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How’s your website?

This is 2009. If you don’t have a website for your business, you’re missing a lot of opportunities. If any part of your target market is under 40, chances are when the need a good or service they’re going to head to the web and Google up their need and see what comes up. Personally, I only use the Yellow Pages when I need to double check the address or phone number. For new things, like a business insurance provider, or the right carpet cleaner, I’m going to check the web. (Well, yes, as a business owner, I’ll also check with my network, but I’m still going to want a website to confirm a recommendation.)

It’s the cutting edge. There will never be fewer people online than there are right now.

Are you using the full capabilities of the web? A web designer of my close acquaintance likes to say “Putting your brochure on your webpage is like putting your radio ad on television.” The web has an amazing capacity for interactivity that a lot of businesses are missing out on.

Do you have a blog that connects to your site? Are you establishing yourself as a subject matter expert? If you provide a ‘soft’ service like consulting, you should. If you provide a ‘concrete’ service like carpet cleaning or plumbing you may not need one, but you should definitely provide some tips on how to choose a provider in your field (which oh-by-the-way proves that you’re the best choice).

Does your service lend itself to a forum? If you offer any kind of service that lends itself to a community of regular members, it could be the value added that launches you to the top of the Google rankings and increases your word of mouth.  Offer your clients a members-only forum where they can discuss things with each other as well as with you. Some kinds of information can be sensitive, like budgeting or financial advice, but with the current internet security capacity, there’s no reason anyone but you the site owner ever needs to know who they really are. Use the anonymity offered by the internet to your advantage and the advantage of your clients.

Is your content up to date? A website isn’t something you can slap up and ignore. People want to know the content is fresh and the site isn’t a place holder for a business that went under last year. Add a thought for the week, a seasonal special, and make sure that the copyright dates are current. Show that you’re an active presence. If you have a blog, post regularly, or post about that vacation you’re taking for 3 weeks and all the things you’ll have to share when you get back. Be current and be present.

And of course, your website should connect your other social media endeavors. but that’s a topic for another day.