Category: Internet

pirate-google-image-searchGoogle image search is a very powerful tool, allowing you to find images relating to virtually any keywords, and even to search for images that are “similar” to another image.

But there are rising complaints that Google’s image search is too powerful, and makes it easy for users to illegal download or reuse copyright-protected images.

Google’s search results deliver a plethora of images in an easy-to-view format. It only takes a few clicks to find and download the original image file. There is no notice about ownership or copyright protection.

Many users simply don’t understand copyrights, and some believe that anything on the Internet is free to use. Even those that may understand the law often ignore it.

Google has essentially created a tool that facilitates the misuse of intellectual property,

Getty Images, a company in the business of selling image licenses, has filed complains against Google in the US and the EU, and is launching a campaign to spur congressional action. But make no mistake about it… it’s not only big companies that are being hurt. Anyone who places their work on the Internet is at risk, and Google has made it much more likely that high-quality creative work will be found and stolen.


Most businesses understand the importance of an effective website. Many put a lot of time and effort into their websites, only to miss some basics. The following tips are things you can do right away to improve the effectiveness of your website.

  • Hire a professional website designer. A few years ago, just having a website put you a step ahead of your competitors. Today the competition has gotten tougher. A poorly designed, amateurish website can actually drive customers away from your business. It’s worthwhile paying for a professional design.
  • Make sure your website is FAST. Cheap web hosting services are often very slow. Poorly designed web pages can also be a problem. Studies have shown that web users will leave a page and try someplace else after just a few seconds! So make sure your site is well designed, hosted by a high-performance service, and loads fast.
  • Include your business name, type of business, and geographical location on your home page as text (not just in an image). Search engines will index this information so that people can find you. Talk to your web designer about the best keywords and search terms to incorporate on your website.
  • Include a short description of your business and what it does (2-3 sentences). Put this near the top of your home page, and search engines will typically show it in the search results. Be sure to include the hours you are open!
  • Have a page for directions. Include the address of your business, plus directions or a link to one of the online mapping services like Expedia, MapQuest or Yahoo Maps.
    Include a complete mailing address with ZIP / Postal Code! (People still use snail-mail to communicate.)
  • Include a contact phone number, if possible.
  • Include a contact e-mail address. If you don’t want to list an e-mail address (which can be “harvested” by spammers), provide a contact “form” that will generate an e-mail message to you. Your webmaster or hosting provider can advise you on how to set this up.
  • Submit your site to search engines and various listing services. Almost all web traffic comes from just a few search engines; it’s important to submit to Google, MSN, and Yahoo. Note that directories such as Yahoo have started to charge for listings, but still offer a free listing for non-profit groups.
  • Ask other groups and businesses if they will link to you from their websites. This will, over time, increase your rank in search engines.
  • Make sure you keep your site up to date! Studies have shown that about a third of the links on the internet are out of date. A site with broken links and out-of-date information creates a very poor impression.
  • Include your website address on everything that your business prints or publishes.
  • See if your hosting company provides website traffic statistics. Checking your traffic is one way to tell if your business advertising is working. (Did traffic go up the day you ran a newspaper ad? By how much?)

In a future column I’ll talk about more advanced web techniques – but just following these basic tips will improve most business websites!

Recently I needed to order a custom neon sign. I searched the web and found several companies that could do what I needed. I used an online form on one of the sites to ask a few questions, and sent e-mail to a couple of others. The answers came back via e-mail, and I chose one company over the others.

I went back to their website and I was very surprised to find that the company is located in my town, just a few miles from my business!

I had them make the sign, and I was very happy with the results. But the important lesson here is that I found the business via the Internet. I never saw their ad in the chamber of commerce newsletter or their listing in the yellow pages; I didn’t even consult those resources. It was just a lucky coincidence for me that this company was local (because shipping neon signs can be expensive).

I’ve learned that I can save a lot of money by searching the web for my business needs. My flyers are printed in Florida; office supplies are shipped directly from one of the big online companies; tools come from a company in Washington, and so on.

As a purchaser of goods and services, my business can take advantage of the very best deals anywhere in the US!

But it’s equally true that as a provider of goods and services, my business must now compete with others all across the country.

That means several things:

  • As I small business, I need a good Internet marketing plan and an effective website.
  • I need a compelling value story that will lead customers to choose my business over the hundreds of others they will find on the web.
  • I need to use my website to get new customers and retain my existing customers, which may require me to rethink my entire business process.

It’s easy to ignore these challenges when you are faced with all the day-to-day challenges of running your business. Some small businessmen think they are immune to Internet competition. Just remember – that’s what your local bookstore might have said before

For help creating a professional website for your business, we recommend LunaGraphica.