The internet is literally like having the world at ones fingertips. Not only does it provide families a cheap way to stay in touch (e-mail and instant messaging), it allows students to cram for finals and write last minute papers in the middle of the night, long after the library has closed, but the internet is suddenly a way for the smallest business to break into a global market.

Let's pretend that you are the owner of a small novelty store in a small rural town in the Midwest. Most of your merchandise is handmade trinkets and crafts created by the residents of the small town (on commission so the up front cost of most of your merchandise is minimal). Although business is slow during the winter months during the tourist season you turn a tidy profit. One day as a Chicago tourist purchases a photo of the late afternoon sun glinting off a herd of sleeping cattle she mentions that she wishes you had a website so she could purchase quaint Christmas gifts for her family. As she leaves the story, her wrapped photograph tucked under her arm, you stare at your computer.

The internet could be a cheap way to increase your profit margin. You already have your physical business, a website would simply be an addition. You look at all the pretty knickknacks arranged throughout the store. If you expanded your business to include a website you could sell mid-western trinkets all over the world. It wouldn't take that much time. You have a friend that would design and teach you how to manage a website for free. You could answer questions during the slow times when you're not doing anything anyway. It would be a win-win situation.

In theory you're correct. A website could be a lucrative addition to your business.

It is possible to design website, register a domain name, and submit it to a website. But what happens next. Just like the physical shop the website will not do any business if there isn't any traffic. No one will visit your online store if they don't know about it.

The chances are good that your regular customers will probably check out your website, the ones that made items you have featured will probably tell their friends and families about it, but the chances are good that they won't buy anything, why should they pay for shipping and handling when they can drive a couple of miles and purchase it directly from you. Your tourist customers might buy from your online store but only if they know about it and since you probably waited until the slow season to create your website it will be months before you can tell them.

You could look into search engine optimization.

You might even want to consider something called pay-per-click.

Pay-per-click is a search engine that bases its rankings on something that is called a bid position. A website owner bids for an elevated position in the ranking when a certain keyword is typed into the search bar. The higher the bid, the higher the ranking.

Businesses that use pay-per-click prefer it to natural search engine optimization because it's an easy efficient way to improve a sites ranking and increase its traffic. Pay-per-click also lets webmaster maintain control over the search engine campaign.

People who for go pay-per-click to natural search engine optimization say that the cost of pay-per-click is too high.

 

Jerry Yang and David Filo were graduate students at Stanford University in January of 1994 when they created a website that they called "Jerry's Guide to the World Wide Web," a directory that organized other web sites into a hierarchy. Four months later Yang and Filo renamed the search engine Yahoo! after a word used by Jonathan Swift in Gulliver's Travels. Swift's definition of Yahoo! was "rude, unsophisticated, uncouth."

At the end of 1994, approximately twelve months after its creation, Yang and Filo had over one million hits on their fledgling search engine. Understanding that they had designed something that could enjoy potential business success Filo and Yang incorporated Yahoo! early in March of 1995, fourteen months after its inception. Because the name Yahoo was already the brand name of other enterprises, human propelled watercraft, barbecue sauce, and knives, Yang and Filo were forced to add the exclamation point in order to trademark the name. Yahoo! had it first public offering on April 12, 1996. Two point six million shares of Yahoo! were sold at thirteen dollars a piece, earning a total of thirty-three point eight million dollars.

By the late 1990's Yahoo! and several other internet communications company's diversified into web portals.

In the late 1990's Yahoo! also started buying out other companies such as eGroups and GeoCities. Because Yahoo! had a reputation for changing terms of service when purchasing companies most of the buy outs were wrought with controversy.

Although it stocks fell to an all time lo, Yahoo! was able to survive the dot.com bubble burst. In order to help rebuild itself, Yahoo! started forming partnerships with telecommunication companies and internet providers, these alliances led to the creation of content rich broadband services that actively competed with AOL.

With their eye on the future, the powers in charge at Yahoo! are working on creating Yahoo!Next, a concept similar to Google Labs that contains forums that provide places for Yahoo! users to leave feedback that will hopefully assist in the development of future Yahoo! enterprises and technologies.

Like most successful companies Yahoo! is constantly working to improve and expand. Yahoo! currently provides its customers with a smorgasbord of internet services that cater o most online activities. These services include Yahoo! Mail, Yahoo! Groups, Yahoo! Maps and Driving Directions, and Yahoo! Messenger. While Google holds the top spot in search engines Yahoo! is standing strong in second place. Yahoo! competes against Yahoo! by offering its customers vertical search services such as, Yahoo! Image, Yahoo! Local, Yahoo! Shopping Search, Yahoo! Video, and Yahoo! News. Yahoo! is proud to boast the largest, most successful e-mail service in the world.

User generated content products such as Yahoo! Personals, Yahoo! Photos, Yahoo! 360, and Flicker offer Yahoo!'s customer's social networking services.

Yahoo! Shopping, Yahoo! Merchant Solutions, Yahoo! Store, Yahoo! Web Hosting, Yahoo! Domains, and Yahoo! Business Email are services Yahoo! provides to small business owners that allows them to develop their own online business using Yahoo!'s tools.

In March of 2004 Yahoo! launched a paid inclusion program that guaranteed commercial websites listings on Yahoo! search engines for a fee. While the paid inclusions were lucrative for Yahoo!, they where unpopular with the online marketing world. Business owners didn't want to pay the internet mogul for search engine optimization. Paid inclusion simply guaranteed that the businesses websites would be ranked; it didn't guarantee that it would be ranked in the first two pages.