Don't just browse the web, find opportunities

When a business owner visits a website, he is just doing so typically to complete a particular task. For instance, the owner may wants to order supplies, place an advertisement, or something else. Every minute the owner spends online is for the sake of completing the task he has in mind. But we believe he should be doing more to find ways to grow his own business website.

It is no mystery there are many opportunities online for any business out there. If as a business owner you are not actively looking online for opportunities, who will for your business? In this post, we hope to help you think and do more than just browsing.

For this exercise, there is not probably a program you can buy from your local Best Buy or other software store. The solution is much simpler and you have the full control: it starts with taking notes. You probably be thinking I am too busy to take any notes. We are not going to ask you to spend an hour or longer on a website so you can write a book on the website. In fact, we are not even suggesting you write anything. But then how can you take notes? You have to be a little creative in your approach. Since you are already on you computer and you do your browsing on the computer, it makes sense to take your notes on the computer versus on a paper.

So what computer program would you use to take notes? You don't have to purchase a new program if you already have Microsoft Excel, Word, or similar on your computer. What you want to do is simply create a tabular data of the sites you want to note. For instance, in Excel you may create a column called Interesting Sites. In this column, any sites you find interesting, you could copy and paste the URL of the site into that column's cell. The beauty of this scheme is that you can organize the sites as you wish. You may even have a category for sites that are your competitors. You may even have a category for your suppliers. The possibilities are endless.

The idea is when you visit a website; you may want to think about beyond the reasons you went there in the first place. So if your task is to advertise in a local newspaper and you visit the newspaper's website, browse for what other companies are advertising and how (are they using graphics, animations, videos, or just plain text, etc.), see what ads attracts your attention, what attracts you most on the page (beside the ads), what you least like of the page, etc. If, for instance, you like the colors, graphics, and the overall design of the page, compare that with your website. You don't do the comparison right away. You may save the URL in the Excel file to review it later.

The next time you want to re-design your website or you want to launch a new website for a new market, you may want to visit the column of the sites you have found interesting or with very good designs. Another possibility is that by the time your business needs a re-launch of your current website or new website, the websites you found in the past to have very good designs may have been redesigned – possibly to your disliking. To overcome this in addition to recording the URL of the sites you really like, you may want to take and preserve a screen-shot of the few pages of the site.

Then, in addition to the URL you can share your screenshots with your web designer or web agency. When your web designer sees the webpage or its screenshots, you will be much clearer on what you are looking for in terms of visuals of the new website.

Besides the category of the sites you like, you may even have a category for questions or deserving further investigation. For instance, if you search in Google for your products or services and notice your competitor is always on the top of the results. If you don't know this already, research shows sites that are displayed in top of the results, are the ones that visited are visited by most. Relate this to your personal experience. When you ask Google for something, you do visit all of the millions of pages that Google returns. You only visit select on or a few shown in the very top or on the first page.

So if your website is not on the first page but your competitor is, this should be something you want investigated. If you knew search engine optimization (or SEO), you could have the answer immediately. But chances are you are not in the SEO business. So you have to approach this strategically. You may save your findings in a separate category in your Excel file. If you find more instances of the pattern, you may save it to the file. When you have seen enough or when its time to speak with your web developer or web agency representative, you can discuss your findings by referring to your notes. Hopefully, your web team will help your website improve its search rankings.

Besides finding ways to improve your website and its rankings when browsing the web, you can look for link partners. One of the ways to make your website more popular is by seeking links to your website. One of the factors that search engines use to rank your website pages against other webpages on the web is by counting the number of links your website or a particular web page has. The more links your website has, the better chance it has of coming in top of the search results. So when you visit a website, get its contact information to request the website administrators to link to your website, particularly if both website are relevant.

As an example, suppose you are in the painting business. You visit a website to order paint supplies. Why stop there? Why not contact the website for a link to your website? You don't have to request the link when you are ordering. You may record the contact information (email) and the website URL in your Excel file. As you visit more websites, save your link prospects in the excel file. When you have enough link prospects, request each of them via email or phone to link to your website.

If you are not sure about how to proceed with linking requests or not sure of its benefits, have your web agency evaluate and handle your link requests. This may cost you some money but you leave this in the hands of experienced people who do this everyday. This may also produce better outcomes than if you did this on your own.

We hope the post has given you detailed examples of how to browse the web beyond just completing the current task. This should in turn improve your website and help you find more opportunities online.

Posted on 8/14/2011 3:23:49 PM