Odyssey bloghelping you leverage the potential of the internet

Why do I Need a Website for my Business?


30. May 2009 14:40

Some businesses even today don’t see the value or need for a website.  Here are a number of reasons to help make that decision easier.

Keep up with the competition

More and more businesses have websites compared to a few years ago, so the chances are most of your competition have websites too.  Having a website allows your customers or potential customers to find and browse your products or services at their own leisure, and potentially find out a lot more information than they would through other forms of communication. 

Cost effective advertising

Designing and printing professional-looking catalogues and brochures is an expensive job, and when your products or services change you need to reprint them.  The cost of building and maintaining a website has fallen over the last few years as the industry has started to mature and the competition has grown.
If you opt for a content management system, then you’ll be able to update your website yourself!

Attract new customers

Whether your business sells directly to consumers or to other businesses, the volume of business done over the web continues to climb year upon year.  Many people now use a search engine such as Google to source information, products or services. 

In order to tap into this potential market you first need to have a website from which you can start to build your online presence.

If you are still unsure whether there is money to be made, don’t believe the hype, ask your customers!

Sell your products or services to a larger audience

The web has opened up a whole new market place for many businesses that used to only offer their products and services to customers in their local vicinity.  Many companies now successfully sell their products over the internet to a national or even international audience that just wasn’t possible before.

What’s more, creating an ecommerce website isn’t as complicated or as expensive as it used to be.

Improve your competitive advantage

The web has started to level the playing field.  A well designed and optimised website will allow a small company to compete with much larger companies online.  The web has a much lower cost of entry allowing you more room to shout about your products and compete with the big guys.

Your online presence is always available 24/7

You may not answer the phone or your emails around the clock, but with a website your products or services are online 24 hours a day 7 days a week.  We all lead such busy lives that it is entirely possible that your customers might want to research or purchase your products or services outside your normal opening hours.

Publish an FAQ on your site

How many hours a week do you spend answering the same customer queries by email or telephone?
If you had an FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) section on your website you could direct your customers to your FAQ page and save yourself a lot of time and effort.


If you’re coming around to the idea of getting a website built for your business, make sure you read this article to help make you aware of the cost of maintaining your website once you’ve had it built.

How to get your Website in the Search Engines


25. May 2009 14:43

Search engines are a popular method of finding websites on the internet.  They DO NOT search the whole internet contrary to popular belief, instead they keep a very very large database of websites (known as the index) which they know about and search those, when you perform a text search.

Search engines such as Google have special programs called robots which continuously scour the internet.  These robots are used to retrieve information from websites on the internet.  This information is fed back to the search engine for processing and the output of this process is added to the search engine’s index.

Getting your website indexed

As such there are no guarantees your website will appear in search engines, the search engine must become aware of your website before it can be found in the search engine index.
There are a couple of ways of achieving this.  You can submit your site to a search engine and wait until it gets indexed, or you can wait until the search engine discovers your site by itself, which is the preferred method.
Either way you may have to wait up to 6 weeks for your website to be added to the index.

As long as your website is linked to from at least one other (indexed) website then your website will be found by the major search engines without you having to do any work whatsoever.

No need to submit to hundreds of search engines

In the UK, Google has almost a 90% share of the search market, the other major search engines are Live Search, Yahoo and Ask Jeeves.  So its best to avoid SEO companies or SEO computer programs that claim to submit your site to 500+ search engines.  Even if they do submit your site to that many search engines, what good will it do you if 98% of internet users use Google, Yahoo, Ask or Live Search?

Your Website and Legal Compliance


17. May 2009 14:44

When you are thinking about what content you want on your new business website one of the last things your mind will probably be a privacy policy, terms and conditions, or a copyright statement.

You may also not realise that the UK data protection act may be applicable to you if you handle personal information through your website, or that your website needs to be built with accessibility in mind.

Privacy Policies

A privacy policy allows you to state how you will respect the privacy of your users, by explaining what information you collect and how you store and use it.

Cookies
A form of data collection which your website may or may not use is the cookie.   Your privacy policy should also mention your website’s use of cookies, and how to refuse them.  Be sure to ask the company that builds your website if cookies are being used, as the use of cookies by websites is covered by the Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive).

A sample privacy policy can be downloaded from the BusinessLink.gov.uk.

Terms and Conditions

A terms and conditions notice provides visitors with information about the content of your website and what they are permitted and not permitted to use it for.  A sample website usage terms and conditions can be downloaded from the Business Link website.

Copyright Notice

A copyright notice allows you to express how your website content can be used, downloaded or distributed by your visitors.  A sample internet copyright notice can be downloaded from Business Link.  You may also wish to consider licensing your work at Creative Commons, this will allow you to keep your copyright, but allow people to copy and distribute your work provided they give you credit.

Data Protection Act and your Website

The UK Data Protection Act requires all organisations which handle personal information to comply with a number of important principles regarding privacy and disclosure.

There are eight principles which are designed to ensure that personal information is handled properly.  The Data Protection Act gives individuals the right to know what information is held about them.

If you process personal information on your website then you will need to notify the Information Commissioner’s Office.  This currently costs £35 a year and adds your business to the public register of data controllers.

Accessibility

The UK Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) refers to the provision of goods, facilities and services.  The act makes it “unlawful for a service provider to discriminate against a disabled person by refusing to provide any service which it provides to members of the public.”  The act means that service providers must “take reasonable steps to change a practice which makes it unreasonably difficult for disabled people to make use of its services.”

Make sure the company that is building your website makes your website accessible, otherwise you could face legal action.

Beware of Telephone Salesmen Purporting to be from Google


10. May 2009 14:46

Unfortunately there are people that do not want to make an honest living and decide instead to set-up businesses which scam people into handing over their hard-earned cash.  The Internet is no exception.

While the majority of search marketing firms are legitimate businesses, there are a few bad eggs that give the industry a bad name.

There are people that are ringing up website owners purporting to be from Google, offering top rankings for certain search phrases and putting them into contracts of 6 months or so.

If you are approached by a company who are trying to sell you something on the telephone, get them to send you an email with their contact details and end the conversation.

Do not make a decision on the spot, say you need time to think about it.  This will give you time to research the company and make a more informed decision.

Trading Standards give this advice:

“There are a number of steps you can take to avoid rogue publishers such as never agreeing to an advertisement over the phone, always asking for written details…”

If and when you get an email with their details, perform a search on the company name, look at their website and then at other results your search brings back.  If they are using free web-mail email addresses, such as @googlemail.com, or @hotmail.com be suspicious.

If their email address is not a free web-mail address such as @badcompany.com, do a look up on their domain name to see who it has been registered to;  Use a Whois service to do this.

Try doing a search for their telephone number as this sometimes brings up interesting results.

If you have already entered into such an agreement, then you should contact your local Trading Standards office.

Tags:

Category: Search Engine Marketing

Create a Google Business Listing to Help Increase Visitors


8. May 2009 14:48

Google has a facility that allows you to add your business listing to its search results all for free!

The business listings are part of Google Maps and appear embedded in Google’s search results. I searched for Plumbers in this instance and based on my location, Google displayed plumbers in my local area.

This is an invaluable marketing tool, which you should take advantage of, as you may get many more click-throughs to your website from one of these listings than you would have done relying on your organic search ranking alone, and the best thing is its free and easy to set up.

Setting Up Your Listing

Go to Google’s Local Business Center page and click the “Add new business” button to sign-up.

You will need to fill in a form with your business’ details so that Google has enough information to create a Google Maps listing. Be sure to write a good description as a lot of people leave this blank; this is a your chance to “sell” your services and stand-out from the crowd!

Once you’ve entered all your details you’ll have to verify your listing before it goes live, this can be done by telephone, text message or post. On receiving the verification code, you’ll need to enter it into the Google Business Center control panel. Once this has been verified your business listing will go live within a day or so and you should hopefully start to get more click-throughs and more sales as a result!

Tags:

Category: Search Engine Marketing