Why Should My Business Create a Strong Online Presence?
We undeniably live in a digital era. In 1995, less than 1% of the entire population present online. Today, at least 82% of smartphone users use a search engine such as Google and Yahoo to look up a local businesses. There was a 900%+ increase in “near me tonight/today” between 2017 and 2019 (Think with Google). Let’s just consider how much we use the internet and technology in our daily activities. Should the internet cease to exist, it would surely leave a void in our day-to-day functioning. In this article, we will discuss how to create a strong online presence for your business in detail.
If you are not maximising the online presence of your business, your organisation may miss out on reaching potential customers and opportunities. Apart from simply reaching more people as a result of the internet being of a part of our daily lives in the 21st century, there are additional advantages to creating and maintaining an active online presence.
Availability and Accessibility
Whether you are a retail business or a service provider, there are major advantages of running your business online. A brick and mortal business can only be visited at a specific time and a specific location. That means that the store will lose any potential customer who cannot access the location at that certain time. Online stores are growing in popularity, even more so after the difficult times of the pandemic.
What is an Ecommerce Store?
An ecommerce store is an online shop where you can add your items in a basket, check out and receive them directly. An example is the online store SHEIN, which has made itself available to all their customers online, and through their smart marketing became one of the most popular stores for the Gen Z generation – even though they don’t offer their products in a physical shop.
However, even for businesses which don’t sell tangible goods, there is still a world of opportunities opening itself up through the internet. When analysing how to create a strong online presence for your business, let’s for example investigate online learning organisations. The delivery of this service is different to offering tangible products online – but the benefits and unique selling points are in some ways similar, because distance learning allows students to study at their own pace, at any location they are situated. Read more about the benefits of online learning.
If the products or services your business offers cannot be sold online, there is still value in having a strong online presence. Even if the potential customer doesn’t purchase anything straight away, they can still visit one of your online channels at any time they choose and get all of the information that they need in order to move forward in their decision-making.
Evidence of Credibility
Online pictures, information and testimonials provide an evidence of trustworthiness and quality to your customers and other stakeholders. This is a great advantage of any business, however, it especially benefits the businesses that cannot give a ‘sample’ of their product to prove that they are credible and that their product or service is worthy of the attention. If we for example consider a gardening service – rather than giving the customer a physical evidence of the value of their work, they can show photographs and positive feedback on their website, which proves that they are good at what they do and that they should be considered for the service they offer.
Endless Marketing Opportunities
How to Create a Strong Plan to Launch an Online Presence for Your Business?
As the use of internet arose to become increasingly common, online marketing has become significantly important. Deeper, more advanced marketing strategies have been developed, which allows companies to raise awareness and interest of their products or services to the right audiences. Marketing is no longer simply about creating billboards and leaflets, rather it is incorporated in our every day surfing of the web – whether we realise it or not.
Incorporate modern marketing strategies into your plan. Read more about different ways to reach customers online below.
How Can You Promote Your Business Online?
To to create a strong online presence for your business, ask yourself where on the internet is your business already present. Is your company in Google Local Businesses Page Listings? Do you have a website? A Facebook account? If so, what is the quality of these digital platforms currently – do they contain the relevant information and branding, and are they up-to-date? How often is new content posted on your organisation’s website and social media? Let’s discuss online marketing strategies that will be beneficial for your organisation.
Here are the digital platforms every business should use to ensure they increase their reach to the maximum:
Google Local Business Page Listing
If you have a smartphone and use Google maps, you are likely familiar with this feature. When an individual idenitifies a need for a product or service, they often search for a business near them on Google. After that, Google provides a list of businesses in the area with information and pictures. The ranking of your business on this list will largely rely on your SEO optimisation (see below), however, you yourself have full control on the information that you decide to share. We suggest to ensure you include your up-to-date contact details and address, as well as appealing pictures. Companies that have a lack of contact details enclosed in their business page listings risk losing potential sales. If you have an opportunity to sell locally and haven’t yet created a Google Local Business Page Listing, visit www.google.com/business and click “Start Now.”
We, as people, do tend to judge a book by its cover sometimes when it comes to new businesses where we are looking to spend our money. Your website serves as evidence of the professionalism, credibility and reliability of your company. A well-made website, set apart from its competitors, can easily convey the message that your business has something to offer that other businesses don’t, and set it ahead of your competition. If you are in a sector where branding is not typically invested in, take advantage of this as an opportunity to create a strong online presence. This will set your business apart and make your products or services stand out.
How to Ensure That Your Business Website Drives Sales
Your website should be fully functional, with all of the links tested and working correctly, and relevant information about your products or services should be provided. Depending on the size of your business, you may have your own web developer or hire a company to complete the work on your website for you. Whichever route your company is headed, it’s important to track the progress of your website to ensure that it’s functional. Yourself or your employees should regularly examine the statistics of your website. For example, a high bounce rate means that customers reach your website, but leave very soon after.
56% and above would be generally considered a high bounce rate, though this may wary for some businesses, as they grow in awareness. If a bounce rate that is too high occurs, we want to ask why. Is it because they didn’t find what they were looking for? Was our website not user-friendly enough to navigate? Are we using the right fonts and colours to make the writing on our website legible?
SEO is highly interlinked with our two previous points – Google Local Businesses Page Listings and our website. Given the statistics mentioned above, the goal is that when a potential customer in their area looks up ‘such and such service near me’, our business pops up as one of the first (if we are selling locally). If our business appears further up in searches, this results in higher reach – and ultimately, a higher profit. There is a way to do this: communicate on your website in the words that will appeal to search engines (such as Google). It’s important to note that this is not a ‘quick win,’ but rather, a gradual process.
Where to Learn More About SEO?
Search Engine Optimisation is an essential part of creating a strong online presence for your business. Receive training in optimising your website for search engines for yourself or members of your staff: at Basegreen, we offer the Search Engine Optimisation for Business online course. This course takes 80 minutes and will cover all basic aspects of SEO, which will provide the skills and knowledge in SEO optimisation. View the list of our business e-learning courses here.
How Does SEO Work?
Keywords: When an individual searches for anything on Google, search engine ‘crawlers’ travel throughout the internet to find the most relevant content relating to the keywords the individual has typed in. This is why it’s important to know keywords that:
- People tend to search a lot
- Ideally aren’t used by your competition as much.
Once we identify these keywords, we should use them on our website and in our articles. For example, let’s say an individual searches for ‘women’s handbags’ – ‘Crawlers’ will be more likely to identify and bring up your website if it has ‘women’s handbags’ mentioned in different places on your website. However, it is important not to spam keywords on your website. Search engine can recognise when somebody is trying to abuse SEO, and these pages will not be recognised. The keywords you use should appear naturally in your main text, but it’s also important to add them to your page titles and image descriptions.
What is Link Building?
Further, optimise your website by making use of links. It will be great if other website can share your link, as this allows your website to be more trusted by a search engine. Having multiple links on your own website is however important as well. Linking to trusted sites, such as gov.uk also adds credibility to your website. We however want to ensure to only do this when it’s relevant, and not include too many links to external sites, as we don’t want to lead our visitors away from our website.
On that note, your visitors should never reach a ‘dead end’ on your website. Whatever they click on, be it a product or an ‘About us’ section, they should always have a link to click on that site – somewhere else to go. Else they could decide to close the page all together. The links you include on each page could for example be relevant products (‘Could we also interest you in…’). You should also have a way to go back to your homepage on every page of your website. The more you link your website pages together, the more beneficial it is for your SEO – and it also keeps your visitors engaged.
How Much Should You Post On Your Website?
Post new but quality content regularly. Quality and quantity are both important. If you regularly update your website with new content (such as blogposts), this has a positive SEO impact, as it shows that your website is active and contains a lot of information. Content that is time sensitive like blogposts has a very good impact on your SEO ranking.
However, we don’t want to just post content for the sake of it. Ideally, your content will be relevant to your customer base – something they want to read about, and ideally, share. If your visitors show interest by engaging with your posts, by commenting on them or sharing them on their own website or social media, that is also very beneficial for SEO.
What Does Mobile Optimisation Mean for SEO?
To create a strong online presence for your business, don’t forget to have your website optimised for mobile devices. 50.71% of searches were done on a mobile device in 2019 (SmartInsights). Without mobile optimisation, you could not only be missing out on visitors who struggle to view your website, but also rank lower in searches, as search engine favour websites that are optimised.
Social media is an effective platform to communicate with your customers. By identifying your target market, it’s ideal to pick between 1-3 social media channels that will be most suitable. More social media channels may be difficult to maintain – and you may not be reaching your target audience.
Social platforms refer to the kind of social networking we are doing: for example, sharing images (Instagram), social video marketing (Youtube) or social networking (Facebook and LinkedIn). Social channels allow for distribution and delivery, so that would include Instagram, Youtube, Facebook and LinkedIn themselves. We can then also make use of social media tools, which would mean tools to manage and make full use of our social media. For example, Sendible allows for scheduling all of our social media posts across all of our channels, and track our progress.
Which Social Media Channels Are Right for Your Business?
You may want to consider these most popular social media channels for businesses:
Get Started With LinkedIn
Ideal for B2B, as it is a social media channel designed for professional use. Ideal content is informative content with engaging pictures (for example, links to your blogposts). LinkedIn is often used for networking and building a strong presence on the internet.
Your Audience Is Likely On Facebook
Facebook: Facebook is used by almost everybody, so the audience is quite broad. Almost every company will have a presence on Facebook. Posting short engaging videos that people may want to share (such as quick how tos or testimonials) is a great way to reach an audience on this channel. If you post the type of content that others will want to share or tag their friends with, it will receive a lot of reach.
Microblogging on Twitter
Twitter’s users are most likely to be college graduates that live in a city. Twitter is great for sharing short, relatable content. You are aiming for people to retweet your content, which usually means it has to form some kind of connection to them.
There is a Large Market on Instagram
Instagram’s most active audience are young individuals. It is a very personal platform. Unlike the rest of social media platforms, Instagram users tend to follow you either if 1) you follow them back 2) you post content that is very relatable and engaging. It is not ideal for sharing ads unless done in a smart way (for example, if you sell t-shirts, you may want to take a picture of somebody modelling the t-shirt that will appeal to people who want to look like them). It’s great to post content that others will want to tag their friends in.
As a business, we should follow others back on Instagram with careful consideration. Don’t follow others back just so that they stay your follower. Such followers will most likely not be interested in your products and services, and following a lot of individuals as a business might not create the best image.
When Should You Post on Social Media?
Consider also the times when you post your content – is your audience active at that time? The best times to post may vary, but generally, the best times to post are weekdays 7-8 am (excluding Monday), 11am-1pm and 5-6pm (excluding Friday). The times are almost self-explanatory – before work, lunch time and after work. However, most people don’t want to view social media posts before work on Monday or after work on Friday.
Which Social Media Tool Should You Choose?
To schedule all of your posts, track your progress and generate reports, consider using a social media tool such as Sendible, Hootsuite or Tweetdeck. Depending on which tool you choose, there may be additional functionalities available – for example, task allocation, workflow tools, social listening features, inboxes and more.
All social media tools are slightly different and suitable for different kinds of businesses. However, most social media tools have free trials, giving you plenty of time to find the right one.
Are Hashtags Important?
It’s intrinsic to consider the use of hashtags. You can consider a lot of online tools that will help you generate the right hashtags relevant to your content, such as All Hashtag. Ensure to use limited hashtags that are very specific to your content. There is an exception with Instagram posts, where the hashtag limit is 30 hashtags, and it’s ideal to use as many of those as possible.
Where to Learn More About Social Media?
To receive further skills and knowledge in using Facebook and LinkedIn to reach customers, whether they are consumers or organisational buyers, try our Facebook for Business and LinkedIn for Business courses. Click here. Our suite of online lessons will show you more about how to build a strong online presence for your business.
Pay-Per-Click Google Ads, Display Ads and Social Media Campaigns
If you have a budget set for additional marketing, advertising your products or services via PPC ads, display ads or social media campaigns can generate some quick wins for your business. Different advertising methods will work for different organisations, depending on their goals and audience.
Should You Run Google Search Ads?
As discussed above, knowing how to be found on search engines is an important part of knowing how to create a strong online presence for your business. Most people search for businesses on Google. However, no matter how much hard SEO work you do, this should still be combined with investing in a successful Google PPC ad campaign. This means your business will show up on top, but you will need to pay for every click that is made. By using correct keywords, demographic and geographic information, you can ensure to reach the right audience. You can use Google Ad’s smart tools to help you with choosing the right keywords and optimising your campaign. Look into setting up Google Ads here.
Are Display Ads Good?
Display ads reach more than 90% of people who surf the internet. They are better for creating awareness and good business image rather than getting quick sales, as they will not reach ‘hot leads’ the same way Google Search Ads will (unless you run remarketing ads/use your own dataset). They are more dynamic, as images and branding can be used, and they also tend to be cheaper. Ensure to choose the right third party platform for your display ads; for example, a business that sells hair products could pay for a display ad on a local hairstylist’s website.
Should You Run Ads on Social Media?
Being the fastest growing advertising segment, social media ads are generally quite easy to use. Similarly to Google Ads, the right keywords and audience must be considered (in terms of their geographic location and demographics). This will again only reach cold/warm leads, except in retargeting ads/when a custom dataset is used.
How to Get Started With Promoting Your Business Online?
How to Create a Strong Online Presence For Your Business Bring in New Customers?
A business that makes use of all of the above is set off to a great start. It’s not however enough to implement all of the above digital platforms, but also to implement them with skill and knowledge, in order to ensure maximum effectiveness. Developing your own workforce rather than paying external companies to complete these tasks for your business will bring the best return on investment.
To receive additional training in SEO and social media, please ensure you visit our business e-learning page, where we offer a variety of short courses that will be helpful in developing your or your employees’ skills.
Where to Receive Help to Build Your Business?
Basegreen Academy is a learning and development partner offering in-person and distance learning courses in the professional services, health & social care, education and medical sectors, available up to level 5 diplomas. Basegreen aims to be your partner – we tailor our courses to the needs and demands of each organisation and delegates, and implement learning solutions designed specifically just for them. Read more about the benefits of flexible learning and online education in our ‘Top Reasons to Invest in Flexible and Online Learning’ blogpost.
To analyse the specific needs and challenges of your organisation and implement an effective learning solution, pplease take advantage of our complimentary consultation via contacting us.
0114 212 5910
Article by Judith Gallova