Did you know that according to Nielsen Online less than half of the small businesses in the United States have a website? This seemed an amazing, even unbelievable statistic until I recalled that we have recently built new websites for several established companies in various parts of the country.   This figure becomes even more startling and compelling when you consider the numbers of consumers using the web to purchase everything from hotel rooms to dog collars!   In the last month Google, the premier search engine, recorded over 5 billion page views.  Therefore an Internet presence is essential to continued success in business.

Furthermore, this trend will continue gain momentum and become more locally focused. The world wide web has become the local notice board.  Just like the community activities board at your local Starbucks attracts leaflets about what’s happening right in your neighborhood, the web is developing a local focus.

I recommend you consider establishing a presence on the following free “local” sites:
1.  Yahoo! Local. A free advertising opportunity for virtually any business.  If you have been in business for any period of time, you probably have a default presence right now.  Go check it out for yourself and make sure everything is accurate.  In addition, visitors may write reviews about your business which may lead to more local business.
2. Google Places (formerly Google Local Business Center).  This section of Google provides similar functionality to Yahoo! Local.  Although it is not intended to be used in exactly the same way, it can impact a site’s organic placement on Google,which may create business.
3. Bing. Microsoft’s budding search engine is aiming to store neighborhood content and local business information.

Remember these are free opportunities to promote your business.  Therefore, even small companies with a limited marketing budget can compete for business.  And…it doesn’t always require a “full on” website.  A simple social media presence can establish you and give you the potential to capture some of the local market.  Go get your presence now.