Did you know that Google alone processes now over 40,000 search queries on average every second? That is over 3.5 billion searches per day. Your audience and clients and fans and customers are online, looking for entertainment, information, products and services. Having a strong and clear online presence is what you need to reach the right people.
A defined online presence is imperative for successfully marketing of your business and growing your authority. Creating a strong online presence includes various different parts. It isn't limited to only your website or having a presence on a social media service. It includes every aspect of your existence online. Thus, tere are multiple aspects to take into consideration, when building your presence and growing your visibility online.
1. Your website
Your website is the hub of your online presence. It is where you have control over the content, and what you present to your audience and customers. Your website is the online presentation of your brand, and where all the information about you, your business, products, and services can be found in one place.
In order to be effective, your website needs to serve anyone who might be interested in what you have to offer. This includes your current fans, clients, customers and audience, as well as potential audience. For better reach, your website must also serve media contacts, bloggers, and influencers. Never forget that all these people can and probably will include those with cognitive, mental, and physical disabilities.
It is highly important that your website is optimised for mobile devices. People are searching and accessing web and other online content with tablets and smartphones. These devices often have much smaller screens than laptops or desktops. Mobile devices and connections amplify the need for well performing sites, that load faster. Your website will perform poorly on them if it's not optimised for smaller screens and speed.
For mobile optimisation I recommend responsive design, because it guarantees the same content is served to everyone. This way there's no need to build a separate mobile site or pages.
2. Search engines and optimisation (SEO)
Search engine is, simply put, a system which is used for searching content online. Search engines index and rank websites based on several different factors. Searches are usually based on keywords or phrases, matching to the content of a website.
With search engine optimisation (SEO) you can improve the visibility of your website in search results. This helps you to be found by your clients, customers, fans, audience, stakeholders, and other people you want to reach.
Optimising your website and other online content for search engines is important for your online presence. While Google might be the most popular search engine, there are plenty of others people are using. To make sure your content has the widest search visibility, don't only optimise your website only one search engine on mind.
3. Blogging, videos, and podcasts
Creating high quality content is considered to be one of the most effective ways to build a strong online presence. Blogging is still a popular way to show your expertise and gain more visibility online. Well written and constructed blog posts, which include keywords and phrases, can improve your search visibility.
Basically blogging means creating a series of text entries (blog posts), which are displayed on a website in a chronological order. For example, you are reading this post from my blog. You may be reading it on a third party service or app, such as a feed reader, which aggregates my blog's RSS feed. Blog posts may include other content besides text. Adding photos and other images to posts is very common.
Other similar ways to create content are podcasting, or vlogging and other video creation. Podcasting usually refers to series of audio content (though video podcasting is also a possibility), similar to blogging. Vlogging refers to creating blog type content in video format. Podcasting and video creation usually require using third party services for storing the audio and videos. These videos and podcast episodes can be embedded in regular blog posts too.
While I do recommend getting into blogging, podcasting, or video creation for creating a stronger online presence, I also urge you to keep on mind that it is lot of work. This sort of content creation can be time, and even money consuming.
4. Email lists and newsletters
Emails sent periodically to multiple recipients are often called newsletters. They are used for straight forward sales, and multiple types of marketing. Besides notifying potential customers and clients about your products and services or new blog posts, newsletters can be used to grow your authority and strengthen connections with your audience.
Email lists are typically collected to and stored in third party services. These services are also used to send email newsletters to the lists. There are several different services, with free and paid options.
The list of email addresses are collected different ways. However, it is crucial not to add email addresses to your lists without explicit permission of the recipient. In certain jurisdictions, adding emails to your list is illegal. If you get caught for this kind of behaviour by your email list service, your account will be suspended.
I recommend building your email list by adding subscription forms on your site, including your blog posts. You can use different kinds of incentives to get more people to join. These incentives are often called opt-in offers/gifts, lead magnets, or content upgrades.
To keep my email list more interesting, I send the subscribers completely exclusive content. The content of my emails is not published anywhere else, and it can only be accessed by receiving the emails. I also offer opt-in gifts.
5. Social media
Different social media services are a good way to reach more people online, to share information about your services and products, and grow your authority. Depending on a service, you can post multiple types of contents. Live streaming, sharing live videos, is currently a big thing on many social media services.
Below are some examples of social media services, and what kinds of content you can share for strengthening your online presence.
Facebook allows many types of content, such as text, (live) video, images, and links. You can post the content to your profile or page or different kinds of groups. Posts on pages have, at the moment, less visibility than posts on your profile. That said, your profile is usually aimed at your friends, family and other such contacts, and pages are for a wider audience. You can create your own groups too. I'm planning to re-establish my group, which I abandoned a while ago due to lack of aim and interest.
Instagram is mainly for photos and other images, but also posting videos is a popular option. On Instagram, using relevant hashtags is a key for better visibility. Also getting people to write thoughtful comments helps a lot. This can be accomplished in many ways, for example by writing longer captions with included questions.
Twitter is often referred to as a microblogging service. It allows sharing short blurbs of text, and linking websites, articles, photos, and videos to the blurbs. These blurbs are called Tweets. Tweets can be used in many different ways to show your expertise and grow your presence online.
6. Online advertisement
Online advertisement comes in various different forms. Some ads are embedded to websites or videos, some are in form of sponsored blog posts or other content, others are shown in results pages on search engines, or in social media feeds. Online ads can be used for such things as growing your website traffic, getting more likes to your Facebook page, building authority, customer acquisition, making sales, or testing business or product ideas.
The price of advertisement online depends on the platform and type of an ad. For example, on Facebook you can get small amount of ad shows for €1 or $1 a day, and one sponsored post may cost a couple of thousand of Euros.
Ads are commonly priced by cost per click (CPC), cost per action (CPA) or cost mille, thousand impressions (CPM). The latter is counted by how many times your ad is seen, rather than how many times people clicked it. Sponsored posts and some other types of online advertisement are priced by the amount or time the ad is shown, no matter how many people see the ad or click it.
Advertisement may be a good way to gain more visibility for your business, but I recommend not wasting your money on them without a clear strategy.
An online presence is a sum of everything you do and every way you are shown online. For example, reviews and comments by other people can affect your online presence. This is why leaving an online presence unattended can be even harmful for you and your business.
Additionally, some things you might not think of belonging to your online presence, are still parts of it. These parts include the emails you send (not just to your list), comments you make on other blogs and forums, replies by other people to your social media content, and such things as re-shares and ReTweets.
Even if you want to keep your professional and personal online presences separate, they may collide at some point. People are increasingly better at stringing together your different online presences, and some may do this in purpose of harming you. This doesn't mean you shouldn't be online at all. Quite the contrary, it is important to keep your online presence in your control as much as possible. You can do that by strategically building your online presence.
An online presence requires frequent testing and re-strategising. Social media services, online technologies, algorithms, and ways people use online resources change constantly. As you cannot change how Google chooses to rank or list your site, or you cannot change how many followers Facebook shows your posts, you must keep testing and refining your online strategy.