How To Build An Online Presence For Your Business in 9 Simple Steps
In order to succeed, your business needs to have a strong presence. You need a great storefront, prominent advertising, and influence in your industry. In addition to all this, you need a solid online presence.
As more and more consumers begin researching businesses online, it’s crucial that your business has a great website, active social media accounts, and accurate pages in popular business directories. Establishing a great online presence can help customers find your location, strengthen your brand, and increase your online sales.
Here’s what it takes to develop a great online presence for your business.
Table of Contents
What Is An Online Presence?
Your business’s online presence is the overall impact of all the places that your business exists online.
This includes your business website, your social media accounts, and your pages in business directories, such as Yelp and Google My Business. Your online presence can also include images of your business, blog posts you’ve written, videos you’ve created, and more. Every mention of your business on the internet contributes to your online presence.
Why Do I Need To Create An Online Presence?
It’s critical that your business establishes a strong online presence, as consumers are more and more likely to look for businesses online. According to BrightLocal’s Local Consumer Review Survey in 2019, 33% of respondents used the internet daily to find a local business in the last year. An additional 16% of consumers said they looked for a business online multiple times per week. Creating and maintaining a good online presence helps new customers discover your services, and it encourages former customers to return to your business.
Also, an online presence on directories, such as Google My Business and Yelp, gives customers a chance to leave reviews of your business. These reviews can have a big impact on future customers. One survey in BrightLocal’s Local Consumer Review showed that 36% of survey participants always read reviews of local businesses, while 18% read reviews regularly, and 27% read them occasionally. It’s important to provide a space for customers to find these reviews.
There are many additional benefits to maintaining a strong online presence. Here are just a few:
- Help customers locate your business
- Use reviews to attract new customers
- Market your business through content marketing
- Establish a strong sense of brand
- Encourage repeat customers
- Show up more consistently in search results
9 Ways To Build A Strong Online Presence
How can you build a strong online presence for your business? The key is quality and consistency. Businesses with a good online presence work to create a quality brand and website. Then, they regularly engage with customers through comments and social media. Keep reading to learn how you can build a strong online presence.
1) Create A Great Website
Whether your business is strictly online or you operate a brick-and-mortar location, you need a quality website to attract new customers. Fortunately, these days it’s easy to build a well-designed website using popular website builder tools.
For businesses that are setting up a website for the very first time, we recommend both Wix and Squarespace. Both of these website builders have easy-to-use drag-and-drop design tools as well as advanced features that fit the needs of many businesses. For new online stores, we suggest using Shopify, which gives you the tools you need to build a brand new website and process orders on that site.
We could write an entire article on How To Create A Website For Your Business (in fact, we have!), but for now, you should focus on a developing a website that includes:
- Mobile-Friendly Design: Read more in our article, What Is Responsive Web Design & Does Your Site Need It?
- Fast-Loading Webpage Speeds: Aim for under three seconds.
- A Regularly Updated Blog: Read 5 Reasons Why Your Business Should Have A Blog.
- Prominent Contact Information: Make it easy for customers to locate and contact you.
2) Make Sure You’re Listed On Business Directories
One of the first steps you should take in establishing your online presence is to make sure your business is listed in popular business directories.
- Help customers find your store location
- List business hours
- Provide reviews from past customers
- Feature images of your business
Claim your business on each business directory and then update your listing to ensure that all contact info, business hours, and website links are up to date. Google My Business even lets you set a logo and cover photo for your listing.
After you set up your listing, you should keep an eye on customer comments. Respond to negative comments to resolve issues or address misunderstandings. For more information on listing your business on Yelp, check out our article: Should I Use Yelp For Business Owners?
3) Have A Consistent Brand
As you create pages for your business on multiple online platforms, it’s important that you remain consistent in both your branding and your messaging.
There are a few steps to creating a consistent brand across your website, social media, and business directories. You should use a consistent logo and consistent brand colors across all your sites. You should also work to develop a consistent tone in your written communication, whether it’s casual, professional, or informative.
This last step, developing a consistent “personality” for your business, can be challenging. To make it simpler, some businesses choose to create a persona that embodies their brand. For example, a fitness brand might envision their ideal customer and develop a brand persona around that ideal customer. Then, that fitness brand keeps that persona in mind when creating new content.
Another way to develop a consistent brand is to study your company’s values internally. When you’ve identified your values (e.g., sustainability, transparency, service, integrity), you can work on demonstrating your values publicly through the content you choose to post.
4) Implement Best SEO Practices
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the practice of adjusting your website with the goal of ranking higher up in search engine results. SEO is a complicated subject, and best practices are continually modifying with each major update of search engine algorithms. We recommend that you look into SEO learning resources, including keyword software, such as SEMrush, as well as advice from experts, such as Neil Patel. For now, try a few of these reliable tips to improve your site’s SEO:
- Design Your Site For Mobile: Google prioritizes sites that work well on mobile. Experts now recommend that you design your website first for mobile and then make adjustments to accommodate larger screen sizes (instead of the other way around).
- Write Custom URLs & Title Tags: URLs and title tags that use real words perform better in search engine results than URLs that include a jumble of letters and numbers. Customize your site’s URLs and title tags, and be sure to include relevant keywords.
- Keep Your Site Fresh: Sites that are updated frequently do well on Google. One of the best ways to keep your site fresh is to publish a blog. Doing so will not only motivate you to post new content frequently, but it will also give you an opportunity to include more keywords on your site.
5) Offer Valuable Content
One way you can build your online presence is to regularly publish content, such as videos, infographics, blog posts, and images, that benefit your customers. Valuable content typically falls into one of two categories: informative or entertaining. Aim to create content that your customers appreciate and trust. This practice is called content marketing.
According to Ascend2’s Content Marketing Engagement Report in 2019, 60% of marketing professionals think research and case studies are the types of content that their audiences find most trustworthy. The second most popular answer was photos and infographics, with 34% of marketing professionals saying that their audiences trust this form of content.
If it fits with your business’s brand, you should aim to provide these types of content: research, case studies, photos, and infographics. And whenever possible, you should provide that content for free.
6) Be Active On Social Media
Social media is a great place to engage with customers regularly and strengthen your brand. When it comes to maintaining your social media sites, your goal should be to post regularly (at least once a day) and frequently interact with customers who comment on your pages.
For some sellers, this may mean that you can only manage one or two social media accounts, and that’s okay! Consider which social media platforms your audience uses most often, and prioritize those platforms.
Online sellers may be surprised to learn that you can even sell products on social media. Use Shoppable Posts on Instagram, Buy Buttons on Pinterest, and Facebook Shops on Facebook and Instagram. For more information on selling on social media, try our article, How To Sell On Instagram With Shoppable Posts.
To learn more about running an effective social media site, head over to our Guide To Social Media Marketing.
7) Show That You’re An Expert
A solid online presence allows you to demonstrate expertise in your industry. Use your blog to share industry insights and consider submitting guest posts to other blogs.
You also might consider branching out into forums, such as Reddit and Quora. Answering questions on these sites can give you more credibility and draw more attention to your business. What’s more, it can occasionally give you a boost in SEO.
8) Ask Customers For Reviews
Customer reviews can make a huge impact on your business’s success! One survey in BrightLocal’s Local Consumer Review showed that the average consumer reads ten online reviews before they feel they can trust a business. Use your pages in business directories, your social media accounts, and your website to display reviews from past customers.
When customers have a good experience with your business, ask them to visit your site on Google or Yelp and leave a review. Some businesses even incentivize customers to leave reviews with a discount off a future purchase.
A word of caution: While it’s okay to request reviews from real customers, you should never attempt to write false reviews. It is easy to spot fake reviews, and customers will lose faith in your business if you engage in this practice.
9) Consider Online Advertising
One final way to increase the impact of your online presence is to purchase online advertisements. Online advertisements (such as Google AdWords) typically work on a Pay-Per-Click (PPC) model.
In this model, you place bids on relevant keywords for an ad, and when a potential customer clicks your ad, you pay the amount set by your bid. PPC advertising can be an expensive marketing method, but it is a good option for many online businesses.
If you own an online business that has no physical location whatsoever, you should consider investing in PPC ads. In particular, PPC works well for eCommerce businesses that can market specific products online since customers are easily able to complete a purchase after clicking the ad.
Monitor, Maintain & Adjust Your Online Presence As Necessary
Nothing in business is truly “set it and forget it.” Once you have established a solid online presence on your website, social media sites, and business directories, you’ll need to maintain that online presence through regular monitoring and updates.
Tools To Monitor Your Online Presence
Take advantage of web analytics tools, such as Google Analytics and Google Search Console, to monitor to impact of your online presence. You can measure things, such as what types of website content attract the most visitors, how well your social media efforts are working, and which pages are the most effective at converting visitors to paying customers.
Keep up to date on your site’s successes and failures, and adjust your strategies to do better in the future.
How To Maintain Your Online Presence
In addition to monitoring your site’s traffic and performance, you should continually update your information across the web. Make sure you keep content fresh and respond to customer comments. Here are a few tips:
- Maintain Your Website: Maintain your site by regularly running server updates and updating plugins and security patches.
- Post New Content: Keep your site active with new blog posts, and keep engaging with customers on your social media pages.
- Check Customer Reviews: Read any new customer reviews on pages, such as Yelp and Google, and respond to negative comments. Aim to make things right with your customers, and don’t start flame wars.
- Verify Contact Info: Regularly check your contact information to make sure everything is correct.
- Check For Outdated Links & Pages: Look for old and broken links and pages. Outdated links can make customers think your business doesn’t exist anymore.
Don’t Be Afraid To Adjust
Flexibility is a winning quality when it comes to online marketing. If some element of your online presence isn’t working, whether it’s your social media sites, your blog, or your website, don’t be afraid to try something new. Use A/B testing to figure out what works and what doesn’t, and try out new platforms and social media accounts. As always, use monitoring tools to track the success of your new strategies and decide what you want to keep as you move forward.
Resources To Get You Started
Building an online presence for your business can be a time-consuming process, but it is worth the payoff in the end. As you begin, prioritize creating a website for your business and listing your business on online directories. These are the first places customers will land when they search for your business.
For more advice on setting up a great website, try our posts on How To Create A Website For Your Business and 15 Tips For A Better Business Website. For more information on succeeding on social media, take a look at our Guide To Social Media Marketing.