By Tom Warthen – President, ProSite Web Design LLC –

While the overall economy is sagging, e-commerce continues to flourish. U.S. online retail sales are expected to reach $278.9 billion in 20151. 3 essential websites that your small business can take advantage of right now to improve its online presence are described below. Best of all, they are all FREE!

#1 – Facebook

Commerce continues to rapidly move online and to mobile devices, increasing the importance of “virtual referrals” as consumers turn to online recommendations from friends, family and other consumers prior to purchasing products and services. Consider the following statistics2 and see why every business should have a Facebook marketing presence. Chances are, your customers are already there.

  • Facebook has more than 500 million active users
  • 50% of Facebook’s active users log on in any given day
  • Average Facebook user has 130 friends
  • People spend over 700 billion minutes per month on Facebook

#2 – Open Directory Project

The Open Directory Project at is the largest, most comprehensive human-edited directory of the Web. The Open Directory powers the core directory services for the Web’s largest and most popular search engines and portals, including Google and hundreds of others, which can increase your site’s search rankings. Once you add your site, the submission review process can take a few weeks but the submission itself takes just a few minutes and costs you nothing but your time.

#3 – Google Places for Business

Google Places for Business allows your business to post a free listing profile that makes it easier for your customers to find you. It also allows you to engage customers with photos, online offers, and details about your products and services (all within Google itself). Your business can then be displayed within the popular local search results map making it more likely to be seen and visited. The search engine giant captures close to 80% of the overall search queries3, so it is imperative that your business has a strong presence there. Once you set up your free Google account and Google Places profile you can analyze the traffic your profile receives, including the keywords that users enter in a search when they find your business. You can also see whether or not they click through to your website.

Read step-by-step instructions on How to Claim Your Local Business Listing In Google.

Armed with these free online marketing tools you can now make smarter business decisions.

Contact ProSite Web Design to see how we can help with all your online marketing needs.

Tom Warthen is the President of ProSite Web Design LLC and has been helping businesses looking for a high return on their online marketing investment since the early days of the Internet in the 1990s. To learn more about how to make your website the best it can be, and to contact ProSite Web Design for a consultation, visit


1. Sucharita Mulpuru. “eCommerce Growth Accelerates Following ‘The Great Recession'” 28 February 2011. Web. Forrester. 5 March 2011.,_2010_to_2015/q/id/58596/t/2

2. “Press Room – Statistics” Unknown Publish Date. Web. Facebook. 15 March 2011.

3. “Search Engine Market Share – Search Engine Usage Statistics” 5 March 2011. Web. Stat Owl. 5 March 2011.