Seven Free Web Services that all Small Businesses Should Use

Let’s say you run a small shop in a provincial town. You may or may not have a website but you firmly believe that the web isn’t for your business. How wrong can you be? But if you do feel like this its probably because you’ve been fleeced by a local web design firm, who built you a site that quickly went out of date with no way of updating it and its been sitting there for the last two years directing visitors to somewhere you left six months  ago. If this is the case you’re not likely to want to throw more money at the internet and so here are seven reasons why you should not have to. Well not until you’ve converted generated enough money to change your mind on what the internet can offer.

1. Microsoft office small business

office liveOffice Live Small Business provides everything you need to take, promote, and manage your business online. You can create a professional online presence for free—including a Web site, domain name, and business-branded e-mail—without the hassle or expense of buying a server, setting up a complicated infrastructure, or hiring technical staff to maintain it. Office Live Small Business is a hosted service—all you need is a computer and an Internet connection

2. Wordpress Blogs

WordPress can provide you with everything you need to start a blog, all you need to do is pick the theme you like and get blogging. Of course, if you want to host the site yourself, which is the preferred option, you will need to download the zip file, check that your hosting service will support it and find a technical friend to upload it for you. Alternatively, if you have £2.50 per month to spare why not try typepad it’s easier than WordPress to use so if you’re a complete novice you can be up and running in minutes. And for goodness sake don’t give up, Blogging takes time and patience. If you need more proof of how blogs work check out www.englishcut.com . These guys nearly went out of business a few years ago until someone talked him into starting the blog. Now they are one of the most successful men’s outfitters on the web.

3. PRlog

Prlog is one of the only FREE online press release syndication sites left on the web, that is any good. For those that are yet to start using online PR, WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN? You haven’t missed the boat but most of the free rides have disappeared. Where PRlog is pretty unique is that it also gives you your very own press room, so you don’t have to set up RSS feeds you just need to set one up there and then point people to it.

4.  Flickr 

Get a sign featuring your name and phone number. Something 1 foot by 2 foot or so, printed on cardboard. Now, take your digital camera and start taking pictures. Pictures of your offices. Of your staff. Of your satisfied customers. Each picture should include the sign! Now, go post those pictures on Flickr, (and post the best pictures on your blog too). Thanks to Seth Godin for that one.

5. Google – external key phrase tool. 

Choosing the right key phrases to optimise your site for is absolutely vital. This link will take you to a page where you can put in a key phrase and it will tell you how popular the phrase is amongst those who use Google to search. It will also tell you how many pages are currently vying for these peoples attention. Typically Google use a scale graph and you only get a feel for each parameter so it’s not perfect but it is free.

6. SEO for Firefox.

Have you ever wondered why one site comes out higher up the page on Google for a specific key phrase? Well, you probably want to watch this video:(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Kc4NiQDkjQ). This is an excellent Optimisation tool from the ever resourceful Arron Wall. The tool, when added to Firefox, which incidentally, is a much better browser than Internet Explorer, adds tags to the bottom of each listing in Google that provide SEO information on each of the sites listed. How old the domain is, how many incoming links it has, how many of those are .gov or .edu, does it have a dmoz listing, and many more.

7. You Tube

If you’ve just watched the video above you will know the benefits of adding Arron Walls SEO for Firefox tool to your browser. However, if you hadn’t watched the video I doubt whether you would have had the patience to read how to do it, that’s the power of moving images.

They say pictures speak a thousand words and this has never been better illustrated than on the web. I can imagine over the next few years every retail store in the UK will start using blogs and video sales messages to their websites. Whether they are selling cars or sofa’s every business will have a blog where they can add weekly sales messages like this one http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GDD_eI5dZhg. It may be cheesy but it’s cheap to make, even cheaper to advertise and has a bigger reach than any other marketing medium. This link will take you to a video that teaches you how to upload video onto You Tube.

Please take a look at these and have a go, you have nothing to lose, and please come back to post your comments.