Dynamic Business Logo
Home Button
Bookmark Button

There are some crucial things business owners need to consider and implement for your store to be found on the internet. John Debrincat reveals some of the more obvious (yet often overlooked components) steps in building and launching a successful home page.

"If you build it, they will come…" (with apologies to Field of Dreams). Is this what the business owner believes when they start an online or web-based business?

The often-quoted percentage of small business failure is 80 percent in the first two years. When it comes to the internet, those numbers may even be higher. If you look at the top ten reasons for business failure, you’re sure to find the following areas high on the list: Lack of promotion/marketing; site content not up to date or missing; lack of a business plan; and/or no contact information or support.

Many businesses that start on the web believe in the "Field of Dreams" concept but unfortunately their belief is misguided. The issues of search engine optimisation (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM) are very important, as are traditional marketing and promotional mediums.

If you’ve developed a business plan, then you will have considered and identified many of the areas that can create problems for you. Understanding the business that you want to be in is critical and can start with a simple Google search on your business idea. As an example, a search for "garden gnomes online" (you will understand later) returns over two million results—that’s a lot of free advice.

During the early development of the internet, ‘smoke and mirror’ techniques were commonly used to get a site found on the web and many companies sprung up to offer specialised SEO and SEM capabilities. As the search engines became more sophisticated, the ability to trick the results became more difficult. There are many good providers of SEO and SEM but you get what you pay for, so don’t expect it to be free.

So what can you do to make sure that you have the best opportunity to be found on the web without spending all of your capital on SEO and SEM?

Getting Found by Search Engines

The most important marketing tool on the internet is the Google search engine. It accounts for approximately 65-70 percent of all searches. The fastest and most efficient way to be indexed is to submit your website URL directly to Google.

There are organisations that offer this registration process as a service and products you can buy on the web that claim to automate this process for you. If you choose the automated tools you need to be very careful. It's not uncommon for Google and other search engines to block your URL if promoted through these automated tools. Once you've submitted your site to Google it can take up to six weeks (and even longer) for your site to get crawled for the first time. So don't panic if you can't immediately find yourself on Google.

The other important thing to consider is there are hundreds of millions of websites out there. Don't expect to be the number one ranked site overnight. The methodology that Google uses to ‘rank' your site is highly complex, but there are a number of things that you can do to make your site Google-friendly. To give yourself a chance of being successful you need to provide high quality content (especially on your home page), use keywords throughout the site that you predict will be used in searches, and make sure that other sites link to yours (Google determines whether or not the link contains ‘valuable' information).


High Quality Content

The content that you use has to be relevant to what you are selling. Relevance is all-important for search engines. On your Home Page, make sure you focus on your core business and key products. The Home Page is the first page to be crawled and after Google finds you it will start indexing and crawling your other web pages if they can be found. If your website is set up in such a way as to block the search engines then you will have problems. So make sure your website developer and hosting company have used the correct redirection for your domain name and home page URL.

If you have used frames on your Home Page it is likely that you will not be found or ranked by Google. The Home Page title, meta description and meta keywords are also very important and need to match your content. If your brand name is unknown and you are selling on the web then the title is best not to focus on the brand. So, as an example, if you had a store www.ggo.com.au (fictitious) selling garden gnomes then the title might be ‘Garden Gnomes Online – Garden Ornaments | Friends in the Garden | GGO Australia’.

There are many people who will do a search on their own brand name (i.e. ggo.com.au) and find it ranks well. However, the question you have to ask is, how many people know my brand name? That is where traditional marketing and e-marketing (email newsletters, online forums etc) can assist.

Use Relevant Keywords

These are the words that people will most frequently use when searching for the products that you sell. Sometimes they will be brand names (i.e. iPod Nano) and sometimes generic terms (i.e. MP3 player). So, you have to make sure that you use the right terms to get the right visitors to your site.

Again, for our GGO site these might be: ‘buy garden gnomes’, ‘gnomes’, ‘ornament’, ‘garden decoration’, ‘gardeners’, ‘figures’, ‘elves’, ‘fairy’ … and so on. You can use as many relevant keywords as you like (without going crazy) and make sure the main keywords also appear in your Home Page content.

Links to Other Sites

An important factor in search engine ranking is the number of relevant websites that link to your website. The first step is to lodge your website with directories such as True Local, Hotfrog, Cooee, Directories Australia, Again, Sensis and others. Most of these directories are free but some charge a small fee for inclusion.

To be successful, you also need links to and from other websites that operate in your line of business. These could be suppliers, partners or customers. For our GGO site, it might be garden designers, nurseries or customers’ websites.


Here is a quick three-step guide to submitting your site to Google:

Step 1: Make sure your site is technically finished and that you have included all of the necessary information (terms and conditions, privacy statement, delivery information, company details etc).

Step 2: Go to the Google URL submission site. You'll need your full URL name (including the http://) and some keywords or a description of your website. It is best if these keywords are also in the text on your website's homepage.

Step 3: Enter the code letters that appear on the screen and then click on the "Add URL" button.

A word of warning, don't make the mistake of submitting your site many times, it will only result in Google dropping your site. There is plenty of advice on Google to help you.

How do you check to see if your URL and therefore website is found by Google? Simple. Do a search on your full URL name (with or without the http://, it does not matter). If you are indexed in Google, then you will find your website. You can also use the Google site status wizard: https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/sitestatus

Google search engine submission should not be confused with the Google AdWords program, which is a pay-for-clicks online advertisement system run by Google. It is also a very good program that gains you access to a greater potential market where you can control the daily budget. You can read more about Google AdWords at https://adwords.google.com.au/

Some of the following search engines are relatively as simple to submit to as Google:

Google – http://www.google.com/addurl/

Google Australia – http://www.google.com.au/webmasters/

Alta Vista – http://www.altavista.com/addurl/default

Yahoo – http://search.yahoo.com/info/submit.html

Yahoo Australia – http://au.search.yahoo.com/free/request

Microsoft – http://submitit.bcentral.com/msnsubmit.htm

MSN – http://beta.search.msn.com/docs/submit.aspx

NINEMSN Australia – http://search.ninemsn.com.au/docs/submit.aspx

Sensis – http://www.sensis.com.au/contact_us_submitSite.do

TrueLocal – T&C and Site Signup – http://www.truelocal.com.au/TC.do

* John Debrincat is managing director of eCorner, a provider of e-business solutions for small and medium enterprises(http://backend.dynamicbusiness.com/www.ecorner.com.au)

* The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, and don’t necessarily reflect the opinions of DYNAMICBUSINESS.com or the publishers.

What do you think?

    Be the first to comment

Add a new comment

Guest Author

Guest Author

Dynamic Business has a range of highly skilled and expert guest contributors, from a wide range of businesses and industries.

View all posts