How do I Use a Website to Promote my Business?

Do you need a website?. Well that depends entirely on how you wish to market your business and whether your competitors have an online presence, it also depends on the type of clients you hope to attract. Let me ask you a straight question – Do you want to increase business for a minimum outlay?.

Most people now have some form of access to the internet, whether at home, at work or through their school or university. For many, searching for a service or product using Google is now much the preferred alternative to opening a phone directory, or scanning the Yellow Pages. With the increase in Broadband technology and the rapid fall in prices then this trend is very likely to continue and grow, with more and more people of all ages having some form of regular internet use. Do you want to miss out on this potential and growth?

Many small business owners and CEOs think nothing of spending hundreds or even thousands of pounds on conventional advertising such as that in Yellow Pages and similar directories, and yet are still missing out on the earning potential of having a website presence. For some this is simply through not having the relevant skills or feeling that they have no webdesign capabilities to even begin to build their own site. However with many webhosts now offering WYSIWYG web creation tools and web builder packages, anybody who is capable of booting a computer now has the possibility of creating a basic website to promote their business.

After word of mouth, my website accounts for nearly all of the new business which my own business gets. Given a price versus revenue comparison, it is the most competitive form of advertising which I have ever used, and the one which yields the most success when it comes to new business leads!.

Remember that the more professional your website looks, the greater chance of impressing potential clients, and of getting an enquiry. For this reason, employing the services of a webdesigner may be a preferred alternative. But for now, let’s talk about how you can build your website with only limited knowledge. Your options are popular software such as Microsoft FrontPage, or other software such as x-site pro. Many internet users have found great success in designing their own websites. Some webhosts now include free website building tools in their hosting packages. Whichever option you decide to choose, when building your website and promoting its existence, there are a few points to consider, and we will discuss those below.

Always avoid free hosting. These are webhosts who allow you to upload your own site for free onto their server. However in return they often add Advertising banners and pop ups onto your website, and these can prove very annoying to internet users, look cheap and tacky and do not portray a professional, business image. You may have a very professional looking website, however if you use free hosting then you do so at your peril and when masses of pop ups great your visitors, then they’ll often close their browsers or surf away without bothering to read any further. Professional webhosting without any form of banners is available for as little as the price of a coffee per month! – far cheaper than any form of newspaper advertising, so don’t skimp when it comes to reliable hosting.

Buy a domain name. This promotes your unique company identity, and it is also a good idea to use your company name, as your domain name. Domains ending in .co.uk are often cheaper than .com and will also boost your search engine rankings in geographical area based searches such as Google UK. This may be useful to businesses only serving clients in their country, or those with overseas offices.

Remember to try and incorporate a relevant keyword describing your business service or product(s) within the domain page name. So for example, if you had a business called Acme Widgets and you had a product called Mighty Widget – then you could name the page name extension as mighty-widget.html so the url to that page would look like [http://www.your-domain-name.com/mighty-widget.html]

We will get to other keyword use later.

The most effective websites are the ones which load fast and offer a clean, smooth appearance free of useless information and which are largely uncluttered. Make sure that your name and description of your business appears on each page, and that if your site has more than one page that they are all linked together using an HTML Menu. Do not be tempted to use flash or other fancy image type menus, because search engines will not be able to index the site easily. If you do decide to use a flash based website then make sure that there is an HTML alternative, complete with HTML menus.

Keep the site simple. Remember that you have to make the site appealing to search engine spiders as well as human visitors in order to get your website onto the search engines. After all, it is pointless having a good, professional looking site, if nobody can find it!. Avoid the use of fancy flash based websites and splash pages, although they may add an initial wow factor to the first impression, they are often difficult for some search engines to spider and index, plus they may take forever to load on a slow connection. Very few visitors will wait 30 seconds or more for pages to load, or install special viewers so avoid going over the top with these types of presentation!

Keywords are the words that people use to enter into search engines in order to find a site. Consider which keywords people will be using to find your website. Don’t just concentrate on the obvious and most popular words which describe your business, since these will be difficult to rank highly for, due to the competition!.

Instead, look for other niche search terms and phrases too. Your website should contain as many keywords as possible on each page. Don’t be tempted to just add loads of raw keywords in meaningless strings onto your page, since search engines are wise to this practice of cheating and will penalise your site, plus it looks messy to your human visitors too!. It is far more effective to incorporate these keywords into text paragraphs and try and vary their frequency, so for example if you were a company suppling widgets in London, you could try the following:-

Widget and Sons, a family company suppling widgets in London, we are retailers of the popular Mighty widget range

And then later in the page…

For the best price on mail order widgets and sole distribution of the mighty widget contact our sales department

By doing this, and varying the phrases whilst keeping them keyword rich, you are effectively giving Google something to work with. Hopefully, by adding as many keyword strings as possible your site will (hopefully) appear for several different search terms such as ‘Widgets’ or ‘Mail order widgets + london’ or ‘Mighty Widget’

A Picture paints a thousand words, so don’t forget to add pictures to your website!. But keep the, fairly small so that the site loads quickly. Often 640 x 480 resolution is ideal, or use thumbnail software to load a gallery of clickable smaller images neatly onto a webpage. Remember if you use images that clients like to see happy smiling staff! and a structured, well organised company, so make sure that you don’t accidentally capture your warehouse man reading the paper, or that rubbish in the corner of the office!.

Unless your business is technical or technology based then avoid long descriptions about specifications of products and what machinery you use!. Comparing equipment is only of interest to others in the same industry as you and rarely of concern or top priority clients just looking to buy and end product or obtain service. Besides they can see just how good and how neat and tidy your business looks from your pictures!.

Always display clearly your contact information, and this should include a telephone number. Avoid Hotmail and other free web email addresses such as MSN or Yahoo because this doesn’t look professional and can also be blocked by your recipients spam filter. If you have registered a domain name for your site you will be able to set up email based on this, and cutomise it to your own requirements, for example:- [email protected] or [email protected] . Offering an enquiry form on your website is also a good idea, since it will prevent your email address being copied from your site to be used for Spam (Unsolicited Emails), and ensure that you have all of the relevant information from the client to be able to quote accurately.

Getting your site onto the search engines is the hardest part of the exercise, and this may take between 3 and 12 months to get a decent rank. The more you promote your site the easier it is, and the more successful the results. Simply submitting your site URL to Google’s Submit a Site page is not the most effective way of listing your site and neither is it the quickest. The most effective way of getting your site visited by Search Engines is to add your link to Existing websites of a similar theme and subject and the many online directories which already have a search engine presence.

Another very effective way of boosting search engine presence and getting your website onto search engines quicker is to swap links with other sites. Why not build a simple links page or invest in a topsites script on your website and use this to return links?. Remember that it is only polite internet etiquette to link back to websites which link to you, so it is often expected that you will have a link already in place on your own website, when you contact another webmaster and ask to add your link to his /her site!.

There are many other features which you can build into your website, such as e-commerce features including shopping carts and credit card processing facilities, if your company offers products by mail order. However adding these usually requires some detailed knowledge of website building and other skills in website code and is therefore outside of the scope of this article.

Hopefully, this website article, has given you some information on getting your business a web presence on a budget!.

What’s a Widget?

A widget is a small utility working in the background, looking for specific information for you on the Internet and aggregating it in a specific location. For example, the weather forecast for the next week in your city, currency exchange, digital clock, your favorite stocks ticker, TV broadcasting and so on. Almost everything that you need to have current. In technical language, widgets are small JavaScripts applications running a widget engine on a user computer under MS Windows or Mac operating systems. Originally called Konfabulator, they were recently acquired by Yahoo! and now widgets are commonly known as Yahoo! Widgets.

How Do You Use It?

First of all, you need to download a widget engine from Yahoo and install it on your computer. This will allow you to access more than 3,000 different widgets created for this engine. There are several designed specifically for photographers, and particularly for those who are actively selling photos to stock and microstock agencies.

There are several widgets for iStockPhoto such us iStockWatcher, iStockDash and iStockphoto-PC Widget. All of them are free. iStockWatcher works under the Yahoo! Widget engine only and has an iStockwatch Lite version with some limitations. This watcher gathers information such as last selling, statistics, personal message notifications, new forum and blog topics, news and so on.

iStockDash is Dashboard Widget for the Mac operating system only. There are no big differences in functionalities from the one mentioned above.

In contrast, iStockphoto-PC Widget is an MS Windows version that contains everything you need to work autonomously. In other words, you do not need to install the Yahoo! Widget engine first, but rather everything is inside this widget package, so you just download and install it, and it is ready to work.

There is another one that covers all of the above and more. I’m talking about MicroStock Watcher. This widget keeps you up to date on iStockPhoto, Dreamstime, Fotolia, Shutterstock, Stockxpert, and LuckyOliver. And the list of microstocks is growing. But, this widget is shareware with a trial period.

For those who are only interesting in photos themselves, there are several widgets working with photo sharing Web-sites like Flickr. They’ll show you recent photos in selected categories, travelers’ stories and so on. To find out more try to make a search both in the Internet and Yahoo widgets page.

Android Widgets – How to Get Them Developed

A widget is popular as standalone application; an onscreen device for performing a variety of operations. The feature was first introduced in Android 1.5 and since then it has been encouraging developers to work on exciting Android widget development projects. Google provides numerous tools and tips to Android widget devs who want to work on widgets for apps, games and websites. The best use of a widget is that it provides easy accessibility to users; they need not to launch any application for a task.

Widgets are the first love of smartphone users because they do not only turn the screen very attractive but also make an operation executed on a single tap. Businesses are getting widgets developed and increasing the chances of users to access their application or website.

Android provides the best of the supports for widget development. This feature sets the OS apart from others like iPhone, BlackBerry and Symbian. Though, developers should have a clear idea what the widget is all about so that they can deliver to users what they are looking for.

-The first thing developers should keep in mind is that they need to build a straightforward widget providing quick and easy access to information.

-The theme of the widget should be customized and designed in way that can leave strong impression on users and persuade them to use it again and again.

-A widget with above mentioned features cements its place in the minds of users.

Android widget development may be aimed at particular device such as for HTC smartphone, Samsung Smartphone, Motorola smartphone and so on.

When it comes to widget development for Android, the developers should have hands-on experience with several versions of the OS. A widget should support all Android operating systems including Android 1.5 (Cupcake), 1.6 (Donut), 2.1 (Éclair), 2.2 (Froyo), 2.3 (Gingerbread), 3.0 (Honeycomb) and 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich).

A widget should also be cool to easily capture the imagination of users and to add value to the app as well.

You should hire an Android widget developer who has excellent aesthetic sense coupled with outstanding technical skills.

You can also ask the developer about its previous Android widget development projects and check their popularity among users.

Android OS provides following features for developing widgets:

1. Handset layouts
2. Connectivity
3. Storage
4. Messaging
5. Language support
6. Browser Support
7. Java support
8. Media Support
9. Streaming media support
10. Additional hardware support
11. Multi-touch
12. Bluetooth
13. Video calling
14. Multitasking
15. Voice based features
16. Tethering
17. External storage
18. Screen capture