I’ll admit it – I was naive.

I thought that in this day and age, every offline business would have an active and vibrant online presence.

But the more I talked to small business owners, the more I realized I couldn’t be further from the truth. The fact of the matter is, there are quite a few profitable small businesses that have no presence whatsoever on the web.

It’s hard to believe. Because the web offers so many incredible opportunities for business – both online and off. If you own a business and don’t have a web presence, you are missing out on HUGE money-making opportunities.

Just for starters, customers who are looking for your type of business will go to Google – not the Yellow Pages. So if you don’t have any web presence whatsoever, people in your area looking for your business are not going to find it.

An estimated 90% of customers go to Google first when deciding which business to go to. That is a HUGE chunk of potential customers you could be missing out on.

So how do you build a web presence? How do you make sure you show up right where your customers are looking?

The first step is to realize that an online presence isn’t a light switch. It’s not something you can switch on or off in the blink of an eye. No, a web presence is built over time. Google is designed to only show the best of the best when a customer searches for something. That means you need to have a consistent track record of delivering to your online customers.

Now, for many offline businesses, the amount they can do for a customer online is limited. Therefore, the idea of a web presence is to inform the customer, get them excited about your business, and give them incentives to come to visit you. 

What’s the best way to do this? A blog.

Of course, if you don’t already have a website – START THERE. But once you have a site, it’s crucial you start blogging as soon as possible. Blogging is your key to the door of your target market. 

Blogging allows you to give updated information to your potential customers, in a way that Google will love, which will increase your Google rankings.

But before we get too carried away here, it’s important to note one thing: YOUR BLOG IS NOT AN ADVERTISEMENT.

Remember, we’re building up a web presence here – not spamming the bejeezus out of your customers! If every blog post is some coupon offer or announcing a special at the in-store location, people are going to get irritated. And Google doesn’t like irritated customers.

So what to do instead? Well, how about providing value to your potential customers?

What market are you in? What are your potential customers interested in? Give them direct value. Here’s an example:

If you own a piano gallery, it may be tempting to spam promotions and specials via your blog. DON’T DO THIS. Instead, why not provide detailed and informative information regarding pianos and pianists?

Then, when people look for piano galleries in your area, they see your blog pop up. They click on it and start to read. Suddenly, they’re learning all kinds of great information they’d never considered before. Yes, they want to buy a piano, and that’s because they’re interested in pianos!

And now that you’ve proven to be an authority on the matter, they’ll be much more likely to come into your store.

Last but not least, since you’ve given direct value to your potential customers, Google’s going to want to feature your website as high up on their rankings as possible. This way, when someone searches for your type of business, Google will display yours because it’s high quality.

See how it works? By taking the long-term route and refusing to spam and irritate customers, you give yourself the best possible chance of reaping the massive rewards an online presence has to offer.

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