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A virtual web assistant is a person who helps a company or business with web-based tasks from a distance. The “virtual” part of the title owes to the assistant’s online-only presence. Most of these professionals work either from a home office or an outsourced location to provide services to organizations located elsewhere. Website optimization, page links and sponsored ads, and online content creation are their main tasks.
More and more, consumers are turning to the Internet as their first source of information for almost everything. Corporations are responding by building up their web presences, including purchasing sponsored advertising and expanding the strength and linking power of their homepages. These services require a lot of effort, however, and can be an expensive use of salaried employees' time. In order to save money and maximize resources, many businesses are looking outside of their own walls for web services.
Virtual web assistants work directly with companies to improve their Internet visibility, but they are usually paid only on a per-project, contract basis. They usually work remotely as independent contractors and may never interact with any of their client’s officers or employees in person. In most cases, they can do their work from almost anywhere.
The most basic virtual web assistant tasks are search engine optimization and link-building. Assistants can also advise companies about online ad management strategies; give creative assistance with website design and layout; and write content optimized for search engines, mobile platforms, or other niches. Technical assistance like web coding and intranet architecture can also fall within the list of a virtual web assistant’s responsibilities.
Most companies contract for virtual web assistant services through a sourcing agency. It is the agency that formally employs each assistant, and the agency that matches them to companies based on skills and project specifics. Agencies often offer packages of virtual assistance that can be as complete or as minimal as the client wishes.
Assistants can also be individual freelancers. Freelancers are common hires for small — particularly web-based — businesses and entrepreneurs. These kinds of companies often need someone to help shepherd them through the world of online promotion but cannot afford to hire expensive consultants or permanent web design staff.
In some cases, the phrase “virtual web assistant” can also be used to describe someone who acts as an administrative assistant, but who works virtually, or remotely, online. A virtual office assistant uses the Internet to connect with clients and perform basic office management tasks, including communication management, scheduling, and even answering phones in some cases. Hiring a virtual assistant, or VA, is a good way for a budget-conscious company to harness the power of the Internet while keeping an eye on overhead.