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Web Presence

crawlingThese are articles about no-cost or low-cost ways to get on the web without heavy investments in time or effort. These are quick and easy ways to get in front of web users. Many of these fall under what is termed social media: websites that allow quick and easy interaction between users. In our terminology, it's the crawl of the crawl-walk-run development path. These are ways to just stake out a toe-hold in the digital landscape. They're the equivalent of old telephone directory ads. They help get you found by people who are looking for you.

Joomla.com

Joomla is one of the "big 3" opensource Content Management Systems (CMS). You could always download it at Joomla.org, but there's a new, free way to try Joomla. You can now go to Joomla.com and build a free website. It's a service offered in conjunction with a commercial hosting service, SiteGround, so of course they make their money by upselling you to their paid plans.

The service is somewhat new (end of January 2015 launch) so there's still some rough edges and a limited number of templates. You can't install your own extensions, much the same as the free Wordpress offering.

See our WebSiteOwnersGuideBook demo site there.

 

Wordpress.com

Wordpress is software that allows you to create either a free or low-cost blog. Wordpress is the 500 pound gorilla in the blogging market. Some sources say that WordPress powers 23% of all websites on the Internet. As of this writing, that's about 74 million and counting. 

Wordpress comes in two flavors, as denoted by the domain names. WordPress.COM is a commercial entity that allows you to create free or low-cost blogs by using their service, similar to Blogger. WordPress.ORG allows you to download the WordPress software and install it on your own web hosting account. Many web hosting companies provide "one-click" install of WordPress, because it is so popular. 

Google Sites

Google Sites is another free service from Google. Google sites allows you to construct a fairly traditional set of web pages that can serve as your website. How is this different from blogger? Blogger is set up for blogging: creating a series of short, timely articles about current topics. Google Sites is for creating a more static site. It's well-suited for setting up pages like About Us, Contact Us, Our Products, etc. If you have a Google account, you can set up a Google site.

Blogger

Blogger is a free blogging website provided by Google. It enables almost anyone to create a blog easily. To their credit, Google uses Blogger for their Official Blog. Your blog will have a web address something like http://myblogname.blogspot.com. The name of the service is Blogger, but the website will have the url blogspot.com. There aren't a whole lot of options in blogger as far as extra functionality or graphical options within Blogger itself, but there are a number of free Blogger templates or themes that you can install in Blogger to give your blog a distinctive look. 

To get started, you need a Google account. It's free and easy to set up. Go to Google.com and click on Sign In. At the bottom of the page you'll see a link to Create an Account. You'll need to supply your first and last name, choose a user name and password. Then enter your birthdate, gender, current email address and mobile phone number and country. You'll also have to solve a captcha: type in the fuzzy words or numbers to prove that you're a real person and not a program. As with most services, you'll also have to check the checkbox that says that you agree to the terms of service. I'm sure you read them as carefully as I.

Twitter

Twitter is sometimes called a micro-blog. The premise of twitter is to post or information from the web or a smartphone app via text message, sometimes called SMS. The limitation on text messages is that the message has to be less than 140 characters, thus twitter posts (called tweets) have that same limitation. How deep a tho ought or detailed a message can be conveyed in a mere 140 characters? Clearly not much. Twitter is good for short, timely posts. A good example woud be a local restaurant that has specials of the day. The restaurant owner could tweet his lunch special each day about ten or eleven o'clock to advertise and get people thinking about coming by.

Pinterest

Pinterest is a site that is a lot like an online scrapbook. It allows users to collect pictures and comment on them. The pinterest user can either post their own pictures or collect and re-post pictures from others on the Internet. These pictures can be organized into collections called boards. The majority of Pinterest users are female. Many of these pinterest boards are centered around such things as home decoration, wedding planning, children, etc. If you have a business that lends itself to photos, you may do well on Pinterest. Such businesses would include bakeries, wedding planners, decorators, artists, photographers, arts and crafts, etc. Pinterest offers special accounts for business, see business.pinterest.com. For the business account, you'll need to create a profile to tell everyone about your business, and probably start with about three boards for various aspects of your business. To make it easier to pin photos to a board, Pinterest makes extensions or plug-ins for all major browsers that will put a 'pin-it' button up in the toolbar of your browser. 

To make Pinterest start working for you, start interacting with other users on the site to help get the word out about your offerings. Pinterest will provide analytic reports for you to show which of your images are being pinned by others, so you can learn what other users like. Hint: give them more. 

Google My Business

This is a free service for local businesses provided by Google. The service has evolved over the years and gone by various names: Google Places, Google+ for Business, etc. The current name is Google My Business. In the past, it worked best for businesses that had only one location, but Google is working on that. When you sign up now, you have your choice of Storefront, Service Area or Brand. Storefront is a traditional brick-and-mortor business with one location. A Service Area is a business that goes to customers, rather than customers coming to it. Think plumber, caterer, pizza delivery, taxi, etc. A Brand is a regional or national product or service available at many locaitons. Examples would be a soft drink, a sports team, a phone carrier.

Facebook

One of the easiest ways to get a web presence is to set up a Facebook page. There are two types of Facebook pages: 

Profiles: These are for individuals. You do NOT want one of these for your business. This is the type of page that gets created when you sign up for Facebook. People become connected with other people's profiles by becoming friends.