It almost sounds like the start line of a joke, but for
many web site owners, it can be a very serious
question that fills their waking hours. Every day they
struggle to make their web site increase business
by reaching the millions of potential clients they
just know are out there.
The definition of successful, of course, totally depends on the intent of the site, and who it is meant to appeal to. This apparently simple premise can be where the most pitfalls occur.
Many businesses ventured out onto the Internet for no other reason than, 'Our competitor has a Web Site, so we need one now or they will beat us to the millions of Internet users!'
Another motive is 'A guy at the golf club said he made $100,000 last month with his site, and he doesn't even sell anything online'
As with most 'Internet Urban Myths' the figure gets larger each time the story is told, until the house painter in Chesapeake is retiring to Hawaii after only 2 weeks online.
Joking aside, there are successful web sites on the Internet, but they are by no means 'get rich quick' vehicles as thought of 10 years ago.
As with any other business venture, there is a lot of hard work involved, much research, and, because the Internet changes every few weeks it seems, a lot of trial and error.
In our case, we planned and worked on our WebUpdate system for over two years before launching it in 2004. Several months of that development period was dedicated solely to the embedded search engine coding.
Luckily, our vision, research, and hard work paid off, for both us and our clients, who now have beautiful, and 'successful' web sites, with first page search engine results, and vastly increased traffic.
In the two years since its launch, the WebUpdate system has evolved to be even bigger and better, thanks to our clients.
So what can you do to help your site?
Here are some simple rules for venturing onto the web:
Draw up a business plan: Just as with a new 'real-world' business. Set monthly or yearly projections of how many visitors/sales/new clients you will need to recoup site development costs and start showing a profit within a reasonable time.
Have realistic goals: Don't fall for the 'Internet Urban Myths' and just have a site created because you think that's all it takes.
Think carefully about the target audience: Many sites become 'bloated' because they are trying to appeal to 'all the people, all the time'. Keep your content aimed at your intended demographic. Keep focus, or you will miss the intended target audience.
Promote yourself correctly: Where and what you advertise are equally important. If selling 'high ticket' items, 'classifieds' papers may not work, because 'classifieds' readers are looking for a bargain. However, a $19.99 product could do very well.
Online, if you want new customers from Search Engines, this cannot be done cheaply, despite what a web designer may tell you. If anyone says otherwise, get them to demonstrate at least 10 relevant search terms that will show each of their previous clients within the first 10 search results.
Keep it simple, keep it real: Don't make exaggerated claims about yourselves, your products or services, or you will be seen as another Internet 'scam.'
Terry Young is the founder and CEO of Internet Marketing and Design,
the award winning web and multimedia design agency in Chesapeake.
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