Making it on the Net

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The Internet: Nothing has been so profound in the way it has changed the lives of people all around the world. A lot of businesses have started on the premise that the Internet is a source of wealth. And a good number of these business ARE making good wealth on the Internet (ask Google and Yahoo!).

What about you? Can you use the Internet to enhance your business? The answer to that question is.  'It depends' (Not the answer you expect uh?). Why is the correct answer 'It depends'. The reason 'it depends' is that if you are in line of business that ha nothing whatsoever to do with the Internet (and, though it seems remote, it is possible that there would be businesses that don't need the Internet) then you should not be worrying just yet about being present on the web.

A practical example? A friend of mine is setting up a fish pond. And she is starting out by selling to the local fish mongers in a market near the pond. I am not sure that her customers would need the Net to make business with her better. She might consider going on the Internet, at a later stage in the business, when she starts supplying local and international chain stores (Can I get an 'Amen'?). Now back to the story... Yes the Internet is probably the most powerful tool you can have to grow your business. And the lovely thing about growing your business on the Internet is that you can do it for almost next to nothing... yes Free! Unfortunately, a lot of businesses do not realise this. And for those that do, and are taking advantage of it, they could do better.

So what is this free method of growing your business on the Internet? One word summarises this: Marketing. This is one word that is misconstrued a good number of times. Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionary defines this word as "the process or technique of promoting, selling, and distributing a product or service". Sadly people generally associate marketing with 'advertising'. But its more than this.

In this article, I too shall be limited and focus on one word from the above definition in this article: promoting. In subsequent articles, I shall look at some of the other words in this definition. Can you use the Internet to promote your business? Yes! We Can! (I hope Mr Obama didn't patent that phrase!) How? One of the answers to that question is 'Google'. A lot people don't know it, but Google's business isn't really Internet search. Its more of marketing company, but providing marketing services on the web. And how does Google make its money? To answer this question, let us go and do a search on Google. Now type the words Marketing in the search field and click on 'Search'. A few things you will notice in the results page:

  • There are 662,000,000 pages that were returned (You can see this on the top right hand corner of the page). This is a lot isn't? And don't you just feel sorry for the site that is returned as number 662,000,000 on page last? In fact, you should feel sorry for any site that is listed in page 5 and below.
  • On the Top and Right Hand of the page, you will find 'special' results under the 'Sponsored Links' headers. The sites that are displayed here have paid Google to put them up. And Google gets paid when you click on any of the links to go to these sites. Google has a scheme called 'Google Adwords'. And Google can reward you if you allow these 'sponsored links' to be pasted on your site
  • The rest of the page contains links to other sites. And Google gets absolutely nothing when you click on the links to go to any of these sites.

Hmmm! Now how did the Marketing Page on Wikipedia get to become the number 1 entry returned, when you search for Marketing on Google? The answer lies in 3 words: Search Engine Optimisation. I assure you, this is not a technical term. And don't switch off on me just yet. We shall discuss Search Engine Optimisation our next article. And we shall find out what your website builder would tell you that it is. And what Google will tell you that it is (and you may want to listen to Google and not your website builder). We shall also learn what you can do to promote your site in the Search Engine Optimisation league table. Speak to you soon!

P.S. Do go ahead and share this page (and others) with those you care about. And your feedback is most useful. Feel Free to ask me any question. And I'll do my best to get you the answers.

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