These days, a good website is a required tool for your business’ marketing arsenal. Regardless of what products or services you provide, you likely have a lot of competition in the online arena. But there are steps you can take to stay ahead of your competitors. Sure, maybe they are using some or all of the same techniques you should be using — but shouldn’t you level the playing field? The answer is yes.

So we offer to you the following list of five great things you can do to keep yourself and your business at the top of your game.

Blogging

Maintaining a list of recent news articles, an advice column or a simple blog can do wonders for your website and the visibility of your business. Probably the most important aspect of blogging is to create a connection with your current and prospective clients. You can tell them about your products and/or services and give them insights on how you can help them. You can provide news about your industry or typical interests of your clientele. They not only appreciate the information, but the blog gives them a reason to visit your site. Another important aspect of blogging pertains to search engines and their love for new content. You can also broadcast your blog posts to social networks, as we’ll see below.

Social Media Integration

If you already have links on your website that point to your various social network accounts, that’s a great first step. But to really take advantage of your potential visibility, you need to be more integrated. For instance, are you broadcasting your latest news or blog articles to your Facebook and Twitter pages? You should be. There are tools available that will automatically generate posts on your Facebook page, Twitter profile, LinkedIn account and other social networks so you don’t have to manually create those links back to your website. Of course, you should also have buttons for Facebook Like, Twitter Share, Google +1 and other popular networks. Also, if you have a user-based website (meaning that visitors can register for an account to participate in article comments, forum posts, etc.), you can integrate ways for your users to connect using social networks, making it very easy for them to register on your website and get started using their existing credentials.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Yes, you’ve probably heard it a thousand times by now; search engine optimization is key to a modern, visible website. SEO is more than just placing the right words in the right places and submitting your site to the various search engines. It starts with a structurally-sound backend, i.e. design layout and coding that validates with existing web standards. You don’t necessarily have to know what that means, you just need to have your website built using the latest standards. It’s not just good practice — it’s good for the usability, speed and efficiency of a website that can be found easily by prospective and existing clients.

Video

Incorporating video on your website might seem like a time-consuming and costly task, especially if you don’t know how to do it. But really, you don’t need a professional studio to create small, informative videos. A Flip Video camera, your smartphone with built-in video recording capability or even a good webcam can provide a suitable means for obtaining video clips. Brief videos of you (or someone within your business) explaining what products and/or services you provide can be very helpful to your visitors. Instant availability of information in this modern era has actually made people impatient, so placing informative videos on your website gives them the “quick fix” they are looking for. Recent studies have shown that more than 50% of visitors to video-enabled websites take action (meaning that they click on something on your website to find more information) and nearly 20% of them actually make purchases. In addition, you can upload your videos to sites like YouTube, giving you another route for prospective clients to find you.

Competent Webmaster

Keeping up with the latest internet trends and keeping your business above or on par with your competition requires a good relationship with a savvy and competent web development firm. You won’t necessarily need their services all the time, but it’s a great idea to have them as part of your arsenal when the need arises. We won’t name any names, but a great web developer will harness the technology of the Internet to make your website rise above the rest.

Courtesy of Wendell.