Get Your Startup Business Online

Got your startup business online yet? Why not? The costs and workload keep coming down, and in today’s business environment you can’t afford not to have your business online.

Is your business online? If not, it’s time to get your startup business online. It has never been easier to build, optimize and promote a successful website.

Value and ease of a solid web presence

The simple fact is that nearly every startup business will have some
sort of presence online. Before long, having no website will be akin to
owning a business without a phone number. The competitive nature of
small business requires an established web presence, and sooner rather
than later. If your competitor does it first, it could cost you
potential business.

A professional looking website
is the ultimate marketing tool. It has the potential to reach customers
in a way that can’t be matched by traditional advertising, not only in
reach, but in cost effectiveness. So why are there still so many small
businesses without an online presence (according to a 2008 Warrillow study, 59% are still without a website)? For most, it’s the
“time/technology fear factor.”

I don’t have time or the tech savvy to get my startup business online

There’s a huge misconception about the amount of time a website takes
to create and maintain. The largest barrier to entry is a fear of
technology. But what if time was no issue and you knew everything you
needed to know to run a successful site?

Given the
high demand to find affordable yet professional solutions, the industry
has made a great deal of progress in providing new, easy-to-use tools
and services that cater to every skill set, from those who are
well-versed to the “newbie” who knows nothing at all. One of the great
things about today’s technology is that it offers the opportunity to be
as hands-on as you like – or to offload as much as you like at
extremely affordable rates. You define the learning curve that best
suits your schedule and pocketbook.

Three pieces of a successful startup business website

What goes into a successful web presence? There are three main
components and for each one there are services that can get you up and
online in no time at all. The three main steps to creating a promising
website are: build it, optimize it and promote it. You build your site,
optimize it for prime search engine visibility and then promote it.
Sound daunting? It isn’t.

Build It

you need a website, but even before that you need somewhere for it to
live. Enter web hosting providers. If you were to build a house, you’d
need property to build it on. A website is your “home” on the web and
it too requires somewhere to exist. Hosting providers offer that
virtual space on the web, where the files that make up your website are
stored. A good hosting provider will also offer a myriad of tools and
services designed to make getting online a quick, easy experience. Be
sure to find out what tools a hosting package includes and make sure
they offer packages designed for the novice as well as the pro.

One of the services you might want to look for is a “ready-made”
hosting package that includes design, hosting and site maintenance. A
package like this allows you to have a strong web presence, but
removes the time commitment from you to build the site and maintain it.
You choose the layout of your site and the desired pages your business
requires, and a team of experts will design it to reflect your
company’s brand and marketing message. When the need to update or add
new information arises, it’s a simple phone call away. Packages like
these are affordable and can include ecommerce / shopping cart
functionality if you intend to sell products online.

Optimize It

Once your site is built, how do you let people know it’s up and
running? The short answer: search engines. Search engines account for a
massive amount of online traffic, so good placement on them is
essential. The way to assure good placement is to "optimize" your site
for search. Search optimization does involve some technical knowledge,
and it is without a doubt time consuming, requiring continuous effort
to maintain a high ranking on search engine results pages.

The good news is that there are search engine optimization (SEO)
services that take care of the entire process for you. A service like
this assigns a specialist who will analyze your site and give you
simple, step-by-step, instructions on how to modify it for targeted
keywords and search phrases. Simply put, there are certain keywords
searched for more often than others. In your site’s analysis, the
keywords most appropriate for your business are ascertained and then
applied to the site. This helps the search engine find your site when a
potential customer enters those keywords.

Once your
site is optimized with keywords, the other half of the coin is your
reputation, as the search engines see it. For the most part, that comes
down to the outside websites that point to your own through links in to
your site. Search engines view these referrals as confirmation that an
objective, outside source saw fit to point their own traffic to your
site. Some of this can be accomplished by submitting your site to
specific directories (e.g., Yahoo! Directory), but most of the work involves the process of
finding relevant and respected sites that are willing to point traffic
your way – again, working with an experienced SEO firm can be your
quickest ticket here. The bottom line is search engines are a powerful
way to find customers that traditional media might never reach.

Promote It

Another highly effective way to use a search engine to increase your
site’s visibility is to promote it via targeted search engine
advertisements. Each major search engine offers ‘cost per click’ or CPC
pricing for ads in their search results. The big benefit – you only pay
when someone actually clicks on your ad and visits your website. Even
better – there are services that can help you manage this process.

How do they work? Usually a site analysis is performed, as well as a
thorough analysis of your competitors’ sites. Targeted keywords are
chosen and an ad campaign is designed around them. The campaign also
integrates copywriting, and the ads are then placed on major search
engines and monitored for performance. Many services like these also
offer guarantees that your ad will receive a minimum number of views
(impressions) each month.
Weekly reports are also sent so you can monitor your ad campaign and
consult with your service professional on how best to modify it.

This is an excellent, tangible way to guarantee that those customers
looking for your goods and services find your site. These services are
usually very affordable, especially when you consider what you’d spend
to hire a marketing consultant.

The value of collaboration

We all have our own areas of expertise. The hard part for entrepreneurs
looking to take a startup business online is not limited to time and
resources. Entrepreneurs are required to wear a number of hats at the
same time. Taking advantage of professional online services allows web
experts to do what they do best – help entrepreneurs run their websites
– while freeing entrepreneurs up to do what they do best – run their

The number one reason many small
business owners don’t build a website, or let their existing one fall
by the wayside, used to be time. In today’s online world, given the web
solution providers, tools and services available, there’s no reason a
website can’t be an easy-to-manage, valuable extension of your startup business.

Michael Walsh is a content developer for Affinity Internet.

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