Building Your Online Presence – Where to Begin

gone are the days of faxing press releases to the major dailies and vying for
an above-the-fold story on the cover of the business section. While printed
coverage is nothing to turn your nose at, there’s no denying we’re deep into
the “Digital Age.” This means online presence has never been more important for
brands, particularly for small businesses.
to the Forbes article that inspired
this post, “97 percent of consumers go online prior to
making a purchase to research products and services locally. When they go online, 90 percent use
major search engines like Google, Bing, or Yahoo…” Knowing
this, it’s hard to believe so many small businesses overlook the importance of
the Internet. We realize small business owners have other important things to
worry about, so we’re here to break down the fundamentals of building an online
your competition – peruse their websites, scroll through their Twitter feeds,
stalk their Facebook pages and read their Yelp reviews. It’s important to know
who’s out there, what they’re doing and why their customers love them (or don’t
love them).
Following your competitor research, use a vendor like GoDaddy and check to see if your business’s name is available for your domain name. If
it’s not, don’t stress. You can abbreviate or add a word, just make sure it
makes sense and is easy to interpret. After you choose and secure your domain
name, consider the desired aesthetic of your website. If you have the funds, think
about hiring a web designer to create a clean, simple, modern website template.
If you’d prefer to save money in this department, use a tool like
Second in importance to an awesome website are your
social media pages. Facebook is a given and, regardless of your industry,
essential. Yelp is also a social media outlet you should strongly consider.
Many businesses are intimidated by Yelp because it’s a public platform for
people to share their sometimes negative opinions about your business, but if
you provide a great product/service, Yelp is an ideal avenue to attract new
customers. Other social media outlets you may want to permeate, if they make
sense for your brand, are Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube. One thing
to note, however, is it’s better to have no social media accounts than social
media accounts that are inactive and/or incomplete. Make sure you, or one of your
employees, has the time to maintain your social media pages on a weekly basis (at
Another great way to create your online presence is through
a blog. Position yourself as an industry expert – whether you’re a restaurant or
nail salon owner – and blog about the latest and greatest happenings at your
place of business, tips for the perfect spaghetti sauce or at-home manicure,
and commentary on industry trends. WordPress and Blogger are both easy-to-use
and professional looking blogging websites.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is also one of the most important things to
consider when creating your online presence. Use Google Analytics to research
the keywords for your industry and how your potential customers are conducting
their online searches. After you uncover those essential key words, be sure to weave
them into all your online content.
Keep these suggestions top of mind and watch your
small business blossom. The Internet isn’t going
anywhere, so embrace it and make it work to your advantage.

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