Business Owner’s Cheatsheet: Website Ownership, Operation and Sales
I think you’ll agree with me when I say:
It’s REALLY hard to understand how websites work.
Today, I am giving you the cheat sheet so you will know exactly what you must know about your website to increase sales and save time.
Before we get started, I need to let you know that I don’t intent to make this article to be the best-written article, but I certainly want this to be the most helpful article.
I will be covering everything with details in a simple and actionable way.
Okay, I am glad you asked.
Why bother knowing the website if you have an agency doing everything for you?
To be frank, no relationship lasts forever. This might happen in some Disney movies, but in business, partnership and relationship break just like our first relationship in high school.
Plus, having a right understanding about your website will also help your agencies to strategise the next move effectively.
Here’s the deal.
How much do you really need to know about your website?
Should you learn how to code?
Should you learn how to use the software?
Or maybe you should learn how to understand the data?
Or perhaps you should learn how to create a website from scratch?
The list can go on and on. These aren’t questions that I made up from nowhere; every one of them came from real business owners who I spoke with, from a one-woman business to a CEO with 50 employees.
But, why your website matters to your business?
It’s simple. Everything that you do online or offline, it eventually takes people to your website. Sounds fluffy? Let me give you a real-life example.
Remember those sales reps who were calling you to register your business on Yellow Pages?
You spend time and money on Yellow Pages, Google AdWords, Facebook Advertising, or any other online advertising. Do you really think people would just see your business hours or ad content and then drive to your shop?
No. They click the link and go to your website to get a better picture of what your business is, who you are, any reputation or creditability.
Basically, they search for reasons to work with you.
I wrote about the 10 secret elements that make a web design great in my last post and it covers what makes a website successful. You can read it here.
Some might ask, what about not linking your website with them?
Then the people will go to your competitors who have a website and offer more value and information online.
The fact is:
Keep in mind that the online world is very noisy and crowded. People can find a business just like yours online in a matter of a second; it’s a mushroom field with no border for almost every industry.
What about all the offline activities? Referral? Print ads? Networking?
I can simply answer this and tell you – anyone who doesn’t know how to use Google and do basic online research in this century – is not your ideal target customer unless your customers are elders.
Considering 89% people do online research first before buying any product or service, would you not be prepared for it if a 90-year-old is starting to learn Facebook?
What’s that all mean to business owners?
Website is the central hub of any form of marketing. The task of the website is to greet prospective clients that you’ve been recruiting since you started the business and convert them into customers.
The bottom line is clear.
Business owners must know and understand the three main sectors of their websites in order to increase sales and save time.
The three sectors are Ownership, Operation, and Sales.
Business relationships don’t last forever and it’s true. I’ve seen too many business owners struggle to verify or make changes to their websites simply because they don’t own the website.
Must-know #1: Who has the domain name ownership?
It’s not a joke. Many business owners have their domain names yourbusiness.com registered under their designer’s or freelancer’s name.
How is this possible?
This happens more often especially with Australian businesses with the .com.au.
Most businesses have their web designer, web developer, or the “nephew” in university who knows a bit about web design and register the domain name for them as well as creating the website.
There’s nothing wrong with it, BUT
The only problem is some of them don’t know how to properly register a domain name for a business. For instance, they don’t know the differences between a registrant, registrar, and registry.
So they end up registering themselves as the domain name owner.
3 years later, when things change and you want to redesign the website or replace your hosting provider, you find out that you don’t actually own your website and spend hours and hours to do the troublesome ownership transfer process.
You know what makes it even more troublesome?
For .com, ownership transfer fee is minimal, but for the .com.au, it can cost up to AU$120 and some paperwork that nobody likes.
So what should you do?
Aus Registry handles all Australian domain names. One simple trick you can do to make sure that your domain name’s ownership is under your name and email address is to go to the Recover Password page on the Aus Registry website and type in your domain name.
It will tell you the name and email address that the domain name is registered with.
If it’s not your name or your partner’s name, don’t panic.
Simply send an email to the person who is listed there or the person who did the website for you.
You ask he/she to transfer the ownership to you in a friendly way as follow:
This is ___________ from ___________. I hope you still remember me and the website that you did for us.
We are upgrading our website recently and we just found out that our domain name has been registered under your name as we were trying to get access to our domain name ___________.com.au.
I would like to get the domain name transferred to our new domain name provider ___________ if it’s possible because our new website is on its way to live.
Please let me know if there’s anything I can assist you with for the transfer process.
Most web designers or web developers would understand that it was their mistakes registering the domain name under their names and offer assistance for the transfer process.
This is a very common rookie mistake in the industry. I wouldn’t deny that we made some of those mistakes when we first started the agency, but that’s how we learn.
Keep in mind, every domain name provider offers different terms and conditions. For instance, the Australian domain name provider, Crazy Domain, charges $110 and they require a form to fill out.
You might think this is too troublesome and expensive to get the domain name transferred, but just remember, it might not be as easy as a one-email or $100 deal when your website is making money (if you know I mean).
So, domain name ownership is the very first thing you must know as a business owner.
Must-know #2: Who is your web hosting provider?
You might not fully understand what web hosting is and how it works, that’s okay.
What is a web hosting provider?
Web hosting provider is someone/ company that provides storage space and access for websites. If you don’t have one, your website wouldn’t be online and nobody would see it.
So, what do business owners need to know about their web hosting?
1) What’s the name of your hosting provider and their contact detail?
As a business owner, not knowing who your hosting provider is equivalent to not knowing who your landlord is.
Whether you signed up with a hosting company or digital agency, you must know your login detail and contact information of your hosting provider so you know who to call or where to go when something happens to your website, such as crashing.
Most business owners try to find the details when their websites crash.
I don’t need to be an expert to tell you this, it’s too late by then.
2) Where is the server located?
Knowing the server location will help you determine whether there’s room to improve the site speed.
If your customers are in Melbourne, Australia, then hosting your website on a server based in Melbourne will shorten the PING time and increase the site speed. Sounds too technical?
Imagine a postman carrying all website files to run from Melbourne to New York and come back, versus a postman runs from Melbourne City to Richmond (A suburb in Melbourne), who will deliver faster?
You can verify your server location by going to the IP Location Finder and type in your website address in there. It will tell you where the server is located.
3) What is your Cpanel access?
Depending on what kind of agreement you have with your service provider or agency, every website should have a Cpanel.
A Cpanel is a dashboard where everything about your website is controlled there, including all the website files, database, email address, etc.
It’s unnecessary to learn how to operate the Cpanel, but having the access to it can simply give you the master access to everything you own.
Ask your agency in a friendly way to see if you can get access to your Cpanel.
P.S. One Cpanel can host multiple websites, but the best practice is to have one website on one Cpanel. Some agencies host multiple websites on one Cpanel which causes vulnerability for all websites if one of the websites is insecure. At Website People, all of our clients have their own dedicated Cpanel.
By this point, you might already have some works to do, but this is the bottom line for every business owner. If you don’t officially own the website, nothing else matters.
Congratulations, now we are in business.
The Operation sector is about understanding how your website works, not technically, but practically. The first question you will need to be answered is:
Must-know #3: What is the login detail of your website backend?
Okay, so is this part of Ownership?
I consider the website login as a part of Operation because having the website backend login doesn’t necessarily makes you the owner.
The login detail of your website backend is most likely the CMS (Content Manage System) login that you receive from your designer or developer. The login path are usually similar to the following:
If the website was created by yourself, you have got a tick in one of your checkboxes.
If the website was created by an agency or someone else, make sure you have the access to the backend of the website.
Just before you might ask.
Having the login details doesn’t mean you should maintain the website, instead, you should send the login details to someone who knows the software so he/she can do it for you.
Here’s my two-cent on this.
Instead of wasting time to learn HTML, updating the software and breaking the original code, business owners should really focus on what they are good at.
I get it. It might just be a click of a button that says “Update” and you can save some money.
It might sound as simple as that but often time we receive disasters after the website being “maintained” by someone, whether it’s breaking the code, having a new page with inconsistent design, plugin conflicts, etc.
My advice to all business owners is to hire a professional web developer to do it, alternatively, you can sign up for some monthly maintenance plans so your website is maintained and updated on a regular basis under the proper procedure, with backup, QA(Quality Assurance), testing, and so on.
Must-know #4: Is your website mobile friendly?
The “Responsive design” is used in almost every web design sales pitch.
It’s almost a built-in feature for any new website, but not every new website is mobile friendly.
It’s a tick in your checklist if you have tried your website on a mobile device and it looked alright. On the other hand, Google has its own checklist for mobile device usability.
If you are a website owner, you must know whether your website is truly friendly on a mobile device as this affects your ranking.
Here’s the trick.
Simply go over to the Google Mobile-Friendly Test and Google will tell you how much they like about your mobile site.
Mobile usage has already exceeded the desktop usage. There’s no excuse not to put the time and energy to know more about your mobile site experience than your desktop site experience.
If your mobile site isn’t loading fast enough, you need to talk to your agency and consider optimising the speed. Google and other search engines launched the AMP (Accelerated Mobile Page) program in 2015 to improve mobile user experience.
What does it mean?
Google is now rewarding sites that have a faster speed and better experience on mobile. If you want higher ranking, improve the mobile site experience and speed.
After validating your backend login detail and mobile-friendliness, we are diving deeper into the Operation.
Must-know #5: What are your website traffic sources?
Not knowing where your website is getting the traffic from is a huge mistake for business owners.
I know it from the bottom of my heart and I wish I had the time to sit down with every single of my client to look at their traffic source together.
Why it matters?
I came across to an accounting firm and they have never looked into their Google Analytics account (A free website analytics tool from Google).
The first thing that we immediately noticed when we pulled up the Traffic Source in Google Analytics, was the high traffic coming from Google instead of Facebook, but Facebook was the channel which they’ve been spending most of the time and money on.
Here’s the interesting part.
They’ve been focusing on the wrong target and wasting time and energy on social media.
They had a lot of traffic, but the website wasn’t converting any of the traffic into enquiries. They should have focused on the web pages that drove most of the traffic from Google, optimise the pages and increase the conversion rate.
Is it hard to read all these data?
No rocket science here. I don’t believe business owners need to learn any new skill or study anything to understand the traffic source data.
Our ability to track and understand these data has never been that simple. With the help of Google Analytics, business owners can have free access to almost every data that they need to know.
It’s not a sneaky practice to collect data on your website, but a smart move to set yourself up for the future.
Must-know #6: Does your website have backups?
Here comes the practice that will save you thousands of dollars. Business owners need to know whether their websites have backups scheduled on a regular basis.
Just simply ask yourself, what would you do if your website crashes and your agency can’t help you?
If your website is WordPress or other popular CMS, be sure you utilise plugins to help you to do the backup and restore. Having a backup system in place will help you quickly retrieve the website if anything happens to it.
Hacking doesn’t only happen in 007 movies.
Every website has the same probability to get hacked, unfortunately. It doesn’t necessarily mean your business has haters, but sometimes the “hackers” are just robots that crawl across every website.
This is for sure the favorite part for every business owner, sales.
It’s the reason why we have websites, but surprisingly, this is being overlooked the most by business owners.
Want to increase sales?
You only need to know a few things about your website and I guarantee your sales will increase.
Must-know #7: What is the goal of your website?
This might sound like a stupid question, but really, what do you want people to do on your website?
Every website needs a goal.
It’s easy to define if you run an online store, but if you have a service base business, what do you want people to do on your website?
Make an enquiry?
Request a quotation?
No matter what your goal is, every web page should drive people toward that goal whether it’s the about us page or the homepage.
Must-know #8: How many conversions your website had last month?
Once you defined your goal, you need to create the conversion yourself or with your agency. This is equivalent to knowing your sales.
What is a conversion?
A conversion occurs when a visitor to your website completes a desired goal, such as filling out a form or making a purchase. The percentage of total visitors that convert is called your conversion rate.
Which channel drives more conversion after looking at the Traffic Source?
If you don’t have conversion tracking setup on your website yet, you should chat with your agency to set up conversion using Google Analytics so you can begin understanding what value does your website offer to your business.
So now you know how your website performs.
What ‘s the next move?
We all know this is an ever-evolving world. A website is no longer a set-and-forget part of your business that you look at it once every 5 years.
Nothing will magically happen after you setup your new shiny website. It’s what you are going to do with it that makes it magical.
Must-know #9: What strategy are you using to increase the traffic?
The most common ways to increase traffic are:
SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)
Yes, it’s the service that you receive a thousand sales emails and calls every day claiming that they can “put” you on the first spot on Google.
The purpose of SEO is to rank higher on the Search Engine Result Page, mostly mean Google, so your website can be found by more potential customers.
SEO isn’t about stuffing keywords in the background or meta description anymore. Over the years, Google updates their ranking algorithm and it is becoming more intelligent.
The old black hat SEO (Tricks to fool Google) is no longer bring traffic but penalty. Once your website is penalised by Google, I guarantee your business will suffer for at least a few months or years.
Whether you want to try some quick SEO offer from your inbox, just make sure they always use white hat SEO.
One of the easiest ways for businesses to increase website traffic is to optimise their Local SEO.
The most common ones are Google Adwords and Facebook Ads. These are the ads that drive traffic to your site and they often cost per click or cost per impression.
Depending how much budget you have, you can drive a certain amount of traffic to your website, starting from as little as $5 per day.
It’s highly recommended for business owners to work with a Google Partner for their Adwords campaign because it can be very costly if the setup was done incorrectly.
Once you started sending traffic to your website, this will be your next question:
Must-know #10: Why are people leaving your website?
Conversion Optimisation is what keep digital markets busy all year long.
People leave your website for so many reasons and objections.
Do you know only 3% of customers are ready to buy when they visit your website?
What are you going to do with the rest of the 97%? How are you going to nurture them to convert?
Here are the examples of reasons and objections when a person visits your website:
- Are they trustworthy?
- Who have they worked with?
- Are they better than the others?
- They are too expensive
Once you learn those reasons and objections, optimise the website, remove some parts, add new content, change the wordings, do testing, and you will see your conversion rate and sales go up.
Just a recap of everything that business owners must know about their website.
Who has the domain name ownership?
Who is your web hosting provider?
What is the login detail of your website backend?
Is your website mobile friendly?
what are your website traffic sources?
Does your website have backups?
What is the goal of your website?
How many conversions your website has last month?
What strategy are you using to increase the traffic?
Why are people leaving your website?
Unless your website is ranking first for all the keywords in your industry or it is giving you too many sales that you can’t handle, there’s always should be a plan for the next move.
If you are not sure what you can do next, you can speak with your agency or talk to us about your situation.
Do you find this post helpful?
What other struggles you have with your website?
I look forward to seeing your comment below and I will jump in and reply.
If you found this helpful, be sure to share this with your friend who owns a website