A strong website is one that is easily found by potential clients on the web.

“Everybody is going to the web,” says Marie Swift, president and CEO of Impact Communications Inc. in Leawood, Ks. Although your website can never completely replace an in-person meeting or handshake, it is one more way to keep in touch and build relationships.

Once you have a web presence, Swift says, your next step is to make it as visible and searchable as possible.

> Send your information to search engines
Simply setting up a website isn’t enough to get attention. You need to let search engines know you’re out there.

Submit your name, company name and URL to search engines such as Google, Yahoo! and Bing, says Swift.

Simply go to the search engine’s website and look for a “Submit content” or “Submit URL” tab. For example, to give the information to Google, go to www.google.com/submityourcontent/index.html and click on the “submit URL” link. There is no charge for submitting your information.

If you don’t want send the information yourself, companies such as ineedhits (ineedhits.com) will do the work for you.

Ineedhits is an online program that will submit your URL and keywords to a variety of search engines for fees ranging from US$12.99 per month to US$69.99US per month. The company also provides advice on improving search engine optimization (SEO) on your site, with keywords and meta-tags (hidden codes on websites that link to search engines).

There are hundreds of search engines out there, says Swift. Ineedhits can submit your information to all of them, the top three, 10 or 100, says Swift.

> Use the right keywords
Be careful in the selection of keywords and the order in which you place them.

Keywords are words and phrases that describe the content of a page and are used by search engines to help locate sites. For example, when someone types in “financial planning” into Google, websites using those keywords appear in the rankings.

The order of keywords is important, says Swift. For example, if you are a financial planner, “financial planning,” and not “planning, financial.”

As well, don’t be afraid to use keywords used by competitors or that are connected to your business only indirectly, Swift says. For instance, even if you refer to yourself specifically as a “holistic planner” and dislike the label “stock picker,” you should still include phrases such as “stocks,” “bonds” and “mutual funds” among you keywords.

That way people who are entering those terms in their search — and may not realize they are looking for more than a stock picker — will find your website, she says.

Next: The benefits of linking and Google Alerts