You have a great website. You may even be happy with the traffic it's getting, though the leads could always be better. Social media? Kind of an afterthought. You don't have a lot of time to spend on Facebook, and you're not a celebrity whose tweets are reported as front-page news.

Here's the point I'm making: Social media — defined in the broadest sense as blogging, forums, bookmarking — will seriously step up your online marketing and drive more traffic to your website. It's not a sideline or a divertissement. It's key to what you're trying to do, which is get more leads.

Old online marketing was a one-way conversation that a homeowner had with your website. Online marketing today is the atomized media of Facebook, Twitter, social bookmarking, local business directories, forums, and on and on. In the old online marketing, you relied on your website and old-fashioned SEO (search engine optimization) to make you No.1 in your market. Today, you have to participate in the bigger world where all these media come together.

This all about content creation. You want to create the kind of content that helps people in their search for solutions to home renovation or repair problems. That way, people come across your name and your company's name while online wherever they are, and they come to view you as someone who can help them.

Two Big Plusses

First, when you feed content into the Web you end up with a strong SEO benefit. That's because in driving linkages to all these social media, you're signaling search engines that you're being talked about. Secondly, as people hear and read about you, you position yourself locally as the go-to guy for whatever it is you specialize in, whether that's roofing, siding, windows, or bath liners. You establish the perception of yourself as an authority.

Here's my first suggestion: start small. If you're not doing any of this now, or what you're doing doesn't produce results, begin with a blog on your website. Having a blog is the single most important thing you can do.

What to write about? Easy. Set up a Google alert with all the keywords you're trying to rank for. You'll get a ton of articles you can use for ideas or that you can comment on and link to. Meanwhile you're adding content that's local and new. Every post on your blog can be indexed by search engines. You can also automate posting of your blog to other places through sites such as Tumblr, so other people can grab your blog post and it proliferates. Post at least once a week.

The second step is to get yourself a Facebook business page and post three or four times a week. Don't go insane with it. If you post seven times a day, you're just going to irritate people and they won't pay any attention to you.

A basic level of social media is critical for a well-optimized website. You can't separate SEO from social media. All this distributed content gets your name out there and helps make your site more indexable. That pushes your site to the top of search rankings. And the more places you show up, the more likely it is that people will be in touch with you.

—Chris Marentis is founder and CEO of GenNext Media. Have a question you'd like Chris to answer in his column? Reach him at