IHow big is the internet?n 2011 Time magazine estimated that Internet users consumed information equivalent to seven million DVDs every hour. In 2014 there was an estimated 1 billion active websites online. By March 2016 researchers calculated that there were at least 4.66 billion webpages available to Internet users via search engines – the actual number may actually be much larger.

The one thing that experts have agreed on is that the number of websites and pages will continue to grow at an ever increasing rate. Which is great news for information-hungry web users, and troubling for small businesses looking to establish an online presence.

Domain names for the growing internet

Until recently, website owners were limited in their choice of addresses. The most popular choices were those ending in ‘.com’, ‘.net’, ‘.org’ and even ‘.co.uk’. But as new sites came online, the pool of available addresses was constantly shrinking.

The answer was to release a new generation of generic top level domains (gTLD) to provide much-needed additional capacity. These new gTLDs allow website owners to get more creative with their addresses, choosing from extensions like ‘.club’, ‘.guide’ and ‘.team’. There are literally hundreds of new options that will help business owners get online and be found by new customers.

SEO is more important than ever before

With 4.66 billion pages to compete against, winning the attention of your potential customers is an uphill struggle. Being that most first-time visitors to your website will come via a search engine like Google, it is vital that you not only appear in search results, but that your listing is in the top 10.

You can (and when first starting out, probably should) pay for sponsored listings to appear at the top of the search results. But for the best results in the longer term, you should also aim for improved ‘organic’ listings. These are the free listing directly below the ads and carry a lot of credibility for the organisations that earn a position.

Modern SEO is a combination of several techniques, which can be both complex and time consuming. Because the ‘rules’ for earning a good search listing change continually, your business should probably consider outsourcing responsibilities to an SEO specialist. Otherwise your site is likely to be lost among the many thousands of competing listings after page one of Google.

Doing nothing is not an option

Launching a website, and even buying a domain name, are both relatively easy tasks.  Making a website successful, however, is an entirely different story. The reason we keep mentioning the 4.66 billion pages is to emphasise the size of the challenge your fledgling website faces.

But in an age where people turn to the Internet for information first, your business must be visible – or you will never achieve the success you want.

For more help and advice on building a successful website, or to make your existing one stand out in a crowded marketplace, please get in touch

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