When it comes to creating profitable web sites, there’s no magic formula or quick fix. You have to set your site apart from every other web site and motivate buyers to come back again and again. It’s a step-by-step process – simple enough, but not easy. According to Jim Nelson, of eCommerce solution provider SiteSell.com, there are two key components to building a successful eBiz: content and customer relations. • Content Is King The first step is building your web site around a lot of good, quality content. Explains Nelson, “The more useful, interesting knowledge you provide visitors with, the more your site becomes a legitimate, helpful tool in their eyes.” As you help people learn about whatever topic your site is focused on, you’re giving them a reason to choose to buy from you and developing loyal customers. Beyond that, your search engine rankings correlate directly to the amount of valuable information you provide. The more fresh, changing subject matter on your site, the higher it will rank. And the higher it ranks, the more users will find it. That’s why you want to be adding new, content-rich pages on a regular basis. If you can gain good positioning in the major engines (Google, Yahoo!, and MSN), you’ll automatically do well in all the minor engines that pull their results from these popular sites. You should base your pages around keywords you can compete with. Research the supply and demand for various key phrases on Google, Yahoo!, and WordTracker, and use that data to determine which keywords to center your copy around. As you research the topic your site will be about, you’ll find hundreds of related keywords. You might not rank well for every one, but if you can rank well for enough of them, you can really boost your traffic. • Make It Personal Because users primarily come online with the intention of gathering information or finding a solution, a hard sell can turn many visitors off. People want to feel like you’re not just after their money, but that you’re actually offering them something in return – that the relationship is mutually beneficial. That’s why the second component of a profitable web business is to make it personal. Your site is your instrument for cultivating a connection with your shoppers. Audio and video can greatly enhance that personal sense. You want visitors to understand that you’re a real person with a name, a face, and a phone number where they can reach you. Creating a personal presence lends credibility to your business. You want your web site to make customers feel welcome, and you need to reaffirm that positive initial experience by following up with quick, friendly service. If visitors feel like they know you and like you, they’re going to want to buy from you, rather than just moving to the next e-tailer in the results pages. • Maintain Consistency Sometimes, in spite of taking all the right steps, you’ll find your site loses it’s positioning and your traffic and sales slip. This is fairly normal – the engines have simply modified their ranking algorithms again. “The important thing is not to panic,” says Nelson. “The search engines want people to find well-built sites in the results; so if you give them that, the engines will find you again and you’ll come back up in a fairly short period of time. Just keep doing what you’re doing – quality content is a process that still works.”

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