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Wyoming Business Tips for Feb. 27-March 5


February 21, 2011 — A weekly look at Wyoming business questions from the Wyoming Small Business Development Center (WSBDC), part of WyomingEntrepreneur.Biz, a collection of business assistance programs at the University of Wyoming.

By Anya Petersen-Frey, WSBDC regional director

"How can I use my website to reach a worldwide audience?" Amy, Burns

The first step might be to have a web optimization and review done on your website and then decide where it can be simplified or adjusted to better meet a broader world view.

Have you ever found your way to a website in a foreign language and attempted to buy something or even just navigate it? Think about how confusing your U.S.-based English language website could look to foreign visitors. Simplify the pages and assess ease of navigation.

First, let's review the value of considering the worldwide market. Anne Kennedy, in an article for Web Content Today (http://www.wilsonweb.com/seo/kennedy-global1.htm), offers the following data:

-- 86 percent of the people using the Internet around the world are outside the United State, quite a drop from 1996, when two-thirds of the world's Internet users were U.S.-based. Europe is home to more of the world's online population than all the Americas combined. Add the burgeoning Internet use in large populations in Asia and it becomes clear the best opportunities for website marketing will be outside the U.S.

-- U.S. search engine searches expanded only 18 percent last year, but China's searches grew 32 percent, Korea 34 and Brazil 38. The biggest gainer was the Russian federation with a whopping 92 percent increase in search engine use.

-- The percentage of Internet shoppers in the U.S. has been edged by South Korea, Germany, Japan and the UK where virtually all those with Internet access shop online.

In theory, as soon as you build and publish a website you have created a globally accessible page. But just because a global audience can get to it does not mean that your page will be understandable around the world.  And this does not mean just language. While a great deal can go into creating a more world-wide friendly website, some things to consider that are relatively easy to implement:

-- If your page is about a regionally specific topic, then make sure you indicate that -- preferably in the page title. Put the region in the keywords and also page description. This will insure that someone in another country does not get frustrated by a site that only caters to a certain geographic area.

-- Even a regional topic or product might have value to global viewers. What if someone from another country is visiting your home town and needs a particular service? You might consider expanding the site to give more generic information that would appeal to a more global audience.

The Market Research Center offers a free web optimization report. The blog "Building Keystones" gives examples of how websites are viewed in different countries: http://www.buildingkeystones.com/2010/11/designing-for-different-markets/

A blog version of this article and an opportunity to post comments is available at http://www.wyomingentrepreneur.typepad.com/blog/.

The WSBDC is a partnership of the U.S. Small Business Administration, the Wyoming Business Council and the University of Wyoming. To ask a question, call 1-800-348-5194, e-mail wsbdc@uwyo.edu or write 1000 E. University Ave., Dept. 3922, Laramie, WY, 82071-3922.

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