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Domain names Email Web hosting

Why showcase your internet provider in your business email address?

Email address
Your business name or Telstra in your email address – you decide

Say a business has their own domain and website. How many times do you encounter businesses that publish their email address as being the one they were allotted by their internet service provider?

For example, let’s say “Melbourne’s Best Apartments” has a website at www.MelbournesBestApartments.com.au. On their website, they advertise their email address as being melbapart33@bigpond.com.au.  They receive enquiry emails okay, so what’s the problem?

  1. Portability. Not every business sticks with their same internet service provider for life. In fact, changing the company you use to access the internet should be a simple process when you decide to look for a better deal or extra features. Imagine all the extra work you’ve made for yourself in terms of updating your email address if you’ve been publishing the one supplied by your internet provider. There’s changes to make on your website, reprinting of stationery, contacting everyone that’s ever emailed your business to advise of the change, updating listings on other websites which display your email address, and so on.  It’s a mammoth task, fraught with the real risk of neglecting to make changes somewhere. Yet it’s a task that can be easily avoided.
  2. Professionalism. It looks a lot more professional to display your email address as something like bookings@MelbournesBestApartments.com.au than an email address that your internet provider has given you. After all, why would you want to advertise an organisation like Telstra Bigpond in your email address rather than your own business?
  3. Flexibility. By using email addresses based on your business’s domain name, which you directly control yourself, you can then create email addresses with meaningful names, and as many different ones as you like. This adds to the professionalism of your organisation if the manager can be reached by emailing manager@MelbournesBestApartments.com.au rather than the address allocated by your internet service provider, such melbapart33@bigpond.com.au.

Keep your business looking professional and be independent of your internet provider by publishing email addresses based only on your domain name.

If the only reason you’re using the email address supplied by your internet provider is because you can’t rely on your web hosting company to provide rock solid service for receiving and managing email, then you really need to look elsewhere for your web hosting services.

Categories
Mobile content

Does your website really need a version designed for mobile phones?

Mobile phone
Is the smartphone outsmarting mobile-friendly websites?

Back a few years ago, as people started acquiring mobile phones that could access websites, there was a push to create a separate mobile versions of websites, suitable for display on those small devices.

The idea was to create a scaled down version of your website which was fast to load, given that at the time, internet access via a mobile phone was slow. Pages would be stripped back to just the basics, and they’d be structured to be narrow enough for a phone screen’s width, with high contrasting colours to work with the limited colour depth on mobile screens. Java and Flash content would also be removed, as would anything else more complicated than simple HTML elements.

Fast forward a few years, and there are now reports that smartphones have penetrated 50% of Australia’s mobile market, with 60% of Australian mobile users expected to be using a smartphone by 2012.

So given that smartphones feature high resolution screens and virtually fully functional web browsers, plus access to fast communications networks, does that spell the end of mobile-only websites?

If your website is of a fairly standard design, like Travel Victoria, then you can probably save the effort of duplicating and stripping back your website to make it mobile friendly, as the original website should work fine with any smartphone. A smartphone’s web browser software will allow people to magnify pages that are too small to read on the phone, and there are options available to allow the phone to automatically optimise the way pages are displayed to fit the geometry of the phone screen better.

However, not all websites are simple and mobile friendly. If your site makes use of Flash content, be aware that it is currently not supported on Apple’s iPhone, so you may consider making non-Flash alternative pages. If your site uses Flash extensively, or each page is simply overflowing with pictures, embedded videos and other complicated content, then maybe a mobile-friendly version of your entire site is still required so people can find out the information they need quickly without being confused with so much content on a small screen.

With smartphones now easily handling most web content, we return back to one of the original concepts of the world wide web, which is to create websites in such a way that they can be viewed independent of the device being used. Creating separate mobile-friendly versions of existing websites goes against this philosophy.

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Web promotion

If it’s free, is it really worth it?

You know the familiar saying, “you only get what you pay for”…but does it always apply when you get something for free?

Yes, it's free!
Yes, it's free, and it's worth it!

Here at Travel Victoria, for many years we’ve been offering free listings for tour or activity businesses within our tourism pages for locations throughout Victoria. There’s no catch, just a brief listing with a link to your website, providing a stream of visitors who are interested enough to click the link and find out more.

Importantly, the free listings offered by Travel Victoria aren’t buried deep within our website where few people will see them.  They are placed on pages which are directly linked to every page published about that location in Victoria. That’s one click to get there, not 10. We’ll let the results speak for themselves by examining how many views of the 5 most popular tour and activity pages have occurred during 2010:

  1. Lakes Entrance – 11,694
  2. Apollo Bay – 8,083
  3. Echuca – 7,086
  4. Mount Dandenong – 5,795
  5. Daylesford – 5,533

So if you were one of the businesses listed on our Lakes Entrance tours & activity pages, your business listing (the name and brief description) would have been seen by 11,694 people in 2010.

Now here is where it gets really interesting. Even if only a tiny 5% of people looking at the page your business was listed on actually clicked the link to your website, you would have gained 585 free visitors to your website. And those are people who clearly had an interest in your business to bother to click on the link. Try getting that same number of targeted visitors by using something like Google AdWords. Depending on the keywords selected, bidding amounts and competition, it could cost you $500 per year or even much, much more, just to achieve the same results as a free listing with Travel Victoria.

Sometimes you do get what you pay for…but other times, you really do get much more. Advertise for free in selected categories on Travel Victoria today.

Categories
Domain names

Good ideas that go nowhere

Web domain names
The domain name you registered – it seemed like a good idea at the time

It’s big business at the moment for companies that register internet domain names for you. Apart from the fact more businesses than ever are seeking to create an internet presence, there’s many people out there who come up with catchy domain names that they later plan to turn into killer websites. So they register them for “future use”.

Unfortunately that’s the easy part of the whole colossal plan – registering a domain name. The rest of the plan requires lots of hard work and usually plenty of money, with the fruits of labour often not ripening until years later.

It’s interesting to observe the daily list of expiring Australian domain names – that is, domains people have registered but eventually give up on renewing years later, and are about to become available for someone new to register again. Some grand plans you’ll find in there.  Someone obviously mapped out the creation of a kingdom of Australian holiday rental websites by registering holidayrentalsaustralia.com.au, aussieholidayrentals.com.au, and a whole swag of other similar domain names. Websites were never created, and for whatever reason, the domains are about to expire for the current owner.

Speaking of visions, we at Travel Victoria had one last year when, quite by accident, we saw the domain beachstays.com.au was about to expire. A website was never ever created during that domain’s many years of ownership. So we decided to build a website dedicated to accommodation that was very close to the beach. We officially launched it in May 2011. So go and have a peek at Beach Stays – someone’s idea that went nowhere, now has life breathed into it by a new owner.

Categories
Web hosting

Hosting your website in Australia? Read the fine print.

Australian flag
An Australian based web hosting company doesn’t always physically host websites in Australia

The merits of hosting a website within Australia, for an Australian business that expects most of its web traffic to come from Australia, are well known. Hosting in Australia has become much more affordable in recent years, so the question about where to host is now a no brainer.  However, do you know what you’re really getting?

While you may choose an Australian-based web hosting company, your data and the server that makes it available to the world, may in fact be located overseas, possibly somewhere geographically distant from Australia, such as the United States.

There’s an interesting comparison by Netregistry of some Australian web hosting companies for their popular business grade hosting packages.  Interestingly enough, Melbourne IT, with a name that geographically cements its base in Australia, hosts its business packages on overseas servers, which may be an issue for you if most of your traffic comes from Australia. See the comparison table (you’ll need to click on the tab “NR vs the Rest” towards the bottom of the page).

Categories
Social media

Keeping comments on Twitter informal but professional

One of the things people love most about Twitter is its informality. Post a question to say one of Australia’s most affluent companies that have a presence on Twitter, and the response back may be more akin to that you’d expect when chatting to friends over dinner.

Just say no to twitter personal posts
Just say no to personal postings and rantings from your business Twitter account

Some small businesses may take this a little too far and post strong, personal opinions, which may actually offend the very clients they are trying to attract. This is quite relevant to accommodation providers who are inviting travellers to stay on their property.

One example is the wonderful lady who runs a bed and breakfast which we advertise for her on the Travel Victoria website (we won’t identify her personally!). She’s quite a social media butterfly, however her political preferences are strongly conveyed in comments she makes using her business’s official Twitter account. As it so happens, the political leader she trumpets is currently “on the nose” with voters in recent surveys, so chances are more people will disagree rather than agree with what she’s posting.  And for those people who live and breathe politics, staying at an establishment where the outspoken manager is clearly coming at you from the other side of party lines may actually be off-putting!

The best practice here is to have two Twitter accounts – one for business, and one for you personally. If the Gillard government’s carbon tax is the bane of your existence and you need to get that off your chest, then do so using your personal Twitter account. Use your business’s Twitter account for responding to queries, making announcements and commenting on the weather. That way, you won’t offend anyone or harm your business.

All staff here at Travel Victoria that have access to our business Twitter account are advised that if they wish to indulge in general social commentary or get on their soapbox to the world, then they must do so using their own personal Twitter account. Maybe your organisation should adopt a similar policy.