As of 2019, there were almost 31 million small businesses registered in the United States alone. This is an exciting statistic, as it reinforces the idea that with passion and dedication, anyone can become a business owner.

That said, it’s also a bit frightening. Because millions upon millions of businesses in the US and around the world translates to an overwhelming amount of competition for you as a business owner.

With all that competition, how do you stand out amongst the crowd? Well, one of the most effective ways to do so is by building an online presence. And we’re here to help you do it.

Outlined below is a guide to developing your online presence, as well as a few tips to maintain your success once you find it. Keep reading to learn more!

What is Online Presence?

Before we get into how to develop and maintain an online presence, let’s quickly go over what exactly an online presence is. By having an online presence definition to work from, you’ll be able to design a more valuable strategy.

Your online presence is the sum of all the components of the brand that you establish online. This means your social media accounts, website, blog posts, etc. When it comes to marketing your business, developing a relationship with your audience, and defining your brand’s personality, no tool is more useful.

Steps to Building an Online Presence

Now that you have a direction in which to go, let’s talk about the steps you need to take to reach the finish line. You can break this process down into an enormous number of steps, but for the sake of simplicity, we’re going to stick to five.

If you follow these steps, you’ll have a flourishing online presence in no time.

1. Start With Your Website

A strong social media presence is crucial, and we’ll get there, but the best place to start is with your website. Because no matter which avenue a potential customer uses to find you, chances are, they’re going to look for your website.

Thanks to the internet, finding information has never been easier. People expect to be able to find anything they’re looking for without calling or visiting a brick and mortar establishment.

This means that the first step is to ensure that your website includes anything about you and your brand that people could want to know and that this information is easy to find.

In addition, your website should be both modern and attractive. And the most important aspect of a modern website is that it’s mobile-friendly. This is because over 50% of web traffic comes from mobile, not traditional computers.

Get creative with the website building process but keep it simple. Whitespace is your best friend! White should be the primary color of your website, with 2-3 brand colors as accents.

2. Get Involved With Social Media (but Not Too Involved)

Social media is the ultimate tool for growing your online presence. It’s a fantastic way to build a genuine relationship with your audience while expanding your reach and establishing your brand’s voice.

Now, when we say get involved but not too involved, here’s what we mean. When it comes to social media, it’s incredibly easy to spread yourself too thin. If you have your sites set on growing your social media brand, practice quality over quantity.

It’s okay to register for accounts so that you have the handle saved in case you want to use it in the future. However, creating strong posts with solid engagement on one or two platforms is better than struggling to keep up with six.

Don’t bite off more than you can chew – maintaining a social media presence is harder than you think!

When you’re developing your social media account(s), the number one goal should not be to gain followers. Instead, focus on providing your audience with quality content and frequent engagement, no matter how small that audience is.

This will build loyalty among that audience, which is what will help you gain followers. People will see the fun, welcoming environment you’ve created on your brand page and want to be a part of it.

3. Use SEO to Your Advantage

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization and is the secret ingredient used by every successful website and brand on the internet. Using SEO to your advantage will push your brand to the top of search engine results which will, in turn, give you higher engagement and conversion rates.

Again, the first item on your list should be ensuring that your site is free of mobile errors. The other items on your SEO checklist should include link building, optimizing images, and creating content with keywords in mind.

Speaking of content, building a quality blog is the key to mastering SEO. Create a variety of posts relevant to your niche, each optimized to rank for a specific keyword. Using SEO tools can be helpful when picking keywords, as you can see the potential of each option before choosing one to run with.

As with your social media posts, producing fewer high-quality blog posts is better than pumping out tons of articles with little to no value.

Let your personality shine through with your writing. Your audience should feel that they’re getting to know you while gaining the useful information you’ve provided.

4. Branch Out With Media

As useful as text content is, you shouldn’t stop at blog posts, nor should your posts be walls of text. People respond best to visual content, meaning videos, photos, and graphic design.

Even if your main social media account is on a text-heavy platform like Twitter, don’t underestimate the power of a strong visual strategy.

Everything from your social media posts to the articles on your blog to the landing page of your website should include quality visual media. The use of video content has been proven to substantially increase the number of times the post is shared.

If your chosen social media platform is YouTube, great! You’re already halfway there. Be sure to embed your videos wherever you can (blog posts, social media posts, etc.). With other platforms, take advantage of the story and live features to improve your online presence through video.

5. Use a Variety of Marketing Strategies

Creating a powerful SEO strategy will take you far, but you should still use other forms of marketing. First, always advertise new blog posts and other goods and services on your social media platforms. By the same token, it’s not a bad idea to embed your social media feed somewhere on your website.

Encourage others to share your content with their networks by offering incentives and building a positive relationship with your audience. Be careful not to be too “salesy” when you do this. Your audience should want to promote you on their own, not feel pressured to do so.

Also, don’t overlook the effectiveness of email marketing. Sure, it’s an older form of online marketing, but that doesn’t make it any less useful. Invite visitors to your website to join your mailing list, then send personal, useful, engaging messages to those who sign up.

How to Maintain Your Online Presence

The most difficult part of this process by far is building your online presence. Once you’ve found success, the online presence management that comes after isn’t nearly as tough. That doesn’t mean, however, that it doesn’t require work.

The main thing to remember is this: consistency is key. You can’t get lazy with your posting schedule or allow the quality of your posts to slip. Your audience has built expectations for you and it’s crucial that you live up to them.

Stay sincere and dependable, and always make time for engaging with your audience. When you see a comment, respond to it. If there’s a complaint, do what you can to rectify it.

By maintaining a positive reputation with your client base, you’ll be able to not only maintain your success but build upon it naturally via word-of-mouth advertising.

Develop a Thriving Online Presence With This Guide

As a business owner, the importance of an online presence cannot be overstated. In this day and age, it’s almost impossible to make a name for yourself without it.

Developing a social media brand isn’t as simple as some might think, but with a little hard work and dedication, you can take your business to the next level. The dramatic increase in customer loyalty and visibility will be well worth the effort.

Interested in learning more about building a successful career online? Take a look at our blog!

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