Online Presence for the Small Business

- October 29, 2008

The best part about internet marketing is that anyone can participate.   There is a low cost of entry, regardless of whether you are a large corporation or a small business owner.   However, there are some advantages and disadvantages to both the small business and the large corporation when it comes to having a presence online.

To begin with, those who manage the website for a small business are often stretched thin.   They are likely wearing many hats throughout the company and the website does not always fall at the top of the priority list. At large corporations, there are often entire teams that manage the website.   One person may be responsible for the website’s content, another individual may handle the programming, and another may be solely dedicated to writing on the company’s blog. Small businesses don’t usually have the luxury of having an entire website team.

On the flip side, an advantage of being a small business is that change comes a bit easier. If you want to try something new such as participating in an emerging social media channel or building a new pay per click campaign, the decision can be made quickly. You can also be more creative at times and be an early adopter of new ideas. Larger companies can have internal procedures that can make even small content changes to the website a time consuming process.

Even though small businesses typically have a smaller budget to spend toward their marketing efforts, ensuring that the company has a presence online is essential. Below are a few inexpensive tips to help boost the visibility of your small business.

1. Add a blog to your site.   Blogs are great for many reasons.   They allow you to connect with your customers through posting new content and they provide you with the perfect opportunity to establish yourself as an authoritative source of information.   Another great thing about blogs is that you can add an RSS feed, which will give visitors the ability to subscribe to any new information and will encourage them to come back to the site.

2. Participate in local search and other local directories.   (Additional information on local search tips can be found in one of our SEO team member’s previous blog entries.)

3. Leverage sites where customers post reviews such as the sites listed below. Encourage customers to rate your company after they do business with you. Reviews by customers add creditability.   Don’t be afraid of the possibility of negative reviews. Instead, use them as an opportunity to listen to your customers and fix any issues that need fixing.

4. Communicate with your potential customers.   If your product or service is targeted towards a defined audience, find groups or networks where those people are and participate in their discussions. Add value to the conversation and remember to include a link back to your site where appropriate, even a link in your signature will do.  

5. Track results using an analytics program.   If you are putting time, effort, and money into your internet marketing, then you will want to have a way of tracking the results. Fortunately, internet marketing is highly measurable, unlike many other forms of marketing. How else will you know if your efforts are actually working? For additional information about analytics, visit our Analytics Blog.

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