By Brian Penney

The internet can be a complicated place if you don’t know what you’re looking at. Building a website is a necessity for small business owners, but simply having a web presence isn’t enough. The worldwide web is saturated with entrepreneurs and business owners just like yourself, all of whom are trying to get their goods and services on the screens of consumers. So how do you stand out among the crowd?
Here are five best practices to follow in order to build traffic to your website. Before spending your money on slick internet marketing gurus promising SEO This isn’t by any means a comprehensive step-by-step guide, but rather an illustration of the successful ways in which entrepreneurs have leveraged the internet to boost their web traffic and increase their sales.

Host a Blog
Hosting a blog on your website is a great way to draw traffic. If you love writing, this is a great way to connect with your customers, and anyone can do it. Check out the blog on Goedeker’s Home Life website, which contains a wide variety of relevant and comprehensive information related to making your home life as comfortable as possible. They make DIY entertaining, while also offering a reprise from the stress of a homemade holiday.
If you’re not an author, don’t worry – put an ad on Craigslist offering $10-$20 per blog. Don’t worry if you live in a small town either; writers work from all over the globe. Place the ad in large market areas, such as New York City, Los Angeles, or wherever the mecca is for your particular industry. For only $50-$100 per month, your boring website can become a treasure trove of information.
Guest Blogging
Regardless of whether you blog yourself or hire writers, submit your blog posts to reputable websites for publishing. Ask your writers if they’re willing to ghostwrite; many are. Look up the editors of your favorite blogs and submit your pieces along with a headshot and short bio, linking back to your website.
Be sure to only submit relevant information that is suitable to the site you’re submitting to – for example, you wouldn’t want to submit an encyclopedic piece to a comedy website, etc. Know your audience, and target them appropriately.
Join Social Networks
Always tell your friends about your business – if you can’t sell something to your friends, you won’t be able to sell it to anyone else. Joining social networks is important. Create a business account with Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Yelp. Encourage your friends and family to follow you and promote your business on those websites; it’s free promotion, and someone else’s word about your business means more than your own.
List Your Website
List your website everywhere. Make sure there’s a hyperlink to it on every page and every profile you create online. Referral business works the same online as it does offline. Writing a great comment or creating a great Facebook page doesn’t help if nobody can find your website. Placing links everywhere helps you track who is clicking which links to get to your website, a valuable SEO tool.
Talk About Your Website
Make sure you and all of your employees mention your website so current customers know it exists. Someone you give friendly service to today may write a nice comment or leave a review on your site that encourages the next visitor to spend more time looking into you. The more customers rave about you, the more customers you’ll get.
The internet is a worldwide web of information, and it’s vital for small businesses to learn how to use it efficiently. By following these steps, you’ll have a solid foundation to build a successful and lasting business brand.

Brian Penny is a former business analyst at Bank of America turned whistleblower and freelance writer. He’s a frequent contributor to Mainstreet, Lifehack, and HardcoreDroid