachable.
  5. Having a blog on your business website can help its search engine ranking overall.
  6. A blog can help you generate sales leads.
  7. You can start a two-way conversation with your customers and show that you listen to what your customers have to say.
  8. Your customers comments can help you develop products and services that better match their needs.
  9. A blog lets you communicate your company's expertise within your sector/industry.
  10. Positive comments left on your blog from happy customers act as recommendations for your product or service.

What Exactly is a Blog?


24. June 2009 15:07

The term “Blog” is short for “weblog”, blogs are essentially a type of website which initially became popular through personal online diaries and slowly gained in popularity from 2000 onwards around the time Blogger.com was launched.

Why do people use blogs?

Blogs became popular because they made it possible for non-technical people to publish their thoughts online with ease.  Blogs also opened up a two-way conversation with the blogs audience through the “comments system”.  Blog comments allow readers to voice their opinion by appending messages directly beneath the blog post for all the other readers to read and join in the conversation.

Blogs normally focus on a particular subject and contain text, images and links to other web pages and blogs.  Now-a-days blogs can be categorised in many different ways and written in lots of styles.

There are corporate blogs which are used for either internal communication or external marketing, branding or public relations purposes.  There are personal blogs which are essentially online diaries or commentaries about the lives of ordinary citizens. Then there are lots of blogs which are focused on a particular genre such as gadget blogs, travel blogs, music blogs etc.

The structure of a blog

Blogs are formed of numerous “posts” which are individual entries posted to the blog.  The blog posts are usually arranged in reverse chronological order so the latest post is at the top of the main page.  Each post maybe categorised using a number of “tags”, these tags are essentially categories the author (“blogger”) has created to categorise his or her blog.

A blog website is formed of a main page which features the latest dozen-or-so posts, archive pages which are usually formed of a number of pages containing a months worth of posts.  Tag pages featuring posts categorised with a particular tag, and finally individual post pages, which contain just one blog post each.

This structure allows visitors to easily browse a blog by category (tag), date, or simply read the latest entries.

What is a blog feed?

Another way blogs differ from other forms of website is that they facilitate “syndication” which means visitors can subscribe to a blog feed and read the latest blog posts as they are published without visiting website directly.  This functionality can be found on most blogs where you see the orange RSS symbol, like the one below.  RSS stands for “Really Simple Syndication”.

Subscribe to our blog

Clicking on the orange RSS button will normally take you to your RSS reader of choice, depending on the web browser you use and if you have configured an RSS reader.  Once inside your blog reader you will typically be informed of your subscription to the blog to which you just subscribed. 
Examples of popular blog readers are:

If you are new to blogging and are interested in starting your own blog or joining the conversation in the Blogosphere.  The first step is to begin by signing-up for one of the RSS readers above and subscribing to blogs of interest to get a grasp for how blogging works, how they differ from other forms of media and from one-another, their informal editorial style etc.  This research will give you the confidence and knowledge to begin blogging on your chosen topic.

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Category: Blogs

Side-Effects of Changing the Domain Name of an Existing Website


23. June 2009 15:06

If you already have a website and for whatever reason want to change the domain name of your site doing so may cause some unwanted side-effects that you may not be aware of.  However if the correct techniques are followed these can be minimised.

Here are a few reasons for changing your domain name:

  1. Your domain name no longer reflects your business/products or services.
  2. Your domain name expired and you cannot reacquire it.
  3. Your company has changed names or has been rebranded.
  4. You have since purchased a “better” domain name.
  5. You want to have a “.com” rather than a “.co.uk” domain etc.

Here are some of the unwanted side-effects caused by changing your domain name:

  1. Search engines will not update their index of your website straight away, so you will loose visitors for up to 6 weeks (approximately) unless you redirect each page to its new location.
  2. You will loose Google Page Rank (Your ranking in Google) temporarily until Google re-indexes your new domain name.
  3. You may even loose your Google Page Rank altogether if you do not put redirects from your old domain name to your new domain.  These redirects need to be the “301 Permanently moved” variety.
  4. Your domain name will need updating in online directories, business stationary, other websites, which can be a time consuming and potentially expensive process.

If you are one of our clients, you’ll be happy to know we will always make sure that we follow the correct procedures to make the process of changing domain names as smooth and painless as possible.