Internet Tips and Tricks
Don't use a "free generic" email service for business
If you have a website, you are usually much better off using an email address based on your web address (e.g. YourName @ YourCompany.com). For business, you and your staff should avoid "free" generic email services such as those offered by Yahoo, gMail or AOL. Although these services may be suitable for personal use, they may not convey the right business. Furthermore, when you use these "free" services, you are using their domain name and thus advertising their service.
You would be better off using YourName @ YourCompany.com so that your domain name gets the exposure. Here's another item to consider: when you use "free" email services, they typically insert advertisements into your email. This can be distracting at best, and at worst you may be advertising for your competitor.
Items to consider when using a DIY website company
1. Usually, do-it-yourself website companies require that you select from pre-made templates. Make sure the templates they offer fit your business needs and your personal tastes. Unfortunately, templates may be limited in selection and originality, and may not be optimized for your business.
2. Depending on which do-it-yourself company you chose, you may still have to learn some programming and/or graphic development.
3. Be careful of low-cost and free do-it-yourself companies. They typically generate revenue by placing ads for other organizations on your website. This is not desirable since it will distract visitors from your message.
4. Make sure the do-it-yourself company offers all the features that you need now and in the foreseeable future.
Things to consider when hiring a company to create your website
Hiring a company to develop your website, can save you a lot of time and effort. Furthermore, a professional website is more likely to serve your business needs and attract customers.
1. Choose someone that is accessible and local. Inevitably, you may want to talk face-to-face with your webmaster because there are some topics that can't easily be addressed through email or over the phone.
2. Review their portfolio and look at the work they have done for other clients.
3. Select a company that has been in business for a few years. As with any business, experience and track record are important.
4. Consider a complete website package. There are many details involved in generating a website including domain registration, hosting, graphic development, search engine optimization, maintenance, etc. Hiring a company that does everything is usually more efficient than going "a la cart" from different professionals.
Promoting your website
1. Include your web address on all company media (business cards, promotional items, etc.).
2. Include your web address in your email signature.
3. Include your web address in all print, radio and TV advertisements.
4. Advertise on relevant websites. For example, if you were a deli owner, you may consider purchasing ad space on a local town website to attract local customers. If you sell parts for antique cars, you may consider buying ad space on a website for an antique car club.
5. Make sure that your web address is included in reputable directories such as Manta, Yelp, etc.
6. Chose a domain name that is relevant, easy to remember and easy to spell.
7. Avoid the temptation to trade links with link-farms. These are websites that contain a large collection of links with little or no relevant editorial content or theme. Usually link-farms do not generate quality traffic, and search engines may penalize your website if you use them.
8. Optimize your website so that people can easily find you on the major search engines (Google, Bing, etc.). Please note that this can be a daunting task, so you may want to consider using a professional that specializes in Search Engine Optimization (SEO), or, when you hire a webmaster, make sure SEO is included when they create your website.
How a website can make your business more efficient
1. Having a website makes it easier for people to find and learn about your business. Most Long Islanders rely on the internet, and less are relying on traditional media such as printed directories.
2. A website can save you valuable time and money. By including all your basic information (what you do, hours, locations, directions, etc.) visitors can learn about your business with less effort from you and your staff. With a website, you'll spend less time answering the same questions over and over again. A website can also reduce your printing costs. For example, if you owned a restaurant, you could post your menus online, so you don't need to print as many and you can more easily make updates.
3. A website helps you serve your customers. For example, if you're in the insurance business, a form can be placed on your website to pre-qualify clients.
4. A website can open your business to new markets, since your website is viewable virtually anywhere in the world, 24 hours a day. For example, if you're a real estate agent, people looking to move into your area can find and contact you about housing information.
5. A website helps you obtain customer feedback. On your website, you can ask for feedback and get it instantaneously. Feedback can also be anonymous, encouraging more candid responses.
6. A website helps you support your staff. For example, a secure area can easily be added to your website, so that your staff can access information without requesting it by phone or email..
7. A website gives your company credibility. For most businesses and organizations, people expect you to have a website, just as they expect you to have a business card or phone. Having a website lets people know that you are committed to your cause. And here's another thought: there's a good chance your competitors have a website.