Expanding Your Business Online

The invention and eventual widespread use of the Internet has forced businesses to recognize the necessity of having a little corner of their own on the World Wide Web. Keeping these websites active requires a website hosting service, and there are many types to choose from. More and more individuals, however, are realizing that dedicated servers are the way to go. Different servers will benefit separate companies, but after fully understanding hosting services and specific dedicated servers, many business owners opt for the dedicated server route.

Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/seoplanter/7460436606/

Important Aspects of a Website

There are several factors that can make or break a website hosting service. Some of the most important considerations when choosing a type of hosting service are uptime, security, speed and reliability. Free hosting companies are cheap, but all of the aforementioned important factors are seriously lacking in these free options. Shared servers are better than free servers, but since the server in question is being used by multiple companies, the speed and reliability can often be compromised.

Some business owners also opt to host their own servers, but this leaves them susceptible to huge drawbacks if their server crashes. The sad fact of the matter is that a business owner will have to be a full-on computer and networking expert to run their own server. Luckily, dedicated servers avoid many of the issues related to self-hosting and the gamut of other server types.

Benefits of Dedicated Servers

As already mentioned, dedicated servers solve many of the issues that other server types leave wide open. Dedicated servers, for instance, have only one website on them. This means that lax security on another website that shares the same server will never affect the website on a dedicated server.

In addition, dedicated hosting services ensure that all space on a server is dedicated to that one site. This means that large amounts of traffic visiting another website on the server won’t cause any downtime issues for the website. Also, shared servers have an inherent constraint on space. Dedicated servers, on the other hand, have plenty of space for the website that it’s hosting. This means that if a business owner decides to expand their website, it’s extremely simple.

Managed vs. Unmanaged Dedicated Servers

Many business owners are left with the tough decision of choosing between managed and unmanaged dedicated servers. They both have their own advantages, but for companies that are still growing, unmanaged hosting services are likely their best option. Managed dedicated servers come prepackaged with certain attributes. Security capabilities, for instance, are chosen by the company hosting a managed server. Unfortunately, these can sometimes provide too much or too little security for a website, but this problem doesn’t exist for unmanaged servers.

Unmanaged servers still have the basic infrastructure support that managed hosting services provide, but business owners with unmanaged servers can pick and choose exactly what they need and only pay for those features. They can expand these features at any time, but while waiting for this need to arise, they can definitely save money. Businesses can even choose their own easy to manage control panel and companies like www.roboshift.com sell full cPanel licenses at a cheaper price than they can get when buying direct from the manufacturer.

In addition, business owners can use the exact programs and procedures that they want on unmanaged servers. This means that they can upload their own control panels or the exact right amount of security. The options are almost limitless, and the unmanaged tag keeps the price reasonable.

Selecting the right type of server is absolutely essential for any business owner who hopes to run a successful online campaign. In fact, the lack of a great Internet presence can sometimes be detrimental enough to cause a company to fail. Luckily, dedicated servers allow individuals to get reliable service for their website, and unmanaged servers give them incredible leeway over how their website operates and how much it costs. Understanding all of these things is essential for every company, group or organization out there.

About the Author: Researcher Shelby Warden writes articles to help businesses compete in a digital world. www.RoboShift.com is an authorized cPanel partner that sells the full range of external cPanel licenses at low prices and backs them up with their friendly customer service and support. cPanel/WebHostManager is the leading web hosting control panel used by Web Hosting companies and Internet Service Providers.

Promoting Your Small Business On A Budget: 5 Tips For Success

As a small business owner, you’ve probably struggled with ways that you can promote your business without a huge amount of outlay. While “traditional” methods such as advertising in print directories and magazines are still viable today, there are several other options you can promote your business, especially if you utilize the Internet to your advantage.

social media apps
Image by Jason A. Howie

Tip #1: Using Social Media

With the rise of Facebook, Twitter and various other social media outlets – many businesses both large and small have seen the advantage of being able to readily connect with new and existing customers online. If you have a Facebook page or Twitter account for your business, you can easily push out updates to your audience by using a quick Facebook update or tweet to announce a new product you’ve just released or a deal you’re offering. If customers like or retweet your updates, that’s even more advertising for your business since they’re likely to have friends or followers who will see the update, resulting in a potentially unlimited chain of exposure for your business.

linkedin swag
Image by Sheila Scarborough

Tip #2: Free or Inexpensive Promotional Items

T-shirts, bumper stickers and other small items like promotional coffee mugs are always a big hit with customers. This can be especially true if you tie them into another promotion you’re running, such as offering a free T-shirt to any customers who simply sign up for a free trial of a product or service you offer. T-shirts and bumper stickers in addition have the advantage of potentially being seen in public by thousands of other people.

business networking
Image by Jodi Womack

Tip #3: Connect With Other Businesses In Related Niches

If you offer a product or service in a specific niche such as home improvement, look at how you can connect with businesses that offer products or services that naturally complement yours without directly competing with you. For example, a home remodeling company might want to use their website and social media presence to help promote a building supply company that they personally use for tile and other related products, in return for the other company agreeing to promote them in turn. It’s a win-win situation for both sides and builds confidence in both company’s brands as well as exposure.

Image by Maria Reyes-McDavis

Tip #4: Guest Blogging

Guest blogging has seen rapid adoption in recent times and this can be a very handy tool for increasing your potential exposure to new customers. Connecting with other websites related to your niche and lending your expertise on a given topic is a win-win situation: The website you’re guest blogging for will have value added to their site, while you can demonstrate your authority and know-how about your products and services, giving you exposure for your company and often even a link back to your site that readers can follow if they want to know more.

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Image by Craighton Miller

Tip #5: Use Google Places

This is a free service that allows any brick-and-mortar business to set up a listing with Google that is specific to their local area. What this means is that when customers search for a given search term such as “car repair San Diego”, your business can pop up in the local Google Places listings for that particular search term – allowing your potential customers to find you much more easily and give you a leg up over the local competition. Google Places also offers the ability to include basic information about your company including hours, your physical address, services offered and your website address, should they need additional information about your company.

About the Author: Sara Fletcher is a professional blogger who writes on a variety of topics, ranging from business, SEO, and social media. She loves to learn about small business tips, and is always looking for the next writing opportunity.

Social Media Essentials for Small Business Marketing

Most small business owners have started relying on social media networking for their internet marketing needs. It is a simple and effective method of reaching out to your target audience in a focused yet inexpensive form. The sheer popularity of social media has left it an indispensible marketing tool to incorporate in your campaign. Whatever be your target audience demographic, marketing through popular social networks will ensure that your message reaches out effectively and creates a buzz.

It is important to plan your social media presence and campaign in a detailed manner to gain maximum return. Let us list down five best practices which have been known to generate results for small business in the social media sphere.

twitter marketing sucks
Image by Pete Simon

Try to be Subtle

Social media does not come with the time limitation of more conventional advertising platforms like radio or television. One must respect this fact and try to inculcate their marketing message subliminally with content that your target audience is interested in. Social media is about information – Create your space and posts around interesting information related to your product or service.

Once you have the attention of your potential client only then should you go for turning him into a lead. Going social helps you build trust among your audience, but only if you let it build by offering content relevant to their interests.

Social Media is about Socializing

At times business owners fail to understand the whole purpose of social media which is to socialize with like minded people and communities. Your presence on social media should never be about ostentatious self promotion. Try to engage with your audience in an interactive way. Your business should come across like a brand personality which understands your audience and communicates like them. Be as interactive as possible, hold contests, ask questions, answer queries, be like a person.

Try to be a friend, there is nothing more trustworthy than a good understanding friend. Clients that you will be able to build like this will most likely remain clients for life.

Go Wide With Your Campaign

Social networks might have its high rankers and they command involvement in any sensible social media campaign but one must not ignore other platforms at any cost. There is a long list of networking sites and each one has some following. As a business owner or marketer you don’t want to leave any stone unturned.

Make accounts and gain presence at as many platforms as you know of. You may decide to prioritize your level of focus, that is acceptable, but do not ride on just one or two networks.

Work on Your Appearance

Just because you are a small business it doesn’t give you the right to look less professional than the big guns. In fact, many small business owners brag about their customization capabilities over big brands. All your content, designs and texts should go under a magnifying glass before being posted. Be aggressive in your strategies and let the world know that you mean business. You may not be able to match with the big players on size but you must equal their quality if not exceed it.

About the Author: ZK is an expert associated with WebTrafficROI, which is a web marketing blog aimed at people who are interested in web business and blogging. The blog also helps entrepreneurs, bloggers, companies and small businesses to make their business better on the online forum.

How To Market Your Small Business on Facebook

In recent years, there has been a phenomenal increase in the number of social networking sites. These sites are now not only being used to connect with friends, family and business contacts, but also being used to market products and services. Facebook is one of the most popular social networking sites and many small businesses market their products and services through it. However, these businesses are still struggling to gain expertise in this area. Here are a few things to consider when using Facebook to market your small business:

1. Share Useful And Updated Content With Potential Customers
Many small businesses set up a profile page instead of a business page, while also starting a group for their business. As a result, your fan base may get divided and you can struggle to engage with the audience. It is very important that the business shares meaningful and updated content with the people, which creates a difference in their lives. Broadcasting your message is a big turn-off for people as it sounds too pushy. You should only share updated and engaging content with the audience, and seek their feedback. You should also plan your posts well so that your content does not become too boring or predictable. The shared content should be a mix of multimedia and other useful articles. Sharing exciting and new content increases the chances that people will talk about you with their friends and family. It is also advisable that you do not publish most of your content directly from your blog or other platforms.

facebook marketing

2. Take Facebook Seriously
While many small business owners realize that social media, particularly Facebook, has changed the marketing landscape, they are simply not investing enough time to leverage its power. By not investing adequate time in social media campaigns, the business is losing out on marketing opportunities. Facebook should be central to any social media campaign and, therefore, engaging content should be regularly shared with the audience. You should use Facebook to establish strong relationships with your customers and ensure a timely response to their queries.

3. Explore Facebook’s Tools
Businesses can do a lot more than merely setting up fan pages and groups on Facebook. To maximize the marketing potential offered by Facebook, you should explore all of its functionalities and tools. This will help you in creating a great online experience to engage your audience. As a small business owner, you may utilize the info tab and also create a custom welcome page to create better awareness about your business. By using Facebook Insights, you can benefit from the medium’s built-in analytics system and analyze what type of content caused the greatest stir among your audience. This can be of great value when publishing content in future.

4. Follow Rules of The Game
When using Facebook to market your business, you should be careful not to violate the terms and conditions set by the site. By violating these terms, you may risk your reputation and remain ineffective at building a helpful community. Some of these common violations include setting up a personal page instead of a business page, tagging people in images without seeking their permission and sharing abusive content.

By keeping in mind these simple Facebook marketing tips, you can develop strong personal connections with your audience and grow your business.

About the Author: Donna Hays works full-time as a marketing consultant for an online advertising company. She writes for several sites including Degree Jungle a resource for college students. She takes keen interest in social media marketing and is a regular contributor on social media marketing topics.

Image: GOIABA (Goiabarea) / Flickr