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Get noticed by billions of users around the world with the best shopfront, advertising and location

The nature of business and business advertising has changed dramatically in the last twenty years. Consumers are more choosy and want more detailed information before they commit their hard-earned money to a purchase. The greatest single source of information ever amassed is now accessible on a device smaller than your hand - the internet.

When a person is looking for a product or service, the first instinct for many is to check the internet. Even if it is purely for research purposes, the near-infinite network of connected servers will generally hold either an option to buy said product or service, an address or phone number for someone who can help or an article which offers some additional information. A business without a website, effectively, does not exist.

That is not to say that there is no such thing as a business without a website, only that they do not exist in the eyes of billions of consumers and potential customers around the world. Even some of those companies which do have websites will be missing out, though, if their website does not look professional.

It is very difficult to accurately define what makes a professional-looking website. It is an entirely subjective judgement, but one which every internet user makes as soon as they reach a new site. Just like in the real world, there are plenty of conmen on the web and, also like the real world, a user will form their opinion in the first few seconds. The average attention span of a user is nine seconds, so you have only that long to convince them that you are not a snake oil merchant.

Spending money on a professionally-built website will pay for itself very quickly because people will trust it and want to further explore it. A good website will have additional features to increase your online exposure or offer services and abilities above the norm - the equivalent of neon signage and a Post Office in a corner-shop compared to a hand-painted sign.

One of the most important aspects of a good website is good quality content. You could be selling the secret of eternal life, but a website with glaring spelling, grammar and punctuation mistakes will be resolutely ignored. It is essentially the same as the difference between the degree of trust you would put in a BBC News reader or Del Boy from Only Fools and Horses.

Good quality content offers an added bonus. In the same way that a shop on the High Street is more likely to attract business than one in a dark and dank back alley, a website which comes up first on web search engines is going to get more clicks. Obtaining that top spot online is a lot easier than obtaining prime business real estate, though. You merely need to optimise your website for the search engines - better known as 'search engine optimisation' or SEO.

The most important aspect of SEO - and the one most likely to boost your rankings and results - is good quality content. Google is by far the most popular of the search engines and they have developed a number of algorithms which test the quality of each web page it checks, looking first for accurate, relevant content.

There are a host of other SEO techniques which have some parallels with real life. You can post a link to your website on an online directory (the equivalent of putting an ad in the Yellow Pages), post articles or blogs online (similar to getting media exposure) or develop a presence on social media websites like Facebook or Twitter (like developing a reputation on the local grapevine, through word-of-mouth). All have a noticeable impact on SEO.

If the Google search results are like the High Street and the first five rankings are the prime locations, what are the hoardings, billboards and banners? You generally see these well before you see the shops they are advertising and they can help attract business to those shops stuck with a less than ideal location. On the internet, they are the results which appear and around above your search results - the sponsored results or Pay-Per-Click adverts.

As the name suggests, these are adverts which are charged on the basis of how many times they are clicked, which potentially raises the profile of your company while only charging you for the people who actually go to your website. Furthermore, you need not go into direct competition with the big name brands over the advertising space and can compete on the basis of the quality of your advert. Using a professional PPC company will help you in this regard.

Professional services will always have the best results in every aspect of getting your business online. While most of the above steps can be done relatively easily by an amateur, it could take a lot of time to achieve anything like the same results, which is time not spent doing business. A professional organisation will achieve the very best results in the shortest possible time.