Recently I asked a business owner if he had a digital footprint. His answer was yes, I have a website. A website is not really a digital footprint, a website is just one part of a digital footprint, and it’s an important part of the digital footprint. However, if you want to build your business without breaking your budget, you must maximize your ROI in everything you do to promote your business. Creating a digital footprint can help increase your chances of success.

A digital footprint is all about creating visibility. What does that mean? It means, making it easy for your prospects and potential customers to find you. Start with your website. Make sure you’ve optimized it for keywords, and that it works on both a computer and mobile devices such as a mobile phone or tablet computer. The key here is being user friendly for your viewers.

Social media is a key component of the digital footprint. My recommendation is that you setup accounts on Facebook, Google+, YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and FourSquare. These are seven of the fastest growing social media sites on the web today. Six months from now, it may be different but for now, this is where you want to have a presence. Build your brand on these sites and you will generate a tremendous amount of awareness. Even though there are a billion people on Facebook, as a local business owner, you only need to reach out to the people who live closest to you.

Google+ local page is one of the best tools to boost your organic search results and it’s absolutely free to use. Google provides each business with a Google+ landing page that you can claim, customize, and use to drive traffic to your business. When people do a local search for keywords that pertain to your business, Google serves up your business along with all of the other local businesses. If you optimize your local page properly, Google raises your business higher in the search rankings. A high position brings you more traffic and more business.

YouTube along with Google+ are two of the best tools to increase your search engine results and build your organic search ranking. Google looks at referring links and adds weight to the links that have higher authority. Since Google considers itself the highest authority and YouTube (owned by Google) rates highly, any links or traffic from these sites will make your company much more visible in search results. Post videos to your company YouTube account and then link them to your website to get the most effective use of your videos.

Free stuff – you have to find the free listings out there on the web, they are everywhere. Take advantage of any legitimate website that offers businesses a free listing. Yahoo.com, yellowpagesonline.com, bing.com, MapQuest local business, and LinkedIn business listing are just a few of the listings available to you, and you can find many more. The great part is you don’t have to do them all at once; you do a couple a day when you have free time.

Ads and banners, which you buy, are also part of your digital footprint. This includes Facebook ads and twitter ads as well as dealer locators, and any articles that a writer has written about your company. Anything with a link that leads back to your website increases your presence on World Wide Web and builds your digital footprint.

I have only begun to scratch the surface on this topic; I’m sure that I could write another book, just on this subject alone because it’s so rich and full of potential to grow your business. As I always do, I stress and suggest developing a plan for creating and exploiting your digital footprint so that you can lead customers to your business. Much of what we discussed here is free except for your time. Some of it will require investment money, but in the end it will be worth the effort because you will create a conveyor belt to deliver customers to your company. Remember the worst thing that can happen is when a person who has heard of your business goes online to find your company and he can’t find it. Think of the potential lost revenue.

Your business must appear online as a beacon that draws customers to you. Create the very best website that you can afford, and then add in social media to point back to your website. Utilize all of the free legitimate opportunities to list your business online. Strategically place paid banner ads on sites where your potential customers are likely to go to look for the products and services that your company sells. Use Facebook as a selling platform, and employ Facebook ads to draw more viewers and traffic to your company Facebook page and your website. Post messages every day or a minimum of three times per week to engage your followers.

Following these simple strategies will increase your visibility and generate additional opportunities to quote your products and services. This is something you can do on your own or with the help of a marketing strategist. You can employ a social media management service to manage these accounts for you, so that you can focus on what you do best.

My website contains links to all the marketing articles I’ve written for the HVAC-Talk Newsletter. If you are interested in purchasing a copy of my new book, Navigating the Marketing Maze, click here. If you need a branding consultation, a complete strategic marketing plan, or help with marketing services, call or send an email to discuss your needs.

Andy Fracica is president and CEO of Fracica Enterprises, Inc., a consulting firm specializing in marketing, and social media strategy. He has over 30 years of sales, marketing, and product management experience in the heating ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) industry. He concentrates on helping companies deliver their message in an ever increasingly crowded market by helping HVAC dealers more effectively market their businesses without breaking their budgets. Contact him at 260-338-4554, andy@fracicaenterprises.com or visit the Fracica Enterprises, Inc. website.