Today on Small Business Computing we take a look at several issues and trends that small business owners have been talking about in our online discussion forum. We highlight several threads that provide valuable insight from your fellow small business professionals and present them to you for easy digestion.
This week starts with a discussion on the importance of SEO and article linking, followed by member opinions and views regarding on- and off-line backup solutions for small businesses. On the e-commerce side of small business issues, our forum members also discuss all-in-one site hosting and design solutions.
Of course you can feel free to add your own comments as we've added a handy quick link to each discussion, letting you easily join in on the discussion and debate in our Small Business Computing forums.
Free and easy online marketing tactics is an important topic for any small business owner. In our discussion forum one person, ATABenjamin said he added to his marketing strategy by going over to Squidoo.com and building a free squidoo lens (a hosted Web page of a person's look or view on a specific topic). With an apparent lack of results he asked our forum members for suggestions.
Roban starts off the discussion by asking ATABenjamin for details on what he's done so far in terms of SEO. Roban said, "I notice your meta tags need a lot of work."
ATABenjamin replied, "I've submitted articles at different sites, I've submitted to search engines, asked blogs for links and also created a squidoo lens. I also have my own blog, but I'm not sure about other things I should do."
Dale King said, "Article marketing has been very effective for me. Also posting on high-traffic forums works extremely well. Do you have any kind of advertising budget to work with? If you do, pay-per-click advertising is another option to consider.
No disrespect intended, but it sounds like you put the cart before the horse. You should have had a solid plan for generating traffic, before you even launched your site."
This Small Business Computing forum discussion thread spans over a year's worth of comments on backup solutions for small businesses. Some forum members have tried different online backup services and report on their experiences, while others simply ask for some suggestions and ideas on where to get started with finding a reputable service provider.
Forum member Roban offers up the following components of his backup strategy:
- Create a 15 GB partition called Backup
- Run a backup program (in my case Nova)
- Incremental backup every four hours to backup partition
- Every week perform an incremental backup to DVD
Raver said, "I have been looking for a method of convenient backup over the Internet for a long time now. I have used many non-Internet access types, and recently came across Seagate's MIRRA. These units let you access your files over the Internet.
The interesting thing with MIRRA is that it will backup files as you save them rather than by a schedule. This is a much better system as file restoration is a snap and no files are lost. You can read the site above for more detail as to what the system offers, which covers most if not all of what any small business should require with a simple non-techie interface.
When the MIRRA system and its capabilities are compared to the cost of online backup, it becomes an obvious choice. Keep in mind that you don't have to have an Internet connection to use it.
Corey Bryant added, We actually have Ontrack on our servers, and I have a copy for my own computer, but of course I just don't use it. We did try Ontrack recovery but it did not help and we were afraid to edit the drive using their drive-edit program. We figured there was enough damage done to it. Since this drive had mainly customer files from the past six years, I decided that backups were going to be a mandatory procedure.
Ftpreview said, Carbonite Online Backup is simple with very few options. Mozy is a service that offers more control; however Mozy was just recently acquired by EMC, so there might be price change issues with it. There are better online backup service providers, here are some reviews: Craig's Online Backup Service Reviews."
Forum member Epmcnc wanted to know which service providers offer all-in-one solutions that would include features such as Web-site building, Web-site maintenance, content management and Web analytics, too.
Roban said, "There are several companies that supply products and Web sites. They will stock it, price it and will even host it. You get a percentage of the sales. I don't know why anyone would do this but apparently they do. Google is your friend here. You might try doing a search for drop-shippers."
QuikShop added, "There are many e-commerce service providers out there that can create an e-commerce shop for you. They provide you with an easy-to-use content management system for you to manage the contents of your shop and perhaps even help with the copywriting of product descriptions.
What you're looking for also includes fulfillment, warehousing, and order processing, so you're looking at a big price to start or a very high commission per sale for this type of completely managed solution."
Fred333 said, "I have seen tons of companies like that around. The one I have heard about is called Mystic Liquid. They are new but have done a great job for my own clients."
Skytopdesigns commented, "The more you do yourself the more money you keep in your pocket. If there were a total solution and all we had to do was sit back and do nothing, I think we would all be doing it. There are hosting companies who offer Web design and e-commerce software, but the more you have someone else do the work the more it costs you."
The Small Business discussion forums offer advice on data backup, recovery, servers, marketing issues and general discussion related to current trends and practices. Fellow small-business owners can network and share tips and advice. You can use the forums for knowledge gathering or create a free member account to take part in the discussions and ask your own questions.
(Ed. Note: The forum postings in this story have been edited for grammar and clarity.)
Based in Nova Scotia, Canada, Vangie Beal has been writing about computers, games and technology since the early 90s. She's also the managing editor of Webopedia.
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