Small businesses have a lot to compete against when entering a new marketplace. Mammoth corporations have large budgets that allow them to advertise broadly and employee headcounts that give them an advantage on selling to a large number of customers. Despite these obstacles, small businesses can gain an edge on their larger peers by using the Internet to better target and communicate with their audience. Here are some tips on how to maximize the effectiveness of your organizations website.

1. Ensure that your websites tone is appropriate for the intended audience. Most people arent interested in reading another page of boring web copy that doesn’t speak to their needs. If you want to foster a friendly reputation, keep the content clear but don’t be afraid to also be casual. Likewise, if your business is in a sector that demands extreme professionalism, ensure you’re your professional attitude is expressed. Determine what you would like your companys personality to be and develop the text to reflect that goal.

2. Be as clear and concise as possible. While your business means a lot to you and you could easily talk for hours about your mission statement, your readers just want to find the information they are looking for as quickly and easily as possible. Try to avoid long paragraphs. If content can be best explained using a chart, table, or bullet-pointed list, use these methods to display the information.

3. Pay attention to editing. Everyone has experienced a situation where theyve noticed editorial mistakes on a professional website. These errors distract the reader and detract from the companys sense of professionalism. Before posting new text for a web page, ask others to review it to ensure it is clear and grammatically correct.

4. Make the links functional, descriptive, and easy to use. Avoid overly complex link structures that lead users on a frustrating hunt for information. Every few weeks, go through every link on your site to make sure they all work.

5. Update your website content regularly. One of the major advantages of a small business is the ability to engage customers on a more personal level. Regular updates with business news, sale information, or other engaging web content will make your website much less static and feed your companys online personality.

6. Incorporate social networking. Many businesses have such proven success with social networking that they now employ individuals to exclusively update Twitter and Facebook. Adding a Twitter feed on your website will allow you to post short updates more regularly. Customers can also then follow you and obtain business information without having to visit your website.

7. Don’t go too crazy with the web design. The simplest websites are often the most pleasing to users. Avoid using Flash as it will slow down the website speed and be unable to load on some peoples computers. Keep your background and website theme consistent and avoid adding distracting images.

8. Always include contact information. Include all of the applicable phone, email, and walk-in contact information possible. Adding a query box to your website will make it easier for users to contact you, as they can do so directly from your website.

9. Ask satisfied customers to write testimonials. While self-written testimonial pages can seem insincere, reviews from real customers go a long way for promoting your product or service.

10. Consider what you look for in a company and replicate it. Throughout the process of establishing your business and setting up your website, try to step back and view it as a consumer. It is important to balance your interest as a business owner with creating a positive experience for your customer.

Follow these tips to create a genuine and engaging professional web presence that customers will find enjoyable, informative, and intuitive.