Digital Lean Launch Checklist
I get a lot of questions about ‘Where do I start?’ How do I buy a domain? What domain name makes sense? Do I need keywords in my domain? What should I build my website on? Where can I get a logo? How much should a website cost? If I had a nickel for every time I answered the questions above, and the ones below, I wouldn’t be rich, but I would have a whole bunch of nickels.
At the risk of cutting off my flow of nickels, I’ve created a quick guide to your digital launch. If you want to discuss your specific situation in person, schedule a one on one, or take a NEST class.
Don’t put this off. Dive in. The minute your site goes live, the SEO clock starts ticking. So don’t delay the critical decisions of choosing a domain and getting started. Launched websites won’t appear in search for several months. What are you waiting for?
This NEST checklist assumes you’re also doing or have done your other mission critical homework - doing research on the need for your product or service and the size of your potential market, identifying your audience, making a marketing & business plan, doing financial projections, looking at your competition, etc. Don’t know where to start on all that other stuff? If you’re local visit www.WBDC.com, or your local SCORE.org offerings. We also maintain a great calendar of local business events - click on ‘calendar’ from our top nav.
Choose & Buy a Domain - I recommend Google Domains + a G Suite basic business email address
Graphic Design, logos & images - Lean launchers need to be able to create their own graphics, and online services make this easier than ever. I recommend Picmonkey.com, Canva.com, pixabay.com, pexels.com, & 48hourlogo.
Select a Platform to Build Your Website on - and put up a cover/landing page asap - I recommend Squarespace (my first choice), Wix looks good but I prefer Squarespace for basic lean launch sites - for SEO and site export ease, or Wordpress.org (if you have someone to manage hosting and want to pay a bit more).
Understand Basic SEO Techniques - Moz.com, Lynda.com (so you can check on your web developer or designer’s work)
Set up your Google Accounts - Google Analytics, Google Search Console, and Google My Business
Plant your Social Stake in the Ground (even if you might not use them all) - Set up a LinkedIn Company Page, FB Company page, Instagram company page & Twitter account
Choosing & Buying Your Domain & Email Address
Brainstorm domain name ideas. Think of possible domain names for your website, as closely related to your company name as possible. (E.g. you don’t want a company name of The Jig is Up and a domain of partyonbob.com.)
The emphasis that Google is now placing on quality content, what Google calls EAT - content that has Expertise, Authority & Trust can do more for your search engine results than just about anything.
That said, your domain name should have the qualities below.
1) Be Brandable
2) Be Short (shorter the better but try for 15 or so characters or less)
3) Be Easy to say out loud and spell
5) Be memorable
6) Describe what you do (contain a keyword is ideal). And the keyword at the beginning of the URL is best. E.g. ItalianVillaAdventures.com is better than vs. AdventuresinItalianVillas.com.
7) If you’re local, consider using a geographic tag like www.greenwichcustomkitchens.com. This can be helpful for local SEO, however, it is important to remember that content is king for Google search.
8) Be a .com or other TLD (top level domain)
Hot Tip - If another social media site is critical to your business model, check it when checking domain availability. A good tool for checking dozens of social media handles at once (and available domain names) is https://namechk.com/
Your domain should not:
1) Violate copyrights or sound too much like another company’s name, especially one that will immediately issue a cease and desist!
2) Generally not have a nonsense word unless you have millions to spend on marketing and explaining to people what www.snzbuylt.com actually does.
3) String a bunch of keywords together with no brandable word/phrase.
4) Avoid hyphens and numbers.
I recommend putting a spreadsheet together with all the possible names and extensions before you start checking availability. Some people recommend buying your own name as a domain, even if you might never use it.
I was recently brainstorming domains with a client who provides yacht and boating services & repair. His company name was his own name with the word “Yacht Services” at the end. But he’d recently becoming more specialized in installing electric motors (aka drives) on sailboats and launches. This was a major change in his product offerings and he wanted to do more work in this area. We looked at hundreds of options, but there are big players in the ‘electric’ boat space, so many would have caused copyright issues.
We decided to identify some brandable marine related words and tack ‘electric drives’ on the end, so people would know that these were marine electric motors for boats, not cars or other transportation. We ended up with two ‘finalist’ names - helmsmanelectricdrives.com and rednunelectricdrives.com. In the end we chose ‘helmsman’ because the helm is more related to boat propulsion. You can check out the snazzy logo we came up with at the link above.
Check availability & buy your domain: I recommend Google Domains for purchasing domains because Google is a trustworthy registrar, is competitively priced, does not change pricing in year two, has free domain privacy, and makes it easy to transfer your domains and connect to your website. Google charges $12 bucks a year per domain, no hidden costs, no up-selling. Visit domains.google.com. (set up a google account if you don’t have one).
As you check availability, indicate which versions are available on your spreadsheet. Google will suggest other names related to what you search for, so you should consider adding some of those suggestions to your spreadsheet. Don’t jump to buy, sit on it, think about your name. What feels right?
According to Matt Cutts - famed Google engineer and Google anti-spam guru - it will take a couple months for a new domain to start appearing in search.
You may also have the option to purchase a domain if it is available for resale. But keep in mind, the most important thing about your site is the content you put on it, and your attention to SEO. I recently read about an entrepreneur who bought home.loans for $500 thousand dollars. That’s a big investment. Will it pay off?
Set up a G Suite Basic Business Email Address
Once you’ve purchased your domain and are sure which domain you’ll use for your site, purchase a Basic G Suite Gmail email address with your domain extension. If you want to look like the real deal, you need an email address @yourcompanyname.com. You can forward this new address anywhere you like if you can only manage a single email. I actively manage four emails, and forward them all to a ‘catch-all’ so I never miss anything important.
The cost for Google Basic is $6/month or slightly discounted if you purchase an annual plan. You won’t need more than the basic level for starters, but you can always upgrade. https://gsuite.google.com/products/gmail/.
Hot Tip - Avoid using ‘vintage’ email addresses like AOL or Hotmail for your business which might send unwanted signals about your technology skills. Want to know what your email address says about your computer skills? Check out this funny infographic from TheOatMeal.com.