With over 2 billion internet users worldwide there is no excuse for not having an online presence, especially when it comes to business.

According to a recent study by the Boston Consulting Group that was reported by the BBC, the internet contributes to 8.3% of the UK economy, a bigger share than for any of the other G20 major countries. This equates to £121bn in 2010, or more than £2,000 per person and an increase on the 2009 numbers of £100Bn or 7.2% of GDP. This means the internet is more valuable to the country than the healthcare, construction or education sectors.

The UK also carries out far more retail online than any other major economy.with 13.5% of all purchases done over the internet in 2010, according to BCG, and this is projected to rise to 23% by 2016.

23% of all UK retail purchases will be done online by 2016 Click Here to > Tweet This

In fact, BCG predict that the internet economy as a whole will almost double by 2016!

With these numbers in mind, what percentage of this huge economy is your online presence contributing to now, and how can you ensure that you make the most of this growth economy over the next 4 years?

Maximising your Online Presence.

Unfortunately there is no quick fix to having a successful online presence. It takes a combination of different factors to really have a big impact.

9 Tips to Maximise Your Online Presence!

Have a self hosted website

An easy way for many start ups or small businesses to get online is to use a hosted blog site. These are great in certain situations, but if you want to establish yourself and be found by search engines then ideally you need to move away from the hosted platform and let your own domain name do the talking rather than someone elses.

Claim profiles on social media

Social Media for business can have a huge impact as it can put you in front of a huge global audience in a relatively informal setting. It’s also great for backlinks and for getting your content shared. Having your own profile to link to also reinforces your brand image and gives you a good link back to a very highly ranked source, for example www.facebook.com/BigThinkingOnline or www.twitter.com/big_thinking

Claim your Google listing

Google is the most powerful and popular search engine at the moment and it has loads of great resources on offer as well. By taking advantage of what Google’s resources you will also make your business more easily searchable. One of the best things to do is claim your Google + business listing and make the page your own with map references, picture, videos and comments. Google will repay you for using this free service by showing your business high in the relevant search results.

Optimise your site

If you want your site to show up in the search engines, then you have to make sure that the terms that people would use to search for your type of product or service are on your site for the search engines to see. For example if you are an Optician, your potential customers might be searching for “new glasses” or “eye test” rather than just “Optician”. Find out what your customers search for, and then optimise your site for these words.

Produce quality content

Search engines are hungry for fresh content on websites. They see it as a measure of how up to date and relevant a site is. If you produce a great, fully optimised website don’t think you have done it once and can leave it forever without updating it. You need to add new content to your website regularly, not least because if people see that there is a lot of fresh new information they are more likely to come back time and time again.

Encourage comments and feedback

Social Proof is very important. Think of any major purchase you’ve made and the chances are you did some research online. Customer reviews and feedback are often more valuable than a blurb or product description. They show that real people have bought, used and enjoyed the product or experience enough to come back and review it.

Manage your reputation

The internet is a huge open forum and no many happy customers you have there will always be someone who leaves a bad review or a negative comment. While you can never stop these entirely, you need to be aware of what is being said about you online and make sure that you control your image and reputation as tightly as possible.

Engage with Customers

It can be all too easy to hide behind the brand, with an online presence it’s good to be visible. Let your customers know who is behind the business, let them know who they’re talking to on Social Media. You don’t need to give away anything personal, just be personable, reply to comments so that people can see they’re being listened to and engage in conversations to create a bit of a buzz about your business.

Go mobile

By 2016, about 80% of all internet users will access the web using a mobile phone
The rapid fall in the cost of smartphones – with cheap versions now costing about £70 means that by 2016 about 80% of all internet users will access the web using a mobile phone. With this in mind, make sure your business website is mobile optimised. Consider having a specific mobile friendly site that is easy to read on a small screen, with just key navigation features and contact details. At the very least make sure that your main site can load on a mobile!

Make the most of your Online Presence!

A fully optimised, engaging online presence that draws customers in and encourages customer interaction takes a lot of effort and skill. If your online presence isn’t working for you, it more than likely means customers aren’t finding you, or if they are then they don’t like what they see. Done correctly, you should reap the rewards within weeks.