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Web News & Tips - Issue #268

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Web News & Tips
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You Can Build It, but They May Not Come

By Andrea Harris

Is your website attractive to search engines? If it is, it will show up in the first two or three pages of a search for phrases that pertain to your business. That means that people will find your site quickly, before they find your competition.

If it isn’t, you need to take action. Whether you’re an entrepreneur or have a well-established firm, making your website attractive to search engines will lure the kind of people that turn into customers, and improve the return on investment of your marketing dollars.

Why Attracting Search Engine Traffic is Important

Some companies never expect to get new business directly from their websites. Perhaps most of their business comes from referrals. Their sites exist solely to solidify relationships with current customers and to impress potential customers. They may showcase their services, provide testimonials, and describe the management team’s expertise. 

But new business is not the only benefit of attracting Web visitors. There are plenty of other reasons why someone might search for you. For instance, the founder of a startup consulting firm was contacted by a CFO magazine writer who had done a Google search looking for someone to interview for a story. Even if this startup never gets a customer directly from its website, what it got was priceless publicity, when its founder was quoted in a national publication.

You can never predict what sort of visitors you might get, but you certainly can encourage all kinds of traffic by taking the right steps with your website. 

Attracting Good Traffic – and Lots of It

To attract the right kind of traffic from search engines, your website needs to be “optimized.” Search engine optimization (SEO) is now recognized as a key component of a successful website, even though it’s not something that the average website visitor ever notices. Companies that understand the value of a hard-working website are hiring SEO professionals to help them create optimized sites, or to rework existing sites to make them appear higher up in searches.

Getting more of the right kind of visitors to your website via search engines requires a several-pronged approach:

Researching exactly what words or phrases people are most apt to type into search engines when searching for the kinds of products and services you offer.

Examining how much competition there is for those phrases, and how much of a chance you have in getting good results for particular phrases.

Writing your website copy to use those key phrases in the right places, and the right number of times.

Using the key phrases selectively within your website’s code, where they may not show up to human eyes, but may be noticed by the search engines.

Getting related websites to link to your site, because in-bound links from similar pages are a signal to the search engines that your site has high-quality information.

Submitting your website to directories, such as DMOZ, Yahoo, Skaffe, and industry-specific directories.

It can take several months before you see results, and you may need to check periodically and tweak your pages to improve results. Your SEO professional can help you understand how long it will take with the various search engines, and whether you need to submit your site. Google is the most popular search engine, and the best way to get into its database is for other well-established websites to link to your site. Google’s “spiders” follow the links to find your site.

A Word of Warning

Search engine optimization is part art, part science, and there aren’t any guarantees. Beware of a search engine optimizer who guarantees you top placement. He might optimize your site for key phrases that no one else is searching for, which isn’t hard to do but doesn’t help you attract business.

Some providers use unethical practices to increase your site’s ranking. These practices can include using invisible text or creating multiple links to your site from “directory” sites that they create. Their behind-the-scenes tricks fool search engines for a while, but eventually sites get caught and then they are removed from the search engines’ databases entirely.

Claims to submit your site to thousands of search engines are also common. Don’t waste your money. There are no more than ten search engines that are commonly used. Who uses the other 9,990? Not you or anyone you know.

Basically, if a website satisfies a human visitor’s need for relevant, well-written content, it’s going to rank well with search engines. Tactics that are invisible to humans yet fool the search engines often end up backfiring.

Finding SEO Help

If your company’s website is a critical selling channel, you’ll want to optimize it for all your products. If you want good results, but your business doesn’t depend on the Web, you can take a lower-budget approach and optimize fewer pages of your site. Either way, invest in someone who understands search engine optimization and has proven experience with similar kinds of websites. Be sure to ask to see results from their other customers, and make sure they use experienced copywriters (often called “SEO copywriters”). 

An investment in a well-optimized website will pay off in increased traffic from people who are looking for the products and services you offer. Now that’s a good use of your marketing dollars!

Author's URL:
Andrea Harris, publisher of The Minerva Minute and owner of Minerva Solutions, Inc. helps businesses achieve professional, effective online and printed marketing communications. Contact Andrea at her web site 

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Web News

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ValueClick's affiliate marketing companies, Be Free and Commission Junction, have come together under the latter brand name.

Over time, the companies' proprietary technologies will be integrated on one platform, the company said. BeFree has offices in Marlborough, Massachusetts and Pittsburgh, while Commission Junction is headquartered in Santa Barbara, with offices in New York and London.

Paid search listings player will provide technology and to help create a business-to-business (B2B) portal for industrial product guide publisher Thomas Global Register, providing marketers a much-needed option for B2B paid placement search.

A California man who searched for his own name on Google has filed suit against the search engine -- along with Yahoo!, America Online, and Time Warner -- because of the results he received.

Mark Maughan, an accountant at a firm called Brown and Maughan, filed a proposed class action suit accusing the companies of libel, product liability and unfair business practices.

Maughan is apparently upset over a Google result that points to a disciplinary record on the California State Board of Accountancy Web site. In the suit, Maughan says "the search results falsely represent...that Plaintiffs Maughan and/or B&M has/have been disciplined for 'gross negligence'."

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