Back when Internet for small businesses was still an emerging trend, it was impressive to merely have a presence on the web, let alone your own website. Today, this couldn't be any further from the truth - online marketing for small businesses begins with an effective, well-organized website now, and needs to be flanked by all necessary social media accouterments to break through the infinite noise of the Internet to reach the right people. When building your company's website, here are some basic practices to keep in mind to ensure that your web presence is serving the necessary purpose of improving business efficiency.
User-friendly and aesthetically pleasing interface
Keep in mind that a small business's website is the absolute anchor of the brand - since external tools like Facebook, Twitter, email lists and other applications can be extremely helpful in drawing traffic to a website, that address should provide the best possible representation of a company for a first-time visitor. For this reason, it's important to ensure that there is a balance present on a site. Just because your company has the cloud hosting space, that doesn't mean there should be an information overload in your Internet presence.
Fortunately, many business phone and cloud services providers will provide an organization with guidance and insight into the web-building process, specifically on appealing ways to organize information logically and attractively. A good rule of thumb is to strike a balance between HTML and CSS on a site - HTML is a text-focused coding language that is useful in formatting all blog posts and content on your website, while CSS is more design-oriented and is the coding language that builds website themes. For businesses with the good fortune to have a web designer, be sure to have an idea of what you would like the general site to look like so that these professionals may service you faster and with a higher rate of satisfaction.
Keep a blog healthy and updated to continually engage customers
Maintaining a blog with content relevant to your product or service's industry is a critical marketing strategy for small business that accomplishes a number of important tasks. First off, it asserts your brand as a knowledgeable leader in its field - this certainly isn't something to be underestimated, and can present an organization with a lot of heightened credibility and an active demonstration that your service knows what issues it faces and has the practical solution to overcome any obstacle. The other function a company blog serves is to promote Search Engine Optimization, or SEO - this simply means producing and posting content that is relevant enough to be picked up on popular search engines like Google and Yahoo, therefore drawing new potential customers to your website. Aaron Sperling, a writer for Mashable, explained in an article how this approach can be invaluable for a service looking for more web traffic.
"Use your keywords in your website," he explained in the piece. "For each page on your website, figure out which keywords you want to target, then use those keywords in both the page content and the meta-data (the title, description and keywords of the page, which search engines use to determine what the page is about)."
Another terrific common practice is to externally link these blog posts on your social media outlets - this indicates to a search engine algorithm that other platforms are engaging with your content, and may give your website an advantage when determining which result appears at the top of the search page.
Integration with basic social media platforms
By now, including social media into online marketing for small businesses very nearly goes without saying, but the placement and integration methods of these platforms is also highly important. Many companies will include Facebook and Twitter plugins on their websites so that visitors can directly engage and follow the organization's day-to-day interactions with customers and potential product updates for existing buyers. However, Inc. writer Ilya Posen reminded businesses that have not been using social media for very long to make sure their online presence is established before offering the links on a home site.
"If a potential client clicks through to your social pages and sees hardly any followers, they may lose trust in you," he warned. "First build up your social presence, then commit to posting and engaging your fans on a regular basis and only then promote them on your website."
This commitment to posting and making direct and frequent contact with existing and potential customers has proven results in demonstrating a level of trust and devotion to excellent customer service that social media users notice and appreciate. The undertaking of building an effective small business website can be stressful, but remember these basic practices. Above all, the web developer is your best friend.