In an increasingly wired – or, rather, wireless – world, an effective online presence is a key to business success for small businesses. In today’s “Internet Age,” the Financial Post reports that “the information superhighway that defines [our times] is moving small business capabilities forward at a remarkable rate.” What the FP article reviewing Intuit Inc.’s newly launched website building service fails to get across, however, is that it is not sufficient in itself to have a small business website – the critical key to small business success online is to employ search engine optimization (SEO) techniques that will give your company’s customers (and, more importantly, prospective customers) the ability to quickly and easily find your business online.
While Intuit Inc. believes that, in these times, having a business website is “more important to finding a business than a street address,” according to the recent Financial Post article, the time and/or money invested in building a small business website is wasted if the site cannot be found with a quick Google search. Having your small business website stand out online depends on search engine optimization – a matter of employing statistical arts and sciences in a co-ordinated fashion so that your website appears in the top results on Google and other search engines when customers and potential customers search the web for the products or services you offer.
While Intuit’s new site building service provides “the ability to create a fully functional online store with individual shopping carts and online payment options,” complete with what is described as “unfettered access to Intuit’s team of web advisors to help with any problems that might (and probably will) arise,” all for a $4.99 a month, there is no guarantee that anyone other than you and/or your friends and, perhaps, some of your existing customers, will ever find your site online.
On the other hand, investing the time, money and effort to optimize your website so that it will be found and highly ranked by Google, Yahoo!, MSN and other search engines (either by learning and applying SEO techniques yourself, or by hiring SEO expertise) will pay out in commensurate traffic to your small business website – search engine traffic that should translate into more customers and business.
The conclusion of the Financial Post is essentially correct, in “that owning a small business in 2010 means owning (at least) a small business website,” irrespective of what website building service you use. However, it is also essential that time, effort and/or money is budgeted for online marketing to raise the profile of your small business website through search engine optimization.