Tag: small business web site
Your Small Business Web Site
A web site is a crucial ingredient of your marketing strategy because it can widen your target market to include anyone who has access to a computer and the internet. Almost 60% of Canadians had access to the internet at home in 2003, and around 8 million had regular access to the internet from somewhere, either at home, at work or at school.
And thatís just in Canada. Ecommerce sales from Canada were $7.2 billion, and we only captured 4% of the global ecommerce market! So, how can you reach some of those internet surfers, and how can you capture some of that $7.2 billion spent in ecommerce?
First, you build it
The first step is designing your website. If your company already has business cards and letterhead, itís best to design your website around them. A matching corporate identity and website helps with branding.
I like uncomplicated websites, with a simple layout and easy navigation. A nice, simple layout, with good graphics, balanced look and good color combinations is my #1 goal when designing a small business web site. Remember to use graphics sparingly and to optimize them for your website because internet surfers are impatient. If your page loads too slowly, theyíll leave.
Navigation should be easy to find and to use, and it should be consistent from page to page. Iíve left more than one site frustrated because I couldnít easily find their navigation.
Small business web sites arenít static. They evolve. You need to start somewhere, and starting with an introductory web site is probably easiest. All you really need to start is five pages. You can always add pages later. The important thing is to just do itótake the plunge and get it out there.
Your five pages could include an index, or home page, about us, services, contact and a sitemap. The index page is your landing page. Typically its design is a little more detailed than the others, but it doesnít have to be that way.
I like to use CSS (cascading style sheets) for designing because itís simply easier to build a web site and to edit its layout with CSS rather than just HTML (hypertext markup language) alone. A change on a CSS sheet changes all the pages on your site at once.
Content is king
Once your site is designed, youíll want to start thinking about content. Design is very important, but it does little good to have a beautiful site without high-quality content.
Your small business home page introduces you and your companyówho you are and what you do. The about us page is usually used to give more detail than the home page about who you are, and your services page gives more detail about what you do. You might wonder why youíd ìwasteî a page on a sitemap since you only have 5 pages, but sitemaps help search engines find all the pages in your site.
As far as content goes, more is better, up to a point. Your pages should be content rich and informative, but they also need to be relevant to your small business. If your visitor canít figure out what your web site is about in just a few seconds, they may leave.
The internet was at first strictly informational, and thatís how it remains today. Several times people have tried experiments using copywriting similar to direct mail sales letters, but theyíve all failed. It seems as if people surf the internet more for information than anything else. Knowing this will help you write pages people will want to read.
You could follow your instinct and just start writing, but wait. Thereís research you must do first, or your web site simply wonít be high enough in searches to be found. Search engine optimization is far too big a subject to cover in this short article, but among other things, search engines find your pages based on keywords.
So, pretend for a moment that youíre on the other side of the desk. If you were a customer of your own business, what words or phrases would you use to search for your product or service? Ask friends and neighbors how theyíd search for your product or services.
When youíve come up with a few, check them out on a keyword suggestions tool. You can also use that tool to suggest similar words and phrases. Then find out how many results there would be if you searched for that term. What you want to do next is narrow down your choices to the words or phrases that are searched for the most, but have the fewest results.
Remember that people generally donít look beyond the first three pages for any search term, so if youíre not in the top three pages, your business is not likely to be found at all. If there are millions of results for your phrase, you might simply need to make it more specific.
For example, letís say you have a small business consulting company that specializes in communication for small business. Using ìcommunicationî as a search term is nearly pointless because there are almost 2 billion results for that word. But, there are only 974 results for ìsmall business communicationî.
Much better, but how often is that searched for? According to WordTracker, itís searched for 10 times a day. Not bad, but I think we can do better. How about ìsmall business consultingî? Thatís searched for 261 times a day, and there are 373,000 results. That could be the best primary phrase for a small business communication consulting company.
What you want to do, is write your content around those words and phrases. You donít want or need very manyóthree or four are plenty.
Getting them to come back again and again
Getting visitors to come back to your site again and again is relatively simple. Keep your content fresh and lively, make sure itís informative, and add to it often.
I hope you decide your small business needs a web site. Itís the best way I know how to reach a wider target audience with a relatively small investment.
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Can Your Small Business Afford Not to Have a Web Site?
I’ve been accused of being opinionated by more than one person in my life, but try as I might to work on that part of my personality, it remains pretty much the same. So, in this article, I’m going to discuss my ìopinionî on one reason why, even if your target market is strictly local, your small business can’t afford not to have a web site.
A few statistics from Statistics Canada to start us on our way-. In 2003, there were about 12 million households in Canada, and of those 8 million had regular access to the internet from work, home and/or school. Around 60% of the total households had a computer and internet access at home.
Ok, so now we know how many households had access to the internet, but what were they using it for? Almost 90% used the internet for browsing, but more importantly for our discussion- 34% used the internet for purchasing goods and services, and by the way, that’s almost double 1999 figures for purchasing goods and services on the internet.
Industry Canada reports that in 2000, Canadian ecommerce sales were $7.2 billion, a whopping 73% increase over 1999 numbers. And no, it’s not a typo, it really is $7.2 BILLION! I’d say there’s a pattern brewingóinternet usage and sales are increasing rapidly.
And, according to Industry Canada, Canada captured only about 4% of global e-commerce in 2000. Now, numbers may not be my strong suit, so feel free to correct me if I’m wrong, but doesn’t that mean there was 180 billion dollars spent globally in ecommerce?
Let’s look for a moment to the United States. www.tamingthebeast.net reports statistics and forecasts collected during December 2001ó157million online users forecast to spend $47.8 billion in online retail revenue in 2002. By 2006, the forecast is 210 million users spending $130 billion in retail revenue.
The numbers alone will probably convince many people to invest in a small business web site, particularly if they’re in an industry where their target market isn’t restricted to a purely local one.
But, you say, my business is just a little local shop. Why should I get a web site for my small business? What good will the internet do me? I’ve heard that one before. In fact, the guy I’ve heard it from most is David.
He’s the guy with the auto shop in my article ìI Don’t Need a Business PlanóDo I?î Long story short, his mother in law finally convinced him to write a business plan and his business is making some money, but in my opinion, it could do better with some marketing. I’d really like to convince him to spend some marketing dollars (he’s a little cheap sometimes), but so far, no dice. Anyway I digress.
Let’s use David’s business as an example. So, his business is in Saskatoon, a city with a population of just over 200,000 over five years of age and almost 90,000 households in 2001, according to Statistics Canada. Nearly every household has at least one vehicle in Saskatoon, so that means there are around 90,000 potential vehicle problems for David’s shop.
Of course, not every vehicle is going to break down in a year, and David isn’t going to get all of them to use his shop, but you get the idea. And mind you, some of them will break down more than once. A certain 1988 Jeep YJ comes to mindÖ
In Saskatoon, 72.5% of households had access to the internet in 2003, so around 65,000 households had internet access. And that’s not including the rural population surrounding Saskatoon who also have vehicles that need a mechanic from time to time. Now, let’s say David goes marketing-crazy and spends $2500 for his web site (which in my opinion is way too much money for a static small business web site).
But it does no good to have a web site if it isn’t found. Statistically, when people enter a word or phrase into a search engine, they’ll stop looking after the third page. That means, that in order for your web site to be positioned so people will actually click on it, it needs to be in the top 30 web sites for your particular key words or phrases.
So, lets assume that the $2500 David spent includes some good search engine optimization. His web site copywriter makes sure to research and find relevant keywords, and uses them well in his site.
She adds his site to small business directories, and does more of her seo magic, and low and behold, three months in, David’s site comes up #2 in a Google search for ìauto repair Saskatoonî. Now there are a potential 65,000 clients for David’s business because they’ll find it in a search engine.
If he only reaches .1% of those 65,000 (not 1%, but point 1%), he could have 65 new clients, and you know your bill is going to be more than 100 bucks every time you take your car to the shop, but assuming just $100 for an average bill, he’ll gross $6500, making that $2500 web site money well spent. I’d be willing to bet he’d make that much on maintenance alone, never mind repairs.
Now that I think about it, I’ve never approached David about a web site from this angle. I think I might show him this article. He’s a logical sort of guy, and it just might convince him to get one.
More info’s and free registrations (restricted to pros), please join our live seminar