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Jumpstart Your Web Site To Increase Profits

Every Web site has the potential to bring in customers that you may not otherwise see.

There are two common questions I receive when first speaking with business owners about creating or improving their Web sites. The first question is: “There are already numerous Web sites regarding my product or service; therefore, how will anyone even find mine online?” The second question is: “My competition is receiving millions of hits to their Web sites—how can my site receive that many hits?”

The first question has many answers. Your Web site can be found via search engines, word-of-mouth, links on other sites and Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising. My response to the second question regarding how to increase the number of hits or amount of traffic to your Web site is similar to my response to the first question. You need to increase your visibility on the search engines, spread the word about your Web site to your business and personal network, acquire links on related sites across the Internet and start a PPC advertising campaign. The one caveat when gaining Internet traffic is that it must be from visitors who are interested in your product or service.

Small business Web sites can substantially benefit from search engine optimization and PPC advertising. Since these topics are extensive and the work involved may become increasingly time consuming and expensive, I will discuss issues that you can tackle if your available time and money is minimal. Once you see the return on investment that a Web site can bring, you will most likely want to take your site a step further by hiring a professional Internet marketer to squeeze every possible benefit from your site.

Your first hurdle will be to ready your Web site for the search engines. When your site has been properly prepared for the search engines, it will appear in the search results when individuals search for specific keywords in the search engines. Your site’s appearance in the search results should be a goal for your Web site, as this is a form of free advertising for your business.

To prepare your Web site for the search engines, you need to establish a site that is readable by the search engines. This simply means taking the appropriate measures to ensure that search engines can find your Web site and categorize each of the pages into related topics and words. You could hire a Web developer to design a Web site specific to your company and have the developer optimize it for the search engines; however, this may develop into quite a financial investment. Thankfully, there is a more expedient and less expensive solution as long as you or an employee have some computer skills. The solution is to purchase a Web site template. I suggest purchasing a simple “html” template. An html template can be easily purchased for $50 or less. Most template sites maintain template themes specific to nearly any industry, so you should be able to purchase one that will meet the precise needs of your business. Templates come equipped with all the images for the Web site plus a homepage template and an internal page template. Copy and paste the internal page template for each page you want on your Web site and rename it appropriately.

Now you are ready to begin adding content to your template. However, be sure and pay attention to your title tags. The title tag is the item that appears in the upper left corner of your Web browser when you are on a Web page. I consider this one of the most important elements of the site, as it is easy to modify, and the search engines consider this element when deciding where and when your site will appear in the search results.

Your title tag should reflect the content on each individual Web page of your site. For example, if you are modifying the title tag of your contact page, you will most likely want to include your company’s name, phone number, etc. Each page should have a unique title that reflects exactly what the page is about in 70 characters or less. The title tag should also entice searchers to visit your site. Keep in mind that the title tag is what most users will see first when viewing search results.

Next comes the content, or words, for your Web site. It is important to make sure that the search engines can read the words on your pages, meaning you should not include words in images if you want your Web site to appear for those words. Search engines cannot read words in pictures. This does not mean you should eliminate pictures from your site; instead, simply avoid putting all of your site’s content inside of images.

Once your pages have been created, you will need to track how well your site is performing. To do this, use a tool such as Google Analytics. Google Analytics allows you to see how many people visit your Web site, which pages they view most and the length of time they spend on your site. By tracking your Web site’s statistics, you will be able to determine which information people are interested in and add or remove content accordingly. You will also be able to see the direct results on your sales conversions when you make a change to your Web site. One benefit of Google Analytics is that it can be integrated with Google AdWords, which is Google’s PPC advertising service.

It is important to note that it can take months before you see results in the search engines. So, what if you don’t have time to try and bring your site higher in the search results? If you desire immediate results and are willing to spend some money, PPC advertising will help you increase sales. Basically, PPC ads allow a customer searching for a particular topic on a search engine to view relevant ads once his or her respective results appear. For example, if an individual is searching for a Chicago carpet cleaner using Google, the ads that appear will typically be related to carpet cleaners in Chicago or products that can help clean carpets.

From your business perspective, the PPC process is fairly simple. First, choose the keywords for which you would like your ad to appear. Then, write a short ad promoting your product or service. Finally, determine how much you are willing to pay when individuals click on your ads and are directed to your site. An advantage of PPC is you control your costs; therefore, there is no unexpected expense. You determine how much you will spend per day and per keyword click.

Two areas of PPC that may be more difficult for novice users include choosing keywords and properly establishing campaigns. If you are a novice user, chances are you know the basic keywords that individuals will use to search for your products or services. But keywords that are not readily apparent may be more cost effective. For example, you may only pay $.01 per click for the keyword: “pet-safe Chicago carpet cleaners.”

The quality of your ad campaigns determine, in part, how much you will pay per keyword. To properly establish your campaign, you must include the keyword you are bidding for in the title and the body of your ad. You must also include the keyword in the body of the Web page your ad directs searchers to. If all of these items are properly assembled, you will pay the least amount possible to have your ad appear for the keywords you chose.

This can be a time consuming process; however, there is a shortcut if you are willing to invest some money. There are software programs available for purchase that design your ad campaigns for you with minimal effort on your part. You provide the software with the basic keywords you want, what you want the ad to say and a destination page for your ad, and the program does the rest! Consider using this type of software to establish your PPC ads if you don’t have a great deal of time to spend forming and changing your PPC campaign.

There are also systems similar to the PPC system known as pay-per-action (PPA) marketing systems. These systems connect your business with marketers who are willing to bring you paying customers for a commission. You pay when a valid lead or sale occurs that was brought to you via the PPA system. PPA systems essentially allow you to hire a multitude of Web marketing professionals and pay them only if they bring paying customers to your business. However, as establishing and maintaining your own PPA system may be beyond the scope of what you are willing to attempt, rest assured that there are plenty of systems known as merchant affiliate programs on the Web that that will manage the details.

Every Web site has the potential to bring in customers that you may not see otherwise. Making sure your Web site is readable by the search engines is the first step to increasing the number of potential customers visiting your Web site. This is a long-term solution with minimal cost. For faster results, give a PPC marketing system such as Google AdWords a try. A PPC system is beneficial, as your ads will appear throughout the Web within hours, and the cost to your business can be tightly controlled. Finally, utilizing a PPA affiliate program is another cost-effective way of bringing customers to your site. By harnessing the multitude of online marketers and only paying for achieved results, you should be able to receive a significant return on investment with a PPA system.

Remember, your Web site is a marketing tool for your business. You can treat it like just another generic Yellow Pages ad that may attract some customers who happen to stumble across it, or you can ensure that it is a finely tuned presentation tool targeted to attract customers specifically seeking your product or service.