Like many people, you may have been dreaming of the day when you can start your very own online business. You've got a great idea waiting to explode, and you know that it's going to be a winner. The vision is there, as are the enthusiasm and skills. Now there's just one more thing you need before you can make that dream a reality, and that's a website--your public face to the world.
Building a website can be an exciting experience. However, when it comes to creating a business website, it is very important to look before you leap. Here are a few things to consider before launching your online presence:
1. COMMUNICATION IS THE KEY
When creating your business website, the most important thing to consider is exactly what it is you want your potential customers to know. Before the first page is prepared, you need to clearly outline the purpose of your business, then communicate that information via your website.
Over the years, I've visited countless websites that provide virtually no content at all. When it comes to a business website, lack of information is disastrous.
Imagine for a moment that you need a new pair of shoes. Checking the telephone directory, you find a listing for a shoe shop at the local mall. Eager to find the perfect stilettos, you hotfoot straight over.
Arriving at the store, you are surprised to find that there is no stock on display, no information about what is available, no sales assistant to answer queries, and nothing to indicate how much a pair of shoes is going to cost.
Without a backward glance, you turn on your heels and walk out the door, knowing all too well that there will always be another shoe shop just around the corner.
A scene like this is too ridiculous to believe, right? Yet, it happens thousands of times every single day. Not at the mall, but in the ever growing cyber-marketplace.
If you have a product or service to sell online, then you need to present it in a way that is both informative and enticing. Your homepage, in particular, must communicate your message clearly and grab your visitor's attention. If it doesn't, they will click off the page faster than you can say, "Lost opportunity."
If you lack the confidence to write your own customer-attracting text, it may be worth hiring a writer to prepare it for you. It could make all the difference.
2. POLISHED TO PERFECTION
We've all heard that "you can't judge a book by its cover," but the reality is that we all do--and the same is true for a business website.
When it comes to a personal website, almost anything goes. However, the same freedom does not apply when it comes to business, where the website should be a polished and professional representation of the business or service, while still reflecting the personality of the owner. Many fail to grasp the importance of that first impression. As an online business owner, you will literally only have seconds to capture a potential customer's interest.
If your site is sloppy, slow to load, and generally looks like it was built by your grade school child, it is a fairly safe assumption that you will never develop the successful online enterprise of your dreams.
Today, with the availability of online site builders, there is no reason for anyone to have a site that looks unprofessional. Even without any knowledge of programming or HTML, site builders make it easy to create an online business presence that is polished to perfection. It's as simple as selecting a template and typing in your text. Before you know it, you'll have a website that says to the world, "I'm ready and more than able to serve you."
3. THIS LITTLE BUSINESS WENT TO MARKET
It's amazing how many people go blissfully into business with the notion that they only have to open the door, and the customers will come running. Nothing could be further from the truth. There is a common denominator found in the majority of unsuccessful online businesses, and that is a lack of marketing.
No matter how brilliant your website may be, or how clever your product or service, success will be very slow in coming if you don't take steps to get the word out to the marketplace.
People often tell me that they are disappointed because their new website is not generating any sales. The first thing I ask them is whether they have done any marketing. More often than not, their response is that they haven't really done anything at all.
Building a successful online business takes time and effort. It can take many months, if not years, for a business to develop a reputation for reliability and trustworthiness. However, once gained, that reputation is more precious than gold. Unfortunately, most business owners give up before they ever reach that point.
When promoting your business, the first step is to make sure that your website is optimized for search engines. To do this, ensure that your website meta-tags include the most important keywords pertaining to your business. Keywords should also be included in the title tag.
Once you've done this, and your website is completely ready to be seen by the public, submit your site to the search engines. To do this, you can use the FREE service provided at the following site:
Another excellent site is selfpromotion.com. Here you can gain valuable information on how to market your business. They will even submit your site to search engines if you make a donation to their service:
Having your site listed with search engines is essential. However, to get traffic quickly you will need to use a Pay Per Click service, such as Google Adwords and Overture.com (Yahoo search marketing).
Decide on the keywords and phrases that most people would use if they were looking for your service. Then start bidding for those words, making sure that you ONLY nominate the lowest amount available. Google and Overture will suggest a figure, but DO NOT bid that amount. Start small and see how much traffic you can generate. Once you see results and your business begins to grow, gradually increase your bids, if necessary.
When preparing your website and promoting your business, it is very important to remember that every penny and second spent improving your online presence, is an investment in your future.
Ultimately, there are two types of online businesses--those that are website failures, and those that are website winners. Get things right at the start, and your dream business will never become a nightmare.