5 Golden Rules for business websites on Ebay

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Now you are ready to go, you have decided to take one step further and go online with a business website. Ebay is one of the good places to hire a web designer/programmer. But you have to be very careful, there are plenty of unprofessional so-called "web designers" or "web design companies" here on Ebay and they usually offer "incredible", "amazing", "crazy money-making", "Google AdSense" websites and online shops for a friction of the real market cost. While most of these auctions sound exciting, actually offered are mostly poorly coded websites without any background knowledge of web design, search engine optimization or in some extreme cases, without any visual concept (for example, 5000 direct links to other websites). Most of these websites have some very basic coding mistakes, even for the beginners in the web developing. Hence %99 of these websites are unsuccessful. First, you have to check the feedback score of the seller and then investigate which items he sold over the past 30 days (if available). Try to pinpoint the feedback received from the website sales only. Also check who left the feedback.

No matter what you sell (or planning to sell) online, the following are the top 5 golden rules for your business website. You should make sure that these rules ensured and provided for you by your web designer.

1- Search Engine Optimization (SEO): This is maybe the most important rule for an online business. If you are going to sell your products online, people should see your website first. To be indexed by "big guys" like Google, Yahoo or Lycos can be a very long and painful process, if your website does not have any SEO implemented. As a matter of fact, it may never happen.

The first rule of thumb, you should check the website source code. If you asked for some previous references of the seller, go to those sites and see the source code (i.e. using Internet Explorer, go to "View > Source" from the top menu). Check the top of the source code to see if there are necessary Meta Tags like "keywords", "author", "description". You should see at least these 3 HTML meta tags. If he does not have any web design references, I strongly recommend you to stay away from that seller. A good designer should give you some examples from his/her previous work.

2- Domain ownership : Is domain included in the sale? If no, ask how much he wants for the registration of one domain per year (if not stated in the listing). One domain usually costs maximum of 32$ (US Dollars), if you order with the private registration option (your name is hidden from the public if the domain is registered privately). If the domain is included in the sale, learn if he will transfer the domain ownership to you. This is a very important issue. Some of the web design providers do not transfer the ownership of the domains and while they give you the domain for free for the first year, they claim incredible amounts of money for the registration extension (in most cases, they want £70-£100 to re-register the domain in the beginning of the second year, which is outrageous in any standard). This is a common ransom situation for newbies on e-commerce business world. Make sure that, in the end, domain will be fully under your control.

3- Hosting account : Is hosting included in the sale price? If yes, for how long? Ask directly how much it costs per year. Based on your website needs try to learn the full specifications of the hosting offered. For instance, if you are going to open a webshop and you are planning to sell to members only or if you will have hundreds of products, you will need at least one database, which means hosting should include MYSQL (or similar, for Linux hosting) or MSACCESS (or similar, for Windows hosting), without any extra cost. Another important thing is the monthly bandwidth. Even if you will open a simple website, make sure that you will have enough bandwidth (if your bandwidth is low and you exceed your monthly traffic limit, your site will be closed until the end of that month. No sales!). For a good start, you will need at least a 1 GB p/month bandwidth to run your website smoothly. Also if you have any contact forms in your website, make sure that they are working! This is a hosting issue and you should receive every message from your visitors, directly into your email account (which also should be included in your hosting).

4- Time : If it is going to be a new website, ask seller about the exact time frame. Make sure that you let him know every detail in your mind, including design concept, links, colors, logo, etc. and learn when the site will be ready to publish.

5- Advertisements : A business website should be advertised in WWW. Make sure that your website is registered in different search engines. As a standard, your URL should be added to the best available free search engines (like Google, Yahoo, Dmoz, etc). Most providers use automated softwares to submit newly published customer websites and most of these software provide detailed reports of the submission results. If available, ask for these reports (and other available replies from search engines) to be forwarded to your email. This is a good control method to see if your web designer/provider really works for your site's success.


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