Many small business owners hear, feel and know that they need a website for their business in this internet age. Quite a few don’t know where to start and many others get a website built for the sake of having one. If you are going to have a web presence you should make sure that you are present when it counts.
#1. Where to Start?
You may not know how to build a website but you know your trade well and you have an idea what should go in to the introduction of your trade activities. First thing to do would be to look at websites of your competitors or trade organizations. This will give you an idea what would the content be about. Also, make a note of the websites you like so that you can show what sort of a site you want the website designer to build for you.
Most people would want to talk about their business activities, why customers choose them, their services, prices, opening times and how to find the premises. Most sites should have these details. In fact, websites should be seen as brochures of your business online. The next step is to find a competent designer and get your site built. Ask around for recommendations or check the bottom of the websites you like because there maybe details of the designer.
#2. How to Promote Your Website and Business?
Simple Ways: You should start with simple ways of making people aware of your website. You should tell your customers about it, put the URL on your shop sign, brochure, headed paper and business card. If you have an account on Facebook and Twitter you should put it there as well as any online profile you might have. Remember to use your site as information board. Tell your customers about the changes taking place and share these new posts on your Facebook and Twitter pages.
Trade Links: Most people like to join trade bodies relevant to their activities. Now most of those bodies are online. When you join them don’t forget to get a link for your website from theirs as well. Furthermore, there are sites that are allowing small advertisements for your trade. They may be local directories or online advertisement portals. As long as they are free or reasonably priced you might want to add your site.
These links are really valuable because they are relevant to your website. Try to stuff a few keywords in there wherever you are allowed. Say you are running a guest house called Green Trees in a town called Uppertown. You should aim to have the link (to your site) from these relevant sites as Uppertown Guest House instead of Green Trees Guest House.
Simple reason for this is that search engines locate your website based on these links. Most people who are looking for a guest house in your town would be typing the search query of “Uppertown Guest House” and hardly anyone would be searching for Green Trees Guest House unless they know it.
To increase your chances of being found, you should vary these link texts (anchor text) like Guest House in Uppertown, Uppertown Bed and Breakfast and so on. And some sites wouldn’t allow you to choose these texts and would put you down as Green Trees Guest House anyway.
Active Promotion of Your Services: There are many ways of promoting your services online. One of the better ways of doing it is joining conversations in related forums, leaving comments on the blogs that talk about similar topics. For example, if you are an insurance agent selling many auto insurance policies, you can visit forums that talk about car insurance. Generally forums and blogs allow you to leave a link for your website. If you impress people with your words you may be able to pick up a few customers. If this is your aim you should target the right audience. For example, there is no point in frequenting Florida forums if you are licensed to sell vehicle insurance policies only in California.
Also having a good domain name helps you a lot. It would be better if you can have your keywords in your domain. For example, having your keywords in the domain would help your promotion efforts. You probably cannot get .com easily but .net or .org should work the same although some people would first try the .com version of it. Investing in a good domain can increase your sales.
Google Local: You probably have seen that Google places search results on the map. When you are searching a hairdresser nearby you may see that a nice map appears and places them on it nicely. You can register your business on google local so that you appear there as well when people search. Google will want to confirm that you own the business and your address is correct.
#3. Do Proper SEO
Search Engine Optimization is a way of increasing your chances of being listed in search engines. There are people who consider this as their job. As a small business owner you could engage in SEO on your own or hire a professional. For most local search engine listings you don’t need much effort. You can read about how to rank on search results to see if you can handle this task on your own.
You can go over a few principles of optimizing your website for search engines and do that first. Remember you should never go overboard and ignore the primary reason of having a website which is informing your customers. For example, you say on your homepage that you are a guest house in Uppertown and vary the word guest house as B&B or Bed and Breakfast along the way to describe your trade. Also, you could mention the wider area you are in by saying in Uppertown, Uppershire and Uppertown, near Biggertown. Remember not to go overboard with keywords. Your website can be penalized if you use the same keyword over and over. Ideally, you shouldn’t use the same keyword more than 5%.
Then, you may ask your friends, family, accountant and lawyer to link to your website and think of other ways of getting links that will increase the popularity of your website. Listing your site in several relevant directories may be one option you could utilize. This would probably be enough for your website to appear on some of the search engines for some of the keywords, given a little time.
Unless you are a Divorce Lawyer in Los Angeles you probably don’t need an SEO expert for your website. Even then, you should make sure that nobody messes with your website in an attempt to manipulate the search results. SEO should be taken as gentle encouragement for the search engines to list your site. It should never be seen as a method of trying to force your way in. This could always backfire.
With a little care and effort you get your website going and get it working for you. A few extra customers can never hurt and it can mean the difference between making a good living and failure. Hopefully, this article will encourage you to learn more about how you could make the most of your website.