How to Create an Internet Map for your Online Business

By: citylocal


The internet can sometimes feel a little like getting into a powerful car with a full tank of gas and nowhere to go. The road stretches ahead, but for a small business the journey can seem long, and without a map, very confusing. The internet has revolutionized the way that small businesses can operate, but since no one thought to create a map of the internet, or a tourists’ guide, how is a small business to manage?

With search engines such as Google rolling out several billion results for many of the most basic searches, the idea of placing your business on the digital map can seem a little like hurling a business card into the ocean in the hope it will land on some distant shore and be of some use to the person who finds it. The problem is it stands much more chance of sinking, unless it’s eaten by a shark first of course.

Perhaps you already have a website, or perhaps you’re in the process of planning it. You may even have arrived here because you’re considering re-designing or re-launching your business website. Whatever your situation, unless you are already being overwhelmed by sales, online enquiries and valuable traffic, you will be looking to give your online presence a critical makeover. But there are a few questions you should consider before employing a website design company to create a sparkling new site.

One of the biggest mistakes that many small businesses make when thinking about the way in which the internet works is to think of it as being a public notice board – similar to those found at the back of shopping centres, where people slip their business cards in for people to see. This is a little like saying that with enough effort you could skateboard across North America. Yes, that’s true – but it will take a long time, a great deal of effort and may not prove successful. Far better to make sure you have that full tank of gas, a comfortable car and one thing that is perhaps more important than anything – a map. Without a map, who knows where you will end up?

Certainly, some businesses have jumped on the internet band wagon with little idea of how to market successfully and no real idea of where they’re going. You may even find one or two online today which are there largely by accident – things just seemed to work out for them without them really expecting it to. But what you won’t hear of are the many millions of businesses that tried to make the internet work for them, but fell off near the beginning. Their skateboard cracked, they lost their way or they ended up in Mongolia instead. Without a map, you’re simply lost.

You may be asking at this point what I really mean by having a map to find your way online. Enough with the metaphors – let’s get on and find out what the internet is all about. The simple answer is that just as a map helps you plan your route, considering any possible obstacles or challenges and working out how to navigate them successfully to reach where you want to go, an internet map is a series of checklists or questions that allow you to evaluate where you want your business to go, what obstacles or challenges it is likely to meet, and work out strategies for dealing with them successfully.

Sticking a business card on a notice board is pretty final. You glue it up, you walk away. It’s just as successful as chucking a bottle in the ocean. You leave it to sink or swim – there’s no plan, no direction and no real way of affecting your success. But online, the potential is to reach a global market of several billion people, to compete against billions of websites, and to reach a position where your online revenue or sales are at least where you plan them to be in the ideal world.

However, wait for just a moment, and ask yourself these questions:

What is the point of your website?
Why would people want to view your website?
What do you hope to get out of your website?
What do you want your visitors to get out of your website?
How will you manage this?
What will your visitors be able to take away from your website?
What action do you want your website to initiate or encourage?
How will your website affect or improve the number of sales enquiries you receive?

These are pretty fundamental questions, but just some of the essential issues you will need to consider very seriously if your business is going to use the internet in a more successful and productive way than a public notice board.

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