Establishing an Online Presence
1. Create a professional website.
Before you do anything else, make sure that your business’ website is polished and welcoming. Test your website to be sure that it works on the customer’s end.
- If you don’t yet have a website, don’t worry! It is now cheap and simple to create your own using tools provided by the same companies through which you will register your domain name. For an additional fee, you can also set up your website as a full online store.
2. Use local listing services.
To attract more local business, be sure to sign up for these services, which allow your business to show up on services like Google Maps and local Yahoo! searches. The main three are Google Places, Yahoo! Local, and Bing Places.
- In addition to simply placing your business in local search results, these services allow you to post pictures, real-time updates, and additional information like parking tips. They also allow customers to post reviews of your business. The best part is that they are completely free!
3. Invest in search engine optimization (SEO).
This service allows your business to show up on earlier pages of search engine search results. This makes it more likely for your website to be found among other, similar websites. Check out wikiHow’s article on How to Optimize Your Website for Search Engine Use.
- Ways to optimize your website include writing interesting, original content; posting images with captions (so people who use image searches are brought to your website); and using tags.
4. Advertise to your consumer base.
Placing advertisements online is generally expensive, especially if you intend to reach large groups of people. By targeting your advertisements, you will be able to attract the type of traffic you want to your website.
- Perhaps the best way of doing this is by investing in Google AdWords. This service displays your advertisement to customers on relevant websites and those who make relevant searches. This increases the likelihood that viewers of your ad will actually click through it. Be aware that other search engines offer this service as well.
- Another way to do this is to reach out to websites that are related, but not direct competitors, and see if they will trade website ads — they let you advertise on their website, and they advertise on yours. If you make bracelets, another website selling bracelets will probably not be interested in advertising your product; however, a website that sells vintage dresses may be open to an exchange.
5. Embrace social media.
Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, among others, have become a necessary part of doing business. Take the time to put together interesting and informative profiles for your company on each platform and investigate others like Instagram and Tumblr, depending on your product.
- Facebook should serve as the most informative part of your social media presence. As a business owner, you should seek to populate every available section of your profile, including creating a visually-interesting cover photo. You can then begin to fill your wall with relevant posts, like business updates and events.