Saturday, December 29, 2007


Use large graphics and no navigational aids
Have you ever tried to load a page and were met with a 150KB opening graphic that takes 2 minutes to download? Or have you clicked all around a site unable to find what you are looking for? Don't make the same mistakes and alienate your visitors before they become customers. Make it your goal to have pages load in 30 seconds or less, preferably faster on your main page. Have enticing information on the first screen so that visitors can see it without having to scroll down (of course, you can and should have scrollable pages, but have the material to catch their eye "above the fold"). Bear in mind that although Windows default screen resolution is 640x480 pixels, some will be seeing your page at 800x600, even 1024x768 pixels. If you are unfamiliar with the intricacies of HTML code and scripting, do yourself a favor and hire a professional. You'll be glad you did.

Host your web site on a slow server
There is nothing more frustrating than waiting for a web page to load from a slow server. In fact, many people won't wait - with a single click they're off to somewhere else. Your web site should be hosted on a minimum T1 connection, a T3/DS3 is much preferred. Does the host server have redundant lines (in case one goes down, will your web site still be accessible?). On-site backups are also good to have, although you or your web site designer should maintain your own.

Don't list your web site in search engines, or not correctly
This is the one thing done most often but also most often incorrectly. All search engine submissions should be done manually. The concept of a all-in-one search engine submission service is a nice idea, but the simple fact is it is not reliable. Every search engine is different, and each have their own method of both getting a web site included and performing searches. Web site submissions should be performed to take advantage of both. Again, you may want to have a professional do this (entire companies exist around this concept, but check references and ensure they submit all sites manually).

How many search engines should you submit your site to? Well, there are hundreds if not thousands of search engines, indexes, hot lists, and directories out there. If you ensure that you are placed in the top 12-15 you will be in good shape, as these will provide you with 90-95% "coverage". The remaining 5-10% can be attained with a lot of time, money, or both. Making sure that your web site gets listed on "Billy Bob's Kool Links" page (with 17 hits a month) just may not be worth the trouble.

One caveat: if you are able to find places that are directly related to your web site, you should submit it regardless of their traffic as you will be reaching a more targeted audience that way.

Place your web site online and wait for the phone to ring
Having a web site is not the be-all end-all of marketing on the Internet. Since your web site is considered a virtual storefront, you should do everything in your power (and budget) to direct traffic to your web site. Banner advertising, press releases, appropriate newsgroup postings, links on complementary pages and more can be done. You would not think of opening up a store in the real world without budgeting money to promote it, your web site must be given the same consideration.

Don't respond to visitor inquiries on a timely basis
Make sure all e-mails you receive are responded to within 24 hours, even the same day if at all possible. People want information and they want it fast. The Internet makes it easy for people to quickly find and purchase goods and services - make sure it is from you and not your online competitor!

Likewise, if a potential customer wrote a letter to your company you wouldn't reply with a hastily scribbled missive on a sheet of notebook paper - be sure not to send them the e-mail equivalent! Every e-mail you send out is an advertisement for your company, so make sure it is grammatically correct and doesn't contain misspellings. While this may be a "no-brainer", it is amazing how many e-mails are sent out with typos and other errors. And for Pete's sake, DON'T TYPE IN ALL CAPS!! Besides being difficult to read, it is the e-mail equivalent of yelling and frowned upon in the online community.

Don't update your web site
Web sites look stale if they aren't changed periodically. Worse yet are those that still wish you "Happy Holidays" in March! Make sure any expired information is removed promptly, and keep those pages dynamic while still staying within the theme of the site. Every so often a site may need a general overhaul - as they say "change is good!" As most of the time changes are billed at an hourly rate, these should be budgeted for as well.

"Spam" is the sending of unsolicited e-mail or posting inappropriate messages to newsgroups. Simply put, don't do it. Besides giving your company a negative image, the recipients can retaliate by e-mail bombing you (like sending 10,000 e-mails an hour), your online provider, and your web hosting service. The end result is your e-mail account could be terminated by your provider, and you may even lose your web site. Many online services and hosting companies have a no-spam clause in their service agreement.

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