Yolanda Michelle Hairston | יולנדה מישל הרסטון
10 Powerful and Practical Ways To Improve Your Web Presence
The 2015 Local Media tracking Study found that 40% of consumers start their path to purchase by searching for local businesses via search engines (like Google and Bing). That means an overwhelming number (60%) are utilizing company websites, mobile apps, review sites, and directories online to make informed decisions about where to spend their money for goods or services.
In the vast number of businesses online, how do you make sure you stand out in the crowd and higher than your competition? By increasing your web presence. Web presence optimization is the art and science of being found online. It incorporates Search Engine Optimization (SEO), search and content marketing, social media, social public relations, and reputation management. Storefront retailers with optimized websites record an average 23% in growth. Increasing your web presence for a nearly 25% Return On Investment is certainly a smart business decision and worth your attention and efforts.
What Is Web Presence And Why Does My Business Need To Be Concerned About It?
Your business strategy is to set goals for growth and development to facilitate your long-term success. The hallmarks are to differentiate your business and capture leads to convert into customers. Whether your business is small or medium-sized and local, or a corporate giant with name recognition, you need to stay relevant and accessible in order to meet your goals and to be successful. For each start-up that is launched, several more are being developed to do or create the same. Competition looms, and you want to make sure you are getting as much of the pie for your product or service as possible.
Therefore, as the marketing landscape changes and powerful “word-of-mouth” advertising shifts from person-to-person to Facebook, Yelp!, and blog posts, businesses of all kinds must become strong players in the online arena. If your competitors are offering promotions via Twitter, don’t miss out on leads because you don’t have an active account. If your direct competition ranks high on a Search Engine Results Page (SERP), it is imperative that your website is seen within those results as well. Businesses exist to make money, either for profit or to be able to serve greater numbers, and the web is one of the strongest tools and resources to help your business make more of it. There are many tips, tricks, and methods you can employ to increase the number of people visiting your website, and these are what we believe to be the 10 most powerful and practical ways to increase your web presence. Continue reading as we take a close look at:
·Creating a professional website to express quality and professionalism
·Optimizing how visitors find you in search results
·Increasing your traffic with paid advertisements
·Using social media to generate buzz about your website and product or service
·Relationship building with bloggers
·Engaging in online communities
·Developing your authority in online forums
·Linking to your site on directories
·Informing and growing your audience with email
·Analyzing for improvement
1. Create A Professional Website
Whether you employ a web designer or create your website yourself using sites like Wix or Squarespace, be sure to create a website that highlights your quality and professionalism. This is achieved by giving attention to four important points: Visuals, Responsive Design, Concise Messaging, and Content.
1. Visuals – As the adage goes, “First impressions count.” Visitors to your site make judgments on your business within the first few seconds of arriving at your website. Colors, images, and even the appearance of spelling and grammar mistakes impact those impressions of you. Put your best foot forward to give a great impression by paying careful attention to visuals. There are several excellent guides online to assist you in this design process.
2. Responsive Design – Internet users interact with mobile digital media at 51% (compared to desktop at 42%), and that number continues to grow each year. Responsive Design ensures that your website is viewed properly on mobile devices like smartphones and tablets. Sites that are not “mobile-friendly” with a responsive design are clicked through almost immediately, resulting in loss of sales as well as potential leads. Search engines also understand that most mobile intent is local, so your mobile-friendly website can help you rise above your competition in search results.
3. Concise Messaging – Clearly communicating your value in text and images helps increase conversions. Your site visitors are outbound when they are lost in flowery phrasing and irrelevant images. Your messaging should match your mission, values, and business identity. An average website reader will stay on your page for just 15 seconds before bouncing to another page—can you capture their attention and speak to them in a way that will keep them on your site longer (and long enough to convert them)?
4. Content – The content on your website, be it text (articles and blog posts), images (pictures, memes, videos), or audio (podcasts) should be engaging. Does it resonate with the visitor? Does it spark an interest that will get them to be a repeat visitor? Does it establish you as an authority with whom they want to do business? Your engaging content also falls into two categories you need to consider: Fresh and Evergreen. Fresh content that is new content (and is usually evidenced by a date that it was posted or by the timeliness of the information). Evergreen content is usually informative and always stays fresh; it is content that site visitors will return to often as a resource and will educate new site visitors. Content counts, and it is paramount in increasing your web presence. You will see content’s connection to other points in this list and why it is of high importance for increasing your web presence.
2. Optimize How Visitors Find You In Search Results
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the science of directing customers to your website via search engines (the most popular being Google). It is the essential and fundamental work applied to your website to make sure your business is seen and ranked by search engines so that you appear in the results when customers and leads need to find you.
You have created a professional website that you want to have as many site visitors as possible, and you want those site visitors to stay on your site’s pages long enough to be positively influenced leading to a decision to support your business.
The building blocks of SEO are keywords, which are words or phrases about your business. Start by choosing 3 to 5 essential keywords that someone would enter for a search that would lead them to your website. These keywords should appear in the copy on your site in order to enhance your search engine rankings.
A word about keywords: Short-tail keywords are words which are usually less specific and target larger groups in search. Long-tail keywords are phrases someone will more likely use when they are closer to the point-of-purchase. These keywords are more specifically used for niche markets, and you should pay be mindful of them considering your business. To increase your presence across the Internet, you will need a good mix of short- and long-tail keywords, and pay close attention to keywords pertaining to your specific brand and market versus general keywords for SEO.
How do you get the keywords to work? Search engines, as well as website creation sites, have tools available to help you enter, modify, and monitor your keywords and their performance. SEO experts can be invaluable resources to analyze and suggest top performing keywords for you as you start your website and as you make changes to your website as your business grows.
3. Increase Your Traffic With Paid Ads
A relatively easy and quite effective way to drive traffic to your website is to use paid search advertising. Pay-per-click (PPC) is paying for display ads on search engines in the sponsored results section of the page, and is incredibly effective for getting exposure for your business.
65% of people click on Google Ads when they are looking to buy an item online, and that percentage is growing.
Regarding PPC, you are utilizing keywords and search terms to defend and to promote your brand above others in the same market. More general keywords will not be effective in a PPC campaign.
If you have the funds to run PPC advertising campaigns for your long-tail keywords, you will find that, in conjunction with your SEO efforts, it is a lucrative way to bring more qualified traffic with high conversion potential to your website.
4. Generate Buzz on Social Media
buzz. n. Anything that creates excitement or stimulus.
From Facebook to Twitter, Instagram to LinkedIn, YouTube to Pinterest, and a slew of sites that are popular even if not on the tip of everyone’s lips (CafeMom, Flickr, and Tumblr, to name a few), social media websites and their mobile apps are the best ways to get people talking about your business. Other benefits of having active accounts on social media are social proof, real-time communication with leads and customers, branding, and economic, effective advertising. There were 1.87 billion social network users in 2014; an incredible number of people who are online who you don’t want to miss reaching with your message.
Search engines are recognizing the enormous efficacy of social media, and its content often appears high in SERPS.
There are 4 best practices for using social media that boost your SEO:
Grow your number of followers, and make sure they are quality followers. Do your best to make sure you are interacting with real people and not “dummy accounts.”
Encourage external inbound linking by sharing high-quality, authoritative content.
Optimize your posts for searches with strong anchors like video clips, infographics, articles, and compelling photos. Be sure to use descriptive titles, framed within a specific query, and use relevant keywords.
Make an appeal to social sharing on your posts.
5. Build Relationships With Bloggers
Connect With Blog Influencers
Working with bloggers specifically to create genuine, authentic, content to promote your business is called Blog Outreach. This tactic is public relations-focused, and the goal is to influence people rather than purchasing placement for your branded content. It’s a way to get others to do the work for you, and blog influencers can successfully drive action, not only awareness.
If you have the time and inclination, identify influencers with a resource like BuzzSumo, and start relationship building and submitting your content to appear on blogs related to your industry, market, product, or service.
Blog Outreach via Online PR
For most businesses, connecting with blog influencers can be a daunting, time-consuming project that requires many resources. This way of increasing your web presence may be something you considering outsourcing to someone knowledgeable and connected in the world of Online Public Relations.
Online PR encompasses digital marketing techniques associated with SEO, partnership building with influencers, and social marketing. Experts in the field have a wealth of resources at their disposal and are able to position you to see measurable increases in your web presence via their connections and portfolios.
There are an estimated 152 million (and growing) blogs online, with the majority of major media outlets and industry influencers maintaining popular blogs. Getting your content posted on niche and localized blogs can build high-quality inbound links to boost your website’s organic search results, which will bring you more valuable exposure.
Reasons To Use Online PR:
You want to increase your website’s exposure
You see the value of having your links and content published across the Internet
You understand that customers and leads are influenced by content they read online
You do not have the resources of time and connections to do proper blog outreach on your own
You are in a niche market and are finding barriers to entry for blog outreach
6. Engage In Online Communities
Online communities (or groups) are comprised of people who share the same interests as your business. Community members have profiles about themselves, and they post, share, and chat with other members.
The beauty of online communities as it pertains to growing your web presence is that communities are greatly segmented—by niche, location, language, and many other parameters. Larger businesses can hone in on specific aspects and join applicable communities, SMBs can find relevant ones, and very specific target markets can be found within online communities as well.
These communities provide a great opportunity for you to engage with potential site visitors, to offer some customer service to customers, to educate your audience, and to build your reputation.
Your business’s participation in communities has a direct effect which can be measured and evaluated in several aspects. As we’ll discuss, measurement (analysis) is an important way to increase your web presence.
7. Develop Your Authority In Forums
If you want to improve your business’s brand awareness and reputation while driving more traffic to your website, you can do so by developing your authority in pertinent forums.
Online forums are places where visitors (usually members) have discussions (a popular Q&A online forum is Quora) and post messages, questions, and answers. There are approximately 300 million forums, offering you considerable reach to customers and leads. A link to your site in your signature can receive numerous impressions and clicks.
Dig in and post your content, answer questions, engage in conversations, and make a name for your business in a forum. It takes time, but you can reap great rewards when you position yourself as a thought-leader, an innovator, an authority in your field of business. Buyers are more likely to do business with trusted names they know and with those who demonstrate that they really have a handle on what they are doing. Developing authority establishes you as a leader who deserves one’s business.
8. Link To Your Site On Directories
As previously mentioned, most Internet users employ mobile devices, and thus, search engines are focusing on what’s local in their results. Having a profile on a local business directory (and certainly, market or industry directories, too) with a link to your business’s website increases your chances of being seen by leads and customers.
Popular directories like Yelp, Yahoo! Local, Google+ Local, and Internet Yellow Pages allow you to take advantage of their popularity in order to direct a great number of people to your site. Indexes for local businesses often use shared data, so the more directories on which you are listed, the higher you can rank in local searches.
Most directory listings are free and the site exposure is priceless.
9. Inform and Grow Your Audience Using Email
Whether you call it a newsletter or an email list, utilizing sign-ups on your website to receive your information is not only a great way to interact with customers and leads and to keep track of conversions, it is also an incredibly effective way to grow your audience.
Sign-ups are opt-ins; if a visitor to your site takes the time to enter their email address, it’s a pretty good indicator that they are serious about their interest in your business and learning more.
Use email for retention as well as growth, to thank your customers for their business, advertise offers, and obtain referrals.
10. Improve Your Efforts Through Analysis
Speaking of your email list, there is a wealth of data you can access and should be organizing and reviewing for your business. Your email list, with information on customer demographics and conversion rates is the tip of the iceberg regarding your growth numbers.
Increasing your web presence is a continual process that you can improve upon by analyzing what worked and what did not, which efforts to repeat and continue and which to discontinue or avoid.
Google Analytics, Rank Checker, SEOmoz Tools, are some of the best tools to help in your analysis.
Increasing your web presence can help you to reach an exponential number of people, local and around the world, in ways that traditional advertising cannot. These 10 ways are the most powerful in terms of results, and practical in terms of performance and resources. Start using them today and watch your business benefit.
Author: Yolanda M. Hairston, Content Manager for eTraffic