This is a guest article…
by Aaron Boyce
1. Have a website. There is virtually no business, no industry that can not benefit from being on line. Now more than ever, people are relying on the Internet to shop, read, communicate, play, etc. Remember the old days when you had to rely on telephone books and 411 to find about an Italian restaurant in Chicago. Now we simply go online. After we find your listing we look for your website. If you don’t have one and your competition does, guess who gets my money.
2. Determine the message you want to present to your visitors. The three common themes are Transaction based (Buy this book…), Information based (the 9 reasons why…), and Advertising based (we are the largest…). Your website should be designed with this in mind since the flavor and content will differ between the three.
3. Do include photos and pictures and do not worry about the size of the photo. A common misconception is that you can’t have large photos or a lot of photos on your site. In reality, it is not the size of the photo nor the amount that is the concern but instead it is the resolution that drags down your website. There fore, keep your resolution below 100dpi and you will have crisp clean pictures that upload quickly.
4. Give your visitors a reason to return to your site. In order to do this your site, must be dynamic in content. You should include articles relating to your website and change them monthly. Include a calendar of local events. Tell success stories. Keep your visitors informed (even if your site is primarily to sell or advertise).
5. Help the search Engines search for you. When someone types the name of your business or the name of your industry, your site should come up in the first 3- 5 pages. If not, it’s as if you don’t exist online. The sad reality is that the major search engines only find 15% of the websites online. You can help them by manually including your site on their site. Most search engines (Yahoo, Google, Ask Jeeves, HotBot, Bomis) have a link where you can submit your information. You can also use the services of the sites that promise to send your info to hundreds of search engines. Do not pay these sites any money but do take advantage of whatever freebies they offer.
6. Form reciprocal link partnerships with as many worthwhile websites as possible. Wouldn’t it be nice for Macys if they could place an ad on the walls at Nordstroms. You can do this simply by asking permission to place their link (even your competition) on your site and asking them to include your link on theirs.
7. Pay attention to the local information sites available to web surfers. LocalView, Blackplanet, and SacDirectory are examples of sites that speak about the many opportunities in a particular city or concern. Get your website listed with these guys. There will probably be a nominal fee for this service.
8. Use the message boards and email to promote your website. But please – no spam. Collect email addresses of your clients and prospects and send them messages that lead them to your site. In the subject box, be sure to include your name so that they will know it is from you. As for message boards, there are many that pertain to your business or information. Find them and start messaging.
9. Always remember to not forget the “brick and mortar” community. The real world still exists so include your website and email on all your marketing materials including business cards, brochures, flyers, media advertising, yellow pages, etc. This will always lead them to your internet website.