Eight Ways to Build an Online Business Presence Now - dummies

Eight Ways to Build an Online Business Presence Now

By Marsha Collier

Just take a step-by-step approach to stake your claim on the web for your business. Your web presence is what carries your business into the future: your marketing and income streams depend on it.

Here are eight quick steps to take to secure your online position. The sooner you start, the sooner you will kick-off your climb to inevitable online domination in your field.

Get your website up to snuff

If you have a business website, consider adding specific items to make your visitors feel more included and cared for. If your site isn’t building a community of loyal customers, now is the perfect time to get the ball rolling.

Think also about adding some customer service widgets like those from SnapEngage.

If you don’t have a domain or URL address, immediately go to a company such as Network Solutions and secure a domain name in the name of your company. While you’re at it, why not see if your own name is available? Owning a domain in your name may come in handy one day — even if you have no immediate plans for it.

Make the commitment right now to setting up a website. Call a friend for recommendations for someone to help you put one together, or go to Blogger and start a free site that you can build in the future. (You can port your domain to any future site.)

The figure shows you a website quickly put up on Blogspot for a published book. Because the author didn’t have a domain name, she went to bitly.com and secured a shortened custom URL: bitly.com/custsrv.

A free and effective Blogspot site.
A free and effective Blogspot site.

Sign up for a facebook business page

Signing up for a business page on Facebook is a must. If you don’t have a personal Facebook page, adding one is your first step. After your own personal page is up and running, clicking Add a Page for your business is just a step away.

The initial setup of your business page needn’t take long. You no doubt have a couple of photographs and your logo. Put up a good photo like these nice people did.

Wig Superstore’s Facebook page.
Wig Superstore’s Facebook page.

Study your competition

Use your search skills to find your competition on the Internet. Observe what they are doing in the social media arena to promote their business — and then follow suit. Also blaze new trails with your own creative ideas; outwit and outdo them.

Identify your community through keyword searches

Go to a web search engine and type keywords that describe your business, along with your city name or ZIP code. You may find some of your competition; perhaps you may find businesses from out of your area that are actively seeking customers in your market.

Google also gives you the opportunity to search for blog mentions (there may be gold here). Type your keywords and your city, and then click the Blogs link on the left side of the search results to find people who have similar interests and news about your products in your geographic area.

Refining your search to blogs brings up interesting results.
Refining your search to blogs brings up interesting results.

Blogs are a super place to make connections. You may find prominent bloggers who are interested in your business category and would love to talk about your products.

Update your LinkedIn page

LinkedIn is your online resume, your calling card to others in any industry, who often search the web for experts and professionals in your field. Be sure to visit you LinkedIn page regularly to update the information. (If you don’t have a LinkedIn page, set one up now.)

The top of an author's LinkedIn page is a calling card for those in her industry.
The top of an author’s LinkedIn page is a calling card for those in her industry.

When your bio — complete with websites, blogs, and social media networks — appears on LinkedIn, it establishes you as a denizen of the Internet. Connecting with previous colleagues who you haven’t seen in years is a perfectly acceptable practice on LinkedIn. They (or their online associates) may have solid connections that can help you build your online presence.

Promote with friends and associates

After you’ve set up your website and your personal and business Facebook pages, it’s time to call in favors. Connect with past and present friends and business colleagues and let them know about your new involvement on the Internet.

The more voices talking about your business (and reviewing it positively), the closer you’ll get to the coveted first-page results in search.

Schedule social media time

When you commit to some form of social media outreach, be sure to set aside time each day to visit your sites and connect with followers and prospective customers. In addition, when time permits, research by finding new social media participants in your community or check the trending demographics of the competition’s sites.

But first and foremost, spend that time commenting and answering those who have reached out to you and your business online.

Enjoy social media

Some of you may look at all this and consider it one big chore. Social media really won’t be after you get into the swing of connecting. Every day while drinking your morning coffee you could read your e-mails and post on social media sites.

Social media is social. Take some time to enjoy the fun. Start now to engage!