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Web Directory: Building an Online Presence in Your Niche Engine Market

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Since the mid-1990s the Internet has had a significant impact on culture and commerce. The Internet includes what we now know as e-mail, instant messaging, video calls, and the World Wide Web with its discussion forums, blogs, socials networking, and online shopping sites.  This is the massive scope of what makes up the Internet.  

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In 1993 the Internet carried only 1% of the information flowing through two-way telecommunication, however, by the year 2000 this figure had grown to 51%, and by 2007 more than 97% of telecommunicated information was carried over the Internet.  

tim meyer, owner of tmeyer, inc. precision automotive machining, says that he uses his website to promote the more than 400 cleveland and clevor parts he sells. meyer built the site himself from an off-the-shelf software program that he customized.Over one billion people have regular Web access and 22% of the world’s population surf the Internet regularly. So how can your shop standout in this massive community of networked people and machines and utilize these tools to increase business?  The easiest way is to start with a simple website or social media page.  Whether you hire a web development company, do it yourself, or customize an off-the-shelf package to suit your needs, you simply cannot be without a website in business today.  Period.  

We talked to some shop owners to find out how they have developed their online presence.  

Jimmy Ewing of Motor Mission Machine & Radiator in North Las Vegas, NV has had a website for more than 10 years.  “I don’t remember the exact year, but we have had our website for over 12 years,” says Ewing. “For us, the best thing was to just hire a company to create our website and get it up and running.  Once that is done, I would recommend focusing on getting it as high as possible on the various search engine rankings.”

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Ewing says that their site was developed with customer search strategy in mind. “We developed the website with as much of the text we thought people would use to search for our type of service.”

According to Ewing, his website is getting exposure in front of their target market through his search engine optimization (SEO) strategies. “Not only do we expect it, but we do get exposure from our website to customers that are more accustomed to looking for our services on the Internet rather than the phone book. We spend most of our website efforts on getting it higher on the various search engine rankings.”

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Tim Meyer, of TMeyer, Inc. Precision Automotive Machining in Fairmont, MN, says that they have had a website for 8-9 years.  “It has evolved over the years,” he explains. “I actually did the very first one myself. I added some links and different things to it.  For a Christmas present one of my employee’s wive’s, who was into websites, made me a website, which I upgraded later.  I used her website as a template and now it has grown.  I’ve added more YouTube videos and more detailed information on the parts I sell.”

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Meyer says that he has split his website to cover the two main aspects of his business: outdoor power equipment and specialty parts for Cleveland and Clevor engines. Meyer states that his company’s website used to include an online shopping cart.

However, he discontinued the shopping cart when he realized how many add on sales were lost due to the lack of customer interaction. Even without the shopping cart, Meyer says that the website has been invaluable in helping to expand his niche business. Being from a small town of less than 12,000, which has two machine shops, to increase business, he had to think outside of the box.  

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Today many shops have also added a Facebook fan page to complement their websites. “We do use social media, but I don’t know that it has really done anything for us yet,” says Ewing. “I am still learning how to use it to its full potential. I’m trying to get our fan base up but haven’t been successful in doing so yet.”  

Meyer echoes Ewing, “I don’t know where the fine line is between having a Facebook page and having a website, when is one better than the other? To access Facebook you have to have an account so not everyone can go there even though it’s free. Everyone can go to a website. I honestly don’t know the benefit of Facebook yet.”  

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While the jury is still out on whether or not social media is profitable, there is no doubt that it is the number one place to connect with customers. For businesses large and small, Facebook may not immediately increase revenue, but the customer interaction may do just that in the long run.  

Ewing and Meyer have both said that without an online presence, they would have missed out on a lot of business opportunities. The world is truly interconnected more than ever today and who’s to say that a shop in Nevada or a shop in Minnesota can’t sell engines and parts to countries all over the world.  The Internet makes all of this possible. And many of these online resources are free, which is the best ROI.

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