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Helping customers find your website

For your online shop to be effective, customers must be able to find it.

There are a number of things you can do to steer customers towards your website, including:

* Notifying search engines - there are four major ones (Google, Ask, Yahoo and Microsoft's MSN/Windows Live)
* Publicising your site through related websites - many individuals go to sites after seeing a link, an advertisement or a mention on another site
* Negotiating joint ventures with other sites
* Word of mouth
* Advertising in traditional media
* Adding your website address to all emails, letterheads and other stationery and to your business vehicles
* Mailing or emailing your customers with a newsletter
* Getting into local online business directories, such as those produced by local Chambers of Commerce - find Chambers of Commerce in your area at the Chamber
online website
* Adding an email this to a friend button on your site

When you choose your Internet address (URL) or domain name, try to make it simple and easy to remember so that customers will be more likely to go to your site rather than those of your competitors.

If you want to build your audience it is essential that you are listed in web directories and search engines. But this can be a difficult and time-consuming process.

You can get your website listed or improve your search ranking using the following steps:

* Think about how people are going to find your site - pick key words and make sure they are in your page title and repeated further down the page.
Ask friends and family to get involved with this for some objective feedback.
* Get as many websites as possible to link to your site - many search engines rank sites according to how many other websites link to them.
* Write a description of your site and the services it offers, and place it prominently on your home page.
* Be patient - it can take several months to get listed by search engines.

Resubmit your site details regularly to the main search engines. Find information about raising your website's profile at the ineedhits.com website.