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The 24.Karat Mark.eter New.sletter
Bringing you a w.ealth of o.pportunity
and kn/owledge to help you su.cceed!
http://24karatmarketer.com
 
 February 24, 2005
 
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In this Issue
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$$  Top Sponsor Ad
$$  Table of Contents
$$  Publishers' Notes
$$  Elite Signups
$$  Quote of The Week
$$  Sponsor Ad
$$  Feature Article -  Small Business Administration: A U.S.
Entrepreneur's Best Friend
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$$  2nd Feature Article - The Basics of Search Engine
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 ** Publisher's Notes:
 
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 ** Feature Article
----------------
 
Small Business Administration: A U.S. Entrepreneur's Best
Friend by Yank Elliott, MBA & IAHBE Staff Writer
 
NOTE: This free article is being provided as a courtesy
from the IAHBE. To sign up today for a 30-day, no-hassle
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The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is the federal
government agency whose sole responsibility is helping you
succeed with your small business. Many entrepreneurs have
heard about their loan packages, but are you taking
advantage of the additional free information, resources,
and even personal assistance they have to offer? These
people are paid to provide assistance in every area of your
business. They are knowledgeable, and they are glad to
help. All you need to do is ask.
 
Every politician in the entire country wants the U.S.
economy to thrive. What better way than to support the
engine that drives this economy: small business?
 
Small businesses provide 75% of net new jobs added to our
economy, and they represent 99.7% of all employers. To see
just how important we small entrepreneurs are, just look at
this page:
http://www.sbaonline.sba.gov/aboutsba/sbastats.html.
 
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), though always
ready to help, used to be considered too complex for the
average small business. For many years, only those
businesses with legal and accounting advisors took
advantage of most programs.
 
The U.S. government is like any other lender: it wants to
be repaid. So any loan program will have questions and
procedures some will consider difficult and inhibiting, but
in just the last few years, the SBA has become about as
friendly as any lender can be. They not only provide the
money to operate your business but they also offer
counseling on a variety of problems from start-up through
selling your business.
 
SBA Online
 
Other services can help you find customers or even products
to sell. And the SBA Website is very user friendly. Just
look at http://www.sbaonline.sba.gov/.
 
Perhaps the first thing to strike you is the top center
flash block calling attention to “Success Stories”. The
first one I caught was about Premier Pet Products
http://www.sbaonline.sba.gov/ss/ss11.html. This business
was inspired by the rescue of a former racing greyhound
about to be destroyed. The business flourished on a $5,000
loan and was housed in the owner’s home.
 
Now Premier Pet Products is a $2.4 million company with 40
employees.
 
For ideas and inspiration everyone, would do well to go
through this section and read how successful entrepreneurs
have used SBA services to help them grow thriving
businesses.
 
The left sidebar has some powerful help for the small
entrepreneur.
 
Among the “Hot Items” are these:
 
Worried about preparing a plan for you business? See
Business Plan Basics and study the four core questions to
ask yourself
http://www.sba.gov/starting_business/planning/basic.html.
 
The SBA is basically a lender but under the Grants section
they provide lists of Federal and State grant URLs
(http://www.sbaonline.sba.gov/expanding/grants.html). You
may qualify for money you don’t have to repay!
 
Because 97% of U.S. exporters are small businesses, the SBA
provides a lot of aid in this sector. The SBA Office of
International Trade (http://www.sbaonline.sba.gov/oit/)
shows where you can find regional and local offices for
personal assistance.
 
For a complete export course look at this:
http://www.sbaonline.sba.gov/oit/info/Guide-To-
Exporting/index.html.
 
To locate new business connections, see PRO-Net
(http://pro-net.sba.gov/). This site provides many sources
of opportunity and help to obtain customers or clients for
your business.
 
Startup Guide
(http://www.sba.gov/starting_business/startup/guide.html)
shows you exactly how to start, finance, operate, and find
customers for your small business. It includes a list of
all kinds of support services you may need. Here is all the
information you need to succeed.
 
Another area on the left sidebar is “SBA Programs”. Here
you will find everything the SBA does including a special
Website for women in business
http://www.sbaonline.sba.gov/financing/special/women.html.
 
The “Startup Kit” we discussed above covers every aspect of
running your business. But wait!
 
The SBA has this material organized in a much more useful
manner at the top of the right sidebar. The elements are
“Starting Your Business,” “Financing Your Business,”
“Managing Your Business,” “Business Opportunities,” and
“Disaster Recovery.”
 
How this arrangement helps is to group all the information
into related areas. For example, under “Business
Opportunities,” there are sections dealing with the basics,
rules, finding opportunities, size standards, marketing,
proposals, small business programs, and special interests.
Each section contains links to everything you might need to
clear up issues in the group.
 
The Disaster Recovery section is one every entrepreneur
should study right now and hope you never need it. The
writer has lived in North Carolina’s Hurricane Alley for
many years. Recent disasters have included Bertha, Fran,
Bonnie, Dennis, Floyd, and Isabel (the center went directly
over our house). We have been most impressed by the rapid
response of the SBA and FEMA (Federal Emergency
Management Agency).
 
After the latest Isabel disaster, those who applied quickly
received aid quickly, often in two or three days. Study
this section before you need it so you can deal with
disaster to avoid greater loss.
 
Small business is so important politically and economically
that all government will continue to push the SBA into more
areas of aid to entrepreneurs. Visit
http://www.sbaonline.sba.gov/ as soon as you can and see
how this agency can help you.
 
Be sure to peruse the information on Small Business Person
of the Year awards throughout the U.S. to get ideas about
what you can do.
 
If they did it so can you!
 
Local Small Business Counseling
 
The SBA’s Small Business Development Program works
through centers scattered throughout the country. From their
Website (http://www.sba.gov/sbdc/), there is a link for
locating a Small Business Development Center near you; they
are almost always affiliated with a state college or
university.
 
Not only do the staff of these centers offer free business
counseling, but they usually offer many mini-courses and a
well-stocked library on everything from business entities
and business plans to taxes and technology for your small
business. As your business grows, there may be a small fee
charged, but initially the use of the center’s staff and
facilities are free except for very reasonable costs for
the courses (well under $100).
 
The advantage of using your closest local Small Business
Development Center is that their staff will be the most
knowledgeable about local business trends, marketing, laws,
and taxes that might affect your business. They will also
know about local funding, financing, or other assistance.
They will guide you through the process of writing a
business plan and work with you as your business grows.
 
A visit to your closest Small Business Development Center
should be a top priority for any home-based business owner,
even if all you do is familiarize yourself with what they
have to offer.
 
The SBA is charged with stimulating the national economy by
promoting small business, so take advantage of their
offerings and make your tax dollars work for YOU for a
change!
 
RESOURCES
 
 
Small Business Administration home,
http://www.sbaonline.sba.gov/
 
 
 
 
 
Export course,
http://www.sbaonline.sba.gov/oit/info/Guide-To-
Exporting/index.html
 
Business Opportunities, http://pro-net.sba.gov/
 
 
 
Small Business Development Centers,
http://www.sba.gov/sbdc/
 
© Yank Elliott. All rights reserved worldwide.
 
Yank Elliott is a home-based entrepreneur and freelance
business writer in Hurricane Alley, North Carolina, USA.
His Website is http://www.furriwhalesworld.com. He is
currently a staff writer for IAHBE. Contact Yank at
globalbiz@furriwhalesworld.com.
 
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 ** 2nd Feature Article
----------------
 
The Basics of Search Engine Optimization by Jeff
McIntire-Strasburg, Ph.D.
 
One means of making sure your site receives maximum
visibility is search engine optimization (S.E.O.). You must
think in terms of search engine optimization from the
earliest stages of planning and design if you want to
receive heavy traffic from the major search engines. In
order to optimize your site, you need to understand how
search engines work, how web surfers search, and what
elements of your site contribute to successful search
placement. While much information (and misinformation)
exists about search engine optimization, experts agree that
the elements you must focus on are keywords, meta tags
and
links from other sites.
 
How Search Engines Work
 
Before delving into specific elements, it’s necessary to
understand how search engines work. True search engines
(as
opposed to directories like Yahoo!) use a program called a
“robot” or “spider” to “crawl” the web while gathering and
indexing the information they find. A searcher receives the
results of these crawls when s/he conducts a search. Sounds
simple, right? Unfortunately, every search engine (and
literally thousands of engines exist) has its own criteria
for indexing sites, and further criteria for determining
the ranking of sites. It’s easy to see why S.E.O.
consultants can make a handsome living – it’s virtually
impossible for a single webmaster to know all of the
various rules that will optimize his/her site for every
engine.
 
Feeling Overwhelmed Yet?
 
While a search engine optimization consultant can provide a
greater amount of detailed knowledge for an individual web
master, experts tend to agree that there are a few rules
that almost anyone can apply to optimize his/her site.
 
First, while thousands of search engines exist, most
surfers do their searching on a handful of sites. Yahoo!
generally accounts for half of all web searches. While they
charge a fee for simply considering a business listing in
their directory (currently $299), many business people may
find that a reasonable investment, considering the
popularity of this portal. Among true search engines, the
most popular by far are Google and Overture. It’s important
to know that many search engines actually get there results
from these giants, so applying the rules that work for
these two can help get your site listed in many engines.
 
Optimizing You Site
 
In order to make sure your site is listed in searches that
directly apply to your type of business, it’s essential to
use the best keywords and phrases. Keywords are the
words
that searchers use to find web sites that will give them
the information they want. In order to take advantage of
the power of keywords, you must find out what keywords
and
key phrases are most popular among the searchers you want
to attract to your site, so you may want to consider using
a service like Wordtracker (http://www.wordtracker.com) to
find out the words and phrases that searchers are using.
Once you’ve determined this, you want to place those words
and phrases at the points in your page most likely to be
noticed by search engines. Experts tend to agree that the
best places to use keywords are in your page title, your
page’s copy, and in the site’s meta tags.
 
The page title is likely the most important place to use
the proper keywords, as all search engine spiders tend to
look at it. Precision is key – use the keywords that are
most likely to bring the right visitors to that particular
page. While some consultants suggest using many key
words,
or many slight variations of key words, or repeated key
words, search engines have caught on to these strategies
and may actually penalize your site for using such tactics.
According to Webmonkey.com’s Paul Boutin, it’s best not to
include extra words, such as a company name; using only the
keywords as site title will generally bring the best
results.
 
It’s also important to use those keywords and phrases in
the copy of the page, as spiders do look at this also.
Note, for instance, how often I use phrases like “search
engine opitimization” and “search engine” in this article.
That’s deliberate. Keep in mind, though, that search
engines have caught on to the practice of loading down copy
with keywords to achieve higher rankings, and certain high
ratios of keywords to overall copy may actually hurt your
placement.
 
The third place to use keywords is in the site’s meta tags,
which are part of the coding for the page. Again, it’s best
to use only the words that will bring the best results –
repetition or overuse of variations can hurt your
optimization.
 
Finally, some consultants will suggest that regardless of
your site’s content, you always include the most popular
overall keywords in your title and meta tags. While this
may bring more initial traffic to your site, you have to
consider whether attracting searches on “Eminem” or
“Spiderman” will benefit you in any way. Generally, it’s
best to optimize your site so that you attract those
searchers that would actually be interested in what you
have to offer.
 
Link popularity
 
Another criteria that many search engines use for ranking
is link popularity. Essentially, is your site linked from
other sites, and are those sites ranked well in their
engines? This can be a time consuming process for a
webmaster, as getting links on other pages generally
involves contacting the owner of that page and asking for a
listing or agreeing to a “link swap”: you put a link on
your page to their site, and they do the same for you.
Again, don’t believe that you can fool the search engines
through short-cut methods such as FFA pages, as the engine
administrators have caught on to these, also. Also keep in
mind that links on other reputable pages account for a high
percentage of traffic – you really can’t lose by having
your site listed on other site’s “Links” pages.
 
Some Final Thoughts
 
When optimizing your site for the search engines, it’s also
important to remember that a high ranking in a search
doesn’t necessarily mean more qualified traffic. As in many
aspects of life, presentation is everything. If the listing
on the search engine appears clear and professional, you’re
more likely to receive more of the traffic that will
benefit you. Boutin notes that the meta name field in the
coding is important in this regard, as some engines use the
information in this field for their site description. While
you want to use keywords and phrases in this field, do so
in a manner that still will make sense to a surfer looking
for a site like yours.
 
Ultimately, search engine optimization involves using tried
and true methods of design and writing to make your site
user-friendly.
 
More information:
 
Boutin, Paul. “Search Engine Optimization FREE”
http://hotwired.lycos.com/webmonkey/01/23/index1a.html
 
________________________________________________
 
Jeff McIntire-Strasburg, Ph.D., is an English professor and
freelance business writer. Need an ezine article, press
release, sales letter or other written material for your
business? Contact Jeff at mcintirj@lincolnu.edu
 
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