Why bother with your own web site?
To present your business or product to the world, show facilities, prices, availability, and to encourage people to use your business. It is useful to be able to give people your web address, or URL so that they can read more about you than can be displayed in a small advertisement in another source.
Be realistic in your expectation of your own web site
It helps if you appreciate the limitations of having your own web site in advance and do not expect too much. It is extremely difficult to attract visitors to any new web site in large enough numbers to make the time and expense worthwhile because of the competition on the Internet.
Understanding how the web works
Pages on the Internet are the equivalent of electronic sheets of paper containing words and images. Search engines use these words and images to find pages that match the search terms that people surfing the web use. There are a number of search engines such as Google or MSN, these engines match your future customers needs to the content within your site.
Unfortunately, this does not always work successfully, most people with a web site spend a great deal of time trying to obtain links to their web site to improve their own page rank. I would suggest that with the exchange of a few emails, you could persuade other like minded business owners to exchange links with you to your mutual benefit. Google is penalizing any site that uses the services of a link farm, this is called Blacklisting. Basically if you sell cookers and you link to sites that promote bingo, get rich schemes well this is seen as not content related.
The links need to be precisely worded. If you want your page to be found under the search term ‘cottage with swimming pool’, it is helpful to have a page entitled ‘Cottage with a swimming pool’ and to have this text attached to the web address or link.
Content still matters
When writing content for your web site, it needs to written for both visitors to the site and for search engines. It’s the inclusion of those key search terms in the first place that generates that match. It’s all common sense; if you have a cottage in the north Pennines, County Durham, write down the search terms that people might use to find your cottage, e.g. 2 bedroom cottage County Durham, Cottage Pennines walkers etc.
There are tools that list commonly used search terms such as Google keyword suggestions but you may find that you’re trying to compete with thousands of other sites for the most common keywords such as ‘cottage’ when some more complex phrases will provide even better matched visitors to your site.
Designing a web site
There are numerous tools available for the design and implementation of a web site. Whatever you use, you’re going to have to prepare the content in the first place.The most important data you require for your web site are good clear images. These do not have to be of a professional standard but it does help. Images must also be saved as web images to load quickly, that means using gif's jpg's or png graphic formats.
A search on the web for 'graphics library' will come up with a good selection of web sites from which to purchase regional images. An example of a good value graphics library is Fotolia, or there are a number of free graphics available "called Public Domain Images".
Think about information for some of the following pages:
How to implement your web site
There are numerous options for implementing your web site; you can employ a web designer to create it for you, create it yourself using a free web page template or web design software where you simply add the data, use a Blog site such as googleblog.blogspot.com or blogger.com which are currently free, or write simple HTML pages if you have the skills. Once you require more advanced features such as Flash graphics or self-editing facilities you’re into the realm of the experts.
- Your own web site will have a domain name or unique web address such as www.skyshot.co.uk which will need to be renewed annually or increments there of.
- If it’s a standalone web site that has been written for you, or you yourself have written, there are annual hosting costs unless you obtain free hosting for which you may have to display the hosting companies’ adverts.
- If you use a database for a site that you can update yourself there may be additional annual costs for that facility.
- Maintenance of the site. It’s wonderful if you can maintain the site yourself and there are various options here to make this possible even on a simple HTML web site, or you will need to pay for updates of price changes, special offers, facilities and change of images. Again, it makes a difference if you can find a company that will maintain the site cheaply and some will only maintain the web sites they develop because of the effort and extra work sometimes required in correcting badly written code.
Ordering a web site
The two most important factors are: getting your web site found on a group of keywords or phrases and good presentation of your business through images and text.
The first criteria will help get people to your web site, the second will sell it to them. One without the other, results in an inadequate web site irrespective of how beautiful it looks. A statistics facility means that you can easily see which keywords are working for your site. Google provides a free stats or analytics service, plus there are many others such as Statcounter.
Getting your web site into the Search engines.
The main search engines such as Google, Yahoo and MSN now called Bing will index your site as soon as a link exists somewhere to it on the web. Exchange links with a similar business to your's or simply advertise on a portal that provides links to your own web site in your advertisement accomplishes this.
Search Engine Colossus is a global directory of search engines and directories. You can submit your web site to the appropriate ones simply by filling in an online form. To add your site to Google for indexing, simply complete the form on the Google URL submission page.
This excellent example appeared on Country Cottages Online although we have amended the detail.