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A Guide to Building Websites That Work
If you are looking for “Get-Rich-Quick,” close this page. You are at the wrong place. Common sense dictates that is impossible. If you intend to build a major online corporation, you need a Webmaster and programmers.
But if you are willing to work to build a genuine small business with long-term value and profits, read on. You have come to the right place, the only place, where the average small business person can indeed build a profitable online business.
We all have different reasons for building businesses online.
It depends on who you are, from raw “newbie” to marketing expert.
It depends on what you want out of business and life…
* Freedom and self-reliance?
* Increased revenues from an existing business.
* Growth and independence?
* Living life with passion.
* Recognition and support?
* Community and belonging.
* The right skills and control?
* Additional family income & time.
No matter your reason, you surely want to succeed. But the bitter truth is that only a few people have or know what it takes. Your Web site either makes the sale, or it doesn’t. Ninety-nine out of a hundred sites still don’t get the order.
We blame that on suspicious, scared Web-consumers.
No matter what you offer on the Web, your site must SELL! Are you selling digital goods like software, video games, or info-products? Do you sell freezers to Eskimos (to store the ice you sold them), or other hard-good widgets?
Got a store with dozens, hundreds, even thousands of items to sell?
Think there’s no way you could sell hamburgers on the Web? Why not use your site to sell visitors on registering for digital discount coupons for your special of the month?! Just print and present one to the restaurant nearest you!
Maybe you’re looking to expand regional sales into global distribution? Or do you want to generate leads for your OEM business? Are you considering adding an online profit-center to take advantage of your existing offline store’s infrastructure (1-800 number, warehouse, inventory, database, etc.)? A no-brainer… if you do it right!
Or… has your own profitable Web site just been a dream until now? Well, everyone’s an expert on something!
Think! Brainstorm a little. Can you offer…
* world-class consulting services on your special area of expertise?
* special travel services, like bike tours through the Andes?
* unique info-products, based on knowledge from your job or hobby?
* Multi-national corporation? Entrepreneur with an idea?
It doesn’t matter. Here’s the bottom line.. you can make our site sell.
Just last week my family(extended) had a get together, something small. Like most of such occasions everyone wants to know what everyone is up to and we all make jokes about the little things. I am a natural, I usually get everyone’s attention for being outspoken, sort of a Bilbo in the Baggins family.
During dinner we had hardly eaten a chunk or two when my little niece turned to me and said,” Can you help me make my site sell?
I was taken aback because before now I had no idea she had a website or was trying any making ventures online. The truth is that she had secretly spent all her pocket cash for six months on paying for hosting, and a domain. She had installed a shopping cart, tweaked it in every possible way. But after 8 months she had received just 18 unique visitors and made no sales of her art works even though they cost just 20 dollars.
I decided to help, of course I had no choice.
I took her through a 3 week class. I am going to try to summarize the process in this article, cos I found out that there a lot of out there struggling with building a website and fail miserably talk less of making money from it.
So many people out there even go a step further buying resale rights products, books etc.
These are not wrong in themselves as I have personally written some myself. But if you do not understand the fundamental principles about businesses on online you will fail and loose your hard earned cash too.
But first lets out line the problems my niece was having. She mentioned so many things but here is a summary
1. No traffic
2. No sales
3. Domain Name irrelevance
Everything we build in life should be anchored a good foundation, this also goes for building websites for profit. In our case here’s the foundation. . .
Content Traffic Presell Monetize
Step 1 – Understand the difference between “PREselling” and “Selling.”
Content -Traffic – PREsell – Monetize.
What’s it all about? Where’s the magic?
No magic. And it’s all about your “pre-customer,” about the hundreds of millions of people who surf the Net every day…
People use the Web as a searching tool. They search for credible high-value information or solutions, anything that can fulfill a wish that they hold dearly or solve a troublesome problem that they are experiencing.
Success on the Net all begins with a critical mindset shift. This means replacing that well-known offline strategy of “location, location, location” with…
“Information, information, information.”
In the online world, no one just happens to walk past, see your business and enter your Web site. Surfers on the Net are not looking for you or your business. People search for information, for solutions. After all, if they knew you existed, they would not be searching. They would already be customers.
Online, you must generate your own traffic to thrive and be profitable. Therefore, your primary task, well before you make your first sale or recommendation to a customer (often well before that person is even aware that s/he is shopping!), is to provide the information (i.e., content) that people are searching for, in a way that Search Engines like. In other words…
Give them what they want.
A Theme-Based Content Site contains information based upon a main subject. Each page focuses upon a single topic that is related to that theme. The net sum of all the information on all your pages forms the Content of your site.
These specific “topical pages” are called “Keyword-Focused Content Pages.” They rank well with the Search Engines (SEs), attracting lots of targeted Traffic.
The high-value content “warms up” (i.e., PREsells) visitors by OVERdelivering what they came for… information.
Visitors start to like and trust you (based on what you write about on your site). Your content-rich site builds trust and credibility… “PREselling!” The visitor begins to like and respect you… you are a knowledgeable expert.
This credibility creates an open-to-buy or open-to-hire mindset. You are now a mere click away from Monetizing (converting PREsold traffic into dollars)… affiliate links, order pages, contact forms, Google ads, your own store, eBay auctions, or any other way to monetize — they are now just one friendly click away!
This proven, results-generating process…
CONTENT -TRAFFIC -PRESELL – MONETIZE
… works. No matter how you plan to monetize…
* merchant-partner sites that you represent as an affiliate
* an order page on your site where a prospect can buy your own products (hard or digital goods)
* a contact form which visitors can use to follow-up with you for more details about your professional services or Network marketing business opportunity
* your own online store
* a site that sells a related, non-competitive service or product, in return for a referral fee
* your established sales site (become your own best affiliate!)
* an ad from Google’s AdSense program
* any combination of the above or others!
PREsold visitors convert more easily and more frequently into paying customers… which is exactly the result that your online business wants and needs in order to grow. That is the winning advantage of a “Theme-Based Content Site.”
Contrast that to a visitor who arrives at a sales site… no inspiring, relevant, editorial content. Selling merely tries to get the sale. If you do not have a brand (and most of us do not), if you have not built a relationship with your visitor, your chances of selling are near-zero.
Why? Well, which person would YOU respond to? A stranger with a sales pitch or a knowledgeable friend/expert making a recommendation? Become that knowledgeable friend/expert.
Great content encourages your visitor to think about you as a “friend/expert” rather than a stranger. And if you create a truly info-rich site, you’ll actually become a trusted expert, sharing your wealth of information. You basically create your own brand… your “brand of one.”
People “buy” from those they know and like. They resist sales efforts from everyone else.
And that is why 99% of small businesses fail online.
Selling is not your site’s first priority. (In fact, you may decide not to sell anything and become an “infopreneur” instead!) Your #1 priority is to PREsell through the delivery of the information that visitors seek.
You “monetize” (i.e., convert visitors into money) later.
Step 2 — Act upon the “PREselling Reality.”
As just mentioned, the reality of PREselling is that it works… if YOU work it! Thousands of ordinary, everyday business people have done exactly that.
The reality is that it is all under your control, far more so than in the risky, offline business world.
What about building traffic, ranking highly at the Search Engines? Do you think that only professionals (called Search Engine Optimizers or “SEOers”) can do that? No, in fact you have the huge advantage.
Search Engines are in the business of delivering relevant and high-quality results.
No need for luck. No need for SEO expertise. Simply follow and trust the C – T – P – M process.
It’s through the Search Engines (SEs) that you will reach your visitors. Most surfers won’t scroll past the first 10-20 listings on a Search Engine’s search results pages. That is where you will be.
And second, the description about your site will have to be interesting and credible. So you will “get the click.”
When a visitor finds you through a Search Engine like Google (or Yahoo! Search or Windows Live), think of how smart s/he feels. After all, s/he found you. You didn’t advertise (actually, once you build traffic, you can sell advertising!). All that remains is for you to OVERdeliver — PREsell!
Once you realize the logic and power of C – T – P – M, then you know that success really is DO-able. It is indeed “yours to be had.” And if you don’t succeed immediately, keep trying until you find the right approach.
You only fail when you quit. Patience and persistence ultimately rule the day. Or, to quote Calvin Coolidge…
Persistence wins. Keep pushing it… the business you build will take on its own momentum. It will fulfill all your objectives, if you put in the BAM (“Brain and Motivation”), the time and persistence that are required to grow anything that is worth achieving.
You understand C – T – P – M. More importantly, you are ready to invest (and “invest” is the perfect word!) time to build C – T – P before you Monetize. Once you do, converting PREsold visitors into money is the easiest (and most fun!) part of your online business
Step 3 — Monetize! Maximize Conversion Rate and profits.
Monetizing PREsold visitors is easier than falling off the proverbial log. DAY 4 discusses the wide variety of ways you can monetize. We’ll cover this topic at that time.
The key point for now is… You are not your monetization model. Do not think about “being an affiliate” or “selling an e-good.” As a matter of fact, do not decide upon any one monetization method.
First and foremost, you are in the “Content Delivery Business.” Then you monetize.
And… Diversify. Have several strong streams of income. For example…
One of your pages may feature Google AdSense ads and affiliate links. You might choose to add an e-commerce store to sell hard goods. And you sell some e-books via ClickBank, too.
However you monetize, do not push your visitors. Let the content pull them through to your revenue-generating locations rather than stopping them in their track.
This could be a link to a sales page for your product or service, to your merchant-partner’s site or to a click on a Google AdSense ad, for example.
Instead of pushing them, make them want to click. It makes all the difference if your visitors feel that it’s their idea to deliver your “Most Wanted Response” (“MWR”).
Once you have PREsold traffic, monetizing is limited only by your imagination!
So let’s not worry about that now. Instead, let’s talk about the broader concept of profits…
There is an easy business equation to follow in order to maximize profit. It’s the same equation, whether you are working online or off…
INCOME minus EXPENSES equals PROFIT.
It’s not a complicated equation, true! But people tend to forget about it.
If you can increase the amount of money that is coming into your business, and lower the amount of money that is going out of your business, you will have more money staying with your business.
So let’s start shifting that profit equation in your favor (and your bank account’s!) by improving the first part of the equation…
There are two major ways to increase income (i.e., the amount of money you make through your products, services, and/or other monetization efforts). You need to…
1) Expose more visitors to your monetization models…
This means that you need to attract more targeted traffic, people who are specifically interested in your theme and your topics (related to that theme) on your Web site. High-value content is the key factor behind traffic volume and your ability to increase and sustain it. And here’s the good news…
If you get the keywords “right” on your page and if you have great content, you will have substantial, evergrowing traffic! And here’s the best news…
Lets move on
* Offline, it’s all about “location, location, location.” You put your business where crowds go. Passerby traffic!
* Online, millions search for “information, information, information.” But they do it solo. There is NO such thing as “passerby traffic.”
You are really ready if you understand that the M is the easiest part of C – T – P – M . And speaking of C…
To succeed online, you must start where your “pre-customers” start…
People search for information, look for solutions. They are not looking for you. Give them what they want by converting your knowledge into high-quality, in-demand CONTENT.
Before you can do that, you must figure out…
* what they seek
* how often they search for it
* how badly they want it
* what competitors already provide, and how they do it
* what Content you will deliver, and how
Your next goal is to find your best Site Concept.
The rest of your business rides on your choice of Site Concept.
Let’s talk a bit about site concept.
Here is how you will get to your Best Site Concept…
1) Create a list of potential Site Concepts and choose your top 3.
* Everyone Knows Something About Something
* Three Site Concepts? Why Three?
* Do Some Quick Research.
2) Use tools like wordtracker dotcom and Google AdWords reserach tool to research Site Concept(s). Research keywords for each of your top 3 Site Concepts.To arrange and research your keywords even further,I recommend you use keywordresearchlab dot com/
3) Evaluate the following factors for each Site Concept…
* Number of Keywords
* Theme “Sexiness”
* Monetization Potential
What Is a Site Concept?
It is the central theme, the niche, upon which you will base all of your site’s Content (hence the term “Theme-Based Content Site”). Every page that you write will be about a topic that is related to your Site Concept. Each one of those topical pages focuses on a Specific Keyword, which is why I also call these pages “Keyword-Focused Content Pages (“KFCPs”).
Now to finding your Site Concept… your theme… your niche that you CAN master.
There is plenty of room for more than one Web site in any niche. Don’t worry when you find competitors. You have a huge advantage, — remember that 99% of small business sites fail, even the most gorgeous ones that cost $20,000 to build! So…
How to Recognize Your Best Site Concept
Bottom line on choosing your Site Concept?…
It takes just as much time to build a low-potential business as a high-potential one. So invest the time now, get the Site Concept right, and you will maximize your returns later, earning far more income per hour invested down the road.
The Plan… How to Develop Your Best Site Concept
Most people fail in any business because they don’t plan adequately. If you pick the wrong concept for your site, if you develop the wrong topics for your Web pages… you’ll get the wrong results…
No traffic = No income.
This will not be your fate. So get to work on your Best Site Concept Plan… Step 1 – Create a list of potential Site Concepts and choose your top 3.
Write down ideas for good “Site Concepts” as they hit you — make your list as long as you can. What do you know and love? What have you learned “on the job?” As you read the daily newspaper, or watch a talk show on TV, or chat with friends/colleagues, or browse a book store, keep your antennae up for new ideas.
Think… you may know so much about something that you overlook it
Everyone Knows Something About Something
What’s under your nose?
Use Common Sense
What is “too broad?” It’s any idea where the market is too big. For example, “travel” was an extreme example. “Italy” is too broad. Choose “Sicily” instead (if you know it.) And “New York” is too broad. Instead, try “Tribeca”… or go with “New York Pizzas” instead (if you love them!).
“Too n-” is the opposite. There just aren’t enough people interested in Caltanissetta, a city in Sicily. Sicily is “just right.”
“But how do I know whether it’s too n- or too broad if I’m just starting out?”
Good question! Use your common sense and knowledge of each niche, of course. And there is one good technique that helps, too!
So what are the key factors and their guidelines?
#1) Number of Keywords
A Site Concept that delivers more keywords is better. It offers the ability to create more Content. So, everything else being equal, choose the Site Concept with 300 pruned keywords over the one for which only 100 “made your cut.”
#2) Overall Profitability
The more keywords that have higher Demand, lower Supply and higher Profitability (Value Demand/Real Supply ratio), the better. Again, this is not an absolute, just an indication. Use your judgment.
Compare the overall Profitability of one Site Concept to another. How many solidly profitable keywords does each have? (Remember… the Profitability numbers are useful, but use your judgment to make the final decisions.)
Think about each keyword as the topic for a future Web page (that is what it will become). Do you already know what you could write for those words? Obviously, lean towards the Site Concept that you know the best.
Just as important… which Site Concept excites you the most? Choose a less profitable Site Concept if the thought of building a site about it excites you much more! It will be fun to create interesting Web pages about the subject area and to do the necessary research to stay current. It’s not work if it’s fun.
#5) Theme “Sexiness”
It’s not just your excitement that counts. Some Site Concepts are more apt to excite visitors. Trust your gut feel about which would excite visitors the most . It’s easy to PREsell your way to a strong “Brand Of One” with a fun, exciting theme.
#6) Monetization Potential
Look for a Site Concept that offers the potential for you to build multiple streams of income. C T P is useless if there is no M potential!
You must be able to Monetize your PREsold traffic. And the more ways to do that, the merrier. How many of the following could you (eventually) implement on each Site Concept, and with what kind of financial potential?…
* Represent the products/services of related, non-competing online businesses (i.e., affiliate income).
* Partner with an offline business, sending them customers, on a pay-per-click, per-lead, per-sale, or per-month basis
* Sell your hard good or e-book.
o Earn income by placing advertising on your site, such as Google AdSense, or by selling advertising directly. (Guess what? As your site grows, advertisers will approach you!)
o Sell your services (ex., develop clients for your copywriting or java-programming business).
o Supplement/build your local offline business.
o Attract more bidders for your eBay auctions.
o Build warm leads for your Network Marketing (“MLM”) venture.
o Rent — anything from heavy equipment to extras for movies to your own Cayman Island villa.
o Traffic — send traffic to your own e-commerce business (ex., your Yahoo! store or e-commerce site).
Finalize your Site Concept and get a good Domain name.
Visitors know great content when they read it. Winning, PREselling content “works” at several levels…
1. It has a “been there… done that” voice and flair.
2. It has specific, “zing knowledge” that comes from real experience.
3. It is supported by a depth of useful information. This is where good reference material plays an important part.
4. It is consistent, from page to page, from e-zine issue to issue, from week to month to year.
5. It is for the customer, absolutely.
Step 4 – Ready? Name that domain!
A good domain…
* is short and sharp
* is meaningful — conveys a clear message
* is easy to spell
* is easy to remember
* is unique, descriptive, and “you”
* is solid, classic, not hokey
* contains your VPP for human visitors
* contains your Site Concept keyword for spider visitors
* is attractive to humans (ex., “cayman-island-beaches dot com” “cayman island” is there for the engines and “beaches” is there for humans)
* ends in the classy ” dot com,” ” dot net” or ” dot org” (by far, the best regarded by surfers).
When do you use dashes in your domain name?
If both versions of a 3-or-more-word domain are available, use dashes because they make the word breaks more obvious to the eye. Also, the engines usually treat a dash as a space. So it may be more likely to “see” the entire string as separate words.
Dashes are less important if your domain name has only two words in it. See how netpricing dot com and cyberpricing dot com don’t really need the help of a dash?
Use dashes (even if the domain only has two words) if the non-dash version is already being used by someone else. But be sure that you are not violating anyone’s trademark (details on this below).
Note: If your business is 99%+ online, the offline issues of dealing with dashes are not so important (i.e., telling people how to spell it, people forgetting to put the dash after reading your print ad, etc.).
Here’s the bottom line…
Domain names are so cheap that it’s a good idea to take both versions (with and without the dash), just to make sure that a competitor does not take names that could be confused with yours. You can always make one domain point to the main one.
Offline vs. Online, and Branding
If you already have an offline business, it may be important to use your business name as your domain name rather than create a new domain name for it. On the other hand, you could give the site a name that uses your VPP, then use a domain redirector in your hosting to park and redirect your business name to your site. This works particularly well with business cards and other forms of offline, local marketing.
If you want to brand your site, you’ll want to get really creative and come up with a one word domain name. For example, if you wanted to brand a site about credit cards, you might use the name “creditopia dot com” or “crediteria dot com” (sorry, they’re both taken!). Easy to remember, and have a VPP (“credit utopia” or “credit cafeteria”).
Or you may find a domain name by simply adding a letter or two as a prefix or suffix to your site concept keyword (ex., icallcard dot com).
You’ll have to be more creative to come up with a short domain name that’s still available, but a little extra time spent now could pay big dividends later.
Why most people fail
Why did most people fail? I think the reason was that the whole process of running an online business is just too complicated for most people. There are lots of ways to screw it up. It pained me to visit some of those sites and notice a dozen glaring mistakes within the first few seconds – blogs that didn’t enable permalinks, cutesy headlines with no keywords in them, bad choice of topics, page titles that still used the WordPress default format, hideously suboptimal ad layouts, hidden or missing contact info, etc. Any one of those mistakes could cripple a site’s results. More than one is a practically a death sentence. Such mistakes cause problems both for human visitors and search engines.
But at the same time, there were teenagers humming along just fine, generating four figures in monthly income after working on their sites for 6-12 months. They didn’t necessarily get everything right, but they were Internet savvy enough to fix the big problems early.
What bothered me most about this was that people were too often failing because of the technology. Many of them had great ideas and very good content. It was a shame to read some of their articles and think to myself, This is great stuff… too bad no one will ever see it.
The cruel and unfair part of online business is that if you aren’t very Internet savvy, you’ll make mistakes on the technical side that you’re totally oblivious to. You may get the content side right, but the technology will bite you and cripple your results.
But it’s still a pretty unfair situation. There are people who can write great content who really deserve to be getting a lot of readers, but because they don’t understand permalinks, RSS feeds, pinging, or other technologies, they’re doomed before they start.
Once I saw this happening, I basically decided I’d better shut up about encouraging people to run an online business. People kept asking me for new articles on the subject, but I didn’t think it was a good idea. I was concerned I’d be doing more harm than good.
A new solution
Recently I came across a vastly superior solution to this problem – a way for people to build a successful online business that doesn’t require them to become technology gurus.
What I recommend is a service called Site Build It! – it’s an all-in-one solution for creating and building an online business. You pay an annual fee for the service, and they provide you with all the tools you need to build an income-generating web site. They host the site for you, they help you register your domain name, and they provide integrated tools like point-and-click page generators, built-in blogging, form builders, RSS feeds, and lots more. Many of these details will be handled for you, so you don’t have to worry about them.
You still create your own content, and you use their tools (or your own familiar tools) to create a site based on your unique ideas. You focus on the content side. They help you with the technical implementation side.
I don’t recommend this solution for everyone. If you’ve already built a successful website that generates thousands of dollars a month for you, you won’t need this. I don’t need it myself. But if you’re one of those people that have been held back by the technical complexity, then this is definitely something you should look at. This is the kind of solution I’d recommend in a heartbeat for my non-programmer friends who want to get something going online but quickly become lost in a sea of jargon.
There’s a lot to explain about this service and why I think it’s a great idea for most people interested in building a successful online business. So I wrote a whole separate article about that here
Site Build It is a suite of tools for building a website. Site Build It! (Site Build It!) the only all-in-one site-building, site-hosting, and site-marketing product that makes it easy to build a professional, popular, and profitable business.
they follow all the techniques I have listed here and even add more to ensure success.
I’m probably turning into a bit of a salesperson for Site Build It! because I really believe this is a great deal for a lot of people. Not only will building your own online business give you a quantum leap in your own personal development, but it can also provide income to fuel your ongoing growth.
I wish you all the very best.
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