In 2017, it’s more necessary than ever to have a robust online presence for your business. No matter what type of business you own, even if you don’t conduct business online, you need to invest in an online presence. The internet is the single most important way that you will attract new dedicated customers and build awareness of your brand. It’s also a cost-effective way to advertise your services and keep users updated on your business. While it may seem a little overwhelming, it is possible to build a decent presence online.

Build a Website

While this may seem obvious, it is incredibly crucial to start here. Everything that you do online will build off of your website, so it is important that your website is high quality. It may seem overwhelming to build a website from scratch, but there are quite a few different tools out there that simplify the process. Sites like WordPress offer a variety of layouts, plug-ins, and other website management tools that make the process easy and understandable, even for a beginner.

Once you have the basic website created, you can expand it beyond a single page. Add information about the history of your business, include pictures of your employees and your contact information, and provide samples of your work. You should also consider adding a blog that you manage to engage any visitors. These pages and the information that they provide will lay the foundation for a solid online presence.

Customize Your Landing Page

Many of your website visitors will come from search engines and social media engagement. They are coming to your website because they are interested in what you have to offer from the little interaction they have with you. When they land on your website, consider having them directed to a page other than your homepage. Also known as landing pages, these pages provide further information about what drew the visitor to your site. Sometimes they also collect information, whether it is for a contest or a newsletter.

You can create several different landing pages, depending on the source of the original link. If a visitor found you on Facebook or Twitter, they may be looking for something different than a visitor who found you on Google. Whatever your strategy with the landing page, make sure that you create something that in engaging and makes people want to stay on your website.

Engage in SEO

Once you have created a comprehensive website, you need to find a way for people to see it. SEO is the process of improving your search engine ratings, which allows people to find your website more easily. There are a few different ways of building your search engine ratings, all of which have multiple benefits.

If you have created a blog to go along with your website, this will your biggest tool in improving your ratings. SEO can be as in-depth or as simple as you make it. One important component is utilizing certain words on your website so that when people search for those words, your website comes up. For instance, if you’re a floral company in Chicago, you should try to include those specific words somewhere on your website so that people searching for local floral companies there will find your business.

Other methods, such as backlinking, can be a little more complex. When creating backlinks, it can be helpful to have a regularly updated blog that you can provide links from. You may want to consult with an established SEO firm in your area that can provide guidance on how to best place your links on other websites.

Identify Your Target Demographic

One common mistake made by newcomers to the digital world is that they attempt to attract a global audience. If you run a local business or one that appeals to a specific interest group, make sure your SEO is targeted to that group or location. If you attempt to focus on global keywords, you run the risk of getting lost in the fold among much bigger companies than yours.

You will also want to target your efforts to the people that are most likely to use your business. If your business targets university students, you might want to engage in more social media and hold giveaways. You should also research the most effective times to post by demographic to maximize the potential of your updates.

Update Your Content

One great way to keep customers interested and improve your SEO at the same time is to maintain a regularly updated website and the easiest way to do this is to regularly update your blog.

As mention earlier, your blog doesn’t have to be anything too fancy or in-depth. You can simply update on a regular basis with something relevant to your field, whether that’s tips on flower care or woodworking ideas. If you’re not much of a writer, consider hiring a freelancer to write these blogs for you.

Having a regularly updated section of your website will create an even larger online presence. You can also use your website as a place to keep customers updated on your business. Got a rotating food or drink menu? This is the perfect place to put it.

On a simpler level, make sure your website is always up-to-date with the most relevant description and contact information. An out-of-date website is unprofessional, and will quickly drive potential customers away.

Use Social Media

To take things to the next level, create an account on one or more of the most popular social media websites. These include Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat. Different businesses may have an easier time keeping up with different platforms. Snapchat, for example, only keeps updates available to viewers for 24 hours, so it’s best for those who can frequently upload a picture or video. If you prefer to update less frequently, Instagram is probably a better bet.

You can use social media as a way to connect with other similar businesses, current customers, and potential customers. You can advertise sales, promote specific products, hold giveaways, post photos of your work, and share practical information. You can also interact with customers, which is a great way to get people to keep coming back for more.

Believe it or not, there are many individual businesses that exist solely on social media, using Instagram as a way to post and sell specific products. Your business doesn’t need to become that extreme, but don’t neglect this rich source of promotion.

Stay Involved

To use your online presence effectively, you have to not only use these methods but also keep track of them over time. Just like any skill, building your presence will take practice, and you’ll probably make a few mistakes along the way. Don’t get discouraged — just learn from your mistakes and keep trying.

For example, you may find that posting on Twitter is not particularly useful for your audience and that your demographic is more likely to look on Facebook for their information. Once you have that information, you can focus more on your Facebook page and see even better results.

Similarly, if you find that your SEO strategy is not working or your website’s design is flawed, you can always go back and make changes as necessary.

Building an online presence is a necessity, not a choice. However, it doesn’t have to feel like a chore! Websites and social media accounts are as unique as the businesses that they belong to, so take the time to find a method that feels genuine and right.

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