Publish = blood in the water
From the second I published my online business website, I have been inundated by sharks. They contact me every way you can possibly imagine at all hours of the day and night, weekdays and weekends. No time is safe and they seem to never sleep. To whom am I referring? All of those companies who make money selling online businesses the ‘service’ of generating exposure.
The calls usually come from area code 425 – Washington State. Although some have been from Utah (801). I’m wise to such calls. Mostly because I am not in Washington or the states so there is no particular reason for my initial clientelle to be from WA.
The claims and approaches from these blood-suckers are as wide and varied as the types and number rain drops that fall on their beloved state.
Some are relentless, somewhat complementary and smooth, some insulting and impossible to get rid of while some try the kindly, helpful approach. No matter the tactic, the goal is the same: separate online business owner from their money. (And in honesty, most new online business owners don’t make money. Like other new business owners, they spend money – a lot of which isn’t even theirs to begin with. You know that’s the truth.)
The claims range too:
“We’ll get you to the top of the search engines.”
“We’ll drive qualified traffic to your site”
(I love this one in particular because – they’ve called, emailed, used my site’s contact page – they’re relentless. And note the above website info – not found. Every search of this company yielded other companies and even the usual ‘purchase this domain name’. Sure – I’m going to give you $1000s to promote my business when I cannot find yours. Wait by the phone for my credit card info!)
“You need to optimize your key words and metas”
“We can guide you through the process of getting seen through blogs, online shopping catalogs, meta optimization, key word searches, etc.”
“You need to know what people are searching – and sell that”
“We get 17 000 online shoppers daily to our ‘mortar-and-brick’ style online shopping mall”
Really? Hmmmm. I buy stuff online. Sometimes I use a general search. Sometimes a proven seller – like the Shopping Channel. (One of my favs. I just bought a few things tonight actually.) But NEVER have I used either an online catalog, or mall. Never.
The crazy thing is to get to the top of the search engines – you need to do what they want. Mostly, have links going to and from your site. The best way to do this – a zillion malls, directories and catalogs that no one uses but that update many times a day, thus re-initiating all of those links making it seem as though people go to these sites.
Another fav of the search engines – press releases. Most of the online press release sites are likewise totally bogus and you can only find them if you are really looking for them. A reputable news site seems to generate more weight than the fabricated, no one sees them ‘news’ sites, but bottom line; any website that’s updated very frequently and contains the links in the format recognized will do the trick.
Personally, I checked my Google search status prior to updating my Google Adwords and found that my site was being found on page 2. With the adwords account re-invested, I was suddenly 4th on the 1st page. (Not counting the ad which appeared at the top of the page.) Coincidence? I doubt it. Pay them money – and they’ll immediately rank you higher.
So what have I learned about online business by starting a commerce-based website?
- Don’t pick up the phone if the area code is 425. If they’re reputable, they’ll leave a message – and often they will when they’re not.
- Use metas and key words in a way that will optimize your searchability. No more than 6 repetitions on any 1 page of your key word(s) and make sure your metas match. And use the reverse search tools to find out how people search for your items.
- Publish often. By often, I mean as close to everyday as you can manage.
- Exchange links. Find businesses to link exchange with you. This usually means setting up 1 or more pages to accommodate these but the links are what the search engines want to see so you’ve got to do it. And try to keep these exchanges within your general category of business. (Not always easy since you’re all in competition.)
- Don’t be swayed! Sometimes the sharks will tell you that it’s unclear if and/or what you’re selling on your site. Or even that your site (that you probably agonized for 100s of hours to build) is awkward to navigate. Ask people close enough to you to check out your site but far enough away from you to tell you the truth. And pick people who shop online!
- Blog. Become an expert at something – preferably something related to what you’re selling. (There’s a reason why so much of the info on the net is crap – businesses are forced to be experts – and often they’re not. They’re just slogging along like everyone else.)
- Ask for and take advice. I’m big on doing research – mostly because I like it and I’m pretty good at it. I’ve read so many books and articles on how to generate traffic and business online. And most of the advice is the same. Worse still, most matches with what the sharks say too.
- Keep at it. I’m sure every person reading this knows someone who’s done a multi-level marketing business (Amway, Norwex, Avon, Tupperware, PartyLite, etc.). I’m also going to guess that that person you know gave up on their business. Not because it didn’t work – but because they didn’t stay in it long enough for it to work.
- Paying the sharks won’t get you all the business you’re looking for right away – if ever. When you talk to them long enough, you’ll find (if they’re honest with you) that they say it’ll take 6-12 months to see any marked improvement in traffic.
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