The Daily Register - Harrisburg, IL
In the Palm of your Hand
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By Matt Christensen
May 4, 2013 8:52 a.m.

The weather is finally warming up and Spring is finally here. People are out and about in downtown Pontiac. Tourists are pouring in and its a great time to own a business downtown.
How are people going to find you? You have a Facebook page, but how does anyone know how to find it? They could search, but you'd have to know what you're searching for.
You have a free website, but it hasn't been updated in years and does not work well on a phone. Can people search for you? If you search for “downtown pontiac, IL” is your business going to show up?
In order to take advantage of the tourist flow (or even locals like myself that don't get out much) you need to be web accessible. The personal computer is now truly personal, and instead of sitting under our desks it resides in our pockets. Your presence needs to be available in the palm of potential customers hands.
So how do you do this? The good news is, it's not hard. You just need to have a presence on the web. There are many free services, but many limit what you can do or have ads. I recommend a local web developer (shameless plug :)).
Sites like www.wordpress.com offer up free hosting, but limit customization. There are many others (full disclosure, I'm a wordpress fan). Many of these services by default have mobile views so your site is ready for any device (iPhone, iPad, Nexus, Android, etc).
Once you have a site you will need SEO (search engine optimization). That simply means sites like Google can easily find you, which in turn means users like myself can find you. The basic keys to seo are keywords and content. Your 'about' page should mention being located in 'downtown Pontiac' for example and you should update the site regularly with your specials, hours, deals, events, etc. Content is king. Google will look for you if you have something to say.
Lastly is analytics. In other words stats. Google has a program for this for free or there are paid services. Either way you need to know who is coming to your site, at what time and on what device. That way you can tweak your site to meet the traffic you're getting.
Everyone has a website these days, do you? If you get your business in the palm of people's hands, you can increase the potential for new customers.

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