By Ross Williams, CEO and co-founder of WhiteLabelDating.com

The UK Internet economy is growing at a rate of 10 per cent per year (source: Boston Consulting Group, Jan). Estimated to be worth £221bn by 2016, it is a lucrative market for entrepreneurs and Internet businesses provided their offering is unique and future-ready.

With the rise of the Internet comes saturation. Those individuals/businesses operating in the Internet market face heavy competition, and to get ahead of the curve need to ensure they are addressing SEO, mobile developments, social media and hosting head-on.

Exploiting a niche

Applicable to any successful business, the offering needs to be unique. The Internet is a competitive arena and setting your business apart from competitors is a logical starting point. At the end of the day, if your product or service isn’t any good or any different, you are already on a back foot. Take advantage of the fact the Internet allows people to be specific in what they look for, so catering to a niche market can be a worthwhile investment. Back in 2003 when I set up WhiteLabelDating.com with my business partner, to differentiate it from Match.com and eHarmony we adopted a white label approach, meaning we could offer our software and services out to companies. It proved to be very successful; in a saturated market it can pay off to take an alternative approach.

Hosting

Reliable hosting is essential to any Internet business. A scalable option is always best, as it caters for peak times, as well as less busy periods, without costing you an arm and a leg. It can be damaging to any business if its website experiences downtime. Not only can you miss out on potential revenue, but users could be put off in the future. Don’t let a simple challenge hinder your business.

Mobile

58% of Britons are now accessing content via apps or mobile Internet (source: comScore, Jan 2012). That is nearly two-thirds of potential Internet traffic you are missing out on if your business is not mobile-ready. If mobile isn’t already a key part of your strategy, change it. Companies with any significant Internet presence are certain to miss out and get left behind if they ignore the inevitable.

It doesn’t have to be difficult either. A mobile site can be constructed using an existing website, and then modified if needed. By just having a mobile presence you can begin to see a real ROI. We are currently rolling out our mobile offering allowing partners to cash in on a 26% increase in mobile traffic.

SEO

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is crucial in getting that all-important traffic to your website. Google is the hub of the Internet and is the go-to place for many end-users looking for information, an answer, product or service without necessarily having a business or brand in mind. Getting higher up the Google ranking, with the aim of appearing on the first page, is one of the most important revenue drivers for many businesses. For start-ups and challenger companies especially, properly marketing a company through SEO is virtually the only way to be found on the Internet.

Thinking where to start? Ensuring keywords relevant to the core of your business are included and keep track of your campaigns through Google Analytics; you can then help get your website up the Google rankings and in-front of the right eyes.

Social Media

Endorsement is gold dust to any business. Whether by PC, tablet or smartphone, people now share content and opinions about brands/companies online in the public domain for all to see. Social networks are where this occurs, and businesses can build brand loyalty and monitor opinion if they use them effectively. Engaging with people is becoming increasingly common and opens up dynamic opportunities for businesses with limited marketing budgets but who are willing to invest the time. Whether you opt for Facebook or Twitter, Google+ or a dating site, social networks can add a third dimension to a business.

It is clear the Internet economy is evolving and diversifying at a rapid pace. From shopping to publishing, dating to broadcasting, the scope for entrepreneurial minds is vast. Get ahead of the curve with technologies/techniques such as mobile and SEO and your Internet business will be well on its way.

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