When I want to know more about a professional or business, I do an internet search. Far too often, I find that they have no internet presence at all. No web site, nothing about the business, its owners or employees, its location or hours, the products and services it provides or anything else. If I can not find you in Google, you do not exist.
You may think that most of your customers do not use the internet, but think again. My mother would not be considered an “early adopter” of technology, but the first place she looks for information is online. If Mom is online, so are your customers—and you need to be there, too.
Start by having a web site. It does not have to be large, flashy or expensive. Many hosting companies, such as http://www.MyFavoriteWebHost.com/, offer template-driven sites for less than ten dollars a month. You simply choose the design you like, enter some text and click. Voila! You have a web site.
In addition to the home page, you might include an About Us page with information about the company and principals, a Contact page, and perhaps pages with descriptions of some of your products and services. You can always make changes and additions later, but get a basic site up now.
Once your site is published, help the search engines find it by getting links from other sites. To learn how, see http://IdeaLady.com/article/get_links
Even worse than turning up nothing is doing a search and finding negative things about you or your company, or something embarrassing you put online, perhaps years ago. Many teenagers are chagrined to realize that their MySpace profiles and blog posts will be discovered by colleges and prospective employers when their applications are evaluated.
Once something is on the internet, it may be there forever. However, if there is something negative or embarrassing in your online past, you can take steps to minimize it. Start by deleting it, if possible. If you don’t own the site where the offending information is posted, ask the site owner to remove it. Keep in mind that a deleted page may still exist in online archives, but it is much less likely to turn up in a search.
Push the old, negative page down in the search results by adding lots of new items for the search engines to find. Post articles to online article directories such as EzineArticles.com, add more pages to your web site, offer your content to other sites in your field, submit posts and comments to blogs, add your profile to sites such as Amazon.com, and look for other opportunities to put new information online that will bury the old.
Search for your name and your company name from time to time to learn what appears in search results. Google will send you an email when they find a reference to you online when you sign up for Google Alerts at http://www.google.com/alerts
Take control of your online presence to put your best face in front of the world.
As the Idea Lady, Cathy Stucker helps entrepreneurs and professionals attract customers and make themselves famous. Get free marketing tips at http://www.IdeaLady.com/