In most cases today, your website will be the first port of call for the majority of customers. Therefore, it is extremely important to get it right. A website can be your primary advertising tool, it can be used to generate extra money on top of sales, and it can be set up as a self-service operation in some cases.
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
The most important things to consider when setting up a website are how to direct traffic to it, and how to keep people coming back. For this, you need to continuously update the site with fresh, original content, and focus on search engine optimisation. Using specific keywords throughout and investing in a good SEO tool, or employing SEO specialists to keep track for you is vital. Generally, when consumers are looking for a product, they will search for it on Google, Yahoo or other search engines. Getting your site to appear near the top of the list when these searches are performed means you will get a lot more through traffic.
Once a customer has accessed your web page, they need to be interested in it. They also need to be able to understand what it is about in a very short space of time. The average internet user has an attention span of less than four seconds, so grabbing their attention immediately is essential. Once you have got them interested enough to read on, there needs to be some content that will hold this attention. Websites should be fairly concise and informative, but also updated regularly with new pieces of information to keep customers coming back time and again.
Another way to generate cash from your website is of course to sell ad space to other, related businesses. This becomes easier to do as your business expands and your website attracts more traffic. Linking with other companies to cross-advertise can be a handy tool, both for instant money-making and spreading the word.
There are options to buy into pay-per-click schemes, but small businesses should be wary of using these until they are fairly well established. Good search engine optimisation gives almost the same results and at a fraction of the cost.
One free and easy way to promote your business on the web is the use of social networking sites. Setting up a Facebook page or Twitter account will spread the word quickly, especially if you add in an interesting article or feature. Another way is to check out other sites selling similar products and comment on them, leaving your website details. If people like what you say, they will follow the link to your site.