The key to making your business visible online isn’t just having a website. To ensure that current and potential customers can find and interact with you online, improve your overall presence on the Internet. That means your name has to be out there—big time.
Start with your website: a window into your business and a direct channel for interacting with your customers, says Scott Steinberg, CEO of TechSavvy Global, a Seattle-based technology consulting firm that advises small businesses and Fortune 500 companies. But don’t stop there. Expand your reach online to find more potential customers.
Follow these tips to improve your Web presence:
1. Share Content
Allow people to share content from your website. If you write a blog post, for example, add a button to the post so readers can share it through e-mail or on social media sites. If you feature a video on your site, give viewers permission to embed it on their website. (Search engines move your website to a higher position in search results if more people provide links to it.)
And don’t limit your presence to your own website. Write a guest blog post on the blogs of other companies or experts in your industry, and return the favor by featuring them on your website. Consider swapping online content with company partners, making sure your company name is attached to the content. The more places your company name appears, the larger your presence is on the Web. (And the easier it will be for customers to find you.)
2. Optimize Your Website
Use search engine optimization, commonly known as SEO, to make your website appear at a higher position in search engine results. The top five results attract the most visitors. To raise your search engine ranking, integrate keywords that relate to the products or services you offer into the text of your site. Find out which words you should use by visiting a site like Google Insights for Search—it will tell you what terms are frequently used in Internet searches.
3. Update Your Website Consistently
Don’t set up a website and neglect it. Update it consistently with content like blogs, videos or client testimonials to give people a reason to return to your site. Make your website the go-to place for information on your industry, products and services. “[Maintaining] a Web page requires commitment,” Steinberg says.
4. Grow Your Online Community
Give your audience a way to interact with you online. Use a message board—a forum on your website where users post messages and discuss topics—and create a company profile on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. By interacting with your customers online—especially on websites where they’re already active—your company is more likely to stay on their radar.
5. Get Your Company Name on Other Sites
Customers are more likely to find you through an Internet search if your company name appears on multiple websites. How do you make this happen? Complete a customer testimonial for one of your vendors. Offer up your expertise to journalists and be quoted on news sites. Include your company name when posting on industry-related message boards.