Launching E-Commerce Without the Pain and Worry

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Ecommerce
Whether you sell physical goods or deliver services, offering your products online is one great way to make money around the clock.

In fact, many companies that used to rely on sales departments are turning to e-commerce — which simply refers to websites that allow visitors to purchase products online through a shopping cart. Of course, there are some areas that might still perform better with a personal touch to close the deal, but you may be surprised at how many industries can — and do — sell online with great success.

The traditional use of e-commerce has been to make products available to those who can’t make it to a store during business hours or to those who live too far away to visit a store. The new trend is selling intellectual properties, services, and niche products online to anyone, anytime, anywhere.
For example, hot sauce used to be something you only got in a grocery store or a novelty shop but two spice-lovers in New York developed their own recipe and began selling it online. They sold $100,000 worth of their spicy mix in just one month last year.

Thanks to inspiring success stories like that one, many business owners are turning their entire business strategies towards selling online. Likewise, those who have worked to build up their businesses outside of their 9 to 5 jobs have found incredible success at reaching their niche markets through the internet and making their dreams a reality. There’s even a couple who are full-time stay-at-home parents now regularly bringing in $50,000 a month in sales by selling doll clothing patterns online.

Prime Industries for E-Commerce

Got an idea that you’d like to get out to the masses? An e-commerce setup can make it available in no time! Customers love the convenience of being able to purchase what they are looking for on their own schedule. They also love being able to do quick searches for the best prices and being able to take a look at reviews left by earlier buyers of the product or service they want. All these factors are driving more consumers to purchase online rather than their having to travel to a store where they only have one choice of product at one fixed price.

Don’t believe it? Just ask Amazon, now offering customers an array of services ranging from moving and cleaning to plumbing! Products and services that are prime for e-commerce include:

  • Beauty products
  • Mechanical parts
  • Sports gear
  • Consulting services
  • Clothing
  • Gift certificates
  • Food
  • Exercise equipment and accessories

Introductory Services and Offers Work

Even if you sell customized, high-ticket products or services, you can most likely think of something you can sell online to whet the appetites of your customers and make them want more from you. After all, it’s been proven that once someone has given you any amount of money — even just $1 — they are 10 to 20 times more likely to give you money again. If you can offer something enticing and affordable they might buy on impulse, you’ve instantly got someone who’s ready to hear about your next offering and is now far more likely to buy those services from you than they were five minutes ago.

Getting an Online Store Established

So, how does one start selling with e-commerce? And how do you get interested visitors to your online store? It all starts with a consultation. At Visual Edge Design, we offer full, turnkey e-commerce solutions for all types of businesses. Whether you’re looking to sell your grandmother’s cookies, an entire suite of tangible products or a variety of high-ticket service items, we have the package for you.

Our online marketing specialists will work with you to design the perfect website, shopping cart and marketing plan that offers your products and services to your target market.

There are many great platforms to use when setting up a shopping cart. Some of the most popular are WooCommerce and Magento and we offer them both. Plus, many of these systems include a Customer Relationship Management system so you can easily keep track of who’s bought what and when.

Once you have a great-looking shopping cart, we can build a website to match if you don’t have one yet or are unhappy with your current one. Then comes the design and structure of the marketing campaign to complement your e-commerce setup. This may include search engine optimization to put your products or services in the “organic” section of the search engines — meaning the non-paid section — paid ads and more.

Whoever you are trying to reach, in whatever geographic location, and with whatever interests, we can find them — and even better, get them to find your online store. And because we’ve already helped so many of our clients launch their e-commerce websites, we can eliminate the pain and worry you might think would be associated with this move.

Ready to find out how we can help you make money in your sleep? Not sure if this would work in your field? Give us a call or fill out a form on our website. We’re happy to show you the possibilities that await when it comes to getting yourself and your business out there on the Internet.

How to Capitalize on Your Existing Website Traffic to Maximize Your ROI

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Traffic-CTA-ROI
Let’s talk about using your website to market to the traffic you’re already bringing in. That’s right, I said using your site — as in, taking action with it. Having a great looking website that is mobile friendly, easy to navigate and gets found on Google is the first part of the equation. But there’s plenty more you can do to bring in even more results from your site and create the kind of expansion you went into business to achieve.

That might sound broad, but let’s dive into a few specific actions you can take today to start getting more customers and making more money from your website.

First off, let’s analyze what happens to visitors who do come to your site. Depending on the purpose of your site, you may be directing them to reach out to you to set up an appointment, request a free estimate or come into your storefront to purchase the products or services they need. Or, if you have an e-commerce site, your goal is obviously to get them to buy immediately (or as close to it as possible). But what happens if the visitor leaves your site without filling out a form, giving you a call, making a purchase, or visiting your establishment?

The fact is that a site visitor will usually decide whether or not your website has what they’re looking for within nine seconds. If you don’t catch their attention in that time (or even if they stick around for a bit and decide to leave without “converting” to a lead or a sale), they’re gone forever — or are they?

Repetition is Key

While the number of times a consumer must see the same message before acting varies according to the study done, general consensus is a minimum of three to five viewings of the same message are required before a consumer will decide to take action to find out more or (hopefully) purchase your product or service. But in a marketplace that relies on repetition to generate sales, how do you keep from losing the hundreds, if not thousands, of potential customers that are currently visiting your site only once?

The answer is that you must capture their identity so you can send them those repeat messages. You have several options of how to do this and thus get more opportunities to prove to them that you are the company they are looking for.

One common and highly successful way is to incorporate a sign-up or opt-in form on your site that offers them an exclusive deal if they join your mailing list. The more specific your offer, the more successful your opt-in form will be. For example, if you have a hair salon, rather than saying:

“Join our mailing list and get 10% off your first service,” you might say:

“Get your first haircut for just $29 when you join our mailing list!”

Not only will you gain a new customer for that first haircut, you will have multiple future opportunities to win their continued business through your excellent service, your e-mail campaigns and more special offers to bring them back to your shop.

If you decide to engage in paid advertising (which can be extremely inexpensive and bring serious bang for your buck), there are tools that can be used on your site to place a cookie — a piece of code that identifies each visitor as someone who has already visited your site — on your visitors’ browsers so that you can later send specific ads to them to remind them why they need you.

One specific and effective method of paid advertising is to boost or promote a particular piece of content from your site through Facebook. You can spend as little or as much as you’re comfortable with, whether that’s $1 a day or $10. Facebook can find users who are likely to be interested in your content and display your post in their Timelines. Once they visit your site, you use one of the techniques discussed here to add them to a specific list so that you have the opportunity to advertise to them again later, should you choose to do so. To clarify that concept, here’s an example.

As the hair salon owner, you add a post to your website’s blog on how to choose the right hairstyle for your face shape. (You DO have a blog on your website, don’t you?) You could reasonably deduce that visitors to that article are interested in a new hairstyle that flatters their faces. You could then share that post on Facebook and tell Facebook how much you are willing to pay to put that post in front of those who have shown an interest in hairstyles. Your blog post should include a very specific offer, maybe for a free consultation to find the right style for their face shape, or $29 for their first haircut, etc.

Again, this can be extremely inexpensive and targeted to exactly the clientele you’re looking to reach. But your website needs to have an enticing blog or other content to get them interested in your services or opt-in forms with great offers that will get them on your mailing list. And the site must rank well in Google search results or you won’t even be able to get that far. Visual Edge Design has the marketing, design, SEO, and content skill set your site needs to bring you the business you’re looking for. Give us a call today if you’d like to get more business from your website.

Google Shifts Online Community to Mobile-Friendly Search Results

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When Google sneezes, the entire worldwide online community says, “Bless you.”

That’s another way of saying that many businesses live and die by their rankings in Google search results. So if Google makes a change in the way they index websites and offers search results, smart webmasters everywhere are quick to catch up. Very often, this has meant many webmasters putting their heads together to decipher the changes that must have been made. That’s because Google often makes these changes without prior announcement – sometimes without any announcement at all.

This time, however, it was different. Google announced a major change months ahead of time. Back in February, Google staff announced that as of the 21st of April, sites would need to be mobile-friendly to compete for top search result placement.

That announcement on the Google Webmaster blog stated:

“We’ve made it easier for users to find mobile-friendly web pages and we’ve introduced App Indexing to surface useful content from apps.” What does this mean, exactly?

1. As of April 21st, websites configured to display well on smartphones or tablets as well as desktops and laptops will have an advantage. Google wants to serve up results with a good appearance and functionality on all devices so obsolete sites will start to rank lower in mobile search results. (Desktop search results will not change.)

2. Google will also offer search results obtained from “relevant apps.” We’ll explain what that means.

Google scans websites for specific information that tells them what that website is about. Some websites also double as applications that people can use to help them get information, take action or make choices and they may sign into these apps as needed. These website/apps include Pinterest, Orbitz, TripAdvisor, Etsy, Walmart, Yelp, Zillow, Buzzfeed, Twitter, Autotrader or ABC News. Until now, these apps were not scanned to include their information in mobile search results. Now, information from these sites will be given preference over sites that have not been updated to perform as well on a mobile platform.

We’ll give you an example to show you how this will work. Suppose a person has the app TripAdvisor installed on his smartphone and he performs a Google search for restaurants in San Francisco. Among his search results could be a few listings from TripAdvisor. If he clicks on one, he won’t be taken to the restaurant’s site, he’ll be taken to the mobile-friendly Trip Advisor app where he can read reviews for that restaurant.

Google always has its eye on the future. Phones are mutating into slim portable computers, which means that an increasing number of people do their searches on their phones. In fact, in 2014, MORE people are doing mobile searches than desktop searches. Google’s mission is to provide quality relevant content – and now, being mobile-friendly is an essential part of that quality.

Check out this graph to see why this is such an important issue for Google.

CaptureGraphBlog

The days of throwing up some interesting content and some attractive images and expecting them to draw business are long gone – if they ever existed at all. If a website is part of a company’s success, that site must keep pace with the changes the online world goes through. For a website to consistently rank high in Google’s search results, it must be continually updated in appearance and functionality.

This is no small task. Pages must be designed to load quickly on a mobile device. A mobile site must emphasize the functionality that your customers will want on the fly. For example, if your customers will search for products on your site, the search function will probably need to be redesigned to enable easier use on a smartphone. The same with a purchasing function. What you’re looking for is conversions – that’s when visitors to your site “convert” into buyers, subscribers, fans or whatever it is you want them to do. That conversion process looks and acts different on a mobile device and your site must accommodate these roaming visitors.

If you haven’t already done it, you should have your website maintenance company convert your site to a mobile-friendly structure and thoroughly test it for any errors. Google has provided the tools for analysis and guidelines for conversion. If you haven’t tended to this task yet, call Visual Edge Design today to get started.

Graph from http://www.smartinsights.com/mobile-marketing/mobile-marketing-analytics/mobile-marketing-statistics/

Greater Mobility Means Your Clients Could be Looking at Your Website From Anywhere in Town

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The big news of the moment is the increase in internet use on mobile devices. In 2014, the number of mobile users finally matched the number of desktop users and in 2015, it’s expected to keep climbing steeply. The number of desktop users is only expected to make minor growth in 2015.

In 2014, both these numbers were at roughly 1.6 BILLION users. This is a dramatic change from 2007 when desktop users numbered about 1.1 billion and mobile hovered around 400 million.

So what does this mean to you? It means that location is more important than ever. Not only should potential customers be able to easily locate your business in their geographic area, it becomes even more important if you think of all those mobile people looking for your business while they are away from home. This indicates a need for a special kind of optimization for your existing website.

Research indicates that between 80% and 90% of consumers search the internet before making a purchase. Some of these people will be making these searches while they are sitting in their car, trying to figure out the best place to go get their (haircut, new shoes, dog grooming, car repair, insurance, lawnmower, etc.). Your website not only should show up high in the search results for your category, it should show up even higher in the search results for the area they are in.

A few years ago, did you ever try searching for a local business like a florist or hardware store? You wanted to find a place you could walk into right then and walk out with the bouquet you needed in your hand. Until about two years ago, the top listings in the search results were always national companies. They had the money to invest to beat out smaller local companies. Google realized that people need to find businesses close to them much of the time and changed the way they provided search results. Now, if you search for a florist in Clearwater, Florida, your top search results will actually be local businesses. That’s because Google realizes those are the most relevant search results for most people making that type of search.

So if you have multiple locations for your business, you need to be highly accessible to people searching for vendors in every one of those locations. Say you own a string of auto repair shops located along Route 66. You’ll need to have specialized websites that show up well in the search results for folks in Flagstaff, St. Louis, Amarillo and Tucumcari. What’s more, those websites also need to be designed to show up well on mobile.

So when Jason is sitting in his car on the shoulder of Route 66, trying to figure out where to get a new battery for his car because it just barely started the last time, the website for your auto repair shop should be the first thing he sees on his smartphone when he does a desperate search looking for immediate help.

We can help you keep up with the demands for accurate local search and mobile both. This industry is changing fast and to keep on top, you need to update your site regularly. Just call us for a review of your current site and we’ll let you know what we can do for you to keep you #1.

Getting Business From Your Blog

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If you’ve got a blog, you should be getting something from it. It could be traffic to your website, or people walking in your store or business or phone calls asking about your products or services. Hopefully you’re contributing to your blog, adding regular content to it – at least once a week. So how do you convert people from readers to something more useful?

There’s a number of things you should be doing.

1. Write in a casual, friendly voice. Nearly all blogs are written in a personal voice, not a corporate one. Use conversational tone and a simple vocabulary. Even a little slang is fine, and humor is great if it’s appropriate to the subject. Really, it should sound like you would if you were chatting with a customer.

2. Don’t be complex. If your subject is really complicated, try tackling just one aspect of it. A blog post is not something most people really concentrate on so don’t make your readers work too hard. If you take one point and explain it thoroughly, you’re likely to be appreciated more than if you tried to explain everything about your products or services in one blog post.

3. Be useful. Help your customers. Give them tips, helpful advice or useful information. But don’t always expect to make money from the help. Just provide useful information. A company that makes healthy makeup wrote a blog post explaining the problem with some of the ingredients that other companies used and mentioned that they didn’t use any of those ingredients. There was no sales pitch for the products. They started getting calls from readers, asking for more information about their ingredients.

4. Keep things brief. Make your sentences short and to the point. Use simple sentence structure. Remember your English lessons from school!

5. Don’t wander! Stay on the point. When you are done writing your post, let it sit for a little while and then take a look at it and make sure you stuck closely to the point you intended to make. Trim out anything that’s unneeded.

6. Don’t emphasize sales in your blog posts. Blogs are not sales brochures. It is better to be informative about some aspect of your products, services or even your industry and let people make up their own minds. For example, if you sell fine wood flooring, don’t be afraid to discuss carpets or other home decor items or color schemes to create different moods. Your customers will see you as helpful and are more likely to tune back in to your blog at another time.

It’s okay to “curate” information from other sources. By this is meant to sift through other information from your industry and select out the best information you would like your customers to have. Just make it your own, give it your spin and personal interpretation.

Now, that being said – it would be natural to mention your products or services from time to time. Just remember that this isn’t the place to pitch them hard.

And in line with our own advice, we can provide you with great blogs on a regular basis! (See how that works?) Call us for more information.

If you have a small business and a smallish website, can you ever compete with bigger brands?

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You might think that a small business could never compete with a big store or a big chain store’s internet presence. Let’s suppose you have a hardware store with a local clientele that has been buying from you for many years. Can your website compete with those belonging to big national chains? According to Matt Cutts, it can.

We’ve talked about Mr. Cutts before. He is the “Face of Google.” He appears in an apparently endless stream of informal videos on behalf of Google, answering questions, explaining changes and updating the public on the way Google operates. Truly, Google is such a complex machine that a little explaining is required for most of us.

In a video posted on April 23rd of this year, he addresses this question about small websites. He claims that a small site can indeed compete with larger sites. Large companies often develop multiple levels of approvals for any sales or marketing campaigns so they are notorious for becoming slower, lumbering dinosaurs when compared to small companies where the CEO or owner is in direct contact with the people running marketing or the website.

The key to competing is to have quality, relevant content. In some instances, the company that can activate the most relevant, quality content the fastest can win web visitors, interest, sales and steady customers.

Let’s go back to our hardware store. Let’s look at the owner of that store who has a person right in the hardware store office who maintains the website, creates online flyers and specials and adds content that the customers might find interesting. And now let’s imagine a media event that relates to the hardware store – like a major celebrity gets interviewed on a large cable network and says that next week, he is going to go work on a couple of Habitat for Humanity houses. (This is an organization that builds or renovates homes for charitable purposes. People who live in substandard housing or can’t afford a home can receive an affordable home courtesy of Habitat for Humanity.)

In a small, nimble company, the CEO and website engineer can have a promotional campaign worked up in an hour and posted in a couple of hours. They can announce a donation of building supplies to the celebrity’s project or offer to match donations from their customers. The nimble store might also get some media coverage by calling a local television station and getting them out to interview the CEO and shoot some footage of customers donating to the charity.

It might take the large store a week to plan and launch an online campaign.

In that intervening time, if the local public looks online for information about the celebrity’s project, they are likely to find the small store’s information.

Mr. Cutts recommends focusing on a specific aspect of your business that might give you an edge in your corner of the business. Just do a very good job of providing superior content that relates to the products or services you provide.

This is, of course, a service that Visual Edge Design can provide for you. You should be thinking of updating your site with relevant information about your field on an ongoing basis, answering questions your potential customers might have and providing tips that help people understand the best way to utilize your products or services. Your site will be rewarded for having valuable, timely, relevant content. Now, the way that Google figures out that your content is valuable, timely and relevant – we’ll have to take that up at another time, in another blog post.

Business Blogs Rule!!! Do You Have a Business Blog Yet?

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Business Blogs Rule!!! Do You Have a Business Blog Yet?

So we’ve told you before that the website for your business should have a blog. We’ve mentioned that a couple of times now. Are you still not convinced? Maybe you need a little more convincing?

Would it help if you heard some of the wins from corporations that are using blogs?

How about the fact that there are 17,000 blogs by IBM employees? There have been 15 MILLION downloads of employee-generated videos or podcasts since their involvement in employee blogging started.

Microsoft was famous for allowing employees to create their own individual blogs early in the evolution of blogging. Now, they not only permit it, they feature an index to employee blogs at http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/news/featureblogs.aspx. The blog subjects run the gamut from business management software deployment to geothermal energy storage devices. There’s blogs on the National Football League and Outlook, the Microsoft based email service. You’ll note that not all blogs feature Microsoft products or services. Some also get into the charitable programs Microsoft employees are involved in – a PR plus for the company as well as the individuals.

An early analysis of the Microsoft employee blogging activity notes that allowing – even encouraging – employees to maintain their own blogs enables key people from within the company to communicate directly with customers without a PR or marketing spin. It also puts a human face to a very large corporation and in fact, it provides a way to document the development of product ideas.

Forbes Magazine’s Model of Blogging

A few years ago, Forbes Magazine was just a business news magazine. Well-known and successful, sure, but not known for their blogs. Now, they are.

They have almost one thousand authors and hundreds of thousands of blog posts from these authors. Their online audience doubled in one year, from 15 million unique viewers to 30 million. That is very powerful growth.

But You’re Not Microsoft or Forbes, Right?

Blogging still provides value for small companies. Of course, as we have said before, your blog strengthens your website when it comes to those all-important Google search results. This is the easiest place to get new content added to your site on a regular basis.

But still, even for a small company, it enables you to put a helpful public face out there for all your potential customers to find. You can explain your products and services and help people understand why they need them.

The way blogs are written is very different from the way books, websites or news articles are written. It’s a natural voice that makes the information from a company, corporation or news source very accessible to the average man or woman on the street. I would bet you that’s part of the reason that blogs have brought such strength to these major corporations. Otherwise, all you’d ever get out of companies like Microsoft and IBM is the typical press release or marketing brochure.

We provide a constant stream of blog posts for many of the companies we support with websites and other content. And we can do the same for you. Ask us for more information!

Carlos Bernot

What!! Your Website Isn’t Mobile-Friendly Yet?

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If you have invested in a fully up-to-date mobile-friendly website, you can safely skip this blog post. Unless you’re just curious to find out how right you really were. In that case, just keep reading.

But if you haven’t made that jump yet, here’s something you ought to know.

More people are using their smartphones or other mobile devices to look for products or services like yours. About half of them are ONLY using their smartphones. To compete, you need to adapt your existing site to the new technology of mobile websites.

Google Helps Us Out with Some Survey Data

Here’s some statistics that Google is making available.

  1. 48% of folks who are out on the road and searching for products or services start by pulling up a search engine like Google or Bing. They are not going straight to a specific website. For example, they go to Google and type in “buy lumber in Tampa” rather than going to www.homedepot.com. That’s significant because it means you have a chance to compete in your market. You just have to be easy to find.

  2. If you have anything to do with the beauty market, here’s a statistic for you. 46% of people shopping for beauty products or services do not have a definite brand in mind when they set out to shop. Again, this is good for the same reason. You have a chance to grab that traffic if your site places well in Google (and other search engine) results.

  3. More than half of those consumers who are on the road want to buy whatever they are looking for within the hour. Whether it’s a meal, new tires, patio furniture, dog food, a facial or athletic shoes, they left the house with the intention to buy and they want it now.

The bad thing is that nearly every consumer that’s using mobile is still finding sites that are obsolete. According to Google, 96% of consumers answered a survey saying that they were still finding sites that were clearly not set up for mobile.

Given the growing popularity of mobile, an investment in an updated website is a necessity.

The Point is…

I don’t want to drown you in statistics, so I’ll just say this. In further surveys, consumers definitely described themselves as warm toward mobile sites and the businesses that went to the trouble to update their sites and very cool toward businesses that didn’t make the effort.

Well, just one more statistic: “48% said that if a site didn’t work well on their smartphones, it made them feel like the company didn’t care about their business.”

If you’ve got a website, it now needs to be updated to be mobile-friendly. This doesn’t have to cost an arm and leg; in fact, it’s probably less than you think.

It’s easy to find out – just call us. Whether we built your website or not, we can convert it so it will be fast to load, easy to navigate, and friendly for that mobile user looking for your business.

Kevin Dublin

It’s Not All About Search Engine Optimization – It’s About Conversion

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The latest buzz in internet marketing is no longer search engine optimization. Nope, it’s conversion. What does this mean? It means that once a person arrives at your site, your website is as effective as possible at converting that person into a sale or a signup or a registration, whatever action you’re looking for. I’ll explain more – but first…

I should mention here that search engine optimization is as significant and vital as ever. You must have your fundamentals covered well before you move on to being concerned about conversion. Your site has to be built and written correctly to appeal to the correct audience and just as importantly, it must rank very well in Google search results so people can find you.

It’s just that now, savvy companies are moving on from this fundamental to driving their conversion rate up. Conversion is really the reason you have a website, after all.

How can this be done?

Well, there’s a long list of ways. I’ll discuss a few.

  1. Where’s your phone number? There’s something called the “fold” that dates back to days when newspapers were the main channel of news. A hot news item was “above the fold” – literally, higher than the middle of the page where the newspaper was folded to fit into a newsrack (one of those coin-operated sales machines). A lesser news item was placed below the fold. The same concept applies to a web page. There’s only so much of a page that will appear on the average monitor. Your phone number needs to be “above the fold.” If it isn’t, have it moved up. More people will call, as long as your website is otherwise reasonably effective.

  2. Is your call to action clear or is it cluttered and obscured? Are you offering half a dozen different things? Is the main offer obscured by too many images and gimmicky things to look at? Simplify the page and lead people to one action you want them to take. You will probably get more takers. You may want to make your call to action stand out by placing a colored box saying “Click here” – “Sign up here” – “Register now” – whatever applies in your situation. You probably want it to appear above the fold as well.

  3. Are your pages far too long? There are ways of determining how far down the page your average reader gets before he gives up. If no one is reaching the bottom of the page, you might want to get more concise. Arrive at your point sooner. It used to be that pages had to be fairly long to rank well in Google search results but that’s not as true as it used to be. Write to sell your clients in an efficient manner, make every word count. Wrap it up with a call to action. The key here would then be testing. Test a shorter sales page and then compare it to the results you got from a longer sales page. You might need to get exclusive phone numbers for each to make it an accurate test.

Now, you see how much you’ve learned in just a few minutes? If you want to know more about how your website can benefit from conversion optimization, just give us a call.

Carlos Bernot

A Brave, New, Interconnected World

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According to Google, the world’s most popular search engine, 97% of Americans who use the Internet at all are using it to search for local goods and services. But more than half of America’s small businesses don’t have websites.

The other (almost) half of small businesses in this country DO have websites, but few of these websites are really being utilized to their full potential. That’s because the online world has been changing so rapidly over the last few years. This rate of change will only continue or accelerate.

A dozen years ago, all you really had to do was get a nice-looking website designed and add some content relevant to your business or activity. That was enough to make your site serve its purpose. It’s just not enough any more.

It’s not so much that there is now more competition for that little bit of virtual real estate, although that is true. It’s that both the functionality of the internet and the thinking processes of users have changed. People need and want different benefits from the information on the internet. Those changes have guided the front edge of development of the internet (and vice versa), the way searches work and the interconnected nature of many of the resources out there.

Social Media Enters Right About Here

People are sharing information at a truly mad rate these days. People are posting their activities to Facebook, tweeting updates on Twitter, splashing their photos across Instagram or Flickr, perhaps blogging about their experiences and writing reviews, reviews, reviews. Consumers are checking for ratings on the products they want to buy, looking at reviews from other customers and browsing the Better Business Bureau and Angie’s List before they commit to a home or auto repair.

Amazingly enough, Google, Bing, Yahoo and other search engines manage to keep all this information straight. So if a person in Cincinnati, Ohio wants to check out Lou’s Auto Repair, located around the corner, that person can quickly have a long list of reviews, Facebook comments, photos and other information about that business in a matter of seconds.

Old style websites that simply offer the same information, day after day, will not be able to compete with sites that link in to all these rich resources. To keep up, a company now has to keep their online presence alive, fresh, connected and fully functional. Some of the actions a company would need to take to keep their online presence in tip-top condition:

1. Have a Facebook page that is well liked (which means hundreds or thousands of

likes, depending on the potential audience for that company)

2. Post articles to their Facebook page that all link back to their business website

3. Monitor and respond to reviews, both positive and negative

4. Add fresh and very relevant content to their business site regularly

5. Keep all links and pages fully functional

6. Utilize any other social media that would be relevant, such as Pinterest, Flickr or

Instagram for photos

7. Enlist the help of an up-to-date web development company (such as Visual Edge

Design, of course) to keep the out-of-sight details used by search engines fully up to current standards.

A little more on this last point since it is significant. Google, Yahoo, Bing and other search engines look in certain places for information on what your site is about and other facts, such as location and what products or services are offered. This fairly technical content is never seen by a visitor to your website, but is critically important to your ranking in search results. No matter who built your website, it needs to be updated on a regular basis just to keep up with the changes in technology. It needs to be reviewed on a regular basis to make sure all the pages connect properly.

If you have a website, you now need to be thinking with maintenance of this basic type and other types that we will cover in future articles. This is just scratching the surface of optimizing your website for search engines. Stay tuned to learn more.