5 Steps To Building An Online Business Directory

Starting an online business directory can be pretty easy, but if you have no clue of where and how to start then by reading this article it will help you to get started.

Step One:

The first thing you need to know about starting a business directory online is what is your target market going to be, in other words what kind of businesses do you eventually want to include in your new business directory.

If you already have a current business online or offline then you will already know your target market, and you can move forward to step two in this article.

However, if you have no idea what your target market will be, then you will need to do some research, I would recommend starting a business directory about something popular and which is going to earn you an income down the road or. That will gradually help grow your current business.

Here are some very popular and profitable niches for an online business directory you could start.

1: RealEstate Directory

2: Travel Directory

3: Online Dating Directory

4: Automotive Directory

5: Fashion Directory

There are so many more and to find them just go to eBay.com or Amazon.com and see what is popular on those sites, or you could go to Google and do a search for keyword terms like “Hot Niches” or “Popular Niches” or “Popular Business” get the idea..

Then after you have decided on the niche for your new business directory, you will need to either buy or register your domain name.

Step Two:

Buying or registering the right domain name for your new online business directory will be the most important thing, so you need to make sure you get this correct from the start.

A good domain name should be no longer than two to three words, and it should contain the name of the niche and the word directory in it and should always be a .com if you can help it other wise you should go for the .net domain if the .com for the domain you want is already taken and is not for sale.

Therefore, for example if I was going to start a new business directory about the niche real estate the ideal domain name would be RealEstateDirectory.com or RealEstateDirectory.net but all good domain names like this have already been taken, but they may be up for sale so just visit the website and see.

If you find the domain name is not for sale then you could also try adding a dash between the two words.. Like this RealEstate-Directory.com or RealEstate-Directory.net and see if they have been taken or not, and if they are taken see if they are for sale.

If you have to go with a three word domain name you could enter something like your town or city name in front of the domain so it could be.. Like this NewYorkRealEstateDirectory.com or NewYorkRealEstateDirectory.net and see if it has been taken.

A great free online resource I have found to help brain storm a new domain name and see if they have been taken or not is RegistrarStats.com, give them a try.

Once you have found the domain name for your new online business directory it is time to register it, I recommend Godaddy.com for this as they are the cheapest and offer the best services.

Step Three:

Now that you have got your domain name for your new online business directory it is time to find a hosting company, and I have tried many and the best I have found is SeoHosting.com which is owned by HostGator.com, and they have been around for a very long time and they have thousands of happy customers.

Step Four:

Now that you have got your hosting account for your new online business directory it is time to build the directory.

Now you could do this a number of different ways but it all comes down to the amount of money you wish to spend.

If money is not an option for you, then I would recommend hiring a PHP coder from a website like RentaCoder.com or ScriptLance.com or eLance.com and get them to build a custom solution for you, this way you will make your new business directory stand out from all the other cookie cutter directories that are online these days using an off the shelf PHP directory script.

Don’t get me wrong there is nothing wrong with these types of scripts, and we use one our self for our own Link Directory, but we have gone a step further and have had a custom template created for our directory which has turned out to be a very good investment.

The directory script we use and recommend if you are on a very limited starting budget is PhpLinkDirectory.com.

Step Five:

Now we come to the final step and which is promoting your new business directory, this can be done with or without spending money.

I will list five free options and five paid options below you can start to help get the word out about your directory.

Free Options:

1: Join online forums and discussion groups related to your new business directory and make a post inviting business owners to list their website/business in your directory for free or at a discounted rate.

2: This one is related to 1: make sure you add a Sig line linking to your directory in all the posts you make in the forums you have joined.

3: Submit your business directory to other free link directories online, just do a search in Google for the key word Link Directory.

4: Link to your business directory from your other websites that you already own or run this way the search engines will find your directory and index it.

5: Send out and email to friends or customers and ask them to link back to your business directory and in exchange link back to their website from your directory if it is relevant.

Paid Options:

1: Start a Google AdWords campaign to instantly start driving traffic to your business directory, but be careful because if you do not know what you are doing with AdWords you could end up spending a lot of money without any results.

2: Buy some paid links from other websites or directories that are similar to your own business directory.

3: Submit your business directory to the Yahoo directory at a cost of $299 per year. Being listed in the yahoo directory will make your directory more creditable in the eyes of the search engines and your visitors.

4: Buy some advertising in offline news papers if your directory targets businesses in your local area.

5: Buy banner ads on other websites that relate to your business directory and try and to negotiate for a 6-12 month period because your can greatly reduce you’re over all banner advertising costs.

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Tips to Increase Traffic to Your Online Business Directory

Driving traffic to your online business directory is essential to building a thriving directory. No one will post if they do not know that your directories exist. There are a number of easy ways to increase traffic to your online business directory. Below are a number proven methods to help you bring traffic to your business directory.

1. Search Engine Indexing of Your Directory: It is essential that you submit your online directories to all of the search engines to be indexed, even the lesser known search engines. As well, have your directories validated so that the major search engines will better index you URL.

2. Create a Favicon: A Favicon is a small icon displayed in your browser next to the URL in the address bar and also on bookmarks. It will distinguish your directory from competitors on the bookmarks’ list. You can download an existing Favicon or create your own.

3. Write Business Promotion Articles: Write articles about business and online business directories and submit them to article directories. Make sure that you include your directory URL. The articles should relate to online business marketing.

3 Create a Unique Directory: A unique directory will make your directories stand out from the competitors. General business directories will receive less business listings than if you created specific directories that focused on a particular niche. Do not create category dumps or search engines will categorize your online business directory as duplicated content.

4. Spread the Word: There are many options available to spread the word online about your online business directory. Develop a relationship with other directory owners so you can exchange promotional ideas and strategies. Exchange links with relevant directories, not your competitors. As well, post comments of business blogs and discussion boards. Make sure you use a forum signature that includes your directory URL on forums and blogs where you participate. Answer questions and post questions on sites such as yahoo answers.

5. Create Your Own Blog: If you have your own Blog, you can post relevant comments related to your online directories. As well, you place your directory URL and directory description on your Blog. Promote different categories and subcategories of your online business directory.

6. Social Book Marking: You can increase site traffic to your online directories by making use of social book marking websites. A small widget of the site can also be placed on your site so that visitors can share your content with others. As well, become a social networker. Use your Twitter, Linked In, MySpace, Facebook, MySpace, and Friendster to promote your directories. The more friends and followers you have, the more likely you are to get people to post on your business directories.

7. Make News: Use RSS (Rich Site Summary) technology. Offer RSS subscription to your directory’s visitors. Provide newsletters to those who subscribe to your news feed. Regularly provide new content about your directory using this feed.

The key to increasing traffic to your online business directories is implementing strategies that will make your directory appealing as well as getting your name out in the online business community.

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5 Easy Steps to Use the Power of Online Business Directories

Online business directories are fast becoming the information hub of local customers searching for local businesses. Local customers are resigning their old, brittle print directories to the storage bin and turning to their computer and Smartphone to locate the best local business in town that caters to their needs.

A survey in the United Kingdom shows that approximately 20 million local customers each month is turning to online business directories to search for local products, services, or businesses. The behavior of local consumers is changing. Clearly print directories are no longer working for local consumers; they’re switching to an online business directory for faster, better, and detailed search result. The limited information on a yellow page is fast becoming obsolete against the more detailed local search engine marketing tools like local business directories. These directories can list not just the description of your business but also your business’ opening hours, price listings, location map, and even your photo or your office or store photo.

Online business directories, including the hundreds of free business directories, permit for these extra details to be added to your business directory listing. It’s the local businesses who make the most of this chance that are inviting new customers.

There are literally hundreds of paid-for and free online business directories out there. But how do you know which ones are the best and what’s the key to perfecting your listing so you stand out from your rival businesses without having to dish some amount of money?

5 Quick Steps to perfecting your online business directory listing

1. Pick the most popular and relevant directories for your business

The best online directories are those that have the most number of online visitors or those that are industry-specific. But a word of caution-not all niche or free directory listing fit the bill; some have few to nonexistent user base. A quick search on Google will tell you which ones are worth your time and ones to ditch entirely. Search on Google your “business type” plus “your location”: e.g., “accountant in Leeds”. Those local business directories that appear on the first 3 search results pages are the ones to focus. (Check the online business directory comparison chart to see which directories have the most number of audiences: comparison of top UK online business directories.)

2. Add your business to all directories

From the list you got on step one, add or claim your business to all of them. Many local business directories buy their listing data from a provider, so don’t be surprised if you find your business already listed on some of them. For future success, it’s very important to list the correct name of your business, address, and phone number-review your business’ existing list if the information is accurate.

Note: check for a confirmation email from each directory in your inbox; follow the steps on the confirmation email to complete your registration.

3. List as much information on your local business directory listing as allowed

The beauty of online business directory listings is that you can list not just the name, address, and phone number of your business, you can enrich your listing with more details like business description, clickable website URL, facilities, list of services, logos, opening hours, pictures, etc. Use this opportunity fully to personalize your listing to make it more relatable to your customers. Review the information you entered to make sure it’s 100% correct and true to each local directories.

4. Make or use a local Special Offer Voucher

Nothing can be faster to convert browsers into actual buyers than offering vouchers or coupons on your local business directory listing. Local consumers are paying attention to the word “free” or “special offer”; your business listing will stand out against your rivals if you have these words added. You don’t have to offer heaven and earth to your customers; any form of offer is good enough to get customers to walk into the door than nothing at all.

Tip: use different voucher codes on each directory so that you can monitor which directories are giving you the most number of walk in visits.

5. Interact with the communities on these directories

Online directories are dynamic websites with vibrant, active community of users. These users or local customers are actively rating and reviewing the listed local businesses they use, and these ratings and reviews are visible to other directory users. In fact, 70% of consumers trust online business reviews-business directories know this so that they’re pushing up local businesses with positive reviews higher on search results. This is yet another small business marketing strategy you can use. Do either of these to rank your business listing:

Ask your existing, loyal customers to go online and leave a positive review about your business;
Participate with communities on directories and encourage them to visit and test your business or organize an ‘event’ at your office, shop, or store just for them.

Never try to ‘bribe’ people to review your business, though, as this can backfire on you and can generate lots of negative comments which you don’t want (obviously!).

Online business directories offer a great opportunity for all types of local businesses to win new customers. The process of updating and managing your business listings across multiple online directories is very time consuming. In business, time is money and you can save both using a multi-directory listing service such as DirectoryRunner from BrightLocal.com. DirectoryRunner allows you to manage and update all your online directory listings and local search engine marketing tools in 1-place.

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The Power of Online Business Directories and How to Get Started Fast

More and more small businesses today are using online business directories to their benefit. If you run a small business, you likely spend a great deal of your time thinking about your marketing plan. online business directories can be a great addition to your current small business marketing strategy. Those sites can help your small business expand its website traffic, increase the likelihood that your website will be found by interested visitors and increase your bottom line. If you haven’t taken a look at those directories and considered how your small business could use them to increase its market presence, then now is the time to start!

What Are Online Business Directories?

There are many different types of online business directories available on the Internet. Each of these sites serves a specific purpose and can be used by your small business in specific ways.

An online business directory is a website submission service that allows your small business’ website to be added to a specific category where it can be searched for by interested visitors. Listing your small business on an online business directory increases your website’s visibility on the web and helps to create inbound links to your business’ website. This places make it easy for people to find what they are looking for. These directories can be accessed from just about anywhere that has an internet connection. This means that people could find your business’ website from their home, office or even while traveling.

Every website that is submitted to an online business directory is placed in a specific category. These categories can range in how they are organized. Some are organized by business-related categories, some are organized according to personal preferences and others are organized by subject. Each category consists of several websites relating to a specific topic. Each website listing features the name of the website, a direct link to the website and a short description of the website. Interested Internet visitors will be able to browse through the various categories in the directory and locate websites like yours that they may be interested in visiting. Essentially, those places make it easier for any visitor to find your business’ website.

How Do Online Business Directories Work?

The concept of online business directories is actually a pretty simple one. These webistes are very similar to the Yellow Pages in the real world, only these listings are only online. (Actually Yellow Pages.com is now one of the largest online directories as well.) A directory is just a listing place for a number of websites. Any type of website could be listed in an online business directory. Some directories are huge and cover every topic that someone could create a website for, while others are very small and specific to a specific niche.

Let’s use an example. Say you are a model airplane enthusiast and you want to find some websites that cater to your specific interest. You could look through a huge online business directory such as Google My Business and find several dozen websites that are related to model airplanes. Or you could look for an online business directory that is niche-specific, which means that the entire online business directory would be based on hobbies such as model airplanes. With a niche-specific directory you may find even more websites that are based on your specific interest than what you could find on the larger directories.

Since online business directories are organized by categories, finding websites that relate to a specific interest such as model airplanes is very easy. You could find information and websites about model airplanes in your local region too, if you use a regional-specific online business directory. So if you live in Phoenix you could find websites that relate to both model airplanes and the Phoenix area. These places will direct you to websites that you want to find. All you have to do is perform a search in the online business directory for a specific topic or browse through the various categories until you find the type of websites you are looking for. When you perform a search you will be given a list of all of the websites that relate to your search term. You will be presented with a number of links to these websites and each link will have a short description of what you are likely to find on the website. You can read the descriptions and choose to click on the website that best suits you.

There are many different types of websites that you could find under a specific topic as well. For example, if you search several of those sites for information relating to model airplanes you may find websites that are about building model airplanes, flying model airplanes, creating historically accurate model planes, tips and instructions about how to fly model planes, websites that sell model airplanes and charters and associations that you could join regarding model airplanes. These are just a few of the examples you could find using an online business directory. There are simply too many topics to list them all here.

You can see how anyone can use an online business directory to find websites relating to things that interest them. As a small business owner you can see how potential customers of yours are using those web sites too. Now that you understand how online business directories work it is time to see how they can work for your business.

How Do Online Business Directories Benefit Small Businesses?

There are many benefits associated with listing your small business in an online business directory. The more directories you can use to list your business the more benefits you will reap. Here are some of the benefits of using online business directories:

Exposure

Exposure is important for all business marketing strategies. After all, the more people who are exposed to your business the more people are likely to utilize your business’ services. If online visitors aren’t able to see your website or even know that it exists, then they probably aren’t going to purchase your products or services. Listing your business’ website in those sites helps your website to gain exposure. Thousands of people use these websites every day to find things they are interested in. These are people who are actively searching for websites that are directly related to your products or services. They are already looking- all you have to do is make it easy for them to find you. These sites will expose your business to more online visitors, which could increase traffic to your website.

Increased Traffic

There are several ways that these directories can help you increase the amount of traffic your website receives. For starters, the more exposure your website has the more people are likely to visit it. But these websites offer more than just exposure from potential viewers. They also offer exposure to the various major search engine crawlers like Google and even YouTube. This increases the chances that your website will appear on major search engine results pages, or SERPs, which will allow more people to see the website when they perform a regular search. Both search engine optimization exposure and exposure to more people who are searching for your website could result in increased traffic to your small business’ website.

Cheap Advertising

As a small business owner you already understand the importance of advertising. You know that it helps customers to find your business and recognize your name and brand. You probably have little room in your budget for more advertising right this moment. That is one of the major benefits of listing your business’ website in an online business directory. Online business directories are inexpensive to join and they offer a lot of exposure for the price. Some of these sites will allow you to list your business for free, while others will charge a minimal fee. Either way, you are getting a lot of exposure for far less money than you would spend on a TV or radio advertisement spot.

Professional Appearance

You want everything about your business to look professional in the eyes of your customers. A professional appearance enhances your status and makes customers more likely to patronize your business. Online directories help you to look like a professional business. When an online consumer sees your business listing in an online business directory, they will consider your business to be an authority on the subject and a professional place to do business. Unlike a search that is performed on a major search engine like Google, where there is little difference between the legitimate websites relating to a topic and the less than useful websites, those places are mostly legitimate websites. Online consumers are more likely to trust what they see on such sites.

SEO Benefits

Online business directories offer several search engine optimization benefits as well. Firstly, these directories offer you more inbound links. When an online visitor sees your website link in an online business directory, they will be able to click on it and be instantly re-directed to your website. This is a great way to increase traffic. It is a great way to improve your status in the eyes of search engine crawlers too. The more backlinks that a search engine crawler can find, the more relevant they will rank your website. This is especially true of authoritative sites. Being linked to a major online business directory, such as Google My Business, will give your website more relevancy in the eyes of Google’s search engine crawlers. This will result in a higher page ranking on the SERP. As you know, a higher search engine result page rank you get, the more people are going to click on your website link.

Increased Revenue

When more people are able to find your website it increases the chances that they will visit your website. When people visit your website they are more likely to purchase your goods or services. This means that these sites can help you increase your revenue stream. Online business directories are good for your bottom line.

Increased Brand Recognition and Customer Interaction

When an online viewer locates your website though an online business directory, they are more likely to remember your business’s name and directly interact with it. Online business directories can help your business stand out to customers as well. Overall, listing your small business in an online business directory will help you to create a more comprehensive and effective online presence.

Listing your small business’ website with several online business directories will help more people find your website, whether they are specifically searching for it or if they are just browsing. In addition to gaining exposure, appearing on those sites will provide major SEO benefits, which will help search engines find your site. Increased exposure and higher search engine rankings will result in more traffic to your website, which will result in higher revenue.

There are many different types of online business directories, from large global directories to small, niche and location-specific ones. Some examples of other types of online directories can include reciprocal link directories, free directories, paid directories, Business 2 Business directories, theme-related directories, small business directories and many, many more.

Why You Should Consider Listing Your Small Business in an Online Directory

Apart from the concept that online business directories will increase the amount of exposure your website gets and help with your SEO strategies, they are also a very effective way to directly target potential customers. Places like those make it easy for online users to find something they want. According to a study performed by Burke, 8 out of 10 people will use a print or online business directory to find companies or products they are looking for. The same study also suggested that 8 out of 10 people who use these directories to locate a business do so with the intent to purchase a product or service from them. This is a very effective form of targeted advertising. The customer already needs or wants your product or service and you can directly target them by listing your website in an online business directory.

Another reason why you should consider listing your small business has to do with your return on investment, or ROI. Since the potential benefits of getting increased website traffic are great compared to how much you will have to spend to list your website in an online business directory, you can see a great return on your investment in the form of increased revenue. You also want to keep your brand and your company name in the minds of consumers at all times, which is something else that an online business directory can help with.

What Online Business Directories Should You Use for Your Small Business?

Even though listing your website in many online business directories will improve your website’s exposure and SEO ranking, it is not effective to just SPAM your website into every single online business directory you can find. You will want to take some time to consider which specific site will give you the best ROI. The best option is to find a great combination of directories to join. If you run a small business, the best place to start may be with a local directory. This is because most people will search for businesses in their area they can patronize. Local market and niche-specific online directories can offer extremely targeted advertisements to potential local customers.

After your business is listed in these directories you can take a look at the larger and potentially more expensive general-interest directories. You will probably want to consider listing with the top 10-15 online business directories, as these will be used by a lot of people and will offer higher relevancy and authority in the eyes of search engines. Google My Business and LinkedIn are large general-interest directories that you will want to list your small business in. If your website sells tangible goods you may also want to consider listing it in comparison shopping websites and product listings directories. Studies show that 42% of consumers will look at a comparison shopping website before they decide to purchase a specific product.

The best way to figure out which specific directories your small business should be listed in is to start with your competitors. Take a look at your local and niche-specific options and figure out if your competition is already listed. If they are you need to be listed too. If they are not listed you may want to list your website as a way to beat them to the punch. In some situations it may not make sense for you to have a listing in a specific online business directory, even if your competitors are listed in it. Your goal should be to be listed in every relevant and niche-specific directory you can find as well as many of the major directories, but no so many directories that you appear SPAMMY.

In addition to listing your business in online business directories, you also need to maintain these listings. It is important for your online business directory listings to be up to date and accurate, or else you could just be wasting your time. If your directory information seems out of date your customers will probably look elsewhere.

It will probably take some time to see the results of listing your small business’ website in so many online sites, but eventually you will see results. The best way to find the perfect combination of online business directory listings for your business is to use some sort of tracking or analytics system. You will want to be able to see how many people clicked on your website links from within the directory and if your website has shown increased traffic since then. You will want to stop wasting your time with online directories that are not producing results and increase the time and effort you spend on sites that are productive.

Best Practices for Listing Your Small Business in Online Business Directories

Now that you understand why your small business should be listed in online business directories and have started locating the directories that you want to be listed in, you are ready to begin creating your business listings for submissions. Here are some tips and best practices for listing your small business in those directories.

Start by choosing local directories and directories that are niche-specific. So if you own a model airplane hobby shop in Phoenix, make sure you find a local Phoenix business directory and a directory that is related to model airplanes. If you can find a model airplane hobby directory for the Phoenix area, you are all set.

Once you’re in local directories, start searching for larger and more generalized directories. Pick directories that get a lot of traffic and that are listed highly on major search engines like Google. A higher search engine ranking means that the directory will be considered as both authoritative and relevant in the eyes of search engines, making any links you get through these directories more valuable to your SEO strategy.

Include all of the relevant information regarding your small business in your website’s directory description. This should include your business’ name, location, telephone number, contact information and possibly reviews, business hours and anything else that is relevant. Add in photos, maps or other interactive features if the directory lets you.

Try to keep your information consistent across all of your online business directory listings. This will help your website to retain its credibility in the eyes of search engines and will assist with your SERP rankings.

Try to make your business stand out by offering an explanation of your business or any specific message the customer should know in your description.

Keep all of your information up to date. This may mean frequently updating all of your listings several times per month.

Allow customers to leave positive reviews and use them in your listing if the directory allows it.

Always be professional and consistent with your business’ listings and message. This includes any information regarding your brand.

If you sell products or services to a local market, make sure your business is listed in a local business directory. Include geo-specific keywords and information. An example would be: “Dave’s Model Plane Shop” + “Phoenix”.

Optimize your website for SEO purposes and include the relevant keywords in your meta titles and listing descriptions. Keyword research is important.

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Important Aspects to Consider When Launching a Business Directory

Business directories have become such an important part of our society that we simply cannot do without them anymore. Let’s think about it, whenever most people search for something today they do a Google search. When it is a certain type of product or business they are looking for, it is not surprising that the majority of the top listings in Google are for business directories. Why is that?

Well, Google knows the importance of business directories for people looking for products or services and Google has always tried to list the most relevant search results first. That just shows that Google also deems business directories to be very important. That is all well and good, but what makes a good online business directory? This article will investigate a few essentials of a good business directory.

Firstly it must have a simple, uncomplicated layout for users. It is one thing to have your business directory listed highly in Google, but when people open it up and it is all cluttered and no one understands how to use it, they will simply click away in a few seconds, making such business directories worthless to end users.

Instead, the home page of the business directory and in fact every page of the directory should have search functionality so that the user can search for what they are looking for from any point. The home page should also clearly direct the user as to how to use the site. Too many business directories simply have listings and heaven forbid AdSense ads on their home pages, which merely makes people click away.

Secondly, it is important to cover most topics or industries, offering your customer as wide a selection as possible, unless you are a niche directory.

Thirdly, it is very important to only have reputable, high quality businesses listed in your directory. By this I don’t mean that you should only list big businesses like Best Buy or Target, but that no matter how small the business is you are listing, they should have a good reputation for customer service. If you don’t pay attention to this detail and people receive bad service from the business listed in your directory, it will not be long before they stop using your service and write it off as one with bad quality leads. I cannot emphasize this part enough, so pay attention to it!

A good way to ensure that you only list reputable companies is through the use of frequent surveys. It is very easy to set up a quick survey and send it to a selection of users of your directory, enquiring about their experience with the business listed. The cream will soon rise to the top and you will have the opportunity to get rid of the bad apples.

Fourthly make sure there is something in it for the businesses listing as well. The problem with most business directories is that some businesses in some categories get all the hits, while other that are just as good or even better get none.

The reason for this is that most business directories make use of a structure where businesses are first listed by category, then by geographical area and then by name. So, if you have ten barber shops in Springdale listed in your business directory and they are listed by name A.J.’s Barber will get most of the hits, because they are top of the list. Poor old Zee’s Barber shop will always end up number ten on the list with a much smaller chance of being contacted than A.J.

Therefore, if you are really going to look after the businesses in your directory, you need to consider how you will handle this problem. If you don’t, pretty soon only A.J.’s Barber will be listing with you, because the others simply got no value out of their listings with you.

Finally, make sure that your listings have the opportunity of regularly updating their details. A phone number might change or the business could suddenly invest in a website. Be sure to give your listings the opportunity to quickly and easily update their details with you, if not online, then by being readily available by phone to take calls for updating details.

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Small Business Marketing Hacks Every Business Owner Should Use

There’s a lot that’s changed recently with online marketing. Most people now go straight to Google to search for something they want. The phone book is out and Google, or search traffic is in. If you are a small business owner you can benefit from the internet as a source of business. What’s even better is that you can tap into this resource for free if you have a physical business.

Google Places

Google Places lets you advertise your local business for free in the search results. When someone searches for a local business in your area, your results will come up first for many searches. This is a simple cost effective strategy you should definitely be employing in your business. With Google Places, you list your local business and Google will send you a confirmation postcard with a Google verification code on it. Once you have verified your listing with this code, Google knows you actually reside at this address, or run a business from it.

Google Places works wonders for small business owners who work from a certain location. If you’re not on it you are definitely missing out on business. Plus, your competitors could be using it which means they could be taking your potential customers. To use Google Places just do a quick search for it on Google and it will take you through the setting up process.

Bing Places

Bing also offer this same listing on their own search engine. It’s just like Google Places so not much to add here really. Simply fill out your details on the online platform and verify your listing when you receive a code in the post. When you create your listing you will have to list your business within a certain category, or two. Look through the existing categories and find the one or ones which are the best fit for your business. This is the same as Google Places. By listing in more than one category, if the platform allows, you can benefit from a number of searches within your local area.

Other Listings For Free

Yell and Yahoo also offer free listings for businesses too. Also do a ‘Google search’ for local directories and free listings and you will find a range of sites which offer free business listings in your area. In some cases even the extra links back to your website can make a difference to your ranking, even if the link itself doesn’t bring you more business.

Blogging

You may well not have the time or inclination to start a blog. However, in some business areas blogging is a good way to increase your business reach online in a fairly cost effective way. Depending on your business, and whether it opens itself to a blog, you can get some good results by targeting some keywords in your business niche, or simply writing compelling content and sharing on social media.

Keyword Research

You can use Google’s free keyword planner to search for terms which are already getting hits on the search engine. By finding long tail keywords in your business niche and writing good content for them, you stand more chance of being listed on the search engine. If you can find untapped keywords which bring in customers to your business, you can write articles which will bring in customers for free for years to come for free.

Paid Advertising

After you have exhausted the free methods of advertising, you can start looking at paid advertising methods. Many business owners try and fail with paid advertising. This is why it is worth learning properly the do’s and don’ts of paid advertising.
Pay per click advertising can make a massive impact on your business. But you should also be very careful. Make sure you start out with a small budget and get properly educated on how to create adverts and which keywords to choose. In particular look at the different types of keyword matches. Get this wrong and you can easily burn through your budget and list your advert for entirely the wrong audience.
However, paid advertising is remarkably scalable. Once you have a campaign which works you can easily increase your budget and you are in a position to pay for new customers.

Return On Investment

When I started with pay per click I didn’t understand return on investment. I ‘dipped my toe in’ and dabbled very tentatively. If I didn’t see an immediate profit, I stopped altogether. This is a mistake. Initially there is a lot of testing and measuring to do with paid advertising. After a while you get an advert which successfully brings you customers. However, knowing the return on investment from successful doing this is a game changer. If your customer goes on to purchase again and again, how much are they worth to your business over a year, or 10 years? Knowing this is a huge key to having the confidence to put money into an advertising campaign. Even if you lose money in the short term, your new customers will bring you new business over the long term. Learn the average spend from each customer over a year and then 10 years. Then decide what each customer is worth in terms of advertising. Does this change your view on what you can afford?

Paid Advertising Methods

There are various paid advertising methods available to use for small businesses online. Start with one method and become good at that before moving on to the next. Facebook advertising lets you target potential customers down to their interests, location and other variables. Pay per click advertising lets you target intent driven adverts. With pay per click you start with the keyword your visitor is looking for online. Once you have tested and measured an advertising method and you have a profitable model, you can leave it running and scale it easily. Then move on to the next one.

Even if you only use a couple of the methods suggested in this article, you can dramatically improve your business with only a small amount of effort. Once you have learned all these methods, you will know how to scale up your business and increase your profits. You can then invest in other forms of advertising, testing and measuring as you go. Whether these are on the internet or offline, using the same strategy (which lets you measure the response of a customer) means you can gradually improve all your advertising methods over the long term, increase profits and grow your business.

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10 Reasons Why You Should Start An Online Business

Whether you are attracted to an internet business because you hate your current job, want to improve your circumstances, or would like a more flexible lifestyle, the internet offers all these opportunities.

Why An Internet Business?

1- Flexibility

Many people come to find themselves with an internet business through necessity rather than deliberate creation. For me, I needed a flexible job which I could work around contract work. It didn’t come in often but when the phone rang, I needed to take the work. This presented all kinds of problems. Normal work didn’t pay as well and employers didn’t want me taking large chunks of time off when the other work came in!

I tried juggling several jobs over a number of years but nothing seemed to fit. At around the same time I was attempting to use e-bay to buy and sell for a bit of extra money. It wasn’t until later that I discovered affiliate marketing. Affiliate marketing, for those who don’t know is a kind of referral selling. You point links from your website to other people’s goods and services. The link is tracked so that when you make a sale you are rewarded for it with a commission.

Once you know how to do this you can set up links from your online content to other people’s products and services. You can also use paid advertising to find people all over the world to sell to. This was perfect for my work because I could take my laptop anywhere with me and as long as I had an internet connection I could work. It didn’t interfere with the work when it came up, I had no boss to answer to so it was the perfect solution.

2 – Automation

There’s also a number of other reasons why I chose an internet business – and why you should too! The flexibility of the business was my primary concern. I wanted to be able to choose my own hours so I could take work when it came without any complications. But the other reason I chose this particular model was the ability to use technology to ‘leverage’ my time and income.

Once I had a website and content up and running, it kept going and I was able to make sales and deliver products without being physically present. This is the ‘magic’ of an online business. The automation involved with an online business means that you can do the work once and let that work keep running in the background. You can make sales and deliver products over and over through the same piece of content or advert, which can run an virtual autopilot 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and 365 days a year.

Each piece of content you create can send people to a landing page and sell a product. By creating many pieces of content and sharing them online you can build multiple sources of income which can all run continually, working as your own ‘automated sales team’.

3 – Ability To Scale

Along with this amazing automation is the ability to scale your business. Because there is no human intervention in the ‘sales loop’, multiple sales can happen instantaneously through the same platforms. Your content and advertising can be grown over time and scaled instantly (in the case of paid advertising). As your content gets more shares and more people flow through your website and content, your sales grow as a result. If you use paid advertising you can also scale a profitable campaign up easily by increasing your daily budget.

The automation of an online business makes it very easy to scale. In the case of a physical business this often means more staff, sales tools, larger office space and a whole lot more expense and hassle. With an online business everything is already in place. You simply need to send more customers through the automated sales systems with content and/or paid advertising methods.

4 – Low Startup Costs

When I started an online business I did it from my own pocket. I didn’t need a massive loan and I worked at a level which suited my budget. An internet business is very cost effective and you can start from scratch from pretty much any budget. If you have more to invest you can grow it faster with paid advertising. But, if you are on a budget like I was when I got started, you can get started easily and cheaply.

With a regular ‘bricks and mortar’ business there are many overheads to consider. Your costs include a business premises, staff, hardware and stock. Then there’s advertising and delivery costs. With an online business you just need a laptop and an internet connection – two things many people already have. Your main cost is getting the right education and learning the best strategy to build on.

5 – Simplicity

Technology has made it much easier than was previously possible to set up your own website and learn how to use simple online platforms to connect people to products and services. Advertising and content creation is now available for anyone to use. Websites can be set up with a few clicks and anyone with an email can learn to use the tools and strategies of online marketers.

Whereas previously website building was the domain of the tech savvy programmer, now anyone can use simple user friendly platforms and programs. An online business sounds like something for a technical person, but anyone can now learn the skills needed to build their own online business.

6 – Control

An internet business gives you control over your life. Of course it takes time to build up to a stage where it can replace your current income. But the flexibility of an internet business means you can work it around your existing employment until you can make this happen.
Once your income is beyond that of your employment, you are in a very good position to take charge of your life. You don’t have to do the daily commute, or put up with an uncomfortable working situation. If you don’t like your job you can quit. Don’t like your boss? Fire him/her!
One of the very best things about an internet based business is the control it gives you over your life. You can also build your work around your lifestyle, rather than the other way round. Most people are forced to put work first in everything they do. Family time, holidays and hobbies all tend to depend and evolve around work. An internet business allows you to prioritize the things in your life which mean the most. It can put you back in the driving seat of your life, both in terms of what you earn and how you spend your time.

7 – Work From Anywhere

Not only does an internet business offer great flexibility in terms of working hours but it also offers you the choice to work from anywhere globally. This appeals to many people who would otherwise be more trapped by conventional work in a localized workplace.
For me, it was the flexibility of being able to choose my own hours and not have a boss. But for many the ability to travel anywhere globally is the most important factor to owning their own online business.
Take your laptop anywhere with an internet connection and work while abroad and travelling.

8 – Learn Life Skills

The skills I have learned from building my own internet business also make me much more employable. I also worked for an internet based company with the skills I learned from my laptop while sitting at home!

Being able to reach people globally and target specific types of people is a great skill and very desirable in business too. I was also able to use the knowledge I learned online to build one of my other physical businesses much more quickly by using both my website building skills and paid advertising.

The internet is a fantastic opportunity for anyone to be able to improve themselves, learn new skills and build another source of income. Skills learned are yours for life, whether or not you continue down the path of building an online business.

9 – Independence

We might believe ourselves to be independent but many of us are very dependent on our work for income. As such, our employers tell us how much we can earn, how much holiday we can take and what we will be doing while at work. Financial independence is the ultimate freedom.

When we are financially independent we can take a holiday whenever we please and work in our own time and on our own agenda. An online business gives you the automation and independence to live life on your terms, without the agenda of an employer running your life.

10 – Sovereignty

Being an owner gives you sovereignty. The ability to call the shots in your business is what many entrepreneurs aspire to. As a business owner your actions determine whether you make a success of your business or not.

Having a successful online business gives you the kind of freedom which most people will never see in their lifetime. The ability to create your own life on your terms is the reward of having worked hard on your business and on yourself.

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How to Evaluate the Performance of Your Company Based on Your Business Plan

A business plan is one of the most important documents that is needed for the betterment of the business. It includes all the need to know strategies, marketing techniques, sales techniques and financial forecasting methods that will be used to increase profits and revenue of the business. However, writing a business plan is no walk in the park. It takes a lot of time and concentration and is one of the biggest responsibilities that will be undertaken. For this crucial task there are dedicated people called business plan consultants. They will be the people who take the ideas that the entrepreneur has and converts it into a document that will be viewable by the whole world. Since this is a very big responsibility business plan consultant fee is a bit high. There are many factors that affect a good business plan and a great business plan will help the business clarify the business idea, identify potential problems in the business, find out objectives of the business and monitor the progress of the business. Since this is a very important document it is vital to keep a keen eye on the following factors when writing the business plan.

Executive Summary

The executive summary is the highlight and the brief description of the entire business. This has to be highly detailed but short enough so that a potential investor is able to read and understand the status of the business. It does not mean that it has to be limited to one or two pages.

The executive summary will include the highlight of the business concept which will describe about the product or service and the market that they are being offered. Then there are the financial features which talks about all the sales, profits, return on investment and cash flow. Then the summary has to mention about the financial requirement that is need to invest in the business and talk about the capital and how to expand the business. The current position of the business will be stating about the business’s present state and how it got here. Finally, the major achievements of the business is needed to be mentioned so that the potential investors could be impressed by the achievement that the business has done.

Business Description

The business description is about the details of the business. This should not be a highlight about the entire business like the executive summary but the in depth analysis of the business. The description has to start with a short introduction which states about the past, present and future of the industry. Here you should mention about the markets that the business will be interacting with and the future market places that business will be willing to interact with. The products or services that the business is still developing should be thoroughly discussed here so that the potential investors who have got an idea and are willing to invest in the business can get a thorough knowledge about it.

The structure of the business has to be described in the business description. The hierarchy of the business and the business places should be described in detail. The legal considerations of the business should be thoroughly stated so that there is clarity for everyone.

Market Strategies

When developing the market strategies there has to be a lot of market research done on the market place. This will give the business entrepreneur a very good idea about the potential market and how he can use the market to increase the profits of the business. After observing the market the company will be in a position to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the business and will be able to develop a system in order to identify the potential opportunities and threats. These studies will also be able to develop strategies to forecast the market place’s prices and when to supply more goods and services. These has to be clearly mentioned in the business plan so that these strategies can be used when necessary.

Pricing and Distribution

The process of pricing and distribution has to be clearly detailed in the business plan. The descriptions about all the prices must be mentioned in detail in this section. How the business can lower the prices when necessary and how t react to the fluctuating prices has to be mentioned in detail. The process of distribution of the products until it reaches the hands of the customer has to be clearly stated.

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Small Business Benefits of Training Employees

Small businesses aspiring for growth need to keep an eye on performance improvement through online business training courses. To measure up to the ever evolving business world, small businesses need new skills to facilitate workforce gains and to generally meet the competent needs of operations in tandem with its competitors.

Small business training for employees provides an additional skill and exposure to the individuals and to the business. It is more flexible and less strenuous to do an online business training course. This consequently improves your company to continue effectively. Most small businesses fail to recognise the beneficial aspects of training its employees. Among many other advantages that come with training are the following benefits:

To Effectively Improve Your Company’s Competence

Training your employees will result in a better customer service, improved business skills, and growth in productivity. This ultimately makes your business more competent and competitive in the market. It is important to always advance the skills of the employees as the business world is dynamic and overly competitive. The direct tragedy of non-trained employees is the incompetence to match up the necessities of a contemporary society. It is important to consider an online business training course if the difficulty is time or cost of doing a recommended training.

Improving Loyalty and Staff Retention

As a business, staff retention is a saving to the business and its future prospects. Employees have their own aspirations for growth and they may want to venture out to look for that satisfaction. However, if the training opportunity is available to them, they find their professional growth in the business and are likely to stay longer. It is a fact that such training will definitely add them new skills and promote their contribution to the business as well as building their self-esteem. Giving them a chance to improve their skills makes them realise that you value them enough to invest in them.

Improved Business Prospects and Profits

The ultimate objective of running a business is to maximise an opportunity to make profits. Training employees makes them more competent and qualified to promote your business in the marketplace. This will have an effect and an increased business means more profits.

Makes Your Business Competitive

Stagnating is the worst effect that can kill your business, so by ensuring that your staff are constantly advancing, you continue to grow in business and remain competitive within the industry. It is expensive and very disorienting to employ new staff. An online business course for your employees can make them more eligible for internal promotions. Unlike new employees, you will have the benefit of a complete and knowledgeable staff for your business, who are people you know and you can trust.

Exposes Business Weaknesses and Skill Gaps

Training makes the business realise what they have been doing wrong and henceforth, the business can more easily identify any skill gaps in the market and even within the existing employees. This will propel your business to work on filling the gaps which will assist the staff to fulfil their role effectively.

Conclusion

Training is therefore a valuable and profound investment for the business. For the many businesses that may not have adequate time, an online business training course would be more appropriate. The staff will have a much higher sense of job satisfaction, which will improve their motivation towards their work and the business generally.

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Advantages and Disadvantages of Buying a Business and Initial Steps

Buying a business is considered as a safe haven by many entrepreneurs as it involves a lesser risk than starting a new business from scratch. Even though buying an existing business seems to have lesser hassles in many aspects, one should practice due diligence to ensure a successful landing.

It is true that business brokers can help you in completing business acquisition deals, but to make it in your best favor, you should make yourself fully knowledgeable about the process and also should gain a solid grip on the purchase to make it profitable.

Advantages of buying an existing Business

The major advantage of buying an existing business is avoiding the huge startup costs. It is not just all about the cost involved, but the time and effort to be invested in terms of start-up establishment is way too high when compared to acquisition of an existing business.

As the business concept, fundamental works, brand establishment, and customer base are already set, you can jumpstart with cash flow instantaneously on the basis of the receivables. You can also enjoy the benefits of having a solid and loyal client base.

Disadvantages of buying an existing business

Even though buying a business seems to be beneficial in many aspects, there are also some downsides to it. The cost of purchase of a profitable business can surely be much higher than the establishment cost of a business.

There may also be underlying problems associated with the business you purchase such as their debts, deterioration of assets, problems with receivables etc.

Starters’ right approach

Anytime when you are getting on to buying a business, there will be thousands of opportunities popping up. It is you who know it at best about which type of business you need to pursue and what your priorities are. Here is a right approach to narrow down your choices and land up on a perfect deal.

It is important to rightly identify your interests and area of expertise while getting on to buying a business. If you are totally blank about what type of business to invest, the best move is to eliminate those which don’t seem to be interesting to you to shorten the list.

Consider your expertise while you are planning to buy a business. You may not be able to run something which you are fully ignorant about. Such a filtering also will help you narrow down your considerations to the best acceptable businesses.

Do proper groundwork to come up with a set of conditions as location, timings, size of the business etc.. Only consider the business satisfactory meeting your demands. While considering a business, just drop those which don’t at least meet 80% of your conditions to end up with the best in hand.

You also need to quantify your investment before searching for opportunities for buying a business. Check out for reasons why the business is put on sale and take a decision accordingly.

Keeping all these in mind, you need to perform due diligence while planning to buy a business and if not confident on doing it on your own, consider the option of reliable business brokers to take it up on your behalf.

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