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Websites, search priorities essential for every business

1/29/2013

By Bill Florence in the January 30, 2013 Dunwoody Crier Newspaper  

The Internet may be the most valuable business marketing tool ever created.

With little investment of time or money, businesses of all sizes—whether small, medium, or large—can quickly build brand equity and gain valuable exposure to customers and clients locally and throughout the world.

Being online is critical for businesses today. According to an article published in BusinessNewsDaily, Google, the Internet search giant, conducted a study and found that 97 percent of consumers go online to do research on products or services.

Yet, surprisingly, Google found that nearly two-thirds (63 percent) of U.S. small businesses, having 25 or fewer employees, do not have a website. The state of Georgia did better than the national average, but not by much; a majority of the state’s small businesses, 54 percent, are without a website.

Google also found 25 percent of businesses are invisible online. Search for a certain business and there’s a one in four chance you’ll find nothing.

“Small businesses that have no web presence are missing opportunities to build and grow their business,” said Jay Kapp, founder and president of Kapp Koncepts (kappkoncepts.com).

Kapp, whose company specializes in web design and development, along with online marketing strategy, believes every business should take at least two steps, at minimum, to establish a baseline internet presence.

“The first step, obviously, is to have a business web site,” said Kapp. “It can be a simple, “brochure”-type informational site of four to five pages. It should say something about the business. The goods or services offered. And, it should have photos.”

“Most importantly, the website needs contact information that is easy to find. A phone number, email address, and, if appropriate, a physical address. It sounds like a basic concept. But, surprisingly, too many business websites make their contact information difficult to find.”

Kapp said having a website benefits a business in several ways.

“First, a website allows lets people find you when they search for your company, your services, or your goods.”

“Second, a website is a great way to share information. You can share information with people visiting your site, and, in return, your visitors or your clients can share information back to you.”

“Most importantly, a website validates your business as a ‘real’ company to existing and potential clients and customers,” said Kapp.

How much should a business website cost? According to Kapp, a business should expect to spend between $2000 to $5000 for a professional website that will give the company a good, solid online presence.

Once a company has a website, Kapp said it’s important to add new content on a regular basis.

“Search engines, like Google, want to provide users searching the Web with the newest, freshest information,” said Kapp. “Businesses that don’t update their websites risk being dropped lower and lower in online searches the longer they don’t add new content.”

The second step Kapp recommends every business should do—and it’s a step even businesses who already have a website may not be aware of—is to claim their company’s page or listing in one of the major online search engines or directories.

“Every business should claim their online page or listing if they want to be easily searchable in their local market,” said Kapp. “It’s the single best free marketing tool available to your company.”

According to Kapp, businesses can easily create a “page” that contains basic business information, such as hours of operation, a map link, phone number, logo, physical address, coupons, photos, a QR code and the company’s website.

“There are five essential online sites where your business should have a listing: Google Places, Bing, Facebook, Yelp and Kudzu, “said Kapp. “Setting up a page or listing on these sites is relatively easy. And, again, it’s completely free.”

For example, Kapp said there are four steps to claiming or adding a business listing on Google Places.

“First, log in to the Google Places web page using a Google Gmail account,” said Kapp. “Second, click ‘Create an account now.’ Third, once you create your account, click on ‘List your Business.’”

“Add your business information, such as your physical address, email, website URL, description and business categories. Finally, verify your listing with Google. This is done using a personal identification number (PIN), or a code, via phone, postcard, or SMS text.”

Kapp, who celebrates his company being in business 12 years next month, said companies looking to create a website should focus on content first, rather than on the design of how their site will look.

One of the trends in business website content, said Kapp, is the growing use of video.

“Adding video to your website helps position your company as an expert in your field,” said Kapp.

“For example, a landscaper could have a short 30 to 40 second video showing how his or her company installs a stone patio.”

“The video doesn’t need to be professionally produced. Many smartphones today shoot excellent video for online use. Embed the video on your company’s website. Then, post it on YouTube for free to expand your name recognition and marketing presence.”

For Kapp, there’s a clear bottom line value proposition for businesses who are still lacking a website.

“Everyone once thought the Internet would depersonalize the world,” said Kapp. “What we’ve discovered is the opposite is true.”

“Being online personalizes you and your company to clients and customers. A person interested in what your company does expects your company to be online so they can learn more about you. Today, a website is an essential, low-cost marketing tool for every company.”

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