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By Melissa Cartagena

I don’t want to categorize small business websites as those who make the most “common” mistakes, but by far the majority of small business sites can benefit from some basic consulting on how to get the most out of their online business. Here are a few questions all business owners with a Web presence should ask themselves in order to help set their site on its way into the World Wide Web.

Does your site have enough content? One of the most common mistakes a small business website can make is to provide insufficient content. Not only do visitors need to understand what your business is about, so do the search engines. Search engines depend on your content to determine whether or not you are an authority on the subject that is represented within your site.

Say it loud and say it proud, include as many details as possible about that subject to gain a keyword-rich copy that the search engines will gobble up and serve up in their rankings. But be aware that your content must have a theme, if your site talks at length about "Web Hosting," "Web Hosting Services," or "Web Hosting Plans" the search engines will understand that your site is about those terms. But if someone searches for "Web Design," your site won't show up unless you use that phrase on your site, too. Be conscious of the keyword terms you want to use and maintain the presence for those terms within your website copy by providing valuable information on the subject.

Is your site easy to navigate? A visitor who arrives at your site and cannot navigate it for the specific information they seek will surely get lost and could very well leave in complete frustration. A good site design means a good navigation structure for your web site.

What does this mean? It means that the visitor can find the information with ease. Usability is not the same thing as design. Just because you might have a design that is ingenious does not make that site easy to use. It is crucial that visitors be able to follow your navigation scheme or they won't be able to find your products or services. And if they can't find them, how can they buy them? Do not expect visitors to send you an email to ask for more information because it is a lot easier for that visitor to find what they are looking for with a competitor of yours. Bottom line, if they cannot find it on your site easily they WILL go elsewhere.

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Melissa Cartagena is Manager of Professional Services at Affinity Internet.
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