I’m going to be talking about creating an Internet presence for your business, slightly different than what the title may have suggested, but – similar concept.
So, what is an Internet presence? An Internet presence is where your company is well optimized for search engines, easily contactable through Internet means. Your company should be socially involved in Facebook, or Twitter – or have some sort of a blog. On the consumer side, they want to see a presentable site, they want easy access to data about your products, and where they can buy your products. (anyone remember the ‘marketing mix’?) They also want to know if your company is well established. A consumer looks at your Internet ‘profile’ before purchasing, and it’s basically, it’s creating a virtual face for your company.
Let’s quickly run through why you should have an Internet presence for your company.
You need an Internet presence, because the Internet is where most of your consumers will go to for information on your products, and services. Consumers tend to judge you by how popular your company is, usually – they’d run a quick Google search of your company’s name, and if it’s not on the first page, uh-oh.
Now, when to start building an internet presence, is really up to the preference of the management of your company, but I would suggest starting to promote your company as soon as you start it up, that way – as you grow offline, you can grow online, too,
That was in a nutshell, when you should start building an Internet presence. But, now that you know when to start, where should you start?
Usually, design matters. I’d think most of you would rather be looking at eBay than Craigslist, but – how do you know that your design is any good? Ask some of your friends for an honest opinion on how your site looks, or if you’ve really got some money, go ahead and register at UserTesting.com, they have thousands of website testers to review design, but they are more established for functionality testing.
Which brings me to the next point in optimizing your site, functionality.
Creating a ‘functional’ site, is more than making sure it has a pretty picture with your company’s name on it, it’s where some real marketing comes in, and where you can make the tweaks required to change the experience of your users or clients.
Tips for creating a functional website include making content easy to find, making a simple interface, and printing news clearly. When you are trying to make the content on your site easily available, you should make the buttons clear and easy to find. For example, a button called ‘Store’ could take you to an online store, but still have a Google maps API with your store locations integrated in to the map. Making your content available fast, and easy is what proves successful. By fast, I mean – don’t use silly jQuery/Flash animations that serve no purpose, but waste the time of your users, or lag their computers.
Now, comes the way you are going to be found. Clients expect your website to be on the front page of google when they search up your company’s name. I had a gaming clan that got google searched over 3000 times in a month, and when you typed the first two letters, which were pretty common, google would auto-complete it, now that’s SEO. Again, if you’ve got the money, you could hire a SEO agency to do it for you, or you could take the following steps: edit meta tags and meta description in the header tag of your website, so Google finds it easily. Post the URL on a public site with a public forum, that’s bound to get your link on Google. Finally, get a term searched on Google, that links to your site, so many times, that Google can add your company to their auto-complete or suggest algorithms.
If you want some revenue from your company’s success, add Google AdSense, or Kontera (only add Kontera to your company’s blog, if anything). Which will help monetize your efforts, then again, on a profit company, AdSense looks a bit needy, although you could stick a ‘Donate’ button in the footer as an alternative to ads.
That’s basically most of what you can do with your own site. Now, we’re going to focus on where else can you create an Internet presence.
It’s time to start considering social media integration, such as a Twitter account, YouTube account, or Facebook page. Social media is the foundation to a company that is aware of the web in today’s age, if you have a company, you need a Twitter account, at thr least. A very recent example of a company that is blooming due to social media, is WikiLeaks and their Twitter account. If you Google search ‘DoS attack’ many of the links will be regarding WikiLeaks, this is because WikiLeaks has a Twitter account, and they’re sharing their data with the public.
After you create a form of social media, you need as many people to ding our about your company as possible, which is when that YouTube account kicks in!
I hope that gave you a bit of an idea on creating an Internet presence.