Build Your Own Business Website

And build for business success with Business Website Plus

Today we’d like to provide anyone thinking about launching a business website for the first time some tips by focusing on one of our top web hosting services: our Business Website Plus web hosting package.

We’re going to go through and highlight its features and try to explain why features like these matter to business owners so you can make more informed decisions and ultimately choose the best web hosting service for your business.

business website plus - web hosting serviceWEB HOSTING OVERVIEW

Our Business Website Plus package is designed for small businesses that want an easy and effective way to build, manage, and market their own website. It offers an easy-to-use website builder with advanced business web templates, an easy-to-install WordPress blog, email marketing and social media tools, and a mobile-optimized website.

BUILDING YOUR BUSINESS WEBSITE

When getting started with web hosting, you’ll want to feel confident you’ve got everything you need to get a really professional and effective website launched – with minimal time and stress. So you’ll want to look for features like these offered with Business Website Plus.

  • Website Builder: An easy-to-use website builder like ours can empower you to quickly create a professional-looking website. You shouldn’t need to know an HTML or anything about coding or websites. (If you really don’t want to do it yourself you should look for a web hosting plan that includes professional website design.)
  • Mobile Website Builder: It’s more and more important to have a mobile-friendly website to reach smartphone & tablet users. So you’ll want to make sure you have an easy-to use mobile website builder, too.
  • Website Templates: Templates make site building as easy as possible. Simply select the business-themed template that works best for your business and add your business and product information. Click. Publish.
  • Advanced Web Templates: Having more options is always good. Business Website Plus offers thousands of highly customizable, advanced templates along with the more basic templates.
  • WordPress Blog Installer: Even if you know you won’t start blogging right away, you should be read to do so. Blogging is a great way to promote your business, engage your customers, and get search engine results. WordPress is the #1 blogging software, and having a simple WordPress Installer lets you add a blog to your business website in no time.
  • Photo Gallery Installer: A picture gallery is another feature that can help you showcase your business. Having an installer to seamlessly set this up on your business website is key.

OPTIMIZING & MARKETING YOUR WEBSITE

Getting your business website online is a huge first step. Next is making sure you can optimize it so search engines rank it, effectively marketing to attract visitors, and measuring your success. So, you’ll want to look for web hosting features like these from our Business Website Plus plan.

  • Search Engine Optimization: Search engine optimization (a.k.a. SEO) are the techniques you use to help your web pages rank higher in search engine results. And higher rankings equals more traffic to your business website. Our EasySiteOptimizer too helps you with SEO; select keywords for each webpage, analyze site content and layout, and identify areas that require changes.
  • Directory Listings: While search engines are more important for most businesses, online directories can also help send traffic to your website and your local business. Easily submit your business information to more than 60 online business directories and GPS navigation systems at one time.
  • Email Marketing: Email is still an effective way to market your business and keep your customer base engaged. Our Announcer Pro tool lets Business Website Plus subscribers store 500 contacts, and create and send HTML emails (campaigns and newsletters). You can choose from 300+ easy email templates and get detailed reporting on your email marketing results.
  • Call Tracking: Get valuable insights into your marketing with a unique phone number for marketing campaign measurement; features include call recording, lead capture, call forwarding, voicemail-to-email, virtual receptionist, click-to-call and more.
  • Social Media Marketing: Social media is an important place to engage your customers and reach out to new ones. But it can be a lot of work. Our social media tool helps you manage multiple social media accounts from one simple interface. Post to your Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn networks simultaneously.
  • Website Analytics: Knowledge is power, right? That’s why you’ll want to learn as much as you can about your visitors. Use our website analytics tools to track site visits, duration on page, referrals and more so you can optimize your site.

In addition to these web hosting plan features, you’ll want to make sure you get a domain name (Business Website Plus includes a free domain and supports up to 10 domains), domain email addresses (Business Website Plus includes 200 of them, with 1GB of storage for each address), and enough storage space and bandwidth for your business website (Business Website Plus includes 300GB of storage and 3,000GB per month of bandwidth).

Whether you choose our Business Website Plus or another web hosting service, we hope this information helped you make a decision and we wish you the best of luck with your business online.

Let’s Chat … About Adding Chat to Your Website

If you’re an EarthLink Web Hosting customer, we expect you’ve come to appreciate how your website helps you promote your business, pull in new customers and keep current customers engaged and loyal.

But you might also be missing the kind of one-on-one interaction you can have with your customers when they walk into your store or offices: asking them if they need any help, chatting about their needs, and answering their questions.

Well, there are ways to add back some of that customer interaction on your website. We’ve previously posted about adding PhpBB website discussion forums and adding online photo galleries as ways to add interactivity to your business website.

Add Online Chat to Your Website - EasyLiveChatBut perhaps the best way to incorporate that one-on-one interactivity on your website is to add EasyLiveChat.

As the name suggests, EasyLiveChat is an easy way to chat live with your website visitors, offering real-time support and guidance that can lead to increased customer satisfaction, loyalty, and sales.

How to Add EasyLiveChat to Your Website

  1. Sign into your Web Hosting Control Center at https://control.earthlink.net with your web hosting domain nameusername and password.
  2. From the Build tab, click on the EasyLiveChat icon.
  3. From the new window that opens, click Install EasyLiveChat.
  4. On the next screen, click Configure EasyLiveChat.
  5. Next you should add an agent for your chat service. Click the Add button to get started.
  6. Enter a name and password for your agent. You may also decide to add a maximum number of chats your agent can handle at once and an email address (though these are not mandatory). Click Finished when you’re done.
  7. Click the Setup tab (top right) to choose colors for your Visitor and Agent themes, add a logo, add a Chat subject label, add a Not in service message, allow chat transfers between agents, and decide what questions should be initially asked in all chats (such as requests for name, the customer issue, customer email address; choose Other if you want a custom question).
  8. If you’ve set up a support email address and included a request for customer email address, you can click a checkbox to have a transcript of the chat sent to the customer automatically.
  9. Click on the Agent/Client Code Snippet link to get the source code that should be put into your support pages. Copy the code that appears in the pop-up window and paste it into the HTML of your pages. You can change the text that says Client Login to something else, like Chat with Us or Start Chat if you like.
  10. Click OK to complete setup.
  11. Once setup is complete, agents can click back on the EasyLiveChat icon, and then Agent Login. Enter the username and password you chose in step 6 above to log into the EasyLiveChat service.

We’ll cover the details of how an agent can log in and manage chats with customers visiting your business website in a future post.

Website Security: How to Use Our IP Blocker

ip blocker - website security tool for web hostingOne of the many free tools available to EarthLink Web Hosting customers in their Web Hosting Control Center is our easy-to-use IP Blocker.

The IP Blocker is one of the ways you can keep your website secure and protect your business. Using this tool, you can protect your website from being viewed from particular IP addresses or a range of IPs.

Why would you want to do that? We’ll, you may become aware, by looking at your website visitor logs or, especially, error logs, that there are huge numbers of requests for files that don’t exist.

Many of these “visitors” (likely robots)  may be from countries like China or Russia, even though your products or services are not available in those countries. So these visits to your website are likely made by malicious spammers or hackers trying to find a backdoor to damage your site, hijack your mail program, or harm you in some other way.

So, whenever you are aware of any malicious visitors to your website, you can use the IP Blocker tool to block their access so they can’t return to cause problems for you.

How to Use IP Blocker

  1. Sign in to your EarthLink Web Hosting Control Center at control.earthlink.net with your domain nameusername and password.
  2. Click on the Manage Site tab.
  3. Click on the IP Blocker icon (see screenshot above).
  4. Choose a location (within your /public directory) that you would like to protect. Note: Protecting any website directory blocks access to all its sub-directories as well. So, for example, if you protect your main /public/ directory, your whole website will be protected from being viewed by your list of blocked IP addresses.
  5. Enter an IP address you want to block in the text field and click Add IP. To block multiple IP addresses, click the Add more IPs link, which will expand the text field (enter multiple IPs separated by a space, comma or semi-colon). You can specify either full, individual IP addresses or partial networks. For example, entering 10.10.1 – will block the entire network 10.10.1.x but entering 10.10.1.5 will block only that particular IP address.
  6. Click the Protect Location button and the IP addresses you entered will not be able to access your website.
  7. Use the Manage Protected Locations section to block additional IP addresses or to remove IPs you had previously blocked.

4 Types of Online Marketing … and How We Can Help

EarthLink Web Hosting is designed not only to help businesses easily get a professional website online, but also to help them market their website and their business.

That’s why each of our web hosting and ecommerce hosting plans includes free online marketing tools.

In this post, we’ll highlight four types of online marketing – content marketing, social media marketing, search engine marketing and email marketing – that are important for businesses to master and the EarthLink Web Hosting tools that can help you do just that.

1. Content marketing: Content marketing is a hot term these days, but it’s not always well understood – because it’s a very broad term. Wikipedia gives this definition of content marketing:

Content marketing is any marketing format that involves the creation and sharing of media and publishing content in order to acquire customers.”

The content marketing you are likely most familiar with is a business blog with regular text posts. But content marketing can take many other forms and formats, including videos, photos, PowerPoint presentations, infographics, white papers, case studies, webinars, podcasts and more.

What distinguishes content marketing from the more direct online marketing you do on your business website is that it focuses primarily on communicating with customers/readers/viewers rather than selling to them directly and overtly. Content marketing done well can generate awareness for your business, consideration of your products and services, and increased loyalty from current customers. Sometimes you’ll get direct sales from content marketing, but it’s usually a two-step (or more) process.

Content marketing can also help you with some of your other marketing efforts. Blog content can often be very helpful for your website SEO, part of your overall search engine marketing (SEM) efforts. It can also aid your social media marketing by giving you valuable original content to share with your social network followers. And it can likewise filter into your email marketing by giving you some non-sales content to include in email newsletters.

WordPress blogging software makes it easy to publish your first blog post

How EarthLink Web Hosting helps with content marketing: Our Web Hosting Control Center offers a simple WordPress installer to make it simple to add a WordPress blog to your EarthLink-hosted website. WordPress is the #1 blogging platform in the world. Your blog can then be the bedrock of all your content marketing efforts. See how to install a WordPress blog on your website and how to publish your first blog post using WordPress for help getting started.

2. Social media marketing: Let’s head back to Wikipedia for a quick definition of social media marketing:

“Social media marketing refers to the process of gaining website traffic or attention through social media sites.”

Typically it looks like this: businesses establish a presence on social networks like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+ in order to engage their online audience, build a following, and drive traffic back to their website and/or blog. You’ve bee a part of social media marketing if you’ve Liked a company on Facebook, retweeted a company tweet, or downloaded an online coupon from another social network.

As we noted above with content marketing, success with social media marketing (SMM) can aid in other online marketing efforts. Social network sharing is an effective way to promote your content marketing efforts. Every new blog post, white paper, infographic or other form of content you create should be shared with your social networks. Social media activity can also help you with your search engine marketing’s SEO efforts. Though the major search engines haven’t specified just how much it matters, they’ve all said that social media “signals” factor into the search algorithms that translate into search engine rankings. In other words, if there’s a lot of social network activity around your brand, you’ll be more likely to rank high for relevant terms.

social media integration with SocialStream and EarthLink Web HostingHow EarthLink Web Hosting helps with social media marketing: All of our Web Hosting services include a free tool, found in the Web Hosting Control Center, called SocialStream, that can help you simplify and streamline your social media marketing. SocialStream gives you one easy-to-use dashboard to manage your social networks and lets you post to Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn simultaneously. See our Social Media Made Simple for help getting started.

3. Search engine marketing: There are two main forms of search engine marketing (SEM): PPC, which stands for Pay Per Click and SEO, which stands for Search Engine Optimization.

When you do a Google search, you see results based on both PPC and SEO. Typically at the top of the search results page and along the right side of the page, you see sponsored ads. Businesses have used Google AdWords program to bid on this search engine placement and will pay money to Google for each ad that gets clicked on, which is why it’s called Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising.

All the other search results in the middle of the page are considered “organic” or unpaid results based on Google’s perception of how relevant those results are for the search. That’s where SEO comes in. SEO techniques can make it more likely that Google ranks your site higher in these organic search results.

basic-seo-easy-website-optimizerHow EarthLink Web Hosting helps with search engine marketing: While EarthLink Web Hosting doesn’t directly offer a PPC tool (you have to work with and pay Google or Bing directly), our website builder and other tools that help you build and maintain a quality website ultimately help you with PPC. Because you have to have high-quality website pages to link to from your AdWords and other PPC ads.

We do offer free SEO tools that help you submit your website to 60+ search engines and online directories, and SEO tools that help you optimize your individual website pages for search engines. See our SEO Basics posts to see how to use EasySiteOptimizer for SEO, how to create sitemaps and submit to search engines, and how to do code validation for SEO.

4. Email marketing: Because it’s been around for such a long time, email marketing doesn’t have the buzz associated with the marketing techniques above. But it’s been around such a long time because it works. As we reported in this previous blog post about email marketing:

    • People who buy products marketed through email spend 138% more than people who don’t receive email offers
    • 44% of email recipients made at least one purchase last year based on a marketing email

Email marketing can include customer newsletters, product offers, coupons, or more informational updates. Regardless of what type or types of email marketing you want to do, having an email marketing platform can streamline and simplify your efforts, and help you track your success.

How EarthLink Web Hosting helps with email marketing: All EarthLink Web Hosting plans include free access to our Announcer Pro email marketing tool. With Announcer Pro you can create graphic-rich emails, manage contact lists of email addresses, send email emails to these lists, as well as track and report the results. See this post for help getting started creating and sending your first marketing email with Announcer Pro.

Good luck with all your online marketing efforts. And let us know how you’re doing.