The Internet provides individuals, governments, non-profit organizations and businesses with the opportunity to reach billions of people. Web pages and websites, linked groups of web pages, are the most widely employed method of reaching an audience on the Internet. Within certain legal limits, website owners may post virtually any type of information to a website.
Large organizations can use websites and web pages to make information available to the public that used to require printing or call centers. The Internal Revenue Service, for example, maintains a page of downloadable tax forms, instructions and other publications, as well as numerous tax information pages. Businesses no longer need to publish comprehensive catalogs of products, but instead, make the information available online. Online businesses, particularly those that provide purely electronic products, reduce costs by eliminating the majority of overhead expenses.
Barring a power outage or technical failure, websites never stop working. This means a company can take orders at all hours any day of the week. This also opens up foreign markets without requiring a company to operate beyond normal business hours in its home region. Information seekers do not need to wait for a library to open to access materials if they exist in a digital format. Web site can be updated any time it's needed, enabling people with day jobs to run online businesses in their off hours.
Websites save organizations money, but also come with costs, both in time and money. Most businesses and organizations opt to purchase a specific domain name, rather than operating under the domain name of a free website and hosting service. Like other visual mediums, effective websites require some design work, which means either hiring a web designer or handling design in-house. The first option costs money. The second option requires time and energy away from other organizational concerns. Content development takes time, if handled in-house, or costs money for a third party to write. There are also recurring website hosting fees, annual renewal of domain names and the electronics and software needed to manage the site.
A website no one sees has zero value. Unless a site commands brand name appeal, it must rely on other methods to draw traffic. This generally means achieving a high search engine ranking. In practice, this requires a number of elements. Successful websites maintain quality content and add to it consistently.. Ranking well also hinges on search engine optimization, which includes careful keyword selection, appropriate meta- and title-tags, and both incoming and outgoing links. Deploying useful SEO methods takes time or engaging the services of SEO experts. Potential customers who don't use the Internet for shopping and news reading may not find your website at all, so if you don't also use newspapers, direct mail or broadcast media, you may not reach those people with your message.