What do you do when you are trying to book a last-minute dental appointment for that nasty toothache or chipped tooth? How do you find reliable emergency services, say, a locksmith to break open that lock for which you’ve misplaced the keys?
And what about those times when you are out of ideas about where to eat and need good recommendations to make an impact on your VIPs or business associates? You’d definitely want to do some research here; any method that’s fast and easy is certainly welcome.
But do you bring out that thick Yellow Pages book or some business listings guide to browse? Or thumb whatever mags and newspapers you can get your hands on, hopeful that their ads and classifieds are useful? Chances are, you wont’ be doing any of these.
More People Are Searching Online
Even if you have the Yellow Pages, most likely you’ve forgotten where you kept it. If you don’t have it — or like many from the New-Gen population: they haven’t heard about it! — fret not. It’s not going to be something you will ever miss. There’s something way better…
For a fact, more and more people are turning to one particular medium to locate and learn about businesses; goods and services; and other information. Yes, this medium is the Internet; or the Web, as some might call it. And many are using it in some form or another.
Search Engines Are The #1 Choice
You may not be consciously aware of them though you’d used them many times. If you have used Google or Yahoo to look for stuff online, yes, you have been served by search engines. (And these 2 are the popular ones.)
Search engines are the perfect tools because they allow you to scope what you would like to find. For example, you can enter “restaurants in Singapore” to inquire broadly, or try “Italian restaurants Orchard Road” for a specific location and cuisine. More often than not, you can get very useful answers.
And this is where it’s important for businesses: whether you show up in the search results and how far from the top pages are issues to grapple with. What is generally regarded as search engine optimization or SEO can be a key determinant in this game of being found online.
Online Directories Aren’t Really Effective
Yup, there are directories of all sorts online which try to serve users looking for specific items. Be they restaurant guides, chamber of commerce biz listings, green directories, etc, you name it, someone out there has probably compiled one. Even the Yellow Pages is online, for that matter.
However, the main purpose of online directories is this: milk the free traffic — users who are looking things up — by showing them ads. (BTW, that’s one way people make money online. Whether you see it as Internet Marketing with integrity or not may be a personal matter.) The results they deliver can be less comprehensive since they rely on the data collected and whether it is current.
Notwithstanding this, businesses can use online directories for secondary listings, just to cover more bases. Having said that, the primary objective for any business must remain as being discoverable by search engines and prominently visible in their search results.
Everyone Benefits From The Internet
Always on and everywhere, the Internet is a boon to both consumers and businesses alike. Customers like it because they can find almost anything online. The plethora of available information and the ease of interaction with the Web makes it a snappy tool. And it comes with a fun element too.
Not surprisingly, the social aspect of the Web brings to bear on consumer choices. Many people read reviews and comments left by other customers, absorbing them into their pre-purchase research and using them to guide decision making. And they are also likely to buy more, influenced by choices of friends and peers.
It Makes Good Business Sense Too
Businesses like the Internet for good reasons. They can remain accessible to all of their customers and prospects even when their physical locations are shut for the day. People can learn about their goods and services at their own leisure, 24/7. For companies with online shops, their cash registers can continue to ring round the clock.
Without doubt, the Internet provides a much wider reach to businesses, thus lowering the marketing costs for business owners. As an added bonus, this reach is world-wide, without having to spend a single cent more. Now, compare that with traditional advertising channels!
Is Your Business Found Online?
This is the key question you have to ask yourself right now: “Is your business found online?” When people search for goods and services which your company provides, they are most likely to consider the first 2 or 3 pages of the search results. If you aren’t prominently listed in there, prospects will flock to the competition instead.
Not having web presence for your business means becoming irrelevant in today’s market place. Even if you currently have a strong client base, you cannot remain complacent by not being found online. When customers and potential new ones don’t see you on the Web, this may send a signal which invalidates their choices about selecting your business.
Now, isn’t it true that consumers take pride in being right? Don’t forget that information is readily available online to compare your business against others. And when yours isn’t anywhere to be found, you don’t even stand a chance at all — your competitors have already beaten you hands down!
Time To Get Started
With the Internet world going more mobile at a rapid pace, there is heightened urgency for those lagging behind to take immediate action to establish web presence. If your business is in this group, please contact us for a free consultation.
In the next article, we will look at that crucial first step of getting your business online. Stay tuned.