Many people who are trying to dream up a domain name for their business discover just how common a unique idea might be. Welcome to the web! Trying to find a domain name that has not been taken is classic needle in a haystack. You can short-cut the process by doing your keyword research first.

If you know what search terms people are using to find your products and services you can back your way into a domain name that gets more merit in those searches. And that’s just the beginning of understanding how to take an idea online.

What I have also come to discover is that there is a proliferation of people out there with great ideas and many of them may even have an idea similar to yours. EXECUTION is what turns an idea into an enterprise. And that is what separates the men from the boys (and the girls from the women).

Execution is a matter of process. I mean process in the literal sense. A successful business needs a roadmap. No successful business that I know of flies by the seat of its pants and many may get there after a lot of failures, trial and error and sometimes costly ventures. But ultimately, a successful business lands on a formula, a process that allows them to deliver consistent results for their clients.

I work with a lot of people who want to start an ecommerce business for many reasons. For the most part, they all have good ideas and most have a good general knowledge about their wares. But very few know how to manifest their ideas online.

There are two roads to take in light of this. The first is to “jump in” – wing it! The second is to find a process that will work for your business. Even if you have to pay more money initially for the second option, you will save time, money, head-aches and heart-ache by the time your business begins to generate a return. If you go the first route, you may in fact never get there. By our conservative estimate, 70% of new online ventures fail.

The good news is that the process for developing your online business is quite easy to execute if you get a little guidance. Here are some of the basic things you should research and understand before embarking on an ecommerce business.

Keyword Research

Keyword research equals market research. People that skip this step are not only shortcutting the process planning stages, they are undermining their ability to succeed! There are plenty of free resources on the web to not only do your research but also educate you with respect to what you should be looking for.

For example, if you decide that the most general search term in your category is one of the ones you’ll focus on, you might as well just beat your head against the wall! The point is, there might be a LOT of searches relative to that keyword BUT you may not ever show up in the search engines for it. The scope of this article doesn’t afford time to explain the process of choosing keywords that you can rank for, so I’ll save that for a future article. But rest assured that this is one of the most important steps in the process.

Site Planning

Once you have your keywords, you should begin site planning. We recommend you build your site outline first and then see where your chosen keywords go into the site map.

Your site outline generally mirrors your site map. You’ll find that the keywords that you have chosen belong under certain headings in your site map. You may have to plan separate pages for specific keywords, and that’s OK. Part of your business planning will be to understand how to write for the web. Plan on a 500-700 word article, appropriate pictures, and apply basic on-page SEO. This gets most of my new clients glassy-eyed again and it will take another article to explain “basic on-page SEO”.

Think Outside The Box

Your keywords define a set of articles. These articles don’t all have to go on your site. You should plan to write articles for distribution as well to help promote your site and start building links to your site. “Article Marketing” is one of the most effective means to promote your products or services and get links referring back to your site. The links, by the way, are keywords hyperlinked to appropriate pages in your site.

Get Connected

Start blogging. Set up a You-Tube channel specific to your business. Set up a social media business page on Facebook. Set up a Twitter account and start following people in your demographic. They’ll start following you too! Get on Linked-in if it makes sense (B2B).

Marketing and gaining business exposure is a function of being a part of the web community. Once your site is set-up with basic SEO guidelines, the search engines will start to find it (if you’ve chosen your keywords carefully). But that’s not enough. You business is not simply just having a website. Start engaging in as much of the social web as makes sense and plan on a significant amount of time reaching out, helping and contributing. The return on your effort will pay off.

By Greg Newell (c) 2009