Starting A New Company? You’ll Need A Website

Here are some tips on creating a website.

Establishing Your Online Presence
As an entrepreneur, you may pride yourself on being old school. You know your clients or customers by name and you conduct your business face-to-face, or at least by telephone. You may tolerate email but you’re not so much for all this online jazz.

Establishing yourself as a high-touch professional is admirable, and certainly conducive to building a loyal client or customer base. But twenty-first century reality necessitates establishing at least a nominal online presence. Even if you have absolutely no interest in expanding your market reach, establishing an online presence can help you better serve the customers or clients that you already have.

A Professionally Designed LogoSuper Money
Your favorite products probably have memorable logos or symbols that you instantly recognize, such as the Nike swoop or Twitter’s chirping bird. As an entrepreneur or small business owner, establishing a visual symbol to associate with your business or service is a savvy branding strategy. A professionally-designed logo that can be adapted for business cards, online profiles and web pages is one of the wisest investments you can make. If your budget is limited, ask a friend who is a professional graphic artist to design a logo for you in exchange for a service that you can perform for him or her. Another money-saving option is to recruit an advanced student from a nearby school or university.

Keywords and Algorithms
You may have read that boosting your position in organic search term results (whatever that means) can boost your reach with a broader target audience of potential customers and clients. But you may be spooked by stories you have read about online businesses being decimated by whatever fuzzy or winged creature Google has most recently unleashed. Or the case may be that terminology like algorithms, Metatags or SERPs (search engine results pages) make your eyes glaze over.

If you have more money than time, consulting with an expert in search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM) is a worthwhile investment. But if you can muster the will to learn a few rudimentary techniques, you can do a credible job of boosting your company’s online presence while spending little or no money. Reading publications like MashableSearch Engine Land and All Things D can help you cultivate a working knowledge of “white hat” (legitimate) SEO techniques such as choosing good keywords, while allowing you to steer clear of “black hat” (proscribed) practices as keyword stuffing (copy jammed with random, nonsensical keywords designed to trigger search engine crawlers). You may even surprise yourself and discover that you enjoy the effort involved with online marketing.

Reaching the Peeps and the Tweeple
Of course, before you can incorporate SEO and other traffic-generating strategies, you must establish an online presence. Back in the day, a static website with a few blurbs and a photo or two was all that was necessary to establish a company’s web savvy cred. These days, the bar is set much higher, especially if your target audience is younger or more web savvy. As a result, you may be undecided about whether your online presence should take the form of a conventional website, a blog or a profile on a social media platform such as Facebook, Google+, Twitter or LinkedIn.

In fact, your online presence should include, at minimum, a website or blog AND profiles on one or more social media platforms. Where online profiles are concerned, more is better; the audience for Pinterest is significantly different than that for Twitter. Establishing multiple online “faces” helps to raise the overall SEO profile of your company or service. And remember that logo for your company? It should be an integral part of your online page or profile along with links or blurbs describing past accomplishments, informative news items or blog entries and perhaps even a photo of your smiling face. Your web pages and online profiles should also be configured so that they look good and function well on the small screens of mobile phones.

If you actually sell merchandise or services through any of your online outlets, your task is that much more complex. You will need to choose an online checkout system, preferably one that processes credit and debit cards. Allowing customers to track their orders online enhances confidence and goodwill, but also requires a fairly sophisticated online storefront. Fortunately several prepackaged services include this and other convenience-enhancing features.

At this point, you may be wondering how you will find the time to establish, let alone maintain a website or blog and post updates on various social media outlets or write blog posts. If your budget won’t allow you to hire an entire marketing division (sure, right after you launch your IPO), Smartphone apps and automated services such as TweetDeck (for Twitter) can streamline the process at least somewhat. Scheduling a set time each day or several times each week to attend to SEO and social media can also help keep your online presence fresh (a must!) while allowing you to attend to minor details like, well, actually providing the services or products through which you make your living.

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