Setting Up Your Lawn Care Business Website

SET UP YOUR LAWN CARE WEBSITE

 You know what topics you want to cover on your website, you’ve researched your market, and you have composed a fabulous series of autoresponder messages to turn visitors in to customers. Now you’re ready to put together the other crucial component of your successful autoresponder campaign: your web site. Your web site will serve double duty as a sign-up point for opt-in potential customers and a sales point and information hub for current customers. There are several things you must consider when setting up your business web site.

 Name Your Domain

 What’s in a name? Your domain name, technically, is the words in the middle of the string of characters you type into a web browser, generally preceded by www and followed by .com or another extension, that loads your web site onto your computer. Choosing a domain name is one of the most important steps in setting up your site. Try to choose a domain name that is easy to remember and spell (for example, www.Joeslawncare.com rather than www.Bestlawncarecompanyinoklahomacity.com). You should avoid odd or alternate spelling (www.craZlawns.com) and use as few underscores, dashes and special characters as possible. People will be more likely to visit your site if they are able to instantly memorize your web address and don’t have to bother using a search engine or backtracking through several previously visited sites to find yours.Ideally, you will be able to buy your business name.  If not, get as close as possible. You may have to add a city name if you have a common business name like “Bestlawns”. 

What About Free Website Hosting

Why should you pay for a web site when you can get one for free? There are several advantages and disadvantages to consider when choosing between free and fee hosting companies for your web site: Will you have your own domain name? With free web sites, domain names this makes your URL difficult to remember, and you may lose sales as a result. Will your web site allow high traffic volume? Free sites have bandwidth restrictions. This means that after a certain amount of people in a given day visit your site, the page will no longer load and potential customers will receive a message such as “This web site has exceeded its bandwidth limit. Please try again tomorrow.” Some free sites provide sufficient bandwidth, especially if your site is light on graphics…but many do not.

 Will your web site be online at all times? Some servers are better than others. With a free site, you run the risk of downed servers showing visitors the dreaded “Error 404: Page Not Found” message when they click over to your site. Most paid sites have precautions to deal with server failure. Will you have to become a computer programmer? Before signing up for any web site service, find out whether they have templates and easy-to-use drop and drag site building tools—or whether you have to create your pages in HTML code. If you plan to use a program like Dreamweaver or FrontPage to create your site, this won’t matter. But if you’re not, and you don’t know HTML, you need to make sure you will be able to put things on your web pages with relative ease.

Will your visitors mind outside advertising and/or popup ads? Probably.  Most free sites use outside advertising on all their pages—this is how they make money. Banner ads are usually acceptable, but if you have a page with three or four popups that spring out at unsuspecting visitors, they’ll be quick to leave and never come back. Find out what type of advertising the hosting company uses before signing up for a free program.This is not to say you absolutely should not go with a free site. Particularly when you’re first starting out, a free site may be just what you need, and you can always upgrade to a paid site. For that reason, you should look into a web hosting company that offers both free and paid sites (or just start out with a paid site).

 Getting Started

 Check out the main web site building and hosting providers.  I suggest Hostinger.com as the ideal place to start. I signed up for a web site. Now what? What are the components of a successful autoresponder-driven web site? Following is a guide for creating an integrated lawn care web site that is fully functional, easy to use, and most important: sells your services. 

The Landing Page. This is the “front page” of your web site; the one visitors surfing the internet will open when they click on your link in a search engine. Basically, it will take the form of a sales letter. The main purpose of the landingpage is to get subscribers for your opt-in list—focus more on what visitors can get for free, rather than what they can buy. The buying persuasion belongs in your autoresponder series.

 The Services Pages. This is the page you will link to from within your autoresponder messages, from which people will actually purchase your product through a shopping cart system. Depending on the type of web site host you choose, you may have a shopping cart system integrated into the page. The product page can contain testimonials, cover graphics, and/or “teasers” about the benefits of purchasing your product. 

The Resource Page. By creating a page where visitors can find useful, free, and frequently updated information, you will increase repeat traffic and inbound links (this is when other people visit your site and decide it’s so cool, they have to put a link up to it from theirs. Inbound links are a powerful way to increase your search engine ranking). This is the place to provide any articles written by you or other experts (with their permission, of course) relating to your topic.

On every page. Be sure to place an opt-in subscription box and phone number. Include your e-mail address often. Link to your autoresponder on every page of your web site, in a prominent position. Also, provide a link to your product page from the other pages. Be consistent, honest, and direct with all your web site content.  

Content

Your web site content is just as important as your autoresponder message content. Follow the same rules to avoid a spam feel for your site: don’t use lots of graphics or huge colorful fonts, don’t use all caps or excessive punctuation, don’t stuff your site with “exciting” fluff words, and do make sure your spelling and grammar is correct. Keep your web site content simple, clear and informative. Also, a web site is a great opportunity to get repeat business. One way to do this, which also helps to increase your search engine ranking by attracting web crawlers, or “spiders,” to your site, is to provide fresh content on a regular basis. Add new articles or links weekly and give people great reasons to come back soon. 

Above all, be professional. Don’t try to make your product look better by trashing other products or sellers; don’t use “bait and switch” by planting descriptions that have nothing to do with your product but are in high demand on the internet (unless you’re actually selling pornographic content, don’t use “sex” or “hot girls” to describe your site); and don’t flat-out lie (your product will not cure cancer). Believe it or not, honesty is still valued in the marketplace—and your honesty will earn you more sales and repeat business. You believe in your product, so let your product speak for itself.

 BUILD YOUR OPT-IN LIST

 Let’s review what an opt-in list is: a collection of e-mail addresses you get from people who are interested in your product, and request to join your utoresponder list. This means your autoresponder messages will not be considered spam, and the reputation of your business will help build consumer confidence and increase sales. Now that you know why you need an opt-in list, let’s talk about how to get one. There are several ways to collect addresses for your opt-in list, and you should institute as many as you can to develop a wide subscriber base.

 Free methods: Articles, e-books and mini e-courses

You can’t beat free! Though these list-building techniques take a little more time and effort than paid methods, they can be extremely effective in getting subscribers for you. In fact, you may have already done much of the legwork during your market research phase.

 Articles

You can write articles pertaining to your topic, or articles that contain some of the information found in your product, and post them across the internet. Be sure the article contains useful information that will pique readers’ interest and get them to want more. When submitting your articles to other sites for publication, be sure to include your name (and company name, if you have one) and a link to your web site. If you have professional credentials that tie in to your subject, write a brief bio to include as well.

 E-books and giveaways/contests

 Just as the idea of free list-building methods appealed to you, the idea of valuable freebies will appeal to potential customers. Obtain short, informative e-books on your topic (or write one yourself) and then offer them as an incentive to sign up for your opt-in list. You can also advertise a contest to give away a certain number of your product, chosen at random from people who sign up for your list during a prescribed period of time. NOTE: Setting limits on sign-up time and the number of giveaways gives people added incentive to act now. This is a technique you may want to incorporate in your autoresponder messages.

 Mini e-courses

 Developing a mini-course related to your services. If you offer mowing, do a short course on which trees are best for your area.  Show them ways to make a small garden. Teach them to sharpen mower blades. This is a great way to ncrease interest in potential buyers. When setting up a mini-course, break your product up into several sections. Give away a few secrets in each “lesson,” but not all of them. Remind mini-course subscribers that much more information can be found in the full version of your product, and include links to both your product page and your autoresponder landing page in each section. Plug your mini-course into your autoresponder program and fire away!

Pop-up ads

 Pop-up ads can be an effective means of gathering addresses for your opt-in list when used on your own site. No one enjoys visiting a site about a topic they’re interested in,only to be bombarded with boxes proclaiming they’ve won free gas for a year or can lose 10 pounds in the next week. But used on your own site, pop-up ads let people know immediately that they can sign up for your list and get exactly the information they’re looking for delivered straight to their inbox. Recent studies have shown on-site pop-up ads to increase sales levels by up to 33 percent.

Paid methods: PPC campaigns

 When it comes to building a subscriber base, a little bit of money goes a long way. Most paid list-building methods are relatively inexpensive, and if used properly will more than pay for themselves in a short period of time. For every paid method of obtaining subscribers, you will need your complete site URL and a brief (one- to three-sentence) description of your site. Word your description the same way you would in your autoresponder messages: make it short, to the point, and compelling. You will also need a list of keywords you want people to be able to find your site with through search engines.

 One popular paid list-building techniques are: 

PPC (Pay-Per-Click) Campaigns

Pay-per-click ad campaigns bring visitors to your landing page by advertising your site on strategic points on the front search results page of keywords related to your topic. The term “pay-per-click” refers to the way you pay for the ads: a certain amount is deducted from your account—the money you put in to fund the campaign—each time someone clicks on your link. The most popular PPC program Google Adsense basically, though, all PPC campaigns work the same way. Here’s how it works: when you sign up with AdWords, you submit a list of keywords and product descriptions. For example, if you were offering an e-book about how to increase web site profits, a list of your keywords might be: website, web site, web site profits, increase profits, internet, internet profit, online profit, online business, internet business, web site business, make money online, and so forth. Come up with as many keywords and search terms as possible so you can increase your chances of getting visitors. You may also consider including common misspellings of your most important keywords; in the previous example, possibilities would be: bizness, busness, inernet. 

NOTE: You can use Google’s free keyword tool to find the best terms for your topic. AdWords ads appear on the right-hand side of Google’s search result pages in shaded boxes. The ads consist of four lines: the first line is your ad’s title, the last is your site’s URL, and the two middle lines are descriptive text. Length is limited—25 characters for the title, and 35 characters each for descriptive text—so you should choose your wording carefully. Also, you can’t use excessive punctuation (No Weeds Forever!!!), gimmicky repetition (Green, Green, Green,), or inappropriate symbols/abbreviations (No WDS @ my site 4 U).

 AdWords operates on a pay-per-click basis. This means you pay nothing for your ads unless someone clicks on them. When you set up an AdWords account, you assign a monetary value to your keywords according to how much you’re willing to pay for each click on your search terms—the minimum value you can assign to a keyword is 1 cent.

 You can start an account with $5, and you will never be required to put more in  however, if you find your web site traffic increasing, you may want to consider adding to your advertising budget. In addition to the minimum, you will set a maximum cost-per-click (CPC) value for your keywords. But even if you reach the maximum, the AdWords program automatically determines the lowest price you need to keep your ranking.  AdWords and other programs like it – simple, inexpensive content-targeted ads.

BRING TRAFFIC TO YOUR SITE

 Once you have your product, your autoresponder message series, your web site, and all your accounts in place, it’s time for the fun part: driving traffic to your web site and watching your internet money machine in action. Here we’ll review various methods of attracting site visitors and increasing your click- through sales ratio with your autoresponder series.

 Keywords: Optimize, Don’t Stuff

 Make your website visible to search engines by using, but not abusing, keywords and phrases related to your topic. Over 90 percent of Internet users find sites through search engines, and the more relevant information web crawlers (programs that travel the internet “capturing” information for search engine listings; also called spiders) discover on your web site, the higher up in search results your site will appear. Mention your keywords often, but don’t bludgeon visitors with them. This not only makes for sloppy copy, it can get your site banned from search engines altogether. Also, be sure you submit your site regularly to search engines, either manually or with a submission service.  

Keep Visitors Coming Back

 Update your web site constantly. Be on the lookout for articles and new information on your topic that will interest the people who visit your site. You will keep your customers happy by providing them with more than just a product, and you’ll keep search engines happy by listing new content. One way to keep visitors returning and get more traffic is reciprocal linking. This is the practice of putting up links to other sites on yours in exchange for a link on theirs. You can create a separate web site page for your links; it will give your listeners even more resources as well as draw traffic from other sites. Though not quite as effective as inbound non-reciprocal links (links from other sites to yours when no return link exists on your site) in influencing search engines, these links still carry some rank weight. It is important to ensure that all the outbound and reciprocal links on your web site are related to your topic—otherwise, it will reflect badly on your professional image as well as your search engine rank.

The No-Spam Diet: Black and White Listing

By following the rules to refrain from sending out spam and making your web site professional, you can avoid blacklisting. This is when a search engine bans your site or IP address from its listings—and the ban is a permanent one.  If you are interested in finding out whether your site has been blacklisted, you can monitor some of the most popular blacklists yourself by searching for your site.  

Summary

There are several more important things to consider when setting up a lawn care business website, but this will get your started.  After you have your 3-4 basic pages, a frontpage, contact page, and a page listing your sevices, be sure to set up an autoresponder to collect your leads. For your next step, here is an article about setting up an autoresponder and the first few emails for a lawn care company.  See that article Autorepsonder Email Article here.  

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