Featured in HP Newsletter: Free Website Essentials 101

I recently started web design/online marketing agency First Time Online, LLC. Our 1st motto is It’s Time to Get Online. Assuming that you’ve arrived at that same conclusion refer to our 2nd motto, It Doesn’t Have to Be Expensive In Order To Be Effective. Once you’ve made the decision to create a website, there are essential tasks that will define the overall success of your site. The best part is most of those things can be done for free!

The only reason this article exists is because of another article I wrote for HP back in January (Using WordPress To Grow Your Business). Interestingly enough, I received great visitor feedback which ultimately led me to start First Time Online, LLC. Based on popular demand, I was approached to write another article for their newsletter (which has a distribution of about 80,000+). You can also check it out on the HP Logoworks Small Business site,“Free Website Essentials 101?.

GETTING STARTED

Before you build a site, you need to register a domain name (i.e. www.MyBusiness.com) which also means the use of a personalized e-mail address. I would suggest using GoDaddy.com. It’s a tough economy which means “Coupons” and “Promo Codes” are 100% necessary. It’s easy to find coupon codes that will save you money. I found a pretty good list on FatWallet.com. Half the codes go inactive very quickly, but the forum is constantly being updated. Once you have a website name, you need to consider hosting your site securely. GoDaddy provides those services, but if you want to get a better deal I would suggest the use Blue Host, as they are affordable and you get a free domain name when you sign up with them. The key here is saving money and nothing is better than free.

SEARCH ENGINE FRIENDLY FORMAT

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of improving the amount and quality of traffic to your site from organic searches within search engines. There’s no cost to get listed naturally in Google, Yahoo and MSN…your job is to try and rank correctly for any given search. For example, if you sell Shoes online, then when someone searches for Shoes in Google, your website would hopefully pop-up. In order for search engines to do this, they use crawlers to find pages to feed out as search results. If those crawlers have a hard time reading your websites code, then your chances of getting listed are decreased. There are free tools out there to help you optimize your website and I would highly suggest the use of Google Webmaster as a starter. I can’t stress this enough so I’ll repeat it one more time: Without good SEO, you’ll have to pay for people to find you. Your chance of selling a product to someone who is looking for you is higher than someone who is not.

UNDERSTAND YOUR TRAFFIC

Without a question, analytics is the double-edged sword of Online Marketing. The information you can collect about your visitors is extremely valuable, but the amount of information can be overwhelming. Set a benchmark for yourself and use analytics software to help define whether or not you’re reaching pre-assigned goals. Google Analytics has an internal feature to help track visitors and goal reaching. By understanding such things as, source of traffic and content-overview, you’ll be able to help your site evolve into a stronger source of business…and again, this software free.

BE CONTACT FRIENDLY

A business without a website is like an individual without a cell phone, they’re impossible to reach. If you’re a business with a website, then you should be very easy to reach. Unfortunately, that’s not always the cases. In order to increase visibility, a company should register for local listings on the major search engines. For Google, go to www.google.com/local/add and for Yahoo!, check out http://listings.local.yahoo.com/. When an individual searches for your company, your contact information will come up in the search, making it easier for them to reach you.

On another related topic, a few of my clients have expressed the fear of “e-mail spam” and have refused to lend out their contact information. There’s a very easy way around this: A “Contact-Us” page with a contact form and spam protection methods including a visual based key code that must be entered in order to send. Ask your web developer to put something like this together for you, or refer to free contact form services such as FreeContactForm.com. (Notice how it’s FREE!)

REMEMBER: EFFECTIVE ISN’T EPENSIVE

It doesn’t have to expensive in order to be effective. Your main objective is to stay focused on your goals, which by now, you should have an idea of what they are. If you’re trying to sell a product, then your goal is to direct traffic as far down the purchase process as possible. If you’re selling a service, then your goal is to get visitors to contact you. Want examples of what I mean? Take a look at Craigslist. The site serves over twenty billion page views per month, putting it in 28th place overall among web sites world-wide, and analysts value the site to be worth over $150 million. The best part is…their interface is simplistic and commonly referred to as “ugly”, BUT it’s effective.

SIMPLE METHODS TO INCREASE TRAFFIC

If you’re looking to bump up your traffic, then consider adopting some of the following trends: Company Newsletters, Blogging, Social Networking, Videos on your website and finding sponsors to host local events. Your goal is to create buzz, drive traffic and create loyal customers.

If you manage to do all of this, there’s no doubt that success will follow. Somehow “free” just smells, looks and tastes better!

Posted under Blogs, E-Mail, Online Marketing, Online Video, SEO/SEM, Social Networks, Viral Marketing

This post was written by Joshua Russak on June 16, 2009

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Seth Godin says “Internet is Almost Full!”

For all of you who don’t know Seth Godin….IT’S ABOUT TIME! He was founder and CEO of Yoyodyne, the industry’s leading interactive direct marketing company, which Yahoo! acquired in late 1998. He is also a bestselling author, entrepreneur and agent of change. Godin is author of ten books that have been bestsellers around the world. He also has a very successful blog under his own name, Seth’s Blog.

The reason I’m talking about him is because he made a fantastic blog post. I really can’t summarize, or state it even remotely as he put it himself. The issue is that by quoting him, I am going against everything his article stands for. Read it and you’ll see what I mean…(I almost feel guilty):

Warning: The internet is almost full

Due to the extraordinary explosion in video, blogs, news feeds and social network postings, the internet is dangerously close to running out of room.

Nothing can grow forever, and exponential growth is always short lived. We’re running out of disk space, so if you have something left to say, better hurry. Once it’s full, it’s full.

Of course, the decentralized nature of the net means that it will never be physically full. As long as we can keep making hard drives, we won’t run out of space to store those inane videos of your Aunt Sally. What is full is our attention.

Ten years ago, you had a shot of at least being aware of everything that mattered. Five years ago, you had to be really selective about what you took in, but at least it was possible to know what you didn’t know. Today, it’s impossible. Today, you can’t even read every article on a thin slice of a thin topic.

You can’t keep up with the status of your friends on the social networks. No way. You can’t read every important blog… you can’t even read all the blogs that tell you what the important blogs are saying.

Used to be, you could finish reading your email, hit “check email” and nothing new would show up. Now, of course, the new mail is probably a longer list than the mail you just finished processing.

…now you understand why I feel guilty? I’m just adding to the clutter. But here’s where I think he went wrong (man oh man, I hope Seth doesn’t see this). “See A Need! Fill A Need” is largely the reason new sites pop up every day. If there’s a need, why shouldn’t it be there? The major issue is when one company feels they can “do-it-better” than the other. That is when you see 1,000’s of social networks, similar blogs, etc. popping up.

Seth also didn’t include a solution and in my originaly blog post, I had one…but it was horrible so I took it out. I’m hoping Seth see’s this and offers a solution of his own. “Seth, if you’re out there in cyber-space, HELP! How can we stop this epidemic?”

…now I sit and wait.

Posted under Blogs, E-Mail, Social Networks

This post was written by Joshua Russak on December 10, 2008

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