Building a web site for your yoga business is an important and effective means of bringing in new students.

It can be a costly endeavor, however, especially if you hire someone to build the site for you. Building it yourself, on the other hand, can be time consuming, especially if you are new to web marketing.

Here are a few tips to help new and experienced yoga teachers and studio owners get the most from a web site.

1. Yoga business marketing starts with your web site's domain name

Most yoga teachers and studio owners spend far too much time deciding on a domain name for their web site.

One of the first places search engines like Google look for keywords is in the domain name. So it makes sense to put words in the domain name that people will actually look for.

People most often search for yoga classes on the Internet by typing in the name of their city and the words 'yoga' or 'yoga class.' Unless you or your studio have already established a well recognized brand name that people will actually search for on the Internet, it's a good idea to incorporate the name of your city with the word 'yoga' into your domain name. You can then register a second domain with the actual name of your yoga business that redirects to the first domain name.

Whenever possible, use '.com,' for your site because it is the most respected top-level domain (TLD) and the easiest for people to remember.

2. Flash is the number one killer of yoga web sites

Flash is a powerful program that can produce stunning graphic displays and play music on web sites. Many web designers build beautiful yoga web sites completely in Flash.

Unfortunately, Flash can sink a web site's chances of success before the site is even launched.

Search engines like Google can't read text saved in Flash. If Google can't read what's on your site, it certainly won't rank you very highly in search results -- even if you offer exactly what people are looking for. And if Google doesn't rank you on page one of its search results for key phrases related to your business, your site might as well not exist. People rarely scan past the first few search results.

The solution: Have your site built in HTML so that search engines can read your content. Use Flash sparingly for visual effects on part of your page, or not at all.

3. An 'autoresponder' is an effective yoga marketing tool, turning web site visitors into paying clients

Incorporate a sign-up form on your web site for a newsletter to send by email periodically. The best newsletter programs include automatic responder or 'autoresponder' capabilities, which send prewritten messages to subscribers at set time intervals.

For instance, when someone signs up for your newsletter, you can have a thank-you message sent automatically. The next day have the autoresponder send your class schedule. Two days later, send a message about the health benefits of yoga. On day four, your autoresponder can send a coupon for a class discount or private session, and so on.

It takes repeated contact to turn web site visitors into paying clients, building your yoga business slowly but surely. An autoresponder system is an inexpensive and effective method of automatically staying in touch with your prospects. Write your messages once and you're free to concentrate on other things.

4. Slow and steady link-earning ensures long-term success of your yoga business's online presence

Earning links from other people's web sites will make sure that search engines recognize your site as an authority on whatever topic your web site covers.

In the past, people submitted their sites to 'link farms,' where all kinds of web sites were included with no organized theme. Next, people engaged in reciprocal linking schemes to trade links between two or more unrelated web sites in an effort to game the search engines.

These days the search engines are smarter, so increasing your yoga web site's authority isn't simply a matter of submitting your link here and there all over the Internet and getting links back.

The best way to get links is to earn them. This is a slower process of creating content on your site that other site owners will naturally want to link to, earning what is called a 'backlink' or 'in-pointing link.'

Link from your site to other sites sparingly, and only link to sites related to your site's theme. A rule of thumb is to consider whether the site you're linking to adds value for your web site visitor. If not, don't link to it.

For example, it may be a good idea to link to a site with a yoga article you want your site visitors to read. It may also be a good idea to link to a national or international yoga directory so that your students can find a yoga class when they travel. Even linking to your favorite local massage therapist or Reiki practitioner could be a good idea (so long as they're not also yoga teachers -- as a general rule don't send hard-earned traffic to your competition) as these fields are complementary to your yoga business and may also get you some referrals from those businesses. These types of links add value for your visitor.

On the other hand, linking to a used car lot or your friend's brother's daughter's baby pictures, cute as they may be, are not such hot ideas.

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