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E-Business Alberta | The Alberta E-Future Centre blog

Market Your Site for Next to Nothing

March 20th, 2007
by John Beauchamp

The E-Commerce Times has a great article on some strategies for marketing your Internet Start-up, or any web site for that matter, for no or little cost. The tips range from the easy and quick, reminding visitors to bookmark your site, to the more involved like starting a blog.

For all the tips, head over to E-Commerce Times and check it out!

Wondering what to do with your old computer?

February 20th, 2007
by Roch Labelle

According to Alberta Environment, in 2004, more than 90,000 desktop computers were discarded in Alberta. Computers contain materials such as lead, mercury, cadmium, beryllium and PVC plastics that can cause significant environmental and health risks if they end up in Alberta landfills.

When it comes to disposing of your computer, you have a few options to ponder. You could put it in the garbage and have it taken away to the landfill or, alternatively, you could have it recycled or even refurbished for donation. The Alberta E-Future Centre encourages you to consider the latter two options as environmentally friendly e-business best practices.

Alberta’s Electronics Recycling Program recycles old computers (and TVs) to keep our environment healthy and clean. You may drop-off your unwanted computer at no cost to one of the more than 120 collection sites set up across Alberta “so they can be recycled in an effective, secure and environmentally safe manner”.

E-waste roundups or collection events are held every Spring and Fall in many communities. Watch for an e-waste roundup event near you or find a collection site now with the Collection Site Finder.

The other option is to give your old computer to an organization that will have it refurbished and later donated, at no charge, to charities, non profit groups, and projects in developing countries.

The Electronic Recycling Association (ERA) is such an organization. This non-for profit organization works with the public and private sector helping companies and the public deal with unwanted electronic items which temporarily diverts the computers from the waste stream. Once these computers have outlived their extended lives, they can then be recycled.

Concerned about sensitive information on your hard drive? The ERA provides a data security service, where they come to you, and erase your computer’s data. In most high confidentiality cases, they insist that they destroy the hard drives in front of you, therefore eliminating any risk of your data getting into the wrong hands.

The ERA collects old computers for donation and recycling in Calgary, Edmonton, and other major cities. Read more about the ERA and its initiatives.

Tips for Keeping Your Computer Safe at Wi-Fi Hotspots

February 15th, 2007
by John Beauchamp

IT World Canada has a great article on 10 tips for protecting your Windows laptop when connecting to a wireless hotspot. The tips range from the very easy, disabling the ad hoc mode, to the more complex, installing Windows and all your applications on an encrypted USB drive. The tips are all practical and can be applied at no cost or for a very reasonable price - perfect for any small business person who uses Wi-Fi hotspots.

To read the article, check it out at: Ten Ways to Keep Your PC Secure at Wi-Fi Hotspots .

Online Shoppers Demand a Flexible Return Policy

January 25th, 2007
by John Beauchamp

A new survey by KPMG is reporting that a flexible return policy is increasing in importance when consumers are deciding where they will spend their online dollars. According to KPMG’s 2006 National Shopping Behavior survey, 75% of consumers indicate that a flexible return policy is a deciding factor. This places a flexible return policy second, behind only whether the store carries the items consumers are looking for. Price by comparison, was cited by only 19% of respondents. For more information, have a look at KPMG’s press release.

As a small Alberta business, deciding where your dollars and time are best spent is always difficult. This kind of information can be very helpful when setting up an e-business or looking at areas to improve in your existing e-business. For more statistics and studies, head over the statistics section of our link directory.

HTML for Beginners

January 22nd, 2007
by John Beauchamp

Putting together a website on a budget can be tough, especially if you don’t already have HTML and Internet coding skills. Many of the clients we see at the E-Future Centre have limited budgets and can’t afford to pay someone the big bucks to build them a site or maintain one over the long term. This means we get many questions about HTML resources and tutorials that are located online and are appropriate for people with limited experience.

Here are two websites that offer a good set of resources.
http://www.htmldog.com/ - HTML Beginners
http://www.htmldog.com/guides/htmlbeginner/

http://www.webmonkey.com/ - HTML basics
http://www.webmonkey.com/webmonkey/authoring/html_basics/

Top 10 search engine resources to get you started

January 16th, 2007
by John Beauchamp

Several clients have been asking questions about marketing their website, especially search engine marketing. So, I have put together a list of resources that I feel are best for a small business person that wants to get an idea of what search engine marketing is all about. If you are a non-tech savvy small business person, who wants to learn about marketing your site online, here are some great places to start:

Also note, that on April 18, will be offering a three hour search engine marketing seminar. For more information head over to our e-business events page.

The New Spring Season of Brown Bag Presentations and Small Business Seminars has Arrived!

January 10th, 2007
by John Beauchamp

Here is a round-up of the e-business events that will be offered this Spring:

E-Business Basics
Tuesday, March 20th - Brown Bag – Angus Ng
How do I use computers and the internet to help my business? E-Business is more then just selling online or having a website. This session answers how e-business can be used to increase sales, reduce costs, increase market exposure and improve customer service. This is a general overview of e-business and its benefits. Whether you are adding an “e” component to an existing business or are starting a new small business this session is for you!

Internet Marketing for Small Business
Thursday, March 22 - Brown Bag - Craig Bedard
How can I market my small business on the Internet? Attend this Brown Bag presentation to find out. During this one hour sessions you will learn about many different marketing strategies that a business of any size can implement regardless of budget and technical expertise.

Global Micro-branding: Building momentum Online for Small Business
Thursday, April 5th - Brown Bag – Walter Schwabe
Wondering how a small business can build its brand? For a small business building its brand is always a challenge, especially on the international stage. Attend this Brown bag seminar and take away a formula for cost effectively using the Internet to build your small business’ brand while laying the foundation for increased sustainable revenues.

Internet Security
Tuesday, April 17th - Brown Bag - David Papp
Help! Spim & Spam? Viruses & Worms? Firewalls? What does it all mean and how can I protect myself? This presentation covers all this along with the anatomy of a “hack”, domain names, IP addresses, email headers, whois lookups, and how to protect you and your computer—all presented in a way that is applicable to a wide range of technical abilities.

Small Business Search Engine Marketing
Wednesday, April 18th - Seminar (Afternoon) – Ken Jurina
How do your customers find your web site? It might be through referrals, your brochure, or a web link, but chances are they found you through a search engine. In this seminar, you will learn how to optimize your web site to increase your ranking in search engines and get a chance to have your site reviewed by industry experts. You will gain an understanding of:

  • How search engines work
  • How you can increase your qualified visitors by increasing your rankings
  • How to make your web site search engine friendly by making simple but effective changes
  • Where and how to register your site
  • How to use keywords and various HTML tags
  • How to implement other search engine optimization (SEO) techniques

For the details on all the events that will be offered this spring, head over to The Business Link’s events page.

Interesting Research on Shopping Habits, Including the Role the Internet Plays

December 21st, 2006
by John Beauchamp

A new study by Vertis Communications came up with some interesting results on shopping preferences across genders and generations. If you know who your target market is then this study could contain some interesting information you could use in your small business or e-business. If you are an electronics merchant, the research indicates that GEN Y (born 1977-1994) women are becoming the leading purchasers of electronic products. If your target market is GEN X (born 1965-1976) women advertising inserts or circulars are the media that most influences them.

The results most interesting to someone who has an online business is that when asked, 38% of GEN Y men (born 1977-1994) said that the Internet is the first place they go when doing research on a new purchase. Advertising inserts and flyers came in second at 17%. The number of people going online first when doing research is up from previous generations where it was as low as 5%. As it looks like this trend will continue, having even a small information website, properly promoted, can be very beneficial to your business.

For more market research resources, check out The Business Link’s library .

To read the full study, go here.

Google Reflects on Good and Bad Links

December 19th, 2006
by John Beauchamp

Link building has become an important part of marketing a web site and can take up allot of your time especially if you are a small business. A recent post on the Google Webmaster Central Blog gives some insight into what Google thinks are good and bad links.

While Google recognizes that people have used link exchanges and have purchased links to earn back links…

“confusion lies in the common belief that there are two ways for optimizing the link-based popularity of your website: Either the meritocratic and long-term option of developing natural links or the risky and short-term option of non-earned backlinks via link spamming tactics such as buying links.”

While this distinction between good and bad links has existed for awhile, it seems that Google is stepping up its efforts to try and filter out links that were not “earned”.

“Google has tremendously refined its link-weighting algorithms. We have more people working on Google’s link-weighting for quality control and to correct issues we find.”

In this case “earned” links would be links you get to your site because someone found the information to be useful rather than linking to your site in exchange for something. This can be important to keep in mind when you are marketing your small business’ web site.

To have a look at the original post go here, to read some comments from the blogosphere go here and here.

Old Media Ad Spending Slows, While Internet Ad Spending Grows

December 11th, 2006
by John Beauchamp

After the .com bust Internet advertising, especially banner ads had fallen out of favour. However, it looks like that is over for now as Internet advertising is picking up steam, often at the cost of traditional media.

While ad spending next year is expected to grow in the U.S. and across the world, traditional media outlets are expected to see little or no growth while the Internet is looking at double digit growth. For instance, analysts predict that local radio will see growth of 1.5% and newspapers 2% growth. Internet advertising, including on search engines, on the other hand is being predicted to grow at a rate of up to 29%.

For more information on this trend, have a look at these two articles. Financial Times.com. Newspapers expect to lose ads to internet. Retrieved December 5, 2006 and, The New York Times. Troubling ’07 Forecast for the Old-Line Media but Not for the Online. Retrieved December 5, 2006.

When you are considering an e-business, don’t forget about the potential of advertising to pay the bills. As more and more advertising dollars are spent online, you could find that the information you provide is worth allot to different advertisers.