Businesses want the most effective ways for potential customers to be able to find them. Potential customers often proactively seek products and services out, and are more often doing so by searching the web. For many businesses, it is a real challenge to show up prominently in web search results, and it is very difficult to outrank larger regional or national competitors.
There are effective strategies to develop a comprehensive web presence for 2010. This column will discuss an approach to create an engaging and effective web presence not just with a website but to leverage the popularity of other sites on the web. These include social media sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Blogs, and YouTube, as well as Business Directory Listing and User Review sites. This approach allows businesses to create web outposts on the sites that people are already using to help drive customers to their websites.
It is vital to understand the business and its goals and objectives, its potential customers and their buying cycle, what words and phrases customers use to search for the products and services of the business, and where the prospective customers already spend time on the web. Once these things are defined and understood, an effective and accountable web presence strategy can be developed.
A professional, well planned website is critical. A website serves as your home base on the internet – the place that you control and that you get to define. But it can be a needle in a haystack. Many customers are using the web as an investigative tool to check the legitimacy of a business, as well as to find out about customer reviews of the business’ products and services.
That’s why businesses also need to take advantage of business directory listings and user review sites, several of which are free or low cost. These include sites on the major search engines such as Google, Yahoo!, and Bing, as well as industry specific ones. In the category of user review sites, I would include Yelp, Angie’s List, and a myriad of sites that are accessible from smart phones which are all accessed from the internet, many times at the precise moment that someone is looking for a product or service.
Another incredibly important component of an effective web strategy is the use of social media and networking sites, such as Facebook or a Blog. The use of these sites as they relate to business use will be addressed in future columns. The social influence of the web on buying decisions is huge, and should not be ignored.
This first appeared in print in Community News (www.mycnews.com), November 4, 2009, Page 24, Vol. 88 No. 44.