If you build it, they still may not come…

What sets apart a successful online business from one that fades into Internet oblivion? If you guessed a sleek, shiny-looking website, you are wrong.

The answer is establishing a Web presence. You can spend boatloads of money and time setting up a beautiful, slick website, complete with high-tech features; but, if you do not have the right strategies for establishing a Web presence, your website won’t get the traffic it deserves.

I say this because I continue to meet with many business owners who have this mentality that “if you build it, they will come”. Allow me take a look at some of the ways you can increase your Web presence, beyond perfecting your website’s aesthetics.

Building a website isn’t enough these days. A websites is the most static form of Web presence. Think of other, more interactive, ways of marketing your business to supplement your website.

You can start by opening a Twitter account, establish a well-maintained blog, and do not forget about other multimedia platforms such as YouTube and Facebook. The more online places with your name on them, the more opportunities Web surfers have to find, and more importantly, interact with you.

Content, Content, Content
Part of carving out your own corner of the Web is providing useful and unique information.

Great content is what will keep users engaged, and a regularly updated blog shows that you have plenty of expertise and knowledge to give out and gives readers a reason to frequent your website. Blogs also help give your business an identity and authority by demonstrating that you have deep knowledge of your field.

Build Relationships
This is where social networking can kick in. Using social media not only helps promote your business with a different audience, but it can help you build relationships with customers and other businesses.

Repeat business is predicated on building lasting relationships with clients, and online social networking is a fabulous way get users in on the experience and build a connection with your brand.

Getting Search Engines to Notice
Google, Yahoo and Bing (in that order) account for more than 90 percent of website searches, but getting a high ranking can be tricky.

There are a number of ways to boost your presence on search engines, such as strategically used keywords, but the best way to get that place at the top is content. Search engines use a variety of methods to scour websites, but having relevant and recently updated content will give you the advantage.

When it comes to Web presence, everything is related. Higher search result placement comes with more content, which is a product of your ability to diversify your Web portfolio. Traffic may come slowly at first, but as you build content, you will see the numbers rise. Remember, the Web is always developing and evolving, and so should your Web portfolio.