by Terry Young
Spread your name around to increase your visitor base
In the 1990's, the dot com boom saw many online businesses, both large and small, grow and prosper seemingly with little effort.
Then came the dot com bust, and many businesses plummeted as quickly as they had risen.
After the dust settled, the survivors emerged wiser. Those who adapted, especially dismissing the "If you build it, they will come" web myth, began to prosper again. These companies understood that successful online business depends on three factors: The products or services offered, how much other direct competition there is, and how easy the site is to find online.
One of the main reasons many businesses fail online is not because of what they sell, or because of great competition, but purely down to poor visibility.
With hundreds of millions of web sites online, site owners have to be both visible and comparable to other similar sites if they are to to obtain a piece of the Internet pie.
Being easy to find instantly increases potential sales and visitors, but this requires either high search engine positions or diverse link exchange and banner advertising.
I have discussed search engine advertising and link exchanges in the past, but have rarely talked about banner advertising, which is often a very underused visibility source.
If you spend any time surfing online, you will have seen many advertisements all over the sites you visit. Large and small companies pay web sites to display their banner ads.
As with any other advertising, banner ad rates can differ greatly, depending on the popularity of the sites you want to display on.
Many smaller sites dismiss banner advertising because of cost, but if handled correctly, it doesn't have to be too expensive.
Placing your banner elsewhere costs you money, but you can also use banner 'feed' schemes like Google's AdSense to display other people's ads on your site, generating income to offset your advertising costs.
When displaying feed banners on your site, the most effective types are for similar fields to yours, but not directly competitive.
Another option is to offer a free banner exchange. Similar to link exchanges, you make your banner code accessible for other site owners to put on their sites. In return, you place their banners on your site.
Although this practice benefits everyone, unfortunately it usually attracts lower traffic sites.
If you want to get middle traffic sites, you can also start your own 'affiliate' plan.
Site owners sign up with you, and post your banner on their sites, with a tracking code. When the banner is clicked, your site knows where the visitor came from, and you pay the site owner.
While this option still costs you, you have the control to hand pick sites you want to sign up with you, and can decide how much or little you want to pay them per click.
Of course, as with any other online marketing and advertising, make sure you can track your visitors to know what is working for you.
If you are ready to grow your business, now is the time to consider new web technologies such as our WebUpdate systems. They employ many advanced features designed to give businesses the best competitive edge online.
Terry Young is the founder and CEO of Internet Marketing and Design. Since 1997,