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Sell on
the Internet
Putting Your Business on the Web

  1. Obtain a domain name
  2. Domain names are purchased for 1, 3, 5 or 10 years. They can be purchased from a variety of sources, so you can search for the best price. You can also purchase more than one domain name and then have them all "point" to the same website. To find out whether your domain name and what extension (such as .com or .net) are available, you can go to http://www.networksolutions.com. If your name is available, you do NOT have to purchase it from Network Solutions, but can search on the Internet for other domain sellers.

  3. Find a host ISP (Internet Service Provider)
  4. This is where your website files will be kept. To find an appropriate ISP, you need to know whether you will be offering a shopping cart, whether you want the ISP to set up your website or provide you a template, and whether you have special programming (such as calculations, database use, etc.). Once you find an ISP, you need to provide the ISP's NIC address to the company where you purchased your domain name.

    Any time you change your ISP, you need to provide your domain name company with a new NIC address.

  5. Your ISP provider should show you how to set up an email address so that you can have yourname@yourwebaddress.com. Once you have that email address, you need to set your email program to pick up that address when it goes to get your mail. In Microsoft Outlook, go to Tools, Email Accounts. Choose "Add email", then "Pop3/SMTP". You will need your logon information and password from your ISP provider, as well as their POP3 and SMTP server addresses. You can test your account settings to make sure everything is set up correctly.
  6. Set up a website - either using templates provided by your ISP or from scratch by sending files to your provider. All files are sent using ftp, so you will need ftp software to do this (the cost for this software is free or minimal). If you do not know how to use ftp, you should either use a template, hire a web designer or take a class in website design. Regardless of which you choose, you should ask how you can update your website. Your website is only effective if it stays current.
  7. Submit your website to the search engines. This should only be done once or it will be interpreted as spamming. Before submitting your website, you should make sure that your home page includes a good description of what you do and your web pages include "meta-description" tags and "title" tags that clearly state what you do. Because of the size of the Internet, it may take as long as 4 months for search engines to pick you up. During that time, people can still get to your website, but will have to know your web address (type http://www.yourname.com in the address line of your browser).
  8. You can submit your website for free on https://www.web.com/. However, since you should only do this once, you should read about and use the other tools on this website before submitting your site. The search engines regularly re-search the entire web, so it is worth continually improving your website's search results. It takes about 4 months for the search engines to completely search and rank websites.
  9. All pages of your website should include your address and contact information.
Finding your Website: Keywords

Search engines find websites by searching for key words in the tags, in the words on your web pages (especially the home page), and in the tags of the images on your web pages. If you do not have or tags or if you have few words on your home page, it is not likely that your website will be found "organically" - i.e. without paying for a sponsored site.

You can check to see if your web pages have these tags by going to each page, and in your browser, under View, select Source. Then using Edit, search for meta and alt=.

Which Keywords to Use

Google has a free Keyword Tool at https://adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal that can help you target which words to use in your tags and in the text on your website. You can enter a description of your business or proposed text for your website and Google will give you ideas for key words. When you use this tool, the larger number is not necessarily the better choice. For example, when we used this tool for the website "Tools for Business Success", the results included the word "business" as a possible key word. Google said there were 68 million requests for that word in one month. Yet, it is unlikely that 68 million people are looking for the "Tools for Business Success" - this is too broad a word. It would be better to use other words to target to a smaller group that is more likely to be directly interested.

The Keyword Tool will also show you how much advertiser competition there is for each keyword. The higher the competition, the higher the price to achieve a high search ranking.

Click on the image below to see an example of the Keyword Tool.

Tool to Grade your Website

Website Grader, at websitegrader.com is a free search engine optimization tool that measures the marketing effectiveness of a website. It provides a score that incorporates website traffic, Search Engine Optimization, social popularity and other technical factors. It also provides a report with tips on how the website can be improved from a marketing perspective.


Click here to go to the Tool.

Selling on the Internet

Accepting money

If you want to sell items on the Internet, you need a way that your customers can pay. Traditionally, this has involved three steps:

  1. Find an Internet Service Provider (ISP) with shopping cart capabilities. This allows you to enter the items that you want to sell and their prices.
  2. Obtain an Internet merchant account from your bank.
  3. Obtain a Gateway that connects your website to the bank. Usually the bank will tell you what gateway to use - but you should be aware of it, because both the gateway and your bank will charge you monthly for their services. The Gateway will give you online access so that you can manually process credit cards or issue refunds.

PayPal and Square are two companies that have simplified the process for online and mobile purchases.

Note: All credit card processors charge a per-transaction fee which is usually 2 to 3% of the total transaction.

Marketing on the Internet:

  • Getting visibility on the Internet is both an art and a science. Internet ranking depends on how connected you are with other websites and how much traffic you have. It is difficult for small businesses to get exposure, unless their target market and products are very specialized. There are many opportunities to put ads on the web where you are charged a "click-thru" rate or your fees are based on number of exposures (times your ad has been seen). Like all advertising, this can be money well spent or a complete waste. Here are some tips: Do the numbers. Click-thru's don't mean sales. It means they got to your website. If you are selling an item with $2 profit, and decide to pay a click-thru rate of 10 cents per click, this sounds good. But it will be great if 2% of the click-throughs result in a sale. So you will be paying for 98 people who don't buy and 2 people who do buy. 0.10 x 100 will be your cost: $10. Your profit will be 2 x 2= $4. You lost $6.
  • Doing online marketing will only make sense for this company if they pay 1 or 2 cents per click. The cost would be $1 or $2 for 100 clicks. The profit would still be $4. The company would make money with this marketing.
  • If you are paying by number of exposures, assume that 1% of the people will click and 1% will buy. For our example of a $2 profit item, if there are 10,000 exposures, 1% or 100 people will click and 1 person will buy. If you pay $1 for the 10,000 exposures, you will still have $1 profit. But if you pay more than $2, you will have a loss.

Here are 3 tools to help you:

Pay per Click Return on Investment Calculator

Website Conversion Rate Calculator

Email Marketing Return on Investment Calculator

Tools to Track your Web Traffic

Google Analytics is a free set of tools that can help you see how many people are visiting your website where your visitors came from the search words used to find your website which pages they visited and how long they stayed.

To use Google Analytics, you will need to put some code on each of your web pages.

Go to http://www.google.com/analytics/.

Click on Sign Up Now. Google will generate some code which you need to put at the end of each of the web pages that you want to track (put it before the /body tag).

Google will then begin to monitor your site. You can see the results by logging into Google Analytics.

Click on the image below to see an example of the report that you will get: