Want to Gain Traction Online? Do These 5 Things First
Your business’ online presence is more important than ever before. While just having a website used to put you far and above the competition, now it’s nearly impossible to succeed unless you’ve got a fully optimized digital profile.
The way consumers find and choose businesses has changed dramatically, and not keeping up with these trends will quickly leave your business behind.
Having a strong presence online allows you to leverage a competitive advantage against anyone else in your industry who’s not doing as much online as you are. To have a solid online presence, you need:
- A user-friendly, well-designed website
- Solid Google rankings
- Good online traffic to your website
- A portfolio of Google Reviews from customers
The better your online presence, the more likely potential customers will be to find your website and decide to work with you.
On the other hand, ignoring your website and other elements of your online presence for years will make the hill of customer opinion that much more difficult to climb and may end up costing you a ton of money and your reputation in the meantime.
5 Keys to Building an Online Presence
Because the internet landscape is so full of apps and opportunities, it can be overwhelming deciding where you should focus your efforts first. No one has the time, resources, or money to do everything right away, and that means you’ll have to carefully focus your efforts on what’s going to matter most at first to start getting traction.
If you’re looking to get your business on its way to the top, here are some things you need to focus on first:
Develop a Great Website
Your website has the capability to bring in thousands of potential customers each month. It’s essential that the impression they get is a positive one to keep them coming back.
Here are some things to keep in mind when designing your company’s website:
- Make it fast. Visitors expect websites that load in fractions of seconds on any device, and if your site is too slow you’re likely to lose them.
- Include strong calls-to-action (CTAs). It’s great to tell visitors all about the products or services you provide, but if you don’t give them a clear action to take, they won’t take it. Use buttons, forms, and other devices that point visitors in the direction you want them to go.
- Think of the user’s experience. Making a pretty website is great, but if it doesn’t function well and users can’t find what they need, all the splashy elements are pointless. Instead, focus first on making your website easy to navigate and then add in elements that are purely for design.
- Write great content. Your website is a way to showcase the depth of your knowledge – about your products or services, the industry you work in, and anything else related. Use the content on your website to educate and entertain your visitors and you’ll keep them coming back for more.
Optimize Your Website
Once you’ve got your digital space up and running, it’s time to optimize it to bring in new visitors. Without optimizing your website for the search engines, the chances that you’ll perform well enough to grab a solid share of the traffic is low.
Some things you need to make sure you’re doing include:
- Technical SEO: This includes tasks such as ensuring your page structure is solid, your titles and tags are well-written and include keywords, you’ve got the proper schema on all pages, and the speed of your pages is optimized. Technical SEO helps the search engines crawl and index your website more efficiently, helping you rank higher.
- Local SEO: If you provide goods or services to a specific geographic area, local SEO allows you to improve your chances of ranking well with Google for searches within your chosen area.
- Off-site SEO: How well your website performs with search engines isn’t just about what’s found when someone types in your URL. Things like business listings, citations, and links from other websites play a factor in how well you’ll rank.
- Content optimization: It isn’t enough for your website to feature well-written content; it also must be structured in order for users to easily find and read it.
The saying, “Content is king” is common for a reason: The search engines love to see websites that are frequently updated with fresh, informative content relevant to readers.
And, with Google’s new “helpful content update,” ensuring that you’ve got well-written blogs meant to be helpful to people looking for information on the products and services you offer. One of the keys to this update is that Google is going to prioritize human-written content over content that’s obviously spun by a bot just to put words on the page.
What this means for your business website is that you must ensure that the content you’re creating is the highest quality you can make it. If that means you hire a professional to plan and write your blog posts, it’s an expense that’s likely to pay off in the overall success and performance of your website.
The best thing about creating regular blog content is that you can repurpose it in so many ways that benefit your business, including:
- Sharing it on social media to expose your brand and content to new audiences.
- Including it in email campaigns that go out to current customers who may find it helpful.
- Using it to create paid digital ads that drive even more business to your website.
- Creating whitepapers, ebooks, or other downloadable assets you can use to capture visitors’ email addresses.
How often you blog really depends on your business needs and your capabilities. If you can blog weekly and it’s well-written content that is useful to your readers, do it. But if you can only swing one blog per month, that works, too.
What’s most important is that the content you create is high-quality and goes into enough detail to do the subject justice. It’s far better to create fewer blog posts that are well-written, thoroughly researched, and engaging than to write a lot of small pieces that are haphazardly thrown together.
Gather Online Reviews
What your current customers think of your business goes a long way toward helping you gain new customers. And, thanks to the internet, you don’t have to worry so much about word of mouth to help your business thrive.
Instead, if you focus on collecting reviews from your customers on platforms such as Google, you can create a positive impression of your business when people search for you.
Online reviews boost your credibility, as users see that people just like them have interacted with you and had positive experiences—or, if the experience was negative, that you worked to make it right for them.
Here are some key things to remember about collecting online reviews:
- Make it easy for people to find your review profile. If you want customers to leave you a review, make it easy for them to figure out how to do that. Add a QR code with a link to receipts or packing slips, and include a link directly to your Google Business profile on all your emails.
- Follow up often. The more you remind people (within reason) to leave a review, the more likely they are to leave you a review. Put all your customer emails into a spreadsheet and upload them into a review collection tool. Many of these will automatically send emails requesting reviews, and then remove a customer’s email address from the list once they’ve left a review so you don’t keep bugging them.
- Ask in person. Simply asking people, face-to-face or over the phone, to leave a review can go a long way. Tell them how much it would help your business if they’d do so, and then give them a quick reminder on how to leave a review.
- Respond to as many reviews as possible—and always respond to negative reviews. Part of what visitors look for when reading reviews is to see how you respond to them. If you never respond to reviews, that’s a signal that you don’t value feedback enough to take time to read it. Instead, set aside time regularly to check your reviews and respond to any new ones. For more tips on how to respond to your online reviews, check out our blog, Should I Respond to Bad Reviews? What About Good Reviews?
- Don’t focus on getting 5 stars. While it may seem that having a 5-star average is the goal, it may not translate that way to visitors. For a potential customer, seeing only 5-star reviews feels like you’ve carefully curated your review profile, making you seem disingenuous. When it comes to making an impression, having a pristine profile isn’t important; instead, potential customers want to see that you read and respond to reviews and work to make negative impressions better.
Consider Paid Advertising
After your website is performing well and you’ve got a little extra money to throw at your marketing efforts, you may want to consider investing in paid advertising online. This is an especially important piece to consider if you’re in a highly competitive niche like home services or legal.
Paid advertising allows you to bid on keywords, putting your website at the top spot of search results, in front of more eyes on social media, or on a variety of websites across the internet.
You don’t have to invest big when you first begin paid advertising, but it is essential that you take the time to clarify your goals, budget, and strategy before you begin running ads. Otherwise, you may find that you’re just wasting money that could be put to better use elsewhere.
Your Expert Digital Marketing Team
Whether you’ve got a website that just needs a little bit of a boost or you’re starting your digital footprint from scratch, the team at 270net Technologies can help. We offer a variety of services targeted toward helping your small business grow, including website design, content creation, and full-scale digital marketing. Let us show you what we can do for you—Contact us today!