Here's some really good books to read to help keep up with what's happening in marketing and technology:

This is a step-by-step guide to getting the most out of internet marketing. It's well written and therefore easy to read and absorb. At the back of the book the authors have provided a checklist that I find very useful. Can't recommend it enough!
Authors: Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah
Publisher: Wiley 
ISBN: 978-0-470-49931-3
Cover price: $24.95 (Hard cover)

A book that describes the "Freemium" selling strategy that we see more and more online. Basically, Freemium describes an initial, low level service offering that's free, with upgrading options that cost a small amount. It's been used for many years, but is increasing in popularity. It might make sense for your company, so take a look at this book.
Author: Chris Anderson
Publisher: Hyperion
ISBN: 978-1-4013-2290-8
Cover price: $26.99 (Hard cover)

Chris Anderson describes a new phenomenon that has evolved over the last few years, as retail selling increasingly moves from brick-and-mortar shops to online. It used to be that 80% of retail sales dollars in products such as books, were generated by 20% of book titles. Amazon and other online sellers are experiencing that this mix has changed dramatically, and the resulting change may have impact on a wide range of industries. A book worth reading and implementing.
Author: Chris Anderson
Publisher: Hyperion
ISBN: 978-1-4013-0966-4
Cover price: $15.95 (Soft cover)

Another book that talks about a new phenomenon that is spreading fast; the "after sale" or Collaborative Consumption market of goods that we see on ebay, Craigs List and a slew of other sites. The second chapter is a little depressing (to say the least) as it deals with the ecological mess we now find ourselves in, but the discussion and ideas are refreshing and practical. It's a book for entrepreneurs who are looking for a new business idea that is fairly simple and low cost. Worth a read.
Authors: Rachel Botsman and Roo Rogers
Publisher: HarperCollins
ISBN: 978-0-470-196354-4
Cover price: $24.95 (Hard cover)
Here's a great free resource that you'll probably find useful. The address is:
You'll find tools there that can add value to your site and are easy to use. The one I like most (and we've used on this site) is the Social Networks link button. Here's what it look like:

You just add a little code they provide to your web pages and visitors can use the button to recommend your site to friends, add to the most popular Social Networks and Bookmark sites, and more. That's it.
There's a lot of other tools available on the site too, so check it out.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the science that is used to make sure web sites are set up correctly to take advantage of search engines, such as Google, Yahoo, Bing and thousands of other lesser known services. The process is difficult, arcane and filled with folklore, voodoo science and misguided assumptions. There's a slew of consultants and service companies offering SEO services; many prey on web site owners who have little or no idea of what SEO truly is, but know they need it. If you find a good practitioner, the service can be expensive, typically between $500 and $5,000 per month on a six to twelve contract. 

The other alternative is to do some studying and become proficient at maintaining your own site. It's time consuming but really worth it. One way to get up to speed is to use the newly updated SEO Starter Guide that Google just released. You can download a free PDF copy of Google’s SEO Starter Guide here.

Another free resource that you'll find useful is You enter your website address and the Grader pulls together a range of testing tools that will tell you if you need to make minor tweaks to your site, or if there's some significant issues that need addressing. If you want to see how your site compares with your competitor's sites in terms of traffic, go to . Enter your website address and the addresses of your main competitors and you'll see a chart comparing traffic. You'll also see your "Ranking", which is a global ranking of web site's popularity. For example, Alexa ranks as number 1, as number 2, and so on. The site (Our national site) is ranked as a very respectable 23,280, and the Ulster Chamber of Commerce site as 3,334,036. This may sound like a very low number, but if you consider that there's probably 100 million web sites now it doesn't seem too bad.

These free tools are not only useful in helping you make more use of your web site and drive more business, they provide you with an ongoing set of measurement tools that you can use to monitor how you are doing. But there's an even better way to monitor your site's performance, and it too is free. Go to and sign up. Google offers any site owner a tool to monitor traffic, identify where your traffic comes from, where it abandons your site, and more. All you do is add a small tag to your web pages and Google does the rest. 

Web traffic is becoming more important to small business so make sure you're getting the most from your site.