Business development 8 October 2018

How to build an online presence for your small business in 5 steps

build online presence
In 2018, online presence means brand awareness

From when we sit at the bus stop in the morning to when we settle down for an evening in front of the TV, we are surrounded by brands vying for our attention. This has become increasingly prevalent in the digital age as social media provides yet another avenue for brands to target us.

With that in mind, it’s more important than ever for small business owners to take note and throw weight behind developing their online presence.

It’s common knowledge that online presence means brand awareness. Nowadays, the way you present your brand online is similar to meeting a customer for the first time – your homepage acts as a first impression.

Your website and social media profiles offer valuable opportunities to impress and capture the attention of potential customers. They are often a test of credibility for many technologically-savvy shoppers, who would rather connect with businesses online first before making a purchasing decision.

These days, the first port of call when looking for information about a product or a service is to “Google it”, meaning online presence is crucial if you want to make your business a success.

So, how can you become a major player in this digital age? Here are five ways to effectively maximise your online presence:

  1. Branding

No matter how big or small your company is, branding matters. From the word go, a clear and consistent branding strategy should be developed and implemented. According to the founder of The NY Brand Lb, Mary Van de Wiel, “…without a brand you ultimately lack an identity, a presence – and a purpose.” You should think about your tone of voice and your values, as well as your visual aesthetic when creating your branding strategy. Not particularly creative? Then maybe you should find a graphic designer who can help you pinpoint what your business is about in a visually appealing way.

  1. Website design and development

In this digital age, businesses can no longer rely solely on traditional means of marketing – creating and more importantly maintaining a website is essential for every business. Here you can shout about your products or services, portfolio of work and even offer expert insight and company news via a blog.

However, simply having a website doesn’t quite cut it – your site needs to be functional as well as user-friendly. It will also need to be optimised for mobile, fast to load and search engine friendly, and this is where a professional with experience in website design and development may come in handy. Once you find the right web developer, it’s time to start thinking about optimising your website.

  1. Search Engine Optimisation

Search Engine Optimisation (or SEO) is all about making your website more visible to users on search engines – just like the aforementioned Google! A search engine’s job is to take the keywords typed in by the user and find websites with the most relevant content using that information.

So, how can you make sure you’re at the top of that list? Knowing your audience, regularly updating your website content and using keyword phrases are all essential to SEO, but the list doesn’t stop there. Search engines will also rank websites based on site structure, page loading speeds, social signals and the quantity/quality of backlinks. SEO can be a complicated process and you may benefit from the help of an SEO professional.

  1. Social media

You’ve developed your brand strategy and mastered your website, now it’s time to build on your online visibility using social media. If your business is not already represented on social media, you might be wondering if you even need to use it.

The short answer is yes. Sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube (we could go on) help you to start conversations with customers, while further promoting brand recognition and loyalty.

Social media is a two-way form of communication, allowing customers to interact with the content you work hard to create for them. Close to half the world’s population are on some form of social media, so chances are you’ll find your target market here too. Using a social media marketer can help you maximise your efforts even further.

  1. Online directories

Regardless of how strong your online presence is, you won’t be able to sit back, relax and watch the cash flow in. You need to stay ahead of the curve if you’re going to compete against companies with extensive advertising budgets. If a customer can’t find you when they are searching for a product or a service, then you simply won’t get the business. Joining an online directory like Bark.com ensures that you are placed in front of the right audience, often at a minimal cost.

Bark.com is a site where members of the public can find and connect with local service professionals. Service sectors include; personal training, plumbing, building, cleaning, catering and counselling, as well as an array of other professions. Bark.com’s goal is to revolutionise how people find and sell local services online.

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