As I interact with people about their website, I am constantly amazed by how many still do not understand the real value of a website as both a digital asset and as the “front door” of their business presence online. What’s further perplexing is why so many folks don’t wish to take ownership of these assets for themselves.

Many people believe that by simply having a strong referral base or Facebook presence, or by being listed on directories such as UrbanSpoon or Yelp, that they’re doing “enough” in having their digital presence established.

Unfortunately, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Although Facebook, UrbanSpoon, Yelp, etc. have large user bases and are indeed a valuable way for people to find you (and should of course be maintained, nourished and preserved), these companies unfortunately have complete ownership over whatever content you post, and are subject to changing Internet trends.

It wasn’t long ago that the Internet landscape was dominated by AOL, Excite, Yahoo!, WebCrawler and so forth. But what is trendy today might be obsolete tomorrow. If your house is built on someone else’s foundation, it’s liable to fall.

Although modern businesses like Facebook, UrbanSpoon, Yelp, etc. appear as pillars of our modern Internet landscape, this landscape is always shifting as trends come and go. Indeed, it is very possible that establishments like Facebook will stick around or evolve into the coming decades, but the underlying reality is that as a business owner, you need your own digital foundation that you control and have ownership over.

This becomes a place —your website— that you can invest in, while additionally serving as a “home base” by which all of your other directory and social media presences serve as “outposts” that point back to your home base.

Website assets such as your business domain “www.example.com” should be purchased, and if possible, the “.net” and “.org” TLDs also purchased and forwarded to your primary domain.

Note: A single domain may be sold for thousands of dollars in some cases, and if another business with a similar name buys the same domain name as yours but with an alternate TLD, this can create confusion for customers who are trying to find you online, or even result in a legal battle. Purchase as many TLDs for your domain as possible and put these worries aside.
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Once these assets are purchased, you should build the front door to your business in the form of a homepage with good SEO and a few supporting pages describing some basic information about your business, such as what you do, who you are and what your hours are — and, of course, a way to contact you!

This should serve as your digital home, and if you really want to begin building organic traffic and quality content, start a blog and update it as regularly as possible. By consistently providing quality content, your website becomes more relevant to search engines as it is “alive and growing” and perceived as a useful resource. Websites that lie dormant or have stale content are understood by search engines as being less relevant.

These things sound simple but are the basic tenets of securing your online business presence. Unfortunately, so many businesses still perceive these aspects as meaningless or not worth the investment, when in fact they may bring great value by making the business more visible to their potential customers.

We believe that many of our clients have recouped their initial investment in their website and more from the business they gained once their website presence was in place.

In a time when the Internet is a go-to resource for consumers to find businesses, it’s crucial that your home base is established and that your digital assets are under your control. Give us a shout – we’d love to help you!