by Matthew Tondreau, GoDaddy

Let’s face it, the logistics of just launching a business is a daunting task, let alone tackling that juggernaut called “The Internet” to create your online presence. Yet in today’s competitive world getting out there on the Web is no longer a technological luxury — it’s a basic necessity for raising customer awareness if you’re at all serious about doing business.

Recent research shows that surprisingly, many small businesses remain AWOL when it comes to any type of presence online. But those that are taking advantage of this essential marketing tool experience significant gains — especially the businesses who follow a strategy like I mention below to maximize those benefits.

So whether it’s an e-commerce website (any site that sells things) or an online business card (informational site), you’ll want to present a virtual version of your company with an elegant site that’s easy to find, simple to use, conveys your message clearly and, most importantly, provides a way for the customer to contact you and offer feedback.

OK, I can hear you now, “Sure Matt, that’s easy for you to say. I know I need a website that’s awesome, but I can’t afford a fancy web designer and I have no idea how to build a site or what to do with it if I did.” Just chillax. There are numerous site builders out there for the “tech challenged” so you no longer have to be a computer science major to get your digital showroom up and running.

Do your research before choosing someone to build your site

Website buildersA quick Google search will give you many results for site builders. Be weary of ones that are free, or claim to be. The phrase, “You get what you pay for,” applies here. This is your first impression to potentially millions of customers. Why would you expect to get what you need for free?

That being said, when you’re researching your potential site builders there are two major things to consider:

  1. You need to be able to connect your domain name to your site with either nameservers or an IP address. Just a redirect will not help you in your SEO journey.
  1. Try to get a site builder that will help you optimize your site. You are the expert at what you do; so let an SEO wizard help you get the correct verbiage on your site to help the search engines read your content better and ultimately rank you higher.

Frankly, for my money, I think building a site yourself gives you multiple advantages. Normally, you have templates that you can switch out so a site revamp is just a few clicks away. It also gives you complete control over your site and its message. Plus, you don’t have to pay for additional updates and your updates happen when you want them done, because you’re the one doing them.

And not to mention that creating your own site will free up more money for the day-to-day operations of your business.

Build it and they will come — not!

Now you can sit back and watch the customers clicking away as their orders for your product or service come flooding in, right?

Unh-uh, think again. This is where most people get stuck in their online business. They only think about the website itself and not how to market it. When I speak to business owners they are shocked, shocked to find out that a successful website with a great organic ranking is like any successful relationship — it takes a lot of time and attention.

“Your website isn’t a Ronco rotisserie; you can’t just “set it and forget it.”

You have to constantly work at marketing your site to get it in front of the right viewers — your potential customers. But most business owners don’t have the time to update their site continuously with unique, eye-catching content. What are you to do? I have two basic tips:

First, to save some time, link your business site to social media sites. Namely, FacebookTwitter and LinkedIn. You don’t have to do them all, but you should sign up for at least one. There are so many ways for content to get reposted on these sites, which will connect you to a broader audience. You can’t afford not to be on them.

Look for tools that help spread your business information across the web and put your information in multiple places simultaneously. This includes consumer-sourced review sites like Yelp, search and discovery apps like Foursquare, and places that do both like Google Maps. This way, while you’re developing your organic ranking you can be assured that potential customers can find your site in multiple locations. So instead of just trying to bring the Internet to your single site with optimization, you can double dip and get your business information set up on multiple, reputable sites that are designed to give the consumer results closest and best suited to them.

Following these fundamental principles of opening for business online ensures that your website will not only have the legs to stand up, but will also stand out on the Internet.

About the Author:

Matthew TondreauA small business consultant for GoDaddy, Mat holds a degree in broadcast journalism and has worked as a broadcast editor and photographer. In addition to his work at GoDaddy, Matt owns his own consultancy business, through which he’s helped others get their dreams online.

Don’t be Invisible: Build an Online Presence for your Business