How Does Your Website Work?
Your website should effectively be your home base on the internet. It stores all your content and the mission is to direct potential customers back to your website from all your marketing channels. It's where potential customers land and can learn about your business, what you offer and how you can solve their pains and problems.
Your website design needs to be attractive and it should be structured so it’s easy to navigate for both humans and search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo that enable users to search for documents on the web. Most importantly, when it comes to websites, content is king so your content including the text, images and videos should be relevant, interesting and informative for your target audience.
Technically speaking, effectively your website ‘rents’ space on a server that is a computer connected to the internet and software allows it to store or ‘host’ the components of your website. This includes the code, photos and videos. It’s referred to as a server because it ‘serves’ up your website content on demand. There are plenty of service providers that will rent you space on a server and host your website for a fee ranging from around $50 per annum while moving to a virtual private server (VPS) or a dedicated server can push the annual hosting fee to over $1,000. They take care of all the technical hosting aspects and every server in the world has its own internet protocol (IP) address that contains four individual numbers separated by a decimal. It is an online unique identifier that means any device connected to the internet can talk to the server.
For simplicity and ease of reference, we use a ‘domain name’ rather than the long numeric IP address. It’s the name you type into the browser window to find a website like www.yourbusinessname.com.au Everything after the ‘www.’ is actually the domain name and any device that searches for this address is communicating with the server who in turn sends that device all the correct pieces it needs to display the website.
You need to start the process by making sure your preferred domain name is available. Simply find a “domain registrar” like GoDaddy.com and do a search for the name. It will tell you if the name is available. You may be able to get a variation of the name by choosing a different extension like “.com”, “.com.au” or “.net”. The most important difference is that search engines like Google aim to provide search results based on your location so if your business is primarily in Australia then a ‘.com.au’ address will help ensure your site appears when Australian customers search for your products or services. This isn’t always the case but it does add weight to local search rankings. On the other hand, if your market is global, then a ‘.com’ address may be the best option.
An Australian business can register derivatives of their business name and create separate domain names for their associated products. They may even wish to register the profession in which they practice (www.plumberrichmond.com.au) Clever business owners use domain names to advertise and create innovative marketing campaigns for their brand or products.
In a nutshell, that’s how websites work. Essentially a server ‘hosts’ your website and the domain name helps people find your website.