Blog: Ryan Anderson

Be territorial with your money. That's the mantra of software consultant Ryan Anderson, creator of the Buy Michigan website and organizer of the recent Buy Michigan Expo. This week, he'll discuss why consumers should shop Michigan first and will also advise area businesses on how to manage their web presence.

Ryan Anderson - Post 2: Small Business Web Presence Management

In running the BuyMichiganProducts website, I work with companies who are looking for cost-effective ways to get their message out to the public in order to generate leads and sales.  Most of these companies are so focused on producing their goods and services that they feel overwhelmed with trying to manage their websites and overall web presence.  Web presence management consists of three primary facets: how people get to your website, how people use your website once they find it, and how you manage it.

In my experience, a majority of website traffic comes from search engines - people typing in phrases to find what they're looking for.  There are a few names for this:  SEO (search engine optimization), SEM (search engine marketing) and SEV (search engine visibility). They all accomplish the same thing: channeling web searchers to your website.  

I won't go into the details of SEO here, but know that it's probably the most important web presence service you can utilize, and that it's an on-going process - not a one-shot deal.  As part of your website management strategy, you will need to review web server logs and/or your favorite analytics package to determine how effectively your search tactics are working, and fine-tune as you go along.  If you are serious about search engine marketing, it's best to consult with a professional first to understand the fundamentals, then create a plan to be able to do a lot of the optimization work yourself.  It takes a lot to get started, but fine-tuning gets easier as you proceed.  There is a lot of information out on the web for do-it-yourself SEO.

Next, once people find your website, you need to maximize their visit.  Strong calls to action draw users into your site, and your business.  Here is where your site goals come to the forefront - what are you, the business owner, trying to get out of your website.  Is it on-line sales, streamlined customer service, generating sales leads, or just basic company information?  When you've determined your goals, go through the site yourself, or better yet, have someone unfamiliar with your site try it out and get their feedback.  

The primary user goals for our website,, are: become a Member, get your company listed, contact us, comment on an article or product, or suggest a product.  Your goals will be different, but you need to be aware of what both you and your visitors are getting out of the site itself.

Finally, and what will be your biggest task, is general management of the website itself, including: site design, content management, back-end programming, database maintenance, analytics and inquiry follow-up.  Jobs such as site design, back-end programming and database maintenance are good candidates for contracting out.  Do your research because pricing and quality fluctuate wildly and changes in these fields are a constant.  Your best bet is to talk with business colleagues to determine who has the right mix of pricing and quality to match your budget.  A good web presence consulting firm will be able to set you up with tools, such as content management and analytics, to get you going on managing your website effectively.

Managing your web presence shouldn't mean pulling your hair out in frustration on a daily basis, or not knowing how well your website is performing.  The key is to know which tasks you can do yourself, and which ones require outside help.  This will allow you to put your focus where it belongs - in developing your product or service.