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In the past two weeks, I’ve spoken with several potential clients about search engine optimization. In our initial conversations, I’ve been surprised by how little information each of these clients has about the basic workings of their websites.

I’m talking about things like how to access the site (logging into the WordPress dashboard, for those of you who are familiar), whether they are running Google Analytics (super important when you are looking to improve lead generation and conversion), where the graphics and image content has been sourced from (making sure these are licensed properly) and other basic things in the category of where their site is hosted, whether they are listed as the contact on the domain, and whether their site has a backup system in place.

In each of these cases, these smart and heartful business owners had no idea about some very basic aspects of their online business.

Unfortunately, these cases are not isolated. Many business owners invest lots and lots of money to have a beautiful website built that they don’t even know how to use.

They are missing crucial pieces of information that they need to make the site work for their business.

So that leads me to this post: Five pieces of information to get from your web designer (for non-techies).

  1. Get access to the administration panel/dashboard so you can make edits to your site once you know how. This is easier if you are running a content management system like WordPress. One of the benefits of using WordPress, in my opinion, is learning how to update your website content on your own, without waiting. For the small business owners I work with, this can save them a lot of time and frustration.
  2. Find out if your site is running Google Analytics– and what Google account it’s running under. Some web-designers put all their client accounts in one Google account that they (the web-designer) owns. I don’t recommend this. It costs nothing to get a new Google account set up- that you manage- and to have all your Analytics and other information tied to. If you don’t know whether you are running Analytics, find out- and if you are, make sure you know under which Google account. If you are running it, but don’t have access to the account, change to a new Google account and get Analytics re-installed.
  3. Find out where all the images and photos on your site came from, if you don’t know. Be sure the licensing for these is correct and proper.
  4. Find out where your site is being hosted, and who is paying for that hosting account. Get login details to the hosting account if possible, or, at minimum, find out how you will get support if you need it. Keep this information in a safe place; you’ll need it if your site ever goes down. At the same time, find out if you have a site backup system in place. If you don’t, get one.
  5. Make sure you are listed as the main contact for your domain name. Sometimes you’re not, and this can create a problem later on. I’ve had clients who have built their businesses on a domain name they didn’t own, which became a problem when they wanted to move their websites elsewhere.

In many cases, the reason business owners don’t know this information is because technology can be overwhelming and scary. When they find someone they trust, they may, blindly, just “wash their hands” of all this kind of stuff. I don’t think this is a good idea.

It’s sort of like hiring someone to build your house, but then letting them close off parts of your new house to your use and oversight. You probably wouldn’t tolerate this in your real life, so why would you do it in your online life?

If you are looking to build an online business, you need to have basic and complete information about the framework of your online business- your website access, hosting, and domain controls. Even though this isn’t that interesting or exciting, a little attention to detail here will come in very useful later on.