For Very Small Businesses....
Today's successful jewelry-designers and other very small business entrepreneurs maintain a very visible presence on the World Wide Web.
They may have a web-site that functions simply as a billboard or business card. They may list merchandise on their site, with prices, and information about how to order it. They may present their jewelry on E-Bay or other auction houses. They may let someone else promote their jewelry on-line in exchange for a commission or royalty. Or they may have a fully functioning shopping cart system on their own dot.com.
Whatever their level of involvement on-line, they must put into place active and deliberate strategies for creating visibility for their site and their products, and for maintaining and enhancing that visibility over time.
You have to get yourself as widely listed as possible. You have to influence people to actively and repeatedly link up to your site. Only in this way will you achieve a measure of visibility and respectable rankings among the millions of web-sites out there.
Successful marketing of any kind means:
To achieve these marketing goals on-line, requires putting into effect
various internet strategies, some technical, others not. Towards this
end, we provide insights about the following:
1. Conducting an Initial Marketing Audit of Your Site
The first step is to get honest with yourself. How well do your current marketing and business strategies perform? How do they help or hinder you from achieving (a) visibility on the web, (b) credibility on the web, (c) customer responses and orders from the web?
This activity involves three steps:
Do all your printed materials reference your web-site and/or your
Does your web-site clearly and concisely express what your business
is all about, and how to contact you -- particularly in terms of the
information on the front page, near the top, that would appear in the
first screen that your customer would see?
The front door page is your most strategic web-site asset. It should be optimized in form and content so that it anticipates the indexing and ranking schemes of the major search engines.
Toward this end, some pointers:
1. Don't use frames.
2. Don't use a visually wonderful, but indexability aweful, splash
page. You should settle for a slightly less visually appealing page,
as a tradeoff
for making it more indexable and rankable.
7. Be strategic in the names you give your active links and web-pages.
Use your keywords in these LINK DESCRIPTIONS (link-text) and URL ADDRESSES
9. For all your images, use the ALT tag. For the ALT tag, use your keywords to describe the image. By using the ALT tag, when someone places the cursor over the image, a yellow box will appear with the ALT tag words appearing. These are also very indexable.
10. Set up 2 or 3 headings on this page, and use your keywords in the heading text.
11. Put in at least one COMMENT tag using your keywords. In the HTML code, comments start with <!-- and end with --> .
12. If you haven't already selected a web-site domain name, you might try to create one using your most important keyword in the URL-text. "beadsatlandofodds.com" would do far better than "landofodds.com".
You can also envision having more than one front-door for your web-site. You might have different kinds of customers, and may want to set up an entrance very tailored to them. From the search engine's standpoint, they do not like to see virtually the same page used more than once. You will lose points here if this is your approach. But you can set up differently designed pages as front entrances, and, based on how you get your site listed, you can use any of these as the link-reference point.
Generate a keyword list of 1000 characters. You can use a word processing program like WORD, which has a character counter. In this list, you would include variations on upper case and lower case spellings, as well as common misspellings.
To research keywords, you can go to various search engines, plug in the major keywords you're interested in, and check out what keywords other sites which pop up in the search engines search, have used. On each site's front door page, review what words they seem to use on this page. Also, you can use the browser's VIEW button to bring up the Source Code image of a page, and check out what keywords other people have listed in their META TAGS. You can use Google's ad words program to generate keywords list. (You would use their tools here, but not pay for their program). Other search engines may have similar facilities.
It is important to determine what keywords your competitors are using. It is also important to determine what keywords various search engines and directories (such as Yahoo or Open Directory Project) use to categorize web-sites. These are the types of words you also want to emphasize in your list.
The list of keywords helps you figure out what words to emphasize on your front door page. They help you determine what words to use in link-text and url-text. You can also create a META tag for Keywords, and use your full 1000-character list. The field size of this tag is 1000 characters. While the META tags for keywords and descriptions used to be very important for indexing, they are considerably less so today.
How usable is your web-site to:
a.Web-sites need very clear Navigation systems.
People can easily handle 4 pieces (7 minus 3) of information, start to get uncomfortable with 7 pieces, and can be forced to deal with 10 separate pieces (7 plus 3) information. From a web-site design standpoint, you don't want to make someone have to travel more than 4 links to get to the product information they want. As the required number of links to click on gets greater than 4 clicks, your customers will begin to get paralyzed, and not make the next click. Wherever you find you have more than 4 clicks to get to a product, you can recategorize, so you have fewer links to navigate.
For example, suppose it takes 5 clicks to get from your section on Jewelry
to your section on Amethyst Beaded Necklaces:
You might reduce the number of clicks the customer has to travel by
reducing the number of web-pages they have to traverse:
Another trick is to create a sense of Interactivity - forms, polls, message boards, chat lines, contests, games, ezine, email link, links/resources page listing other sites.
A third trick is to run specials and/or have a What's New section.
It is important that you get listed with all the major search engines and directories, as well as specialty directories associated with your specific business.
To make this process go as quickly as possible, it is important to have all your information together in one place, where you can cut and paste the information into the on-line forms, as requested. Besides having about 12-20 of your most important keywords handy, you should also create 25-word, 50-word, 100-word and 200-word descriptions of your site, heavy on keywords.
Don't pay for or use any of the multiple submission services. Take the time to submit your site to each search engine and directory, one at a time.
Use Yahoo or Google Directory to find the section on specialized directories. Get listed in as many of these as possible.
Many search engines and some directories now charge you for a listing, either as a flat fee, or as a click-through rate. You may not be able to afford all of the opportunities, but you might want to follow through on the major ones.
Some search engines will let you buy keywords. When someone searches on a keyword, a link to your site will appear. If someone clicks through on that link, you're charged a per click fee. My experience with Google ad words is that this is a program you should seriously consider.
Also, link up with web-rings -- as many as are relevant. Go to www.webring.com , to find out what is relevant. Web-rings bring customers to your site -- lots of them, in exchange for a link placed on your site.
Newsgroups, forums and message boards are great places to get visibility. While you usually can't put a blatantly commercial post on these, you can (a) respond to existing posts, and put your business signature information at the end of your post, (b) suggest a jewelry-making tip, or other similar tip, and add your business signature information to the end of your post, (c) and similar things.
There are many affinity sites, such as shopping malls or some personal web-pages that list a lot of links or maintain a personal directory of resources, where you should get listed. There might be sites that maintain lists of local resources, such as a site that maintains a list of Nashville, TN resources.
You can do a search on the URL web-address (www.yourcompetitor.com) of your competitors, as well as on their names, to see where they are listed.
Some of your suppliers may list you on their web-sites. Some of your customers or clients may list you on their web-sites.
To get a high ranking, search engines
So the more places that maintain a link to your web-site, the more likely someone is to click through to it. The better designed your site is, the more likely someone is to hang around awhile.
There are many low-cost or free things you can do to increase your visibility on line. Some suggestions:
a. Get reciprocal links -- "I'll list you if you list me". There are your friends and personal associates; other similar businesses; affinity sites such as shopping malls, specialized directories, awards programs.
b. Create educational and informational content. Share it with other sites in exchange for a link back to your site. In fact, there are Free Content sites on line that act as a repository and exchange for free content articles. Submit your articles there.
c. Respond to people's questions in forums, newsgroups, message boards and the like. Include a business signature with a link back to your site at the end of your response. You can go to www.delphiforums.com and www.about.com to get access to many, many forums.
d. Write articles for on-line ezines, newsgroups, forums, specialized portals and the like.
f. Include a lot of explanatory and how-to information next to each of your products.
g. Run a contest.
h. Set up a group under Yahoo (groups.yahoo.com) and/or MSN. This will give you an email list. You might use it as an adjunct to your business, to run specials or announcements. Or you might set it up as a particular interest group.
i. Under www.delphiforums.com, set up a discussion group, forum, or message board.
j. Create your own on-line newsletter.
One thing we do NOT recommend is to send mass e-mailings, except
through something like Yahoo groups, where people have very obviously
opted in to receive emails from you. Mass e-mailings generate a lot
of positive responses, but they generate a lot of negative responses,
as well, from people overwhelmed with spam.
Engine Rankings For Free at Mike's Marketing Tools
WebDesign Booth - resources for developers
You can check the PageRank of any page on the Internet by installing
the Google Toolbar (which comes with a great pop-up blocker as well!):
There are many opportunities on-line (and off-line) to advertise your web-site. For each opportunity, you want to carefully think through the costs and benefits. How many impressions (# of eyeballs) will your ad achieve? For each impression, how many of those people will follow through (click-thru rate) and link to your site? What words, keywords, terms seem to influence people to click-thru more often? What is a reasonable cost per click through?
The first types of advertising you should do are the basic, cheap and obvious. Include your web-site address and/or email address on your stationery, business cards, business checks, brochures, other handouts.
You add some marketing highlights, address and email as your "signature" for all the emails you send.
You might send out a Press Release to your local papers and magazines, or to regional and national publications pertinent to your business. You will want to approach them with a good angle, that you think would be of interest to their readers.
Many search engines, like Google, and directories, like Yahoo, sell keywords. You pay a certain amount of money for each click thru to your site. You can set a limit to how much you want to spend each month. It could be as low as a few dollars, or as high as you want to go. When one of their visitors does a search on the particular keyword, your name appears with the search results, with a clickable link back to your site. You pay when someone clicks on that link and visits your site.
You might purchase a banner ad to place on other people's sites.
You can also purchase ad space or sponsorship listings on various on-line e-zines, magazines and web-sites.
You can place classified ads. Many search engines have classified
sections. There are many specialized web-sites hosting classified ads.
It's important to get customer feedback about your web-site, your marketing efforts and your products/product mix.
When people email or call you, you might ask some evaluative questions of them, while you have their attention. Also ask them how they found you originally.
You can set up a free poll on-line. There are many web-sites that offer free on-line polls. One is Global Guest Poll.
You can do some customer surveys. This would be relatively easy, for instance, if you had set up a Yahoo group and thus had an email list to send things to.
The internet provides myriad opportunities for you to view your competitors' marketing strategies. You can analyze specific competitors you know of in your immediate environment. Or you can focus on 3-5 competitors that are prominent in your business.
In the search engine locator box, you can:
It's important to track the activity on your web-site, and to try to gauge whether this activity level is affected by any marketing effort you might launch.
There should be a statistics package that comes with your web-site. From this information, you should gather the following stats:
# of unique visitors -- average per
Plus, by typing in your URL in the locator boxes of various search
engines, you can determine:
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If you have any other questions about internet marketing, please email us or call.
We'd be happy to answer your questions.
Warren Feld or James Jones
Land of Odds