Free Advertising Ideas For Online Business

In today's economy it is important for every small business to utilize as many free advertising services as they can get their hands on. These ideas should make the advertising process a little easier.

Host a Contest or Event

This will open up new avenues for free advertising. There are many websites out there dedicated to informing people about contests and events that its members might be interested in. Charge a small entry fee to cover the cost of the prizes and you will get traffic from a group of people who might not otherwise find you.

Local Free Advertising

Call up a local newspaper to do a human interest story or business story for your company. Also, submit your own articles to local papers and magazines for consideration. This method of free advertising works best for non-metropolitan areas but it never hurts to try. The worst thing a person can tell you is no!

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Learning SEO techniques is one of the best free advertising techniques. A few tips include using only a couple keyword terms per page, maintaining a .5% -5% keyword density rate, utilizing your meta tags and image tags, creating and submitting XML sitemaps, as well as using keywords in your URL.

Personal Touches

Adding personal touches to your business is a great way to get repeat clientele or a good way to close a sale. Send personalized emails, newsletters about not only your services but also your family or friends, insert gifts with every purchase or even jot a quick thank you note and mail it to tell your customer that they really matter to you.

Free Article Submission

Submitting SEO rich articles to article submission sites can be a great way to advertise your website or services. Do not, however, submit the same articles that are on your website. Search engines penalize duplicate content. Instead you should rewrite a few of your articles first.

Link Building

The more inbound, one-way links your website has the higher it will rank in search engines. These inbound links work best if the websites linking to you are relevant to your main focus. These links are the only ones that search giant Google recognizes. To build links you can post blogs or guest blog for someone, submit articles and press releases for syndication, email webmasters, post in forums and comment on blogs. Remember that these links are not only for the search engines, they can also drive legitimate traffic.

Free Classified Advertising

Submitting a well worded link into a free classified can return decent traffic. Describe your website in an intriguing way and curious people will click your link.

Social Networking

Websites like MySpace and Facebook can be great sites to advertise through. You can build a website just for your business and advertise directly to your "friends". My personal technique for acquiring friends involves seeking out groups with an interest in my topic and requesting friend adds from those members. If you only request 20 -40 friends a day you will not likely be marked as spam. The key to getting friends is to type up a seemingly personal message without any links;

"Hi, I noticed you are a chef. My website is running a recipe contest. You should check it out!"

I've found that notes like this in a friend request results in about 1 of every 3 people I approach adding me as a friend. Once your friend list is established you can blog, email or post announcements about your business.

Social Bookmarking

A new trend in online advertising involves social bookmarking sites like Digg and StumbleUpon. See www.AddThis.com for your own social bookmarking button. It is now (practically) mandatory for all websites to allow for social bookmarking. If you have viral content on your website it can really pay off.

Viral Videos

Diet coke and mentos, exploding bathtubs, and bikes playing Guitar hero videos made for close to nothing. If you have a video camera it is worth a shot to try to post a viral video on YouTube. Of course this is no easy task. It is impossible to tell what will become viral. Other video options involve posting information relevant to your site. You can make a simple slideshow with music and text with Microsoft MovieMaker. Place a link to your site on your videos and in your profile. Over time you should reap results.

Free Alternate Directory Submissions

There are many online directories aimed at specific interests. These directories look to help consumers find the best websites and information available. To find these directories simply search a relevant term and "directory".

Making Your Commercial Website Work With Effective Web Design

The first thing about web design is to know the purpose of the website. This will then define the target audience of the website. Furthermore, this will dictate the appropriate look and overall web design.

Web Design: Connecting with Potential Customers

Commercial websites need to connect with potential customers. Websites are there to tell them about the products. So that’s what they should see in the website. They would be interested about what these products can do for them. Customers would want to know how they can buy the products. If they have questions they’d want to know how to contact you. And eventually they would be interested about the cost too.

In short, what a commercial website needs is a whole system. It’s like having a good store. You don’t only need a good display. You also need helpful salesladies and cashiers to complete the transaction.

To facilitate a good shopping experience, easy navigation is imperative. Relevant information about the company and its products should be easy to locate. A visitor should also be able to tell where he has yet to go to. For example, you have a repeat customer. He should be able to tell which products are new.

Links should be visible and clear. Titles for each link should tell what is contained there. The uncluttered look also always works for businesses. This gives the customers an easier way to take everything in. And it’s easier for them to choose where to go next.

The Other Side of Web Design

Web design also involves designing the under workings of the site. For instance, making sure that each page loads faster is essential. Customers value fast service. So, the site should open instantaneously if possible.

This does not mean that graphics and images are prohibited. It’s just a matter of providing the right file size.

Another part of web design deals with search engine optimization. Your potential customers should be directed to your site. It must therefore have high page rankings. One essential thing for that is proper HTML coding.

Content management may be related to web design as well. After all, visitors go to the website for the content. Relevant content should be provided to help the site get indexed. Updates should be done regularly to improve rankings. This also helps make customers come back to the site.

So essentially, the interface and the backend job of the web designer should correlate. Good web designers should also be conscious of the business aspect of it. Businesses want to build a business. So at the end of the day, it should be what the website should deliver.

SEO understands that getting sales is the main objective of every business. While SEO works to provide the best website design and development services, it works to provide the best Internet marketing as well. We focus on the needs of each of our clients. And in the end, we always bring in the desired outcome.

Your Business Mission – What the Heck Do You Do, Anyway?

Do you really need a business mission statement? Is it just some fancy words to put in that business plan that collections dust on your shelf, or is there really more to it?

One of the key attributes of successful businesses is that they clearly know what they do. Defining the goal or the "mission" of your business can be the key to your success.

A good mission statement does three things:

"States what business you are in." Defines your target market. "Provides inspiration for your business.

One of the best examples of a mission statement comes from Levi Strauss & Co. [http://www.levistrauss.com/Company/ValuesAndVision.aspx]

"We will market and distribute the most appealing and widely worn apparel brands. Our products define quality, style and function. We will clothe the world."

Clothing the world is a pretty lofty goal, but Levi Strauss has the ability to do this for one reason — Their founder, Levi Strauss, started the business with a mission and focus.

Levi started his wholesale dry goods business in San Francisco February, 1853. Rather than hoping to make his fortune in the Gold Rush, he created a fortune by wholesaling clothing and fabric to the small stores supplying the thousands of miners and later, families of the West.

In 1872, he was contacted by Jacob Davis, a tailor who had developed a method to rivet the stress points of the pants he made from fabric he bought from-you guessed it — Levi Strauss. Jacob did not have the funds to patent the process, so he teamed up with Levi Strauss to patent the original blue jean in 1873. The rest is history.

Now, if Levi Strauss was your typical small business, he would probably have spun off in ten different directions in their early years, but the company remained focused on supplying quality clothing and fabrics to the working men and women of the West, and later the world. Rather than focusing on their core market, they would have fallen into the AFAB method … Anything for a Buck.

Most small businesses suffer from this lack of focus.

When we work with struggling business owners, the first thing we ask them is "What is your bread and butter?" What one product or service provides you with the majority of your business profit?

Unfortunately, most business owners can not answer that question. They did not define their core product or service and target market when they started, and end up doing a little bit of everything, and nothing well.

Or, they focus most of their time on a product or service line that they like, without knowing whether it actually is their most profitable.

Fortunately, there is an easy fix for this problem.

You have to determine your gross profit margin from each of your product lines or services. Get together with your accountant, and figure out what you need to do to separate your revenue and expenses by the major product lines of your business. Then, you can find out your gross profit margin, or the percentage of gross profit you receive from each activity.

The product or service with the highest gross profit margin is your core business activity. It is the bread and butter of your business, and the key to your company profits.

Now, you must focus as much of your company resources as possible on this core activity. Market it, systemize it, and turn your business into a machine for duplicating this product or service over and over again.

What happens?

Well, rather than running around like a chicken with your head cut off, putting out fires all over your business, you suddenly have the focus to know where to spend your time and energy. You know your core, and you can work to make a good thing even better.

This focus will transform your business and your life.

Remember the term "Jack of All Trades, but Master of None"? You can not really really good at something without focus, and focusing on your most profitable core product or service will make your business even more efficient.

Does this mean that you should never expand beyond your core? Of course not, but you must make sure you are really good at your core product or service before you venture into different directions. Creating a strong bread and butter business will give you the base necessary to expand.

Your core product or service is the foundation for your business. Build it well.

Web Hosting Options for Small Business

It seems that so many times it is hard for the little guy to get a leg up in the business world. Every supplier or service that you talk to is only interested in catching the larger fish and is totally disinterested in you. When it comes to finding a web host for your website it can often times be no different sometimes. Sure they have service plans that you can cut costs with but how do you know just what you need to get by.

There are a few simple rules to follow if you are in the market for a budget web hosting plan that at the same time does not leave you empty handed on the essential services that you will be needing from time to time. If your website is less than one-hundred pages and does not have any data intensive components such as streaming videos than you can get by with the bare minimum amount of bandwidth and gigabytes of memory and that means a basic plan for about $ 5.

If you have more than one-hundred pages and or your pages are heavy laden with text and photos then you may want to take the option of shared web hosting for about $ 10 which is going to give you more bandwidth and memory. That is what you will need for the bare bones basic web hosting service if that is all that you need. You have to bear in mind though that what you are going to be doing with your website also has to be considered.

For instance; if your site is just for reference purposes that is supporting a non Internet business in your community then you can still get by with the low cost basic web hosting service. If however your business is an Internet business that changes the picture considerably. This is because, unless you are marketing a product that only you have and no one can live without, you will be in competition of untold numbers of other people on the Internet.

This then means that you are going to have to engage in some level of website promotion or SEO which stands for search engine optimization. If you do not, then every time that someone types in the keywords to look for what ever it is that your website is selling you will be the last in line with regards to prospective sellers.

SEO can be approached two different ways with regards to a prospective web hosting service. The first way is to just pay them to promote your website and do the SEO for you but it is going to cost you.

The second way is to learn about SEO and then do it yourself. If you are going to do it yourself you will need to learn what basic tools you will be needing your web hosting service to have available. SEO is not overly complex but you do have to know what you are doing or all of your best efforts can be a waste of time.