Like any other online business, these are the general steps that you need to take :
1. Plan your website
Since you offer a service for locating people, fill you website with content about topics related to this.For example,
- why people need to locate relatives, long lost friends (for medical reasons etc)
- interesting cases in the news
- personal testimonials
2. Think about your webhosting options.
You basically have 2 options :
- Free webhosting / blog. These are free but come with limitations. Just Google "Free Web Host" or "Free blogs" to find one that suits your needs.
- Paid webhosting. If you're serious about this business, then paid hosting should be your choice. When you consider the possible long term returns of your business, paid web is the way to go.
3. Find a domain name
You can find a unique domain name here : http://www.register.com
Your domain name should preferable contain keywords that are used to look for people for example : www.findpeople.com or www.locatefriends.com. Whether you've decided on free or paid webhosting, your domain name will play a crucial part in how people find your site.
4. Find a payment processor
Decide how you want to receive payment. There are a number of ways to receive online payments :
- Paypal ((http://www.paypal.com)
- Credit cards ((http://www.2checkout.com)
- Other online payment systems (eg stormpay, worldpay)
Most will charge you and annual fee for the service. They will teach you how to incorporate the payment links into your website.
5. Set up your website
If you have some website design skills, then you could do this yourself. If not, you can ask a friend or pay someone to do it. It's always better to keep things simple. Avoid flashy widgets and plugins. They only complicate your website and make it difficult to maintain.
6. Refine your content
The structure of your website is important. You want your content to channel or focus people's attention on locating someone by using your service. This would most likely be an enquiry form or contact form.
7. Submit your website to search engines.
When you're site is ready, submit them to Google, Yahoo!, Ask, MSN and any other major search engine you can find. It's best to avoid using third party submission services for this because this is a crucial step in your online business set up. Do this yourself and work through the submission process carefully.
8. Start to build traffic
You won't immediately rank high in the search results. So what you want to do it start to build traffic. There are limitless ways to build traffic to your site :
- advertise online (eg. Google Adwords, Linkworth, Adbrite etc)
- advertise offline (eg. newspapers, magazines, business cards, flyers, leaflets, posters etc)
- Social networking sites (eg Friendster, myspace, etc)
- article marketing. Write useful articles about locating people and submit to major article marketing sites :
- Participate in online forums that discuss topics related to your business. Leave comments and your URL. Remember to comment only if you have something positive or constructive to contribute to the discussiion.
Rinse and repeat steps 6 and 8.
Some final words :
- Building and online business is never really a plug and play thing like most people want you to believe. It's going to take time, a lot of learning, persistence and hard work.
- Learn SEO and online marketing techniques. Sad to say that most online businesses are run on a one-man-operation concept. Unless you can pay someone to do Search Engine Optimization and marketing for you, they job lies with you.
- DON'T use black hat techniques. Black hat techniques include keyword stuffing, invisible keywords, email spamming etc. You've worked hard to build your online business. Don't kill it overnight with these techniques.
Hope that helps.