The beginning of the year is a great time to take stock and assess your business. Since your online presence is just as crucial an asset as any other, be sure and review all the components associated with it, including your domain name, hosting, website graphics and any content. Here’s a checklist to help you get started.
1. Your Domain Name. Start with the basics. There are four contacts associated with every domain name. The registrant is the actual owner of the name and holds the keys to the kingdom – be sure it’s registered to your business entity with the owner (not manager) of the business as the contact name. I’ve had to assist many business owners as they try and retrieve control of their name. There are horror stories of disgruntled high-level employees hijacking and taking domain names – and if their name is listed as registrant it may take time and money and possibly even legal action to get it back. The administrative contact can be the manager – one who is authorized to speak on behalf of the owner, but can’t claim ownership. Technical Contacts are generally the Web Host or IT person. Tech contacts can make changes to the domain name and move the name from server to server. If you change hosting, or change employees responsible for that task, be sure and also change the tech contact. The last contact, and probably the most crucial to keep updated, is the billing contact. Many folks have lost their domain name because their registrar sent the bills to a non-existent or dormant email address. As a general rule the responsibility for payment is with you – not your web host or content provider. Think of your website as real estate. Your web host is like a property manager, you pay for the space. You still have to make your mortgage to the bank – and that would be the registrar.
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2. Review your website hosting. Be sure you have a file with your current passwords and user names. Consider there may be some tax savings for paying for an entire year, too. Most companies offer discounts such as one month free or other bonus items.
3. Go though your list of email accounts. Be sure you don’t have any “orphan” accounts. It’s a great practice to remove old employee accounts as part of an exit process. I generally tell my clients to forward the email to someone else for a period of three months to be sure nothing major is missed, and to let senders know that the employee isn’t there any longer. After three months (or at the end of the year) delete the box completely.
4. Cruise your website like a visitor. Here’s a tip. Go to the local library and surf your website. Libraries generally have older technology and have restricted the scripting and advanced bells and whistles we take for granted. Check for broken links, broken scripts or other items that you won’t see on your own computer – and then you’ll have a list of things to clean up during the slow holiday season.
5. Review old content. A lot of agencies have a history and legacy and they’ve been in business for 25 years… or is it 26? Wait. Make that 27. The point is, time marches on and aside from the technical aspects of your site you should also review the content for any changes, updates or opportunities to freshen it up.
In addition to the careful review of the content, be sure to work on your online marketing plan. After looking at all the content, consider any new technology that might be easy to implement – online chat, a blog, a booking engine or some new travel guides. Facebook use is most definitely on the rise and many agencies are having great success – now might be a good time to dive right in!
Taking the time to review your website and the components associated with it each year is insurance against issues later. It takes very little time, but the protections and opportunities are priceless.
Chelle Honiker Yarbrough, CTC is the CXO (Chief Everything Officer) of TravelWebMarketing.com which offers weekly teleconference training classes, videos, marketing tips, software discounts and website advice to travel industry professionals for a low monthly fee. She’s often paid to speak at the travel industry’s finest conferences, which she thinks is ironic since her husband would pay her to shut up, and she wouldn’t have to do a slideshow. Follow her on Twitter, Facebook, or Google Profile where you can read more about her self-proclaimed awesomeness with all things travel and internet. You can also email her at firstname.lastname@example.org with questions.