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For the faint of heart and strong of purse, there are even services that will build, publish, and maintain your Web site for you. All you have to do is give them a vision for your Web site and supply the content. To find these services, check your local Web pages or do an Internet search. Beware and do some good comparative shopping, however; some Web sites that seem to offer objective rankings of these services are often paid listings. The best thing to do is to ask around. Find some Web sites you like, and email someone on their contact list to see which services they might have used.
Building and publishing your Web site
Let's say, for the moment, that you've acquired the skills or services you need to build a Web site. Once you've written the documents that compose your Web site, what do you do? They're sitting, nicely organized, in folders on your desktop computer. But how do people access it? How do browsers get a hold of it to turn all of that magical markup into a visual display of your site?
For people to be able to access your Web site, you need to place it on a Web server. This is just a special computer with a lot of space that is always connected to the Internet. These are also called “Web hosts,” since they host your Web site for you.
There are a wide range of Web hosts out there. Some are free, some are inexpensive, and some are very expensive. There may be companies in your area that offer Web hosting, and you may also use a national service. Of the free providers, I have found Award Space (http://www.awardspace.com/) and Bravenet (http://www.bravenet.com/) to be the best. They also offer paid services. Currently, GoDaddy (http://www.godaddy.com/) is my favorite paid provider, because it is reliable and affordable (at least as far as I have used it).
Getting started with these services is as easy as registering for an account, paying (if applicable), and learning to use them. They are usually straightforward and user-friendly.
Let's say that you've just built and published your first Web site. Congratulations! What do you do now? There are a few things to take into consideration moving forward. You will need to maintain your Web site. Visitors will not return if they do not find relevant content that is updated regularly.
Also, you want people to be able to find your Web site readily and easily. If they type in “Locksmiths” and your city into an Internet search engine such as Google, you want your Web site to come up on the first page, if possible (or even at the top!).
The process of making sure that your Web site comes up on the first pages of searches is called Search Engine Optimization. Again, this is one of those things you can learn to do yourself or have a Web service do for you. Some hosts even offer tools for this.
What it all boils down to is writing your Web site's pages in such a way that they contain the types of words potential visitors will be searching for when looking for Web sites like yours. You also want to make sure that search engines have you listed so that people can find you. This is a vast and quickly-evolving topic, but the basics are easily accessible (though beyond the scope and word count of this article).
To learn more, consult books or Web sites such as Search Engine Watch (http://www.searchenginewatch.com/) or SEOmoz (http://www.seomoz.org/article/beginners-guide-to-search-engine-optimization), which offers an introduction to the topic for beginners.
For better or worse, having a Web site is becoming essential. Internet marketing research predicts that the number of online consumers will grow 30-50 percent in the next few years, and many people prefer to use the Internet to find providers of products and services. Having a Web site helps potential customers not only to find you – whether you are new to town or have other shops to compete against - but to also view your business as being credible. Go forth and create!
When business is quiet, take some time to create a flier, search the Internet for organizations looking for a guest speaker, or visit potential customers and drop off your brochure.
It’s hard to believe all the changes I’ve seen in the locksmith industry over the past 25 years. Back in my dad’s day, locksmiths only worked on mechanical locks, had a yellow pages ad and...
Search engines have become the new way to source information.