Goodbye Google+

Online communities come and go.

Recently Google retired Google+, their fourth attempt at social media networking.

Like I’ve posted before, websites still have a place alongside a social media presence.

The best practice is to have a website where (as long as you keep the domain and hosting) you own the location and can direct traffic from your social media presence to your content. While Google does allow you to “Take Out” and download your content and contacts, you now need to find an alternative location for your interaction with that audience.

The users of Google+ have been moving away for a while, where did your Google+ audience move to?

Moving your website, don’t forget to redirect

It is a new year and so perhaps you have created a new website to promote your business or organization online. [If you haven’t and you should or have made a new year’s resolution to improve your online presence, please contact Vista Interactive for help.]

When you are replacing existing content, then it is a good idea to redirect website traffic from that old content to the new location. Links stay around for ages – in people’s contact lists, in their old emails, social media posts, forums and on websites.

We recently had a former client create a new version of their website on a URL. As standard practice, we redirected all traffic from their old website’s URL using a 301 (permanent) redirect. for the whole site. This would ensure that any old links would take website visitors at least to the new site to the right content if the new site had the same structure.

A Google search for the former customer’s main keywords gave their new site in the top two results and their old site in the next two, so the top four results were going to their new site. Of course, the Google results for the old site still had the old descriptions and old links but these were redirecting to the new site. This should be acceptable but the former customer wanted to remove the old descriptions and asked us to remove the old site completely from Google’s index and park the old domain. We did this and so now a search for their main keywords lists only the new site, but they have lost a couple of top search engine results and potential traffic from people who still have the old links.

Keeping your old domains might be a useful strategy. We changed our name and branding in 2004 from BilgiLink to Vista Interactive, but we still use the old domain bilgilink.com for some internal stuff as well as redirecting visitors from this old domain to our current Vista Interactive site.

Why do I need a website? I’m on Social Media

You are busy. You have an active community on a social media network like Facebook and your time is limited. It is easy to Tweet or to post a photo to your Facebook page, but your website has not been updated for so long that you have forgotten how to edit it.

Is it even worth having a website now, when your audience is always on social media? Are websites still relevant?

Some key points to think about before abandoning your website for a social media site:

Durability: Will the social media site stick around?

Remember MySpace? Friendster? Did you ever use Xanga? or Digg? Some of these sites are still around, others are long gone.

See R.I.P. – Top 10 Failed Social Media Sites or The Social Media Graveyard for lists of dead social media sites.

Reachability: Will your audience see your message?

With social media sites, there is a “firehose” of constant messages and so it is easy for your content to get lost in the rapid stream of updates. Even if you are posting at opportune times, you won’t reach everybody you hope to.

Feedback and analytics (available for most social media sites) can give you a good idea of how well your content is doing.

Findability: How easy is it to find your online presence?

Try a Google search for your brand’s online presence. How many of the results point to your content on social media?

Next, try to find your content using the search feature of a social media channel.

A previous post from this blog appears on the first page of Google results for a search of the title of the post (“what does it cost to make a website and get online”).

Search results for the title of a blog post that was shared on social media

This article has been shared on our Facebook page several times (most recently 2 October via Buffer).

And yet, it does not appear in Facebook’s search results:

Search results for the blog article shared on Facebook

Usability: How easy is it to update your website?

Perhaps the reason your website is out of date is that you don’t have an easy method to keep it up to date. We recommend using a Content Management System like WordPress or TYPO3 that is customised for your situation. Talk to us about how we can help simplify your content

How to start a web presence for free and why you shouldn’t

You can start a web presence for zero financial investment. But you probably shouldn’t.

An effective web presence connects you with your audience in many different channels on the web. With your website as the hub of your web presence, your participation on social media creates a connection with people and feeds traffic to your website.

Website/Blog

There are many free hosted blogs such as WordPress and Blogger that give you a good level of control with a range of layout and theme options.

Blogger hosted site
We use Blogger for our technical support blog

These are ideal for informational sites, but they usually have limited features and limit the interactivity.

Website Content

Your website content needs to communicate what your audience wants to know about you or your organization. Your content needs to be relevant and unique because search engines give more authority to unique relevant content and this is what your visitors will be looking for.

We recommend that you don’t build your own website. Many websites are focussed on what the owners want to say, instead of focussing on what their audience wants to know.

A third party to help you create your website with a fresh perspective and provide the professional technical expertise you need. This is especially important when your website needs to provide interaction as well as information.

Content Management Systems

Many content management systems are open source and available for free. We use WordPress or TYPO3 for many of our customers. You will need to spend time customizing these and install extensions/plugins to suit your needs. You may need coding skills.

Website Design

You can get free design templates for content management systems, however these tend to be generic and for a unique look to your website you will need to customize these with your branding. This can be time consuming and requires skills in HTML/CSS/Javascript.

Email

You can register an email account with many webmail service providers (Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo etc.) but piggybacking on another domain is not as professional as having your own.

It is usually easy to set up webmail services to use your own domain name for email.

Domain names

You can get a free domain name from http://www.freedomain.co.nr.

.nr is the Internet country code top-level domain (ccTLD) for Nauru, a tiny island nation in the Pacific. “co.nr” is not an official hierarchy; it is a domain (www.co.nr) owned by a company who offers free subdomain redirection services.

Free, but only for individuals and so it is not as professional as a top level domain (like .com, .org, .info etc.) or other ccTLD that is easily recognized by your audience.

You could get a free subdomain from a provider, but you are reliant on them continuing to provide the service and again it is less professional.

We recommend that you purchase a good domain name that is relevant to your web presence. It will become part of your online branding.

Security Certificates

Securing the communication with your website builds trust not only with your website visitors, but also search engines. You can get free security certificates from Let’s Encrypt, however, these have some limitations.

For higher level security you should purchase a security certificate that meets your needs.

Social Media

You can join most social media sites for free and these allow you to create personal profiles as well as pages that you build about your products/services or website.

Many people get social media wrong or miss opportunities by doing it themselves. We recommend working with an experienced web presence agency so you get the maximum benefits from social media.

Need help?

If you are confident that you can do it yourself and have the time to invest, you can build a web presence for zero or low cost. For a quicker path to success, work with a web presence provider you trust and ask for help where you need it.

Vista Interactive provides a one-stop-shop for your web presence needs. Contact us for help with your project.

What does it cost to make a website and get online?

When you view someone’s website or social media content, you don’t see all of the hard work that goes into delivering that to you.

Creating a strong web presence requires multiple disciplines of expertise working on several layers of technology. A typical modern website is the result of many hours of creative thinking, research, planning, content development, graphic and data design, programming, configuration and administration by highly skilled people. They use many different technology platforms to design, develop and serve content for you to interact with in your web browser on your desktop, tablet or phone.

Because a lot of the work is done behind the scenes, many people underestimate the amount of investment they need for establishing their web presence.

We have created this infographic as a guide to web presence investment based on our years of pricing projects for customers.

WebInvestment title=

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