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?

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.


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!


Category: Search Engine Marketing

Determine Your Long-Term Website Total Cost of Ownership

5. May 2009 15:02

Your website is a shop window for your business, which will need to grow and change with your business and be able to inform your customers of your latest products or services, news, awards etc.

A common pitfall sometimes overlooked by new website owners is the on-going cost of ownership. There are very few website owners who will be happy leaving their website unchanged since the day it went live, but they don’t often factor in the cost of maintaining and keeping the website up-to-date. 
Likewise many people forget that a website will not magically sell itself.  Time and money will need to be invested in search engine optimisation (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM) in order to bring new customers in.  The same can be said for retaining existing customers, where keeping a database of names and addresses can be very beneficial to communicate with your existing client base.

If you are looking to get a website built or re-designed it makes a lot of sense to spend a few minutes thinking about the total cost of ownership (TCO).  How much will your website actually cost beyond the initial design and build stage?

You should consider the following: 

  • Website design & build
  • Search engine optimisation (on-page and off-page) – Off-page SEO is an on-going specialist task which will help your site in Google’s “organic” listings
  • Search engine marketing (SEM) – Pay per click advertising e.g. Google Adwords
  • Website maintenance – Updating the site text, adding new sections etc
  • Content management systems – Enabling you to update the website yourself
  • HTML newsletters design, build and broadcast costs

Some web design companies will offer all of these services, whereas some agencies will specialise in only certain areas. 
It makes sense to look at the track record of companies you hire in order to make sure not only you can work with them, but that they can work with other agencies you hire to deliver the type of service you require, in the time-frames your business demands.