The Internet puts all businesses on a level playing field. You don’t need to be a major corporation to get extensive exposure online. Even a small company can reach an international market and have thriving sales through an e-commerce application. There are more ways to advertise a small business online than there are days in a year.

The first step is to identify your market. Who buys your products? When they do an online search, what search terms or “keywords” do they use on websites like Google, Yahoo or Bing? This is the most important information you can have before you start advertising on the Internet, since it is the foundation for your entire marketing campaign.

Here’s a reminder of lessons learned from entrepreneur Ray Kroc, the founder of McDonald’s. He knew beyond the shadow of a doubt that the more real estate he owned with storefronts, the more of the fast food market he would capture. Because of this brilliant strategy, McDonald’s is a household name and billions of Big Macs are sold every year.

The same concept needs to apply to advertising online. The more places your potential customers see your logo or something that links back to your primary business website the more potential you have for sales. Unlike rock and dirt real estate, there is no limit to the amount of virtual space you can own. You need to have a huge web presence.

Apart from your primary website, you can have a many other websites as you want. There is no law against it. It is perfectly legal to have information about your small business on other people’s websites, always with a link back to you. Do this by writing articles and submitting them to syndication sites such as Ezine Articles or Go Articles. Use your keywords and a link to your site in the author resource box. (This is free advertising.)

Write interesting, humorous or noteworthy content for your main site. Submit links to your pages to social media sites such as Digg or Reddit. Write guest posts for other people’s blogs. Submit information about your company to reputable business directories. (Stay away from the “junk” directories that can pull your website down in the search engines.) Create a Facebook and Twitter page and video clips for YouTube. (This is also free.)

Have money to spend on advertising? Pay for ads in online trade magazines or journals read by your customers. You can also run Google AdWords or similar campaigns. You can hire a marketing company to do this, or you can do-it-yourself. The more time invested in online advertising, the sooner the name of your small business becomes a household word.