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Word Nerd

Businesses not online may as well not exist

I can't stress enough how important it is for a small business to have a website or a presence online.

It doesn't have to be huge and complicated. In fact, the most useful websites are often very small, consisting of a single page that includes the vital information anyone would want to know about the business. Even a Facebook page can fill that role for a business, and it's free.

In this world where smart phones allow people to browse the web for business information while they are on the go, it's more important than ever to have a website that fills consumers' needs.

When I look online for information about a business, I'm usually looking for the most basic information. Where is the business located? When is it open? How can I contact the business? Do I need a reservation?

If a business doesn't have such basic information available when I do a web search, I will usually keep looking until I find one that does.

I want to stress that I'm not talking about e-commerce. Even a business that sells nothing online should have an online presence.

For example, consider a restaurant. The best restaurants have websites, even though it is mighty difficult to sell prepared food through the internet.

But a good restaurant website will have the address of the restaurant, including a link to a map. It will have the hours the restaurant is open and whether or not a customer needs a reservation. The very best restaurant websites might even include an e-mail link to make a reservation, or a copy of the menu.

When I first moved to Sunnyside I had no contacts here. I didn't know anyone at all. I had no support network but I still needed to get along with life. I looked online for information about local businesses and the ones that had information available were the businesses I visited.

It's possible to host a very basic website for less than $100 a year now. A page on Facebook is free, and can accomplish the same task with less control. Finding an internet savvy teenager to set up a Facebook page shouldn't be hard for most businesses, if the owners don't want to do it. There's no longer any excuse to stay off the internet.

The rewards can be great, as people will point others to your site or Facebook page. Word of mouth is much more efficient online.

Nowadays a company that isn't online may as well not exist for a significant portion of society. Every small business ought to at least have a signpost on the information superhighway.

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