WHO "Owns" YOUR Domain Name?
Better check in the whois database to find out if your domain name is registered to YOUR company - or to your 'webmaster'. You'd be surprised how many new clients have their domain names registered with the ADMIN contact of their domain name listed as their webmaster; that's like if you had an employee purchase a company vehicle with your money - and he put the title the asset in his own name. It's usually easy to convince rogue webmasters to transfer YOUR domain name back to you - but the process is like pulling teeth.
Nobody "owns" domain names; they're leased by the year. You register your domain name through a registrar like GoDaddy with ICANN (which charges about 25 cents per year to maintain their database). I recommend having your domain name expiring at least 5 years ahead of today; this will increase your search engine ranks and web presence as a permanent fixture - as opposed to a temporary fly-by-night operation.
There are many ways to create a "free" website. Yahoo had a deal a few years ago for a "free" domain name and "free" webhosting... the following year they blackmailed their "free" clients to pay $35/year for their "free" domain names (only worth $10/year) - or else you lose your first year's worth of hard work popularizing your website. This practice is typical of free websites.
A more acceptable "free" option is using blogging websites like Google Blogger or Wordpress to create a free blog. The problem is that if you do not spend the $80/year on hosting & your domain name REGISTERED TO YOU = you will end up working on marketing a domain name like mywebsite.wordpress.com that you don't actually own - and you popularize THEIR domain name with your efforts to market yourself. You also associate yourself with other "free" websites on the same server. Using one-size-fits-all blogging software also means your website code will be 90% identical to any competition using the same platform. Custom websites will almost always outrank you in organic searches.
Upcharging For Domains & Web Hosting?
IF you're paying more than $80/year ($8/month) for your .com domain name & website hosting = you're getting ripped off! Many of my new clients WERE overpaying $200-$400 each year for their domain names & website hosting. I recommend paying a year of hosting at about $80, and registering your domain name with GoDaddy for 5+ years at about $15/year = $65. Contact us before you buy because we have coupon codes for up to 50% off on new orders.
GoDaddy has offered me the ability to RESELL domain names and webhosting dozens of times... I have always refused because I don't need to nickel & dime my clients to make money. Most of the RESELLERS are not only upcharging $5-$10/month - although they're selling you the same GoDaddy products & services - RESELLERS often offer less service for more money (compare prices on GoDaddy's website).
Anyone can offer webhosting direct from their computers. I *CAN* host websites directly from this computer - but if I'm out fishing and the power goes out = your website will be offline until I can reset my web server. GoDaddy guarantees 99.9% uptime, and has 1200 Americans offering free 24/7 tech support in Arizona for about $5/month - and they can handle excessive traffic incase your website gets advertised on a popular website.
Upcharging for eMail & website "extras"
Even GoDaddy's $8/month economy plans offer enough free eMail addresses for a small business - so you do not have to purchase eMail addresses. IF you need more than that, for example if you want 20+ employee eMail addresses = it costs about $30/year. The only other "extra" i recommend is if you're taking personal information through contact forms (such as credit card information), you should invest in a SSL (secure socket layer) Secure Site Certificate to protect your client's information for about $50-$100/year so you can use the secure encrypted https:// protocol. SSL can be purchased for anywhere from $10-$200 - but a Secure Site Certificate is something you won't want to skimp on because it shows as an error alert message when customers are submitting forms on your website.
What qualities to look for in a Webmaster?
It's very rare to find one webmaster who is nerdy enough to write HTML code, creative enough to design killer graphics & eye-popping page layouts, literate enough to write proper grammar, up-to-date with SEO techniques & the latest social networking platforms, and also experienced with traditional marketing and sales techniques.
You'll want someone experienced with Adobe Photoshop to create professional looking images that load fast in a web browser. Adobe Illustrator is often used for creating logos and large print marketing.
PDFs, Animations & Movies
You'll want someone experienced with Adobe Acrobat PDFs, (Macromedia) Adobe Flash animations, and embedding YouTube movies to add downloadable documents and some action to your website.
W3C Valid HTML Coding
Check your website (and your webmasters website) for HTML code errors. You can validate HTML code using the W3C HTML Validator to make sure your website will display properly in every version of every web browser - and rank as high as possible in search engines like Google. This also helps for ADA accessibility & legal liabilities (blind people have sued before because they couldn't read certain websites). Webmasters who understand HTML will have NO ERRORS NOR WARNINGS and will show a green bar saying:
Even websites like Google will usually show HTML code errors. W3C shows you exactly where the errors are and even gives advice about how to fix the errors; anyone remotely familiar with HTML can fix these errors so your website code validates properly:
W3C Valid CSS Coding
Using CSS strips all the redundant code from your web pages for font types, font styles (bold, italics), font colors, even background images and more. CSS allows you to change the styles of ALL of your webpages by modifying and uploading a single document. You can also validate code in Cascading Style Sheets using the W3C CSS Validator.
Professional Sales Copy Writing
Someone who is good with English grammar can not only make sure you don't have typos, spelling errors, and grammar errors (which can also decrease your ranks in search engines while making you look stupid) - professional copy writers can manipulate your words and paragraphs to optimize sales conversions by illustrating your message in a way that is easily understood by prospects who will then be more likely to buy something from you.
Traditional Marketing Skills
Traditional marketing tactics should always be utilized to actively convert traffic into sales. Traditional marketing includes many topics from organizing where information appears on your page - to how it looks to attract their eyes to the important information you want them to look at. One of the best examples is a Call-To-Action (CTA) similar to the blue & yellow screen you see at the and of those infomercials airing on late night television. Does your website deliberately ask customers to make a purchase or offer additional related resources? Proper Call-To-Actions can massively increase sales conversions after you've done all the marketing work to get them to your website in the first place.
Search Engine Optimization (S.E.O.)
Organic SEO allows your website to passively advertise itself with #1 ranks in search engines (Google, Yahoo, MSN, Ask.com, Live, and Bing) to get more traffic to your website - at only the cost of your time to write and modify paragraphs about your work. Be very careful because black-hat SEO tricks such as spamming can get your website banned from Google.
SEOwebMarket.com can even create detailed reports on your target market including demand, competition, and ratios of the two - to find the easiest niche markets for you to conquer. We also research what your direct competition is doing to market their website - and offer solutions so you can outrank them on search engines to attract more traffic to your website.
Are you using all of the new interactive outlets to market your website on sites like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, LinkedIn, and dozens of other Web 2.0 social networking websites? The biggest benefit is that YOU are not selling your products to people... their FRIENDS are actually recommending you as one of their favorite companies or websites.
Call and ask for a free basic review of your website. You wont find anything remotely close to this quality of work anywhere else without paying tens of thousands of dollars. We can help level the playing field - so your small business can compete with the big corporations!
SEO Web Marketing Knowledge Database | Glossary of Web Page Types
Examples of Elite SEO Web Sites | Tips on How to Choose Your Webmaster