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When compared to traditional dollars spent, online marketing is now becoming one of the most cost effective solutions for small and large organizations. Implemented properly, a small local firm can keep up with the big budget corporations. This can be done through (SEO) search engine optimization. Let me explain how this is possible: A large accounting firm, KPMG for example, services all of the United States, Canada and overseas. As they develop and optimize their website they are not able to put much emphasis on smaller areas like "Calgary". When a smaller local firm builds a website they can place all the emphasis on Calgary. This is due to the fact they are not interested in business from New York. With this in mind, smaller firms are able to dominate the local market. Here is an example of how it can work: A client of ours, the Registered Public Accounting Association (RPAA - http://www.rpaa.org) wanted to increase their members by achieving a high ranking for 'accounting associations.' Within two weeks and under a $1,000 we were able to get them a very high ranking. I have provided a brief list below (please check http://www.google.com for yourself). Accounting Association Alberta Ontario Accounting Association Accounting Association Canada All rankings are in the top three positions. By adding a location you are now only competing against 5 -15 million websites. This sounds like a lot but compare it to just "Accounting Association" which is competing against 47 million websites the competition is much smaller. Keep in mind the RPAA still has a ranking for "Accounting Association" but now they are all the way back on page three. When considering taking your business online, or investing in online marketing tactics for your existing website, you need to ask yourself the follow questions: Does my business need a website? More and more companies are asking themselves, do we need a web presence? The real question is "do we want more business" or "do we want to save our staff time". If the answer is "yes" then a website is right for your company.
As times change, so do marketing strategies. Having a web presence is now becoming one of the most cost effective marketing strategies available. When done right, a website owner can update, modify and virtually control all aspects of their website themselves. This prevents unexpected fees that can cripple a small business. What should I expect from my website? The expectations of a website from some companies are unrealistic. You cannot count on a new website to start making you money overnight. Also, just having a website does not mean you will see a benefit. Put in what you want to get out. Time and time again we find organizations using friends of the family to develop their online presence. This situation usually causes more harm then good. Would you recommend that one of your clients use their cousin who did book keeping for a year to do their accounting ... no matter how much money you think you will save, it always costs you more in the long run. When choosing a website development company make sure they have been in business for more than 5 years, have at least 20 websites that are still live and making profits, have a commercial office and most importantly call their references, all of them! What should my website have? oContent, content and more content! When developing a website that is search engine friendly your biggest friend is your content. The main purpose and goal of the top three search engines is to provide the most relevant results to the searcher. Without a significant amount of content there is no way for the search engines to determine that your site is worth displaying. oEducational information is one key to a successful website. Educational resources not only give you a significant boost in the search engines, it also provides an additional benefit to your website users. You need to provide your users with a reason to bookmark your site or send it to a friend or family member. oProvide and talk about the benefits of using your company instead of your competition. Experience, innovative ideas, attention to details and proven track records are all examples of why your company is the best of the best. Keep in mind that none of the website user's care about you. They care about what you can do for them. Show them, tell them and they in return will make that ever important first contact. oEasy to navigate page structure is one of the fundamentals to a successful website. As with any business you need to continue to ask yourself "How easy is it to do business with me". This also applies to your website. You need to be sure your users do not need to search for the information they want. The main pages for any site should be; Contact us, Services or Products and About Us. Keep these up front and center. For the remainder of your pages the ideal menu would be text based and each text link would include the keywords you are targeting on the destination page. What should I avoid?
oThe biggest website ranking killer "Frames". Luckily, frames are becoming part of the past with the use of DIV layers and highly flexible AJAX coding. The long and the short of it is that if you have Frames on your website then you are starting off at a disadvantaged position that cannot be truly search engine friendly no matter what you do. oI have read in many articles that Macromedia was developing a way to make Flash indexable to search engines. Don't hold your breath as I have been waiting for over a year with no official press releases. So I still consider it a kiss of death for websites designed solely in Flash. oWith the odd exception Splash Pages can be detrimental to a website because the home page (the first page seen when someone visits your website), your most important page, is often converted into nothing but an excess entry point with little or no relevant content on it. Aside from reducing your chances for ranking, you are also making your visitors take another step to get to content or sales material in your site. These are only a few things to consider when building your website. This is why we recommend that you use a well established internet marketing company and not your brother's, sister's friend that took a course. It takes a team of highly skilled individuals to make it work to its optimal level and within legal guidelines. Creating a well marketed website requires a basic to advanced understanding of how a search engine works, and how users interact with your site. Complexity aside, the notes above provide a good basis for you to evaluate the friendliness of your website and make changes where necessary.
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