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Small Business Support Needed

By Stephen Spry

It’s very interesting that, with any new form of technology, you get all sorts of people trying to flog it… and they make all sorts of very weird claims in the process!

And in 1996/1997 there were ALL sorts of snake oil peddlers making very inaccurate and outlandish claims about the “power” of the Internet!

Unfortunately, the same STILL applies now… only probably even more so!

People flogging technology come out with all sorts of crap about what a business “needs” to make it on the web.

So it seemed back in 1997 that I was still going to be teaching (even though I’d officially left the profession). Only this time, teaching people about the Internet, about what web sites are, and what was REALLY needed so they could avoid all the shiesters!

It was time to add another web site to my stable.

The Small Business Support Network was launched in mid 1997 to help people learn the correct way of doing business online.

It ALSO provided free advertising for small businesses with web sites in its business directory.

And in 2010… 13 years later… it is still doing its job… and still providing opportunities for registered businesses to network with other businesses.

Now I’ve had ongoing concerns for for the life of tthe site with indexing of these direcotry listings, and traffic fluctuations from Google, that I just can’t seem to get my head around. Sometimes that means the site helps 40,000 people a month… other times I’m lucky to get 5,000.

I thought it had something to do with dynamic URLs intitially when most of the listings were generated by a cgi script. So changes were made to the URL structure, with all listings now having static HTML pages/URLs…

Fast forward…

In July 2008 I began a long overdue over-haul of the site with a completely new design, using WordPress as the core content management system.

As a result of this change, the site is certainly a lot “nicer” to look at, people are making comments, listings are easier to edit, and I now have RSS feeds that can be used to syndicate the content!

I’ve even got a few contributing authors adding content to the site… although I think many small business people do not yet see the value in providing such information… even if it DOES give them free links to their websites. Maybe they have more “useful” things to do with their time.

It seems the redesign has had a positive impact in many ways, with daily visits and advertising earnings are up significantly on what they were.

What Remains To Be Done Now?

I would love to increase the number of articles on the site, especially if they are written by people other than me! Having a wide range of contributing authors does wonders to your “authority” on a wide range of topics, so that should be a priority.

While the number of free business “listings” is steadily growing – at a fairly slow rate – it has been the major area which has fluctuated as far as incoming traffic is concerned. Unlike other “directory” sites I have, this one is not behaving as well as the others.

I’m not sure what changes I might need to make to “fix” the problem, but whatever happens, the directory has to remain. I believe it is one of the things which “attracts” businesses to the site, to “discover” the other “services” provided by the site – i.e. articles and advertising.

And I shall continue to offer advice on various “online” issues as I see fit 🙂

So… if you’ve got a small business and want a free listing go and register now!

And once you’ve done that, contemplate submitting an article or two… I KNOW they’ll get read, and the links you include to your site are “do-follow” and will count. As long as you can write an inteligible, “generic” article on business topics of interest to you… I’ll publish it! Just don’t go tootin’ ya horn too much, or it won’t happen.