Why should my small business have a website?

More people are searching online for local products and services than ever before and that number is still growing.  If they are anything like me, the old-fashioned paper directories do little more than take up valuable space in my drawer and eventually find their way into the trash.  As a small business owner, taking advantage of the multitude of online shoppers should be an easy choice.

Worried about the cost? 
While there can be a substantial up front cost to building a website, maintaining it over time is quite inexpensive.  Year after year, you can have an online presence for less than $100 a year, plus the low cost of keeping the content fresh.

Be available at all times: A website gives your customers and potential customers a way to find you and contact you at any time.  A website doesn’t have business hours and isn’t closed on Sundays.  If you offer products for sale on your website, you can make sales even while on vacation!  A website never closes.

Having a quality website will add credibility to your business.  More people are doing their research before spending their hard earned money.  If your potential customers can go to your website and learn more about you, you are building a relationship with them before they even set foot in your door.  (Likewise, a poorly designed website can hurt your credibility, so make sure you do it right!)

Give your business that personal touch:  You can showcase your family and involvement in the community.  This builds trust and loyalty and inspires people to want to do business with you.

Get a lot of questions from your customers?  Offer them an easy way to find the answers at any time with a Frequently Asked Questions page.  If they can’t find the answer they are looking for, give them an easy option to reach you.  E-mail forms are a great way to get people to contact you.  They are inviting and easy to use.  They help take the stress out of shopping by allowing the customer to ask questions in a no-pressure setting.

Many shoppers like to ask questions or get information about a company before leaving their house.  Offering your customers a way to do this will improve the chances that they will come to you when they do decide to buy.

How long before my website starts to bring in business?

Giving your small business an online presence can be a very valuable tool for building new business.  More people than ever before are searching online for local businesses before ever stepping outside their homes.  Online search has become more popular than the Yellow Pages and in many cases, it can be much more affordable long term.

A professionally designed website can certainly help you grow your business, but it won’t happen automatically.  A common misconception is that as soon as a website is published, people will be able to easily find it using search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo.  The truth is, there is a lot of competition out there and getting your name on the top of the list is no small task.  Especially when you’re competing with other businesses who have been on top for years.

Try it.  Go to Google.com and act like you are a potential customer looking for a service you have to offer.  What will you type in?  I typed in web designer on Long Island.  When I look at the top of the page I see I got over 94 Million results. 94,000,000.  That’s a lot of competition to overcome!

How to overcome 94 million competitors

In the Internet world, content is key.  I can’t say that enough.  Just like location location location, I like to say content content content.  Write quality content to describe your products and services.  When people search the web for a local business, they want to know all about you.  What you offer, how you do it, what they can expect as a customer, etc.  They want to know how to contact you, how to get to you, and where to park.

The way search engines work is they are looking for keywords in your content.  If someone is looking for a web designer on Long Island, I need to include those words in my content several times.  I also need to include related words to show that my website is indeed relevant.  The algorithm Google uses is very complex and includes inbound links, domain age, meta tags (the stuff you don’t see when you’re looking at a website), but the most important factor is going to be your content.

How do I know what keywords to use when writing my website’s content?

There are many tools available to help determine what people are searching for when they are looking for local small businesses.  Google AdWords Keyword tool is one of my favorites.  It can tell you how many searches people have performed in the past month as well as the statistics for related searches.  I like to keep my search terms local.  I have a much better chance of attracting someone who is looking for a web designer on Long Island than I do just a web designer.  (web designer searched by itself returns more than 342 million results).

Since my target is small business, focusing on the keywords small business web design on Long Island produces even better results.

Specific niche keywords often perform the best over more broad terms.  Even though more people search for the broad terms like web designer, the chances of coming out on top for such a term are very small.  Focus your niche and bring in the people looking for a more specialized or local service to improve website performance.

Ways To Improve Sales Through Your Website

Anyone who has been marketing online knows that the lifeblood of a business is the traffic of a site. More visitors equal more sales. However, here are some ways that you can tweak your sites with to improve sales without the need to get more visitors.

The first method is to weave in your personal touch in your sales message. Nobody wants to be sold to by a total stranger, but many people will buy what their close friends recommend to them. If you can convince your audience that you are a personal friend who has their best interest at heart, they will be convinced to buy your products. Remember to speak to an individual in your salesletter, not to your whole audience.

The second method is to publish testimonials and comments from your customers. A good idea would be to publish both good and bad comments; that way prospects will be really convinced that these testimonials are real. When prospects see testimonials on your website, they will have the confidence to buy from you because human beings follow the herd mentality; when others have bought and proven it authentic, they will jump on the bandwagon and buy too.

Use visual representations for the problems and solutions that your product offers. Not everyone will read your text copy from the head to the tail, but most people will pay attention to images on your website.

Offer quality bonuses to accompany the product. When you offer bonuses that complement your product, your prospects will feel it’s a very good deal and it would be stupid to miss it. Be sure to state the monetary value of your bonuses so that people will be even more compelled to grab your good bargain.

Lastly, ask for the sale! Many people entice their prospects with the benefits of their product, sell to them with stories of how it has solved many problems, even offered killer bonuses but forget to ask for the sale. Give a clear instruction on how to buy your product (e.g. “click the button to buy now!”).

7 Surefire Ways To Increase Your Traffic Starting Yesterday

Internet. Business. Profit. To fully integrate all of these words into a successful merging you will need another word. Traffic. Every article you will find about making your site or company successful would always include the importance of generating traffic.

So, we all know that in the core of it all, traffic is the most essential thing to a successful internet based business company. Aside from ensuring that you have a great product to sell, and you have your company’s internal organization well taken core of, it would be time to get to the nitty gritty of things, generating traffic.

If you already have a site and you want think that you’re not getting the traffic that you’re supposed to be getting, then its time to reconsider. If you are contending in these very competitive business, you should always be a step ahead of your competition, increasing your traffic flow should have been done starting yesterday.

Timing is essential, that’s an old adage known to everyone. But with generating traffic, you should always be on your toes and be a day ahead of everyone. Never think of today and tomorrow as a starting point for making your site traffic laden, it should always have been yesterday.

To help you out in generating more traffic for your site, here are some seven surefire ways to increase your traffic starting from yesterday.

1) Invest in good advertising with search engines

Google, Yahoo and Bing provide great advertising schemes that are very truly popular and assures great traffic. Although this surefire way to increase your traffic would cost some money. While some would shy away from spending money to increase traffic, it is imperative in this case to do so because pay-per-click advertising is the top surefire way to increase your traffic.

You could see for yourself the success this search engine advertising methods have reaped rewards for so many companies. Lots of sites feature these advertising systems and many have signed on to reap the benefits. Do not be left behind. Every penny is worth it with using pay-per-click advertising.

2) Exchange or Trade Links with other sites

With exchanging links with other sites, both of you will benefit from the efforts both of you do to enhance your sites traffic. When one site features another sites link, they could provide one another with the traffic one site generates. The efforts are doubly beneficial because it would seem like both of you are working to generate more traffic. The more links traded with more sites the more traffic could be expected.

3) Use Viral Marketing

Viral marketing allows you to spread the word about your company and product without any costs or if ever low costs only. This is a marketing method that can be quite sneaky; you can attach your company’s name, product or link to a certain media such as a funny video, entertaining game, an interesting article or a gossip or buzz. With this method, people get infected with the creativity and entertainment of the medium that they will pass it on to many people.

4) Search and use proper keywords or keyword phrases for your sites content

Search engines look for certain keywords that they would show in their results page. In doing so, having the right keyword and keyword phrase is a high requirement in ranking in high in search engine results. You could write your own content or you could hire someone to do it for you.

5) Write Articles that can lead traffic to your site

Submit articles to sites that would contain the same subject that your site deals in. If you sell car parts write press releases and articles about cars and car parts. Attach your sites description and services at the end of the article as well as the link.

6) Join forums and form online communities

Capture a market and show your expertise and credibility. When you found a good foundation for your site, people will trust you and your site and will pass on to many people their trust. Traffic will certainly increase because they know that you can provide what they need.

7) Lastly, Offer newsletters.

If many people know what you are about and your existence is shared with many others, you will find a loyal traffic that can provide you with more traffic by recommendation. If you arouse the curiosity of your customers they would be pushed to help you with your traffic.

Boost business during tough economical times

Think a website isn’t worth the money?

Consider this:

  • More than 75% of the US population uses the internet.
  • More than 2/3 of people searching for local services are looking online rather than in their local Yellow Pages.
  • Usage of Landline phones is dropping at an alarming rate.
  • Even a 1 inch display ad in the Yellow Pages could cost in the thousands depending on your location.

A website takes advantage of the massive amount of people who are searching online for your services.  It might seem intimidating to see the huge number of sites selling a similar product, but remember, you’re targeting your local area.  It’s easier than ever for your website to show up on the first page of search results for your local area. 

A small business website can cost significantly less than even a 1 inch ad in the yellow pages.  It lasts longer, is bigger, more descriptive and can change with your business as your own needs change.

The Truth About Link Popularity

If you are an Internet Marketer, you’ve undoubtedly heard about link popularity and how it can be used to boost your rankings in popular search engines like Google and Yahoo.

Linking does in fact boost your site’s popularity, but keep in mind it is only a small part of the equasion when it comes to determining who ranks where in the search engines.

What is Link Popularity?

I will start out by explaining a little about what link popularity is. Not to be confused with Google Page Rank, link popularity is determined by not only the number of links on the web that are pointing to your site, it also takes into account the quality of those links.

I will give you an example. If you have a site about cats, a link coming from a site selling car parts would probably not be of much benefit to you. However, if you can have sites that are related to your own content link to your site, you’re on the right track. With that in mind, the owner of the cat themed site would benefit from seeking links from people who have sites also about cats or even sites about other household pets.

Google Page Rank is similar to link popularity, but rather than take into consideration the quality of the links, it is simply counting the number of links and the popularity of those sites. In order to increase your Google Page Rank (PR), it helps to have sites with a high PR of their own link to your site.

Why should I care about link popularity?

Link popularity is important because all major search engines take link popularity into account when determining page rankings. For instance, if two sites are tied for number one, it’s quite possible that the site with the higher link popularity will be bumped to the number one spot.

When there are literally hundreds of thousands of websites vying for a spot on page one, everything you can do to increase your popularity is worth doing.

What if I trade links with other sites?

This is called reciprocal linking. You post a link on your site to another website. In return, that website has a link pointing to your site.

There are still mixed opinions out there about whether this is beneficial. Some people believe that trading links (remember link circles?) is useless because one cancels out the other. But others maintain the belief that the search engines are more concerned with the links coming IN to your site than those going OUT.

The best advice I can see is to do what fits the needs of your site. There is certainly no harm in trading links with related sites. It would be especially nice if you can get higher ranking sites to link to you in order to help boost your own rank.

On the other hand, trading links with unrelated sites may do more harm than good. Search engines are looking for good quality content. If they see discrepancies in what it thinks the site is about and the content within the site, they may rank your site lower. That site about cats would not benefit much from trading links with the auto parts store.

So how do I get people to link to me?

The best possible thing you can do for your website is to make it the best website available on your subject. Write quality content. Give your visitors something to look forward to when they visit your site. Keep them interested with relevant topics and regular updates.

As people come across your website and like what they see, they are more likely to link to it or tell their friends about it. Word gets around fast on the web. Give the people something worth talking about!

How to get FREE advertising in google…

Ever see those listings at the top or side of the Google search results? Chances are those are sponsored links. Advertisers pay for these high ranking links by paying for every click they receive. The cost per click varies depending on the keywords you use for your advertising campaign. I’ve seen clicks for as low as a nickel. Not too bad!

I, for one, was nervous about pay per click advertising. The last thing I wanted to do was rack up a huge bill without knowing if it would even generate any income for me. For that reason, I’ve put off starting a Google Adwords campaign for a long time.

Then I found a solution. You can test drive Google AdWords just by obtaining a Google Adwords Coupon Code. This coupon code, depending on where you get it, can be worth as much as $100 or more in adwords advertising. That’s a lot of clicks! And a great way to test drive Google AdWords.

So where do you get these Adwords Coupon Codes?

Many companies offer these coupon codes to new customers who buy their services. I got mine from Host Gator. When I signed up for my Host Gator hosting account, I received a card in the mail for a coupon code worth $50 in FREE Adwords credits.

I checked back recently and see that Host Gator is currently offering a $25 credit for Google Adwords. It’s not as good as it once was, but it’s still a decent start. You need hosting for your site anyway, so why not get the hosting, and then take advantage of some free advertising!

Backlinks Backlinks Backlinks

Generating backlinks to your website can be a time consuming and tedious process. I want to remind you, however, that it’s also a very important process if you want to improve your rankings with the search engines.

There’s this rating called Google Page Rank. Google will rank your page’s value based on the number of backlinks to your site. This Page Rank is taken into consideration when ranking pages in the search results. Also taken into consideration are the keyword used in your site and your sites relevance to those keywords. When all else is equal, the site with more backlinks gets the higher position.

Each week, I spend some time creating backlinks by submitting my site to directories or posting articles on other sites. I even created a directory of my own just to give people yet one more place where they can post links.

It’s free if you provide a back link to my site, so check it out! You can post your link at www.htlinkdirectory.com.