I was explaining this the other day to a client, and it dawned on me that maybe there are other business people out there who are also confused by this.
So let me try to explain this the best way I can with an analogy that gets as close as possible to explaining what things are and how they work.
When talking about a website, people can be referring to many different things as there are many components of it. These components are comparable to your normal every day physical store front business.
Address/Location: www.yourbusinesshere.com (where people go to find you. the address you give people so they can locate you)
Land/real estate: Website Hosting – the actual place that holds up your store. Your hosting company makes a difference on how much “land” you get, and how many people can be there at one time. Your hosting is comparable to a real location with fire codes and parking limitations – unlike a real physical location, you don’t have to change your address to change your host (land) options.
Building/Store: Website construction. This is the decor and look that people see when they come to your address. The same concerns you’d have with people coming to your physical store are the same concerns you should have with your website. Does it look good? Does it make people want to come in? Are the products easy to find? Is it easy to get around the shop? Is it outdated? Does the feel of the shop fit the products that you’re selling?
Signage/Visibility: SEO – search engine optimization – Do people even know you’re there? How you build your site can also affect your SEO. Much like a physical location, does your site come with big neon signs? billboards? or just one very small tiny sign that if you blink you miss it? Does your sign tell people what you do? Does your signage (keywords) fit your store? Or when people finally get curious enough to enter are they thinking you do something you don’t?
Your SEO can also include off-site billboards, or other similar things for the online world that helps direct traffic to your store.
Networking/Word of Mouth/Advertising: Social Media. This might be close to where I start stretching the analogy, so bear with me. With your physical location, you have outside interactions with your customers. You might see them on the street or meet them at a networking event. You can sometimes drum up new clients or new customers by going to some of these kinds of events. The online version of this is social media.
With social media, you can do the same type of networking you used to do by going to events simply by going online to social media sites. You can interact with people, find out what they do, and tell them what you do. When an opening comes up, you can tell them more and hook their interest. And just like real world social interaction, you do need to create that feeling of trust and respect before you foist your business on someone. Remember whether you’re online or offline, you’re dealing with real people.
But there’s something in social media that you can’t really get from anywhere else, and that is word of mouth. With social media, most of that word of mouth is searchable and you can often trace a complaint or compliment back to its source. This allows you to correct the problem at its source, and improve your products, store layout, and customer service.