Businesses in all industries and of all sizes are employing some form or another of online marketing, but they may not have the proper online presence to draw in a consistent stream of new customers. It matters not if you have just started a new business or if you have a well-established business. You want generate new customers and referrals by optimizing your online presence. In this post, we help you understand exactly what your online presence is, and the essentials of how to develop a proper online presence for your business.
What Exactly is an “Online Presence”?
An online presence is the culmination of all the identities your business has created and the interactions those identities have performed online. An online presence is the entirety of what customers can see online involving your business. For a restaurant, it may include the Yelp review page. For a car shipping company, it may include the complaints and resolutions page the business has logged with the BBB (Better Business Bureau). An online presence includes websites, social media accounts, and any other associations that pop up when a user types your business name into the Google search bar.
From another perspective, an online presence is your digital marketing team. When optimized properly, it can spread brand awareness while transforming small digital interactions into potential leads for your business. Your business’s online presence has an enormous potential to guide and retain prospective customers and other possible collaborative businesses. This amount of power may seem daunting at first, but it doesn’t have to stay that way.
Improving your business’s online presence isn’t something that magically transforms overnight, but it is definitely essential for the long-term growth of your business. That is because in today’s day and age, the online presence is what allows people to find you and interact with you. Only through building an online presence can people get to trust you digitally, and that directly affects how they interact with your business in the real world. Think about this, if you see a very interesting product that you are interested in buying on Amazon, would seeing it have a 2.3 star average rating after only 2 reviews may you take a second thought before purchasing? Very easily so. Before the digital age, businesses thrived and traded upon word of mouth and trust with human interactions. Nowadays, that trust is mostly embedded into the online presence of your business. Without an online presence, or even worse, without a solid trustworthy online presence, the expectant growth of your company looking forward will not be great.
With all that being said, building your business’s online presence can be quite a challenge if a systematic approach is not implemented that streamlines and optimizes your invested time. The ins and outs of an online presence are something we here at XCEL Digital specialize in, but below, we have assembled 6 basic practices that will set you on the right path towards increased online traffic and hopefully increased customer flow.
1. Ensure that Your Website Is Mobile-Friendly
Everyone’s eyes are glued to their phone these days, and the majority of online interactions are performed through a mobile device rather than on a desktop computer or a laptop. In October 2016, mobile searches exceeded those from a desktop, and this number gap has only widened since then at an exponential rate. What this entails is that a website that is not mobile-friendly will drive most of its prospective customers away.
Another reason the mobile friendly aspect of your website is so important is that Google search has doubled down on the usage of mobile friendliness as a huge ranking factor. Google has made it easy to test your web page with this Mobile-Friendly Test tool. This tool effectively demonstrates how Google Search sees your pages on a mobile device.
2. Incorporate a Relevant Blog Into Your Website
Content is king. Content is king. Content is king. Everyone knows that mantra in the world of SEO. If you don’t regularly write or maintain an online record of your thoughts, you may feel a bit intimidated by the idea of blogging. Don’t be. This is the simplest method to maintain consistent communication with prospective customers and partnering businesses.
Nowadays, blogging is the keystone of a business’s online presence. Content can be easily shared, retweeted, relinked, and possibly even go viral. One blog can reach a much wider audience traditional word of mouth can ever go. Even more, if your blog is properly optimized with relevant backlinks to your own website, it may be the most effective way at engaging users online. Using a blog allows you to give your brand a personality, a voice, and to utilize a conversational tone that humanizes your business. For example, there are myriads of vegan products out there, but Sunwarrior brings awareness to their products by blogging their ideas on environmentalism, best recipes involving their products, as well as life improvement tips, all of which easily tie back into the general mindsets their readers or users might have or wish to develop. And this helps Sunwarrior overshadow their competitors in a following for vegan products.
Effectively, blogs also improve search engine rankings by employing keyword-rich content and creating additional indexed pages. Blogs are an essential communication platform where you can consistently publish favorable content that promotes your company. Here are some quick tips to help you get started on your blog.
3. Focus on Your Search Engine Optimization
Search engine optimization (SEO) is an essential part of any business’s digital marketing strategy. SEO is all about helping your website be found and ranked highly by search engines. The ultimate goal of SEO is to direct and increase human traffic to your website by ranking higher in SERPs (Search Engine Results pages). SEO also helps drive leads to your website while boosting your brand recognition. And finally, it gives your business the online credibility it needs to grow in this grossly competitive online world.
4. Invest in Online Advertising Campaigns
With organic SEO as discussed in the previous step, Google suggests waiting 3 to 4 months before seeing the fruits of your labor. Results are not immediate. As you actively attempt to improve your online presence through SEO, an excellent and cost effective alternative to gain web traffic is to employ the use of Google Adwords. Google Adwords may be especially effective for specific products or services. For example, a user searching for “San Diego barber shop with highlights” may immediately pop your barber shop business up as a sponsored result at the top of the results page. On specific products and services, the users are usually already in the “ready to buy” mindset, which is what makes Google Adwords so effective in these cases.
For other purposes, however, varying platforms may be more effective. For instance, if your product or service is attempting to reach business professionals, then LinkedIn B2B Marketing may be your best solution. Or, if your product is aimed at the 18-25 demographic of consumer, Instagram Advertising will easily be your most effective bet. Understanding your customer demographics is essential to maximizing your lead generation results with different advertising platforms.
5. Be Active on Social Media
Nowadays, social media can be a highly effective, if not the most effective, method to improve your online presence and reach new customer bases. The best social media results from interacting not only with the platform itself but with other participants. For example, a beauty blogger will gain more attention to her line of makeup products if she answers her follower’s questions about what ingredients are in a particular product. A beauty blogger that never interacts with followers or customers can expect to not have a great social media presence. While it’s essential to post consistent relevant content, posting useful articles and offering expert insights on websites like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn would greatly expand your business’s online visibility, especially if you interact with all your readers and customers. Visibility generates accessibility. And with accessibility, your business can build credibility. A well maintained credibility is an invaluable asset.
6. Get Listed on Key Directory Sites
Frequently, especially with localized searches, directory sites appear near the top of organic Google search results. For different industries, there are different essential directory sites. A few of these include Google My Business, Yelp, Facebook, MapQuest, and CitySearch. Google has claimed that they employ the use of these listings to aid in their ranking of your website.
All in all, you can build a successful online presence by creating relevant content, constructing a powerful social media presence, and building meaningful human relationships online. If you are not ready to take on all these steps alone, we here at XCEL Digital specialize in building your entire online presence and ensuring the best of lead generation and customer retention for your business. We are your best solution to optimize your digital sales force.