In This Chapter
• Why visibility is critically important
• How to identify the essence of your business
• How to gauge your current Internet strategy
As recently as a decade ago it was an unusual business that was accessible to customers online. Maybe if you were running a computer repair business or sold high-end HAM radio gear, but mostly there was the business world and the quite separate online world. Indeed, most of the online world was still corralled in tightly controlled and managed content offered by a few large companies like America Online, Compuserve, and the Microsoft Network.
The Internet changes everything, however, and if you're still thinking about your business as separate from the online world, then you're missing out on the chance to grow, expand, improve your offerings, learn more about your competition, keep more up-to-date on industry trends, and, most importantly, find new customers and retain more of your existing customers.
Not only does the Internet change everything, but Google changes the Internet too. It wasn�t more than a few years ago that the most important thing you could do for your business was make sure you were listed in topical Web site directories, that you found out about competitors from print publications or word of mouth. With its billion-page index and lightening fast search engine Google has redefined the Age of Information, in a way that has profound implications for your business. It�s the realization of the promise of vast amounts of information, freely accessible, for those who are willing to swim in the information sea.
And why Google? Because as I write this book, Google is the clear industry leader, the �go-to source� for any information needed. Whether I�m searching for a manual for my new toaster, updating an application on my Treo or even trying to find a fellow writer to have a digital t�te-�-t�te, much of what defines the modern Web starts on Google�s simple search page.
In five years, there�ll be meaningful and valuable competitors, other search engines that will offer capabilities not available in Google, better search results, more geomapping, a personalized search history, tightly integrated Web and desktop search, and a myriad of other possible features. Prime contenders for the new crown as king of search engines are Yahoo! and Microsoft�s MSN Search teams (both of which are discussed throughout the book).
And it doesn't matter what kind of business you have. Whether you are trying to sell your first novel, balancing the books as a freelance accountant, introducing an environmentally friendly dry-cleaning system to your neighborhood, or selling used cars, there's not a business around that can't benefit from being online and making savvy use of Google and the entire Internet.
Inside The Book