A website that told visitors a little about your business, showed them bios of your staff and had a “contact us” form used to be perfectly acceptable and useful.

Today, not so much. A static Web presence that talks about you 95 percent of the time is no longer a helpful or useful marketing tool. Your Internet visitors expect more, and if you want to convert them to customers, you’re going to have to oblige.

Your website needs to focus on your visitors and their needs. You need to help them understand how you can help them and why you’re the best fit. And believe it or not, you don’t do that by talking about yourself.

In previous columns, we’ve explored the idea that before people can buy from you, they need to know + like = trust you. You can make incredible inroads on that equation with your website, if you take it to a new level.

KNOW: If they can’t find you on the Web, you don’t exist. And ranking well when you search for your business’s name doesn’t count. If you don’t occupy the No. 1 position for your own company’s name, you’re in serious trouble.

If I didn’t know you existed, what should I search for to find you? What words would people use if they were in the market for what you sell? Make a list of the most common phrases or word combinations (like Des Moines AND dry cleaners).

In the olden days (three to five years ago) there were all kinds of “tricks” to help you rank well for those key words. But today, you need to create helpful, valuable content that your prospects would find useful that naturally use those critical words or phrases. That will serve two purposes. One, it helps your Web visitors begin to see how helpful you could be to them and the depth of your expertise. And it will have impact on the search engines over time and improve your rankings.

LIKE: We like people who help us. We like people whom we get to know. We like people who capture our attention and seem to care about us. We don’t like people who only talk about themselves and how great they are.

By creating articles or other content that give your Web visitors something they can immediately use, they’ll come to appreciate you. They’ll also think of you in a favorable light in terms of your knowledge and expertise.

Hopefully your website will also “feel like you” in that it will convey your company’s personality and what you’re like to work with. As they opt to connect with you on social networks (which they can find on your website, right?), they’ll get an even better sense of what it would be like to work with you.

TRUST: It used to be that if someone wanted to buy something from us, they called or stopped in. But today, the average consumer (both business to business and business to consumer) does 65 to 70 percent of his or her shopping online before ever making contact.

So your prospects are almost 75 percent through their decision-making process at the time you first encounter them. Which means your website needs to move them pretty far along the know + like = trust equation.

In the early days of the Internet, your site was just a brochure. But today, it has to be a helpful, smart salesperson, ready to engage and connect with potential customers. Is your site ready?