These days, small businesses need an Internet presence. Today's customers expect a company to have a well-designed Web site that provides product information and details about services. If you're a small business owner who can sell at least some products online, customers will often reward you with increased revenue and word-of-mouth advertising.
However, even the most inviting and easy-to-navigate Web site needs promotion. Think about a brick-and-mortar business. Customers often learn about a company's products or store location by browsing the yellow pages. If an advertisement motivates them to jump in the car, drive to a physical location, and walk through the firm's door, they're more likely to buy something. Internet businesses operate on the same principle. Customers need to know the address (URL) of your Web site and must be encouraged to visit.
Effective Web site promotion generally relies on a combination of Internet-based tools and traditional marketing. Here are some tips.
Search engine tools. By some estimates, 90% of Web traffic stems from search engine results. So getting to the top of those search lists is important. After all, what's the likelihood that a busy consumer will scroll down to your entry if it's number 523 in the queue? Increase your odds by placing key words and phrases throughout your site, including the top of your homepage and in text called meta tags. (Ask your Web site designer for more detail.) You can also submit your site to multiple search engines.
“Content is key - Search engines are reading your site, looking for content that fits a certain search request. Just having keywords on your site is not enough. Keywords need to be used in sentences and be used in context. Improper use of keywords on your site can harm your search engine results. In addition, using the correct synonym may increase your chances of being found.
The answer can be found by researching what your competitors are not using and studying search engine statistics. Some phrases can have10 times more searches conducted for one phrase over the other. Applying this knowledge to the site design may result in better search engine rankings.
Search engine stats, your competitors, and search engine methods are continually evolving. Be sure to update your content frequently and review the keywords used in your site often. Dynamic content like blogs are one way to add fresh, keyword-rich content to your site for a minimal cost” says Brian Cuda, V.P. Business Development of Conceptinet, a local web design and hosting firm.
Links. Contact industry groups, trade associations and complementary business sites, asking them to link your site to their Web pages.
Online advertising. Consider paying to have your banner placed on someone else's Web site or search engine. One way to get more bang for your buck is to use Internet advertising that's keyword-driven — meaning you don't pay unless someone clicks on your ad.
Traditional marketing. When you order a new batch of business cards or add signage to your firm's vehicles, include your Web address. Send out a press release to your local paper touting your new Web site. And don't forget to mention your URL when dealing with existing customers.
Like any significant business expense, it's important to monitor your online and offline advertising expense vis-à-vis sales revenues. If that splashy banner isn't pulling in customers, your marketing dollars might be needed elsewhere