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  Q & A For Internet BeginnersFriday, July 19th, 2024  
Victoria Ring,

Q: Do I need an internet connection to have a website for my company?

A: Not necessarily. There are many organizations that will build and maintain a website for you. Whether it is wise to have a website built that you can't access is questionablr. You will want to be able to verify that work paid for is actually compledted. You will also want to be able to use email for information to be passed from visitors to your site to your company.For that reason, you should consider having an internet connection as a good business practice.

Q: I've been told that there are millions of people that use the Internet. I still haven't seen any extra sales and I just don't know what's the matter. What's gone wrong?

A: First, though there are are millions of people using the internet, you still need to market your website in order to be seen. The site needs to be listed with the search engines and needs to be advertised much as you brick and mortar shop must be. In other words, you must be known about to be seen.

When your site was built, the first thing that needed to be done upon it's completion was to get it listed in the search engines. This is done by going to the various search engines and filling out a web form asking that your site be included. Remember, however, just filling out the form does not guarantee the site will be placed on the engine. Listing in the search engines sounds simple, but the site requires careful planning in the form of the use of certain keywords. You need to decide what your customers would search the internet for and use those those words liberally in the text on your site. Make sure that your web designer has placed meta tags in your pages. These tags, code placed in the web page, contain keywords and a description of your site. This accompanied by the use of the keywords in the text are what ranks you in the search engines.

Q: How can I tell how many people have visited my website?

A: There are many ways to do this. Most web hosts have a statistical log page. But if your web host does not provide this service, the simplest method is to add a counter to your website. Check with your Internet Service Provider on how to do this, as the procedure varies from provider to provider. It is usually as simple as adding one line of code to your HTML document.

Be sure, however, that you add a visit counter, rather than a hit counter. A visit counter adds 1 to the total when someone visits your site. A hit counter adds 1 to the total each time something downloads from your site. So, if you have four images on your page and one person visits it, a hit counter will register five hits: one for the page itself, and one for each graphic. This might make you think that five people have visited, when only one has.

If your service provider does not have a visit counter available, there are 100's of companies providing them free of charge. Go to any search engine and type in "free web counters" and start your search from there.

Q: Is it possible to tell where someone heard about my website when they visit (similar to having a key in a print ad, so you can attribute a response to a particular magazine or newspaper)?

A:It may be, depending on your Internet Service Provider. As noted in the above question, most providers have a CGI-Script (a program you can call from your website) that can count visitors for you. Some CGI-Scripts will maintain a log of visitor information, possibly including where they came from. Knowing this information is very valuable, as you can find out what outlets are most useful for promoting your website.

If your service provider cannot do this for you, you can always put a form on your website asking people to type in where they heard about your website. (IDEA: Put a list of every place you promote your website in the form as a pull-down menu. That way, people can just click on the proper answer, rather than having to type it in. Convenience will always increase your response!)

Q: I’ve written a book and would like visitors to my website to be able to pay for and download the book. They should be able to fill out a form with their name, address, and credit card information. Only after they've filled this out will they be able to download the book. Is this possible?

A:It may be, again depending on your service provider. Check with your provider to see if they have CGI-Scripts available for passwords and custom form “thank you” pages (the page the visitor sees after they fill out and submit a form). Then, what you'll need to do is password protect the page where visitors download your book. Set up a custom thank you page that contains the password and a hyperlink to the downloading page.

When your visitor fills out the form and submits it, they'll get the page with the password. When they click on the link, they'll be asked for the password. They type it in, and they're allowed to access the download page. You should change your passwords frequently, preferably daily, to help keep things secure. This isn't foolproof, though. Someone could submit a blank or only partially filled out form and get the password. By and large, though, Internet users are honest, and any fraudulent downloads should be more than compensated by the extremely high profit margin on the product (no printing expense, virtually no delivery expense).

The other way you can do this is to e-mail the password to the buyer after you receive their filled out form in your email. The advantage to this is that you can verify the information on the form, and eliminate any blank or partial forms. The disadvantage is the buyer does not get their product immediately, which negates one of the advantages of selling information on the web.

You need to weigh these factors when deciding how you want to do business. A final option would be to encrypt the book file with a program such as PKZIP or WINZIP. (Both of these can be downloaded from the Internet. Go to Yahoo and do a search for either name.) After your customer downloads the file, they contact you for the password.

Q: How can I get my website recognized by some of the Cool Site of the Day websites?

A:Go to Yahoo and click on the topic “Computers: WWW”. From there, you will be presented with a list of subtopics, including “Cool Sites”. Click there, and you will get a list of these websites, which you can then check out for details.. Some sites will have you submit a fill-in-blank form. Others will have you respond by email. Your web site will be visited and you will be notified by email where to get your award. Copy and paste the award on your web pages and you can impress the world!

Some people may be asking, why would you want to be listed on one of these websites, anyway? The simple answer is traffic. Being listed as a “cool site” will increase traffic through your website immensely the day you're listed. Most of these websites maintain a list of sites that were previous cool sites of the day. You'll be on that list, too, and people who search through the list will find your link. It's hard to get picked as a cool site, but if you do, you'll notice it!

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