By Amanda Bayane

It’s no secret: An increasing number of customers are connecting with businesses via the web. Whether cruising a company’s website, mobile application or social media page, modern browsing and buying habits have made web presence crucial to a brand’s identity.

If you’re among the holdouts to prioritizing your organization’s web presence, the lack of effective online offerings will cost you important opportunities – namely, connecting with new customers and improving relationships with existing ones.

There are several steps a company can take to improve its web presence, and many are easier than you might think.

Optimize for mobile users
It’s no longer just about having a sparkling website: If your enterprise lacks a matching offering for mobile users, optimized for their needs, you risk falling behind your competitors. More and more users are leveraging their handheld hardware to connect with businesses across industries; companies without a mobile-optimized platform risk repelling mobile visitors.

Inc. contributor Jeff Haden noted that some organizations create a similar version of their website just for mobile users. This approach has its benefits – including a consistent look and feel across different platforms – but a much better strategy is to create something completely new. Haden suggested building a mobile website with a unique design that will function across all platforms and reprioritize the placement of items of particular interest to browsers on the go. This technique is best for capturing the biggest portion of the mobile sector.

Focus on search engine optimization
In addition to mobile optimization, business leaders should also prioritize search engine optimization. As Demand Media’s Gwen Wark pointed out, a website is only an effective part of a company’s web presence if users are able to find it. With a search engine optimization strategy in place – available through a hosting provider or specialized outside firm – the organization’s online offerings will appear higher in results from search engines like Google and Bing when customers input specific phrases.

Regularly update online content
Another important aspect of a brand’s web presence is providing something new. Businesses that keep the same, stale content on their websites week after week and month after month are missing a number of opportunities to engage with customers. Additionally, Haden pointed out that frequently updated website content can not only help sell products, but can improve search results as well.

“Long gone are the days of static websites. Today’s most effective websites frequently update content to give visitors a reason to come back,” Haden wrote. “And quality is just as important as quantity, so make sure your company information is up-to-date and communicate relevant details about your business through regular blog posts or updates.”

Ensure reliability
While these elements are no doubt key to a company’s web presence, perhaps the most critical factor is reliability. Business leaders must ensure that once they build their website, their online offerings are always available to customers. If unplanned downtime occurs, consumers will likely turn to other sources for goods and services. For this reason, it is crucial to partner with a trusted hosting provider like Hostway, which can guarantee that services are always on, and the firm’s website and connected web presence are always available.

Amanda Bayane is marketing communications director at Hostway Services, Inc.