Tips on Building & Starting a Small Business Website

The recent economy has forced a number of enterprising people to consider starting their own small business. Starting a small business is a dream that is easily fulfilled on the Internet. This is due to the low startup money involved and the ease of entry. Building and starting a small business on the web is actually easier than most people might think. Lets take a closer look at the process.

First, it is important to have a website for the business. Consequently, the new entrepreneur must find a web host. The Internet is filled with web hosts who offer business owners web hosting packages. There are hosting plans that are very affordable for the small business owner. The hosting packages offer a certain amount of space and support for their online business. Therefore, it is important to check around for the best hosting packages. Do your research. Read reviews on a few selected web hosts before making a choice.

Next, it is important to design a website that is easy to navigate. Designing a website might seem too complicated for the beginner. Consequently, it might be a good idea to team up with a good web designer. Keep cost low by simply creating a basic website with a simple design.

Website owners who are thinking about selling products require a way to handle the payments. Check into finding a good merchant processing service to handle credit card payments. Of course, you could also consider joining Paypal. Paypal is a great way to handle payments for goods and services instantly. Another excellent way to earn profits immediately is to join a few of the popular affiliate programs. There are a number of great affiliate programs on the Internet seeking new affiliates. Simply sign up and place their banners on your brand-new website.

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Thoughts on Professional SEO Services

If you have a website, and you want that website to become popular, you are going to need to employ some search engine optimization strategies on and off your site.  If you’ve made it this far, chances are you understand the importance of link building, the process of working with other webmasters to share backlinks and thus, increase your Google reputation.  However, there’s more to SEO than just trading links.

The act of optimizing your website for maximum exposure in Google, Yahoo, Bing, and other popular engines (each with their own unique algorithms that determine what makes a page valuable) involves many factors.  You’ll need to consider things like meta-tags and descriptions, targeting keywords, and creating fresh, optimized content to spruce up your site on a regular basis.  If this sounds overwhelming, get some SEO quotes and think about hiring an experienced professional.  A pro may be the best choice for you if:

  • You are planning to use your website as your primary source of income.
  • You have more money to spare than you have time to devote to learning SEO best practices.
  • You need fast results.

However, if you have the time to teach yourself a little about SEO (and the time to implement what you’ve learned), and you don’t need immediate results, you are probably wiser to save your money and invest your time instead.  Professionals are great for sites that require their services, but they can pose an unnecessary expense for hobbyists and others who care more about sharing information on their websites than they do about turning a quick profit.

If you’re on the fence, it can’t hurt to get some quotes.  You may find an individual or freelancer willing to take on your project at a low price – or you may find that the ease and faster results are worth the money.  If nothing else, seeing how much SEO services can cost should help you to feel good about the amount of time and effort you put in to promote your own webpage!

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A Professional Appearance Goes a Long Way

I think many of us oldsters online remember the old fashion Geocities webpages – created for free using a set of very basic, user-friendly tools right over your dial-up internet connection.  Everyone could be a web designer on Geocities!  In hindsight, those pages were gaudy and childish in their appearance, and most people would rather forget that they ever made one.

Nowadays, it’s important to create a site that looks modern and professional, and unless you have either a lot of time on your hands or a lot of experience with web design, hiring a pro is usually the best choice.  MAC Design is one company that can help with your webpages, logo, branding, and other marketing materials.

Remember, networking is a critical component of any successful SEO campaign, and you’re going to have a much easier time attracting both clients and business contacts if you have an attractive, functional site to promote.

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Basic Tips for Higher Rankings

How to do SEO is not as complicated as you may think. You might be aware that one of the most important factors in creating a findable website is having relevant content on the site. Although you might want to shoot for the stars and try to appeal to as many people as possible, there’s a right way to do this and a wrong way to do this. Let’s say you are an avid blogger and you love talking about music. Maybe your taste in music is mainly jazz, that’s what you’ll probably talk about the most. The fact of the matter is that if you want to appeal to a more diverse crowd, broaden your horizons and write about different genres of music such as rock, hip hop, punk, and metal. The web crawler will then be able to associate your site with a broader range of keywords, thus increasing your web presence and giving your site higher ranking within the search results.

Another important tactic is website design. Make sure all content on your website is easy to find. One way to do this is developing an organized site-map, so the user can navigate. Also, cross-linking between sections of your own website is a big plus.

You might be wondering what cross-linking is. Essentially, it is directing your user to a different section of your website via hypertext link when it is relevant to what you are talking about. This also makes for a user-friendly website environment! Another good idea is to make your website visitor aware of all that your site is offering. If you also have social media outlets such as Twitter, Facebook, or Youtube, these should all be listed on your web site’s homepage. Make the process of finding your business online as easy as possible for your customers and clients!

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Social Link Building

Social media is becoming more and more intertwined in our daily lives. As users of social media, we don’t realize that when we post an article from our favorite website or favorite Youtube video, we are helping that website’s SEO rankings and link popularity. Essentially, what you are doing is contributing to their link building campaign. This is the beauty of social media, a lot of success may be achieved through involuntary word of mouth.

On the other hand, active relationship building via social media can also harvest quality links from people or businesses you seek out. As you may already know, building links naturally will take time because search engine’s algorithms have been developed to analyze the number and quality. Otherwise, if you are acquiring massive amounts of links daily, Google may become suspicious and not accept some of your links. That being said, using Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, and blogging are all tools for your social media/link building success. Developing trust is key, if you participate in social media and bring relevant information to the table. People will link to you because they feel comfortable and have confidence in your business.

Taking this idea of social media to increase your link popularity one step further. Incorporating a social monitoring tool into your business plan can help you track down potential people that will link to you. What does a social monitoring tool do exactly? It allows you to see who is talking about keywords that relate to your website. You can then follow this person on whatever social media outlet they are using and develop a working relationship!

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SEO Friendly Content

Search engines are constantly changing and improving their algorithms to provide users with the most appropriate, natural results listings.  One of the ways that they now do this is by determining which sites appear to be legitimate sources of information and which are, alternately, over-optimized and artificial.

Obviously, you want your site to be found and noticed, and you created it with the goal of reaching out to your audience.  Getting into a prime position on Google or Yahoo is critical to gaining the attention you seek.

That’s why we recommend quality over quantity, both in terms of link trades and also (most importantly) in terms of what you put up on your site.

It can be easy to over-optimize your content even when that is not your intention.  For instance, a merchant service website could very easily use keywords like credit cards, merchant services, and credit card processing dozens of times on one page – it might even feel natural to do that when you’re writing articles for the site.  However, this is a bad practice when it comes to SEO.

Instead, think carefully about your keywords and come up with variations that make sense without being repetitive.  It’s even acceptable to substitute words like “it” and “this” or “that” to avoid using your keywords too many times on a page.

What is “too many”, though?  There isn’t a hard and fast answer to that question.  Overall, I suggest reducing your use of a keyword on a larger page of text (500-800 words) to a maximum of 10 times, spaced out in a normal way and peppered with many other variants on the words you’ve chosen to target.  With a shorter article, cut down your repetitions even more.

Writing quality, optimized content can be a challenge, but if you put forth the effort, the returns will be tremendous.

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Obtaining Links Through Commenting

If you’re at all familiar with social media, you probably aren’t a stranger to the world of blogs.  Blogs – especially those with high traffic and numerous followers – often become terrific forums for discussion among readers and writers alike.  As a webmaster pursuing backlinks, you too can benefit from blogs simply by joining the discussion and adding your voice to the comments on a subject of interest.

Often, when you leave a comment on a blog post, you are offered the opportunity to leave your website address as a link.  These links can be quite valuable, but there are some things to keep in mind when using comments to generate backlinks.

Before you comment, make sure that the links posted are not tagged “no follow”.  You can use an SEO tool for the firefox browser to highlight nofollow links – or you can view the page’s source code to see if the links are tagged that way.  A no follow back link will not benefit your website.

Also, make sure that your comment is worthwhile from a content perspective.  People who put time and energy into blogging do not want others posting “spam” on their journals.  When you comment, make sure that you’re adding something valuable to the discussion.

As with any linking efforts, putting quality above quantity will serve you well in the long run.

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Automated Link Exchanges

Do you use an automated script for trading links?

Many webmasters find that this is a quick and efficient way to swap backlinks.  We even offer a free link management tool right here to streamline your operations!

The best thing about these scripts is that they do all the work for you.  There’s no need to upload new files or play around with editing your links in on a page by page basis.  You don’t have to make changes to your site and deal with uploading those every time someone swaps with you.  We all lead busy lives, so saving time is very important.

Automated link managers also help you to obtain trades even when you aren’t actively looking for them!   Visitors who understand reciprocal linking and find your page may very well submit a link without even messaging you.  Then, depending on your script, the reciprocal will be verified and the link posted, or you’ll have the opportunity to log in and approve it at your convenience.

The one thing to keep in mind is that you cannot reasonably expect all your trades to come to you!  Unless you have an extremely popular, heavily trafficked site, you should still plan to spend time searching out quality partners and offering swaps.  Even so, you will find that your trading goes much more quickly when you have an automated script working for you!

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The Importance of Context and Link Building

When seeking out link partners, it is very important to be somewhat selective.  Relatedness is key:  if there is no connection between your site and the site linking back to yours, the link will not be valuable in the “eyes” of the search engine.

Of course, getting direct competitors to trade links with you may be a challenge – one that you may not wish to undertake simply because you don’t want to link back to them, either – but it should be relatively easy to track down related, non-competitor websites for possible link swapping opportunities.

Take, for example, an auto insurance website.  Assuming this site wants to boost its reputation by obtaining backlinks from other sites, its owner should seek out related sites for link trades.  Some good options would be sites offering other types of insurance (health, life, or homeowners, for instance) or sites discussing vehicles outside of an insurance context.

Though it may seem like more than a search engine algorithm could possibly deduce, these programs are indeed able to evaluate whether one site contains words or phrases that are used on the other sites to which it is linking.  Related sites are awarded more value than those that seem unrelated, as a way of rewarding natural linking compared to artificially obtained backlinks.

You can find useful, related link swap opportunities by participating in online forums or communities for people in your industry, or by searching for similar keywords or phrases to find web pages with similar content.  Though it may take some time to find these pages, your efforts will be well rewarded!

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Trading Links in Articles

Links that appear in the context of a blog post or article on a web page are highly valuable, increasing in worth as social networking and social media continue to evolve. While exchanging these types of links is less common than trading with directories or links pages, it certainly is a good way to generate valuable backlinks to your site.

First, of course, you need to have a site, or a part of your site, where you can post articles and blogs.  Ideally, this space will be populated with quality content and a mix of postings that contain links as well as ones that don’t.  Once you have it developed, you can begin making connections with other bloggers or webmasters who have related sites.

Search for blogs that write about your subject.  Contact their owners and offer to trade postings — you can write a post on your site, linking back to theirs.  In exchange, they can write a post on their site that links back to yours.  Make sure to have them link directly to the site you want to promote, rather than to your blog, to gain the maximum effect from a trade like this.

Alternately, you might want to allow your swap buddy to write a guest post for your blog or articles page, including his or her chosen links.  You can do the same — then you are sure to be writing about something you know and understand, and you’re also giving the webmaster free content.  Everyone loves free content!

Don’t neglect straight text or banner link trades, but start adding in some contextual trades and watch your site’s popularity grow!

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