Being online doesn't guarantee exposure, and it doesn't ensure any exposure you do receive will be positive. As a business owner, you can't buy into the idea that if you are online, people will find you. It is up to you to make your presence known and to make it the kind of presence that will benefit you and your business. So, how do you do this? That's what we want to help you with today. Start with the foundation.
1. Domain Names
Your domain name is the first thing you need to consider when working toward an online presence. It is where people will find you. If possible, you want to buy your name or the name of your business. For example, JohnAdams.com. If you can't get the .com, then try for a different extension such as .net. You can also try variations of your name such as using a middle initial or occupation. For example, JohnRAdams or JohnAdamsplumber. These will at least narrow down results when people search for you. When you find your domain, buy it for as long as you can so nobody else has a chance to get it. It can also help, if you have the means to do so, to buy the various extensions of the domain name to avoid others being confused if someone else purchases the name.
Now that you have your domain name it is time to claim your spot on the Internet by building a website. Your website doesn't have to be large or fancy, but it has to draw people in, help them get to know who you are and encourage them to take the next step towards buying what you have to offer. Take time to determine what keywords people will use when searching for you. These are the words you need to incorporate throughout your site. Your name is a definite but so are things that state your profession, the product or service you are selling and anything related to those words. For example, if you are the plumber mentioned above, then you want your name and plumber being the main keywords but you also want to optimize for your location and include pages that highlight things like broken pipes, sewer services, etc. Register your website with as many search engines as possible.
As well as being SEO friendly, your website needs to be mobile responsive. We say this often because we want to drill it into your brains (not physically, don’t worry). But really, a website that is not mobile friendly is not a friend to users either. The majority of web-users are accessing sites through their mobile devices. If your website isn’t responsive for mobile, not only are you behind in the times, your website is virtually ineffective for the majority of users.
Your website should be inspiring and cause people to want to grow and be better with the product or service that you offer. If you’re looking at your site and see that lack of inspiration, you may not have the best online presence you had thought.
3. Social Media
Now it is time to get a bit more personal with those you want to find you, by joining in on social media.
Here is where many make the mistake of taking an all or nothing stance: “I should either be active on all platforms or not at all.” Neither is good. Social media is a valuable connection between you and your potential customers that you shouldn’t avoid entirely.
But, when you join too many platforms, you to spread yourself too thin. You won’t be able to keep up with each social platform, let alone continue taking care of your business.
Pick Facebook and two other social media sites that fit well with you. If you have a photography business, Instagram would be a perfect platform to highlight the photos you take as it is highly visual (the photo to the right is an example of the posts we've been creating for our Instagram). If you want to ensure a more personal touch, or you have a lot of short but sweet things to say, consider being a part of Twitter. If you are a recruiting agency, hone in your presence on LinkedIn. Remember that the point of having social media is to cultivate an online community, it’s not about pushing content. If you want a faithful following, take time to make sure your audience isn't bored, and make sure you create posts that are unique to you. You are highlighting what is special about your company.
Add in a forum that caters to the exact people you are targeting. Set aside a scheduled time to update your status on these platforms. Make sure you answer questions that followers ask. Answering questions show people you are human and knowledgeable about your topic. Additionally, comment on posts by those you follow and make yourself as helpful as possible on forums by offering advice.
A word on profiles needs to be said. Many people feel that a profile description on social media is unimportant, but that is not the case. In fact, search engines are more likely to find you by these profiles. Make sure you are thorough when filling out each profile. Add information that directs people to your website and maybe even the physical location of your business. The idea is to show people you are approachable and trustworthy. Trust is the single biggest thing you can garner when making people think of you as the provider of what they need.
Although you have a stellar domain name, a running website, and have written a profile on all of your social media channels, you will still need to create content. Creating worthwhile content is a daunting task for many. But, a simple tip for creating content is always to keep your audience in mind. Whether you’re writing for a blog, creating a short tweet, making an educational video, or planning an Instagram strategy, your audience should always be at the forefront of your mind. Who is your ideal customer? What types of posts would be helpful for her? What is her education level? Income level? Values? Motivations? Get into the head of your ideal customer and then write your content for them!
Not only should you think of your ideal customer when writing content, but your content should be rich with information and help. If you want to create content for others, it should be worthwhile for them. The most successful businesses give their best stuff away for free. The more helpful your content is, the more your audience trusts you and wants to listen to you. Consistency is an essential aspect of content creation as well. While your moral is high, create a content calendar and commit to posting once a week.
Maybe you have an online presence of some sort, but in all honesty, your website could be ruining your online presence. This post is the foundation of making your presence known on the Internet. Establishing an online presence is something that takes time and consistent effort on your part. Having a solid foundation, however, will help all the other pieces fall into place as you need them to. Look over this list and ask yourself what steps you can take today to help build or strengthen your online foundation.