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Old 23 January 2012, 16:11   #21
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I get those points, my concern would be if the website took off the owners of the domains I'd prefer could use them either to take business or to damage my name with people thinking its me.

To be honest I fancy my chances of getting the domains back with what I've found out about who actually owns them at the moment. I'm going to contact them shortly and see what they say. If not I'll proceed with what I have.

Peter @ Boatsandoutboards4sale ~ askboatsandoutboards4sale@sky.com ~ 07930 421007
I'll go out on a limb and suggest you might be wasting your time. Get a good site, properly indexed, and easy to use and you will be amazed what you can achieve. Get organised in the longer term with google analytics, and adwords, and you will be surprised what you can do.

One of my businesses is unfortunately quite a local one www.self-drive.net

And when I was using adwords properly I was having to reject calls from all over the UK because I couldnt handle national work .. and I used to have a banner on the site saying we only served west central scotland .. and even that didnt work and I wondered why I was paying google for calls/feeds I couldnt handle .

In the end, because the site is well referenced, people searching for those artifacts in my local area will at least get me within the first page of a google search .. so .. do you pay google to do, what you site does ok anyway? ... therin lies a big dilemma... which is one reason Google is one of the biggest world brands , and they dont advertise on bill boards or railway stations either ...

If you learn those tricks, they are powerful tools, but you need a decent site first

heres an example

Go to Google main search page and type in some random words for a digger hire in my area like

kubota hire glasgow

or

mini digger hire glasgow

If I'm not on the first page of either I'll eat me hat ... and I dont have to pay a fortune to appear in the shaded box at the top either ... now if you want to be in the top box and pay da money thats up to you, but why should you ? If you get even a half decent site

Heres another golden tip .. load my site www.self-drive.net on an iphone if you have one .. (I havent tried it with others and would be greatful for feedback for giving this good advice ) scroll down to the little post it note at the bottom where the office number is displayed, let the phone highlight it, and it should let you dial the number straight from the web page on your phone
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Old 23 January 2012, 16:22   #22
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Muz, The click to call function works on Android too.

I agree with you though, whilst a good domain is nice if people have to remember, it it is certainly not critical. Relevant words in the address do help Google rankings, but a good site with a bad domain will rank higher than a bad site with a good name.

The person who bought the domains peter wants almost certainly values them more than you !
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Old 23 January 2012, 16:38   #23
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Muz, The click to call function works on Android too.
Excellent... thanks

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I agree with you though, whilst a good domain is nice if people have to remember, it it is certainly not critical. Relevant words in the address do help Google rankings, but a good site with a bad domain will rank higher than a bad site with a good name.
I should add the disclaimer for all the budding design gurus who want to charge thousands, my site is really basic, (yes I know that ) but it works, and all it cost me was a weekend and Serif x4 which I still use for it from time to time .. I dont need it for e-commerce, I decide that wasnt going to work yet in my industry, so the site is just a reference tool

*edit* doh .. I just spottted a link that doesnt work
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Old 23 January 2012, 16:42   #24
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When it comes to hosting - if I was you, I would go to someone like godaddy.com or 1and1.co.uk and get yourself a hosting account - rather than getting a web developer on board, and getting them to do the hosting - the reason being, if somewhere down the line, you decide to go your seperate ways, you still control the hosting - rather than them just turning your website off.

If the website turns out to be worthwhile running, then I would "upgrade" the hosting account, to something like one of rackspace.co.uk cloud servers so it gives you full control over hosting so you can do some more clever things to enhance the website.
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Old 23 January 2012, 16:46   #25
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When it comes to hosting - if I was you, I would go to someone like godaddy.com or 1and1.co.uk
What ever you do Peter... dont host with 123-reg.co.uk .. buy cheap domains maybe .. but dont host
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Old 23 January 2012, 16:49   #26
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What ever you do Peter... dont host with 123-reg.co.uk .. buy cheap domains maybe .. but dont host
100% agree!
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Old 23 January 2012, 17:07   #27
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Thanks so much for all the advice and PM's. I've started something that I fear is going to take over my workload, at least in the short term. I've no real idea where to start or how hosting and the rest works so it's a lot to take in. Your advice is invaluable and makes it much easier. Thanks

I'm shortly going to contact the domain owner. Then can start th steps advised, dependant on the outcome of my contact.

I'll keep you posted.

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Old 24 January 2012, 03:45   #28
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A lot of good advice in the thread, I'll add my $0.02 (a lot of which has already been said).

I don't believe the domain really matters, it's not a major factor in search engine ranking, when choosing one don't be afraid to use words that aren't necessarily related to your industry or are even words at all e.g facebook, youtube, skype, apolloduck etc. I would also say that by using domains that are not related to the industry means you are less likely to lose traffic to competitors with similarly named sites and as long as you work harder than them on social aspects you'll always appear above them in the rankings. It's more important to be catchy and easy to remember in a conversation, it might not necessarily be you having the conversation where you can spell it out. Think about how you may find a site the next day if you'd heard it mentioned in a pub the night before e.g. apolloduck, I might remember the word 'duck' and would try adding 'boats' in a google search, now try searching for boats and outboards it might not be as clear cut. I would say the shorter the domain name the better (1-2 words) also worth thinking about how it may integrate into a logo or how it may look on a business card with an email address.

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is a bit of a black art, the algorithms the search engines use are a closely guarded secret and change frequently to avoid being beaten, purchasing adwords is a quick way to enhance your ranking position (it has to be a factor in the algorithm or Google wouldn't be making shed loads of cash with it), the key to ranking is getting sites to link to you so you can be found by the search engine spiders/crawlers/bots, the more sites that link to you will mean the spiders are at your site frequently and it will enhance your position (advertising on sites, forum signatures all help this), popularity/rank of the linking site is also a factor. Submit your site to the search engines initially to get you started, although you'd be amazed at how quickly they find you without doing much. Also worth adding all the metadata (keywords) to the pages of your site, they're not as important as they used to be but it all helps.

Use the analytic tools on a fairly regularly basis, spend a bit of time looking at the traffic that's going through your site looking for patterns and ideas for content e.g. most popular pages, where they came from, search terms used to find you, geographical locations, times of day etc.

As mentioned design isn't everything, "content is king", that's what's indexed and read. For design I would say keep it simple, consistancy though the use of a template is important, don't make the pages too cluttered, make it easy to read e.g. black text on a white background, avoid putting important text inside images e.g. navigation buttons, spiders/screen readers can't read it. Mobile browsing is huge and only going to get bigger, by keeping the site design simple most phones (and older browsers) will be able to navigate and format it. Regularly update the site, when the search spiders crawl across it they'll see the content/pages changing.

Please consider those that may need assistive technolgies to view your site e.g screenreaders.
Avoid putting colours that clash together e.g. red & blue
Use Alt tags to describe images.
Don't use tables to control the layout of the page (learn CSS).
Don't rely on Javascript/Flash to navigate your site, check what the page looks like with them switched off does it degrade gracefully, is it browsable/usable?

Being helpful, sharing domain knowledge/expertise and establishing and maintaining an active presence on social networking & blogs will drive business, the social aspects of search are only really just starting the '+1' on google will be a huge factor on ranking. Adopt the new technologies ahead of your competitors e.g. youtube, twitter, skype, facebook, google+ etc. Get your username/page on these sites, keep it consistant, ideally keep it with the domain to avoid confusion.

As mentioned previously, the web is now the starting point for most looking to make purchases, I speak from personal experience having bought a rib recently and with every purchase I make for it I put in lots of research, most of it on here (thanks), if someone from the industry is helpful on a forum they are more likely to get my business. There wasn't a huge amount of sites that were in my watch list when I was buying the boat I was monitoring the for sale section on here, apolloduck, findafishingboat, boatsandoutboards, gumtree, ebay and a few more local sites... if your site was updated regularly with new boats I would have found it and would have been watching it (was apolloduck I found mine on). On the flip side, a site that's updating regularly and easily found will also be more attractive to those wishing to sell (assuming you act as a broker?).

Totally agree on the comments on 123reg for hosting, don't touch them, but they do give a good level of control for cheap domains; hosting through 1&1, RackSpace FastHosts & HeartInternet is all good, personally I'm not so keen on GoDaddy and I would avoid uk2net (although it's been years since I last used them, they may be better now).

I take the point about not taking hosting from a developer (some of my clients did, some didn't, it was about 50/50), by offering hosting as part of the site development it allows us to keep a small income coming in after the site is built and in most cases it simplifies it for the client. From my side it really doesn't do me any favours to annoy my clients, so far I've only had one client leave and they honestly left with my best wishes (went to another developers hosting who did their latest design), my clients all have their own control panel logins and they can do what they wish on the hosting (within reason).

BTW, I'm not affiliated to ApolloDuck in anyway, it just seemed to fit my examples :-).
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Old 24 January 2012, 08:19   #29
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Well said that man, you must have finger cramp. It made a good read.

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Old 24 January 2012, 08:23   #30
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Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is a bit of a black art, the algorithms the search engines use are a closely guarded secret and change frequently to avoid being beaten, purchasing adwords is a quick way to enhance your ranking position (it has to be a factor in the algorithm or Google wouldn't be making shed loads of cash with it), the key to ranking is getting sites to link to you so you can be found by the search engine spiders/crawlers/bots, the more sites that link to you will mean the spiders are at your site frequently and it will enhance your position (advertising on sites, forum signatures all help this), popularity/rank of the linking site is also a factor. Submit your site to the search engines initially to get you started, although you'd be amazed at how quickly they find you without doing much. Also worth adding all the metadata (keywords) to the pages of your site, they're not as important as they used to be but it all helps.
My son works for LASTMINUTE.COM and he has told me that they pay someone several hundred pounds a day just to manipulate their site so that it regular appears high up in a search engine result.

Sorry this is not much help to the OP but is just to emphasise that SEO maybe a black art but is highly lucrative and deemed worthwhile by many businesses.
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