New Web sites are springing up online by the millions. However,
when they don’t reach a level of success, the Web site owners assume that
you can’t make money off the Internet.
The one thing that is important to know, however, is that you do
have to work to make money online. Just like having a regular offline business,
the online business needs to be taken care of, the Web site continually
updated, and the customers made to feel safe and secure when doing business
So, let’s devote this article to simple things you can do
to have a successful online business. Remember that books have been written on
this subject, so this article won’t be all inclusive by any means.
But, for the average Web site owner, it will give you simple
steps to take to turn your online business down the right path toward achieving
Future of the Internet
In January of 2003, Roy H. Williams, who is widely known and
respected as the “Wizard of Ads,” finally declared, "Now is the time
to get in." For years, Roy has been watching and predicting the Internet's
future. Back in 1996, he declared, "The Internet is a baby born premature." He
even predicted the great dot com crash that we’re still recovering from.
So what does Roy have to say about the future of the Internet?
Roy says that the buying public has finally figured out how to use the Internet
and what it's good for: specifically, "information gathering and features-based
What does Roy suggest for Web sites today?
- Ignore heavy graphic sites and focus on providing
information for your visitors.
- Build confidence by interacting with your Web visitors and
anticipating and answering their questions.
- Don’t think “advertising” – think
- Focus on Web site architecture (a simply designed site) and
- Help your visitors find what they’re looking for within
a few minutes of landing on your site. If you make them hunt for information,
For more information such as what was mentioned above, subscribe
to Michael Campbell’s newsletter. Michael is one of the most well-known
Internet marketers, and his newsletter is exceptional.
For more information about Roy H. Williams and his advertising
So, with Roy’s predictions in mind, let’s look at
some ways to make our Web sites stronger, more visible, and have a better
chance at being successful.
Purchase your own domain name –
Having a professional image is very important on the Web, and it
begins with having your own domain name. Having your Web site located at AOL or
one of the free Web hosting companies takes away a level of professionalism.
Let’s face it: purchasing a domain is cheap! Did you know
that you can purchase a domain name for $21.95 a YEAR?? That’s it! From
there, you’ll want to use a professional hosting company, which will
provide an address for your Web site. Combustion Hosting will be glad to take
care of purchasing your domain name for you, moving your “old” Web
site to their location, and hosting the site for you. Their rates to
“host” your domain begin at only $15.49 a month, which is an
excellent price. “Hosting” a domain simply means to provide an
address on the Web for your site.
Naming your domain –
Before you rush off to purchase a domain, let’s talk for a
minute about naming your domain. Most businesses want to name their domain
after the name of their company, which is understandable. However, if you can
name your domain using keywords that people might be searching for when looking
for the products or services you provide, you’re giving your site a small
edge with the search engines.
For example, if the name of your company is Simply Southern, and
if you purchase the domain name simplysouthern.com, you’re not using any
keywords in that domain name, and someone seeing that domain name will have no
idea what your site is about.
So, why not purchase simply-southern-catering.com, which will
give the engines (and your visitors) a keyword phrase that describes your site:
Your e-mail address --
When you set up your own domain name, be sure to use that domain
name in your e-mail address, such as:
Again, this adds a level of professionalism to your business. In
my case, I have an e-mail address through my local ISP, which is how I access
the Internet. I use a nickname in that e-mail address. Therefore, rather than
use that e-mail address, it would be better for me to use the above e-mail
address that’s connected to my domain name and online business.
Professional image –
When you have a Web site, you want to portray a professional
image. You want your visitors comfortable enough with your online business to
purchase whatever it is you're selling.
So, don’t let your 12-year old nephew design your Web site
with cutesy graphics of cartoon characters. Instead, have it designed by a
professional. To save money on Web design, you can always have the designer
create the main page of your site and maybe one or two interior pages, and then
develop a “template” for you. Templates are “skeleton” Web
pages containing just the basic design, and you can then cut and paste the rest
of your pages into the template and finish up the site yourself, if you’re
comfortable with working on your own site.
If you have a software program that allows you to create and
work on Web pages (which is called an HTML editor), you may be able to find
templates for that program that will allow you to create your own site with a
professional look. FrontPage is an easy to use HTML editor that is just like
working with a word processing program. If you can use Word, you can use
FrontPage. At the URL below, you’ll find a huge assortment of templates
that were created just for FrontPage, which would make creating your own site
You can also read this article about FrontPage, which contains a
link to an online tutorial for learning how to use the program.
Or, if you’d rather have someone else create your Web site
for you, look in your yellow pages and find someone locally. Or, try Look Sharp
Designs, which will create Web sites for a very reasonable price. And, their
designer also knows how to create Web sites that are “search engine
friendly,” which is a big consideration when looking for a Web designer.
Web site design –
If at all possible, keep your Web site design very simple.
Don’t use frames, excessive graphics, database-generated pages, Flash home
problems for you when you’re trying to get a good ranking with the search
engines, which is where you’ll probably get the majority of your traffic.
So, if you hire a professional Web designer, make sure he or she
knows that you want the design kept simple.
Let’s face it – when YOU go to a Web site, you would
much prefer a simple Web site, wouldn’t you? You want to find what
you’re looking for quickly and easily. You don’t want to have to
spend time trying to find something. And, you don’t want to see a Flash
movie that crashes your computer or that keeps you from getting into the site
where the real content is. You want the CONTENT!
In fact, one study shows that Americans experience “search
rage” if they don’t find what they’re looking for within 12
Keep that in mind when you’re designing your own site. Use
simple, clear navigation. Include a site map that has links to all of the pages
in your site. This site map is valuable to both your users and the search
Keep graphics to a minimum, and only use them when you want to
point the eye to a certain location.
When you use graphics, here’s something else to consider.
Let’s say that you are a real estate agent, and your home
page is covered with your awards, a picture of you, and maybe the logo of your
company. Do you think your visitors care about your awards or your picture? No!
They want to see pictures of the houses you’re selling! They want to learn
about the schools in that area or the crime rate. They want to see a mortgage
calculator. They want to see content! Put yourselves into the shoes of your
visitors, and think about what your visitors want to see, not what YOU want to
If you use a picture of a house on the main page of your site,
use a picture that has a happy, smiling family in front of the house, obviously
pleased with the new home that you’ve sold them. The visitors will
automatically put themselves into the picture with the happy family, and
they’ll be more receptive to becoming a potential home buyer. But, just a
picture of a home on the main page of your site doesn’t evoke those
Or, if you sell toys, don’t just have pictures of the toys.
Have pictures of smiling children playing with the toys! Appeal to the emotions
of your Web site visitors.
Keep in mind another thing regarding graphics. The search
engines can’t “see” the graphics. So, if you have a page that is
loaded with graphics, there’s no way that the engines can know what the
page is about. Therefore, offer a paragraph or two of text above the images
that describes what the page is about. Give the engines something to index, and
your pages will have a better chance of visibility in the search engines.
Build valuable content --
When people come online, they generally aren’t looking to
buy something. Instead, they are looking for information. Consider your own Web
site. What information can you provide that would help attract visitors (and
search engines) to your site?
Let’s say that you have a local store that sells TV’s.
Could you create content that would be beneficial and possibly provide cost
savings to your Web visitors? For example, are there any little tips you could
offer to extend the life of a TV? Or, could you write content that focuses on
the latest innovations in TV’s? What about a page that deals with the
history of television? The more content you build, the stronger you’re
making your Web site, and the better chance you have that the visitor will
return. Plus, as a huge bonus, the engines love a content-rich site, so
you’re boosting your chances at better search engine rankings.
Remember that you’re also “introducing” your
online business to these visitors. You’re creating name recognition and
credibility. So, when the visitors are in the market for a TV, won’t they
consider an online business that they can trust? Make it your goal to be that
More to come later
As you can see, we’ve just scratched the surface when it
comes to having a successful online business. In the next month or so, I'll
cover more tips, which I hope will help you turn your Web sites into true
online businesses that will make you some money.
In the meantime, you may want to take some training that will
help boost your chances at achieving online success. Here are a couple of
Search Engine Workshops offers on location workshops in search
engine marketing to both beginners and advanced folks. These workshops are held
in various locations across the globe.
The Academy of Web Specialists offers online courses in search
engine marketing, where you can take beginning or advanced classes online in
the comfort of your own home.