The 10 Qualities of A Stand Out Web Presence
Newsflash: Your Online Presence is So Much More Than Just A Website
Welcome to the year 2017, where simply having a website is no longer that impressive. Didn’t know that? Well, it is true!
These days anyone, and their kid sister can create a relatively inexpensive website using affordable tools like Wixx, and Squarespace.
If you want something a little more custom you can host your own site for less than $200 dollars a year and put it together using WordPress, with an easy to use a customizable theme. ( We are currently running Divi Theme by Elegant Themes ).
In fact, we’d go as far as to say if you are paying outrageous amounts for a website design, that is essentially a glorified business card, you are being duped! Traditional web designers don’t like us revealing this, but most simple custom websites ( for small or medium size commerce ) are typically built on templates anyway. It is rare to be sold a website created from scratch although if you aren’t careful you may be charged as if you are. For this reason, if you are deciding between a do-it-yourself site or paying for that $5000 dollar quote from a website designer we urge you to do your research first! Don’t just take our word for it, at least investigate the “free” website design options that exist before you commit to that outrageous quote.
Now if you are sitting here going, yeah, but I just don’t have an eye for design… or – thinking that you really don’t have the time to create a website on your own – trust us, we get you!
Creating your own website, although completely do-able, can often be a difficult task to tackle if you have no previous experience. Sometimes having unlimited design options to play with can actually be more of a curse than a blessing. The ability to “tweak” and change your website as you go, can be a bit of a stressing point. And, honestly, if you aren’t into it, and believe that certain things should be left up to the professionals, then, by all means, hire a pro! But before you do – and before you decide on who to trust with the task, first let us share with you some of the qualities of a “web presence” beyond your website that we believe to be important.
#1 Content First
Mhmm, that’s the first thing that we think that every quality website should have. At the end of the day what the website looks like really doesn’t matter THAT MUCH, but what it says about you and your business certainly does!
The content on your website should fill people on all of the important details that they need to know about who you are and what you do.
But beyond that, it should also act as a resource of information. What really works for driving traffic is populating your website with useful resources about your industry ( and services ). This is also an awesome way to increase your organic SEO.
#2 Organic SEO
What is SEO you ask? Well, SEO is the process of optimizing your website to rank for target keywords and phrases that relate to your industry. SEO is important because most search inquiries on Google are not for specific business names but for information. “research” about a certain topic. In order to do well on Google ( and other search engines ) you want to have a website that contains quality written copy that includes keywords and phrases that your target demographic is searching.
Therefore organic SEO ( non-paid for search engine ranking ) is all about populating your site with content that people actually want to read and has been composed for the purpose of “informing” not just advertising. A quality web presence for your business should include some form of an organic SEO content strategy.
#3 Dynamic Content
The days of having a website designed for your business plopping it up on the web and never thinking about it again are long over. Stagnant content websites ( websites with content that never updates or changes ) are sanctioned by Google and other search engines because they are considered to be essentially dead. This is especially a problem if your website does not generate regular traffic. Chances are, if your website doesn’t have some form of content feed or updated content on it, it will likely end up buried beneath more modern pages that do.
Why is this? Well, the goal of the search engine is to connect people with the content that is most relevant to their search inquiries. If your business website was put up in 2001 and never updated the search engine’s “will assume” that your website is not being maintained and that the information on it is outdated. The exception to this is a website that is populated with “evergreen” information, that frequently generates plenty of traffic. If the website itself is old but it still attracts a lot of visitors then it won’t be as dramatically “condoned” for its lack of fresh content.
That said, for the most part, a modern website should have a content strategy such as a business blog or news feed that helps it stay up to date. Even having your social media content posting to your website can be beneficial for your site’s visibility and ranking.
#4 Offsite Mentions
Offsite mentions are EVERYTHING when it comes to building up the organic ranking of your website and your website’s overall credibility. Plus off-site mentions can also be very helpful for generating a constant traffic stream to your website’s content, which yes – will in turn help to increase how you rank on your target keywords in the long run.
Sounds good, but how do you get offsite mentions? Well, we know a few tricks that work.
Self-publish related articles on websites like medium.com and then link to your website as a reference source.
Guest write for other blogs and online magazines ( related topics ) and make sure you are able to link to your website.
Contribute high-quality guest writings and articles for popular online publications like forbes.com, Entrepreneur, and Huffington Post.
Ask your local newspaper if you can contribute articles for print and online publications, make sure they allow you to link to your site in exchange for your contribution.
These types offsite mentions will do A LOT to help increase the organic ranking of your website as well as give you a more well-rounded search presence. BTW a search presence means, that you show up in more places than just your own website when people look up you up.
#5 Social Shares
Another thing that can really help with your online visibility and overall ranking with the search engine are “social shares”. Social shares are literal SHARES to social media of your website content. Examples of social shares are tweets, pins and Facebook posts.
These days pages from your website are shared on social media this is recognized by the search engine as a form of “back-linking” and it helps to build up your website’s ranking and credibility. Of course, nobody in their right mind will share a boring old business website on their personal social media. This is why it is so important to be populating your website with useful content and then networking that content in order to obtain these shares. How do you go about doing this? Well, by having a strong social media presence for your business for starters.
#6 A Strong Social Media Presence
We have to throw the word “strong” in here because the truth is, simply being on social does not make your business social.
These days so many businesses “get on social media” by creating profiles but they don’t really know how to use their social media effectively.
Ironically, this often leads to the one-sided argument that “social media marketing doesn’t work” – It does! But you get what you put into it.
As with all things relating to your web presence and online marketing we feel that it all starts with content design. You need to consider how you are going to be using your social channels and what you will be publishing on them to help you achieve your business marketing goals.
Yes, there is quite a bit more to it than just posting on Facebook once a day. However, once you have clarity on what you want to achieve with your website and your business social media ( goal setting ) it is possible to create a strategy that helps you generate leads through these channels and actually put your website and social media to work!
#7 A Clear Converting Action
This leads to the next thing that we believe to be super important about website design and creating a strong online presence. Ask the question: what is your website meant to be doing?
For most businesses a website is a place where they would like to be generating leads and sales from, however, in many cases, the website itself has not been designed to achieve this. Instead, and we’ve said this before – it just sits there… – Even by the chance that your website is generating traffic, without having a clear converting action all of that “interest” is useless if you cannot track it or collect those people as an audience.
This is why we suggest that all websites should be designed with an opt-in or lead collector built in.
… Which further backs our argument about creating quality content. If you create content for your website that appeals to your target demographic, YOU WILL generate interest. And it would be crazy not to collect the emails of those interested parties so that you can speak to them again.
In the case of e-commerce, the converting action may be straight up online sales. If this is the case you should be creating a sales funnel to make the purchasing process easy and inviting.
#8 A Sales Page
Have you ever heard of the 20/80 rule?
Basically what it suggests is that you should offer value 80% of the time and sell 20% of the time.
And we would agree. Sure, you can offer value in the form of content all day until the cows come home but if you don’t have an online sales process in place, it will all be for none!
However, the sales process doesn’t have to be complicated. Simply including a catchy sales page on your website that promotes your business, explains the benefits and invites visitors to buy from you should be good enough.
A good sales page should act as a virtual shop keep and “sell for you” when you aren’t working.
In a perfect world everywhere else on your website could be true, awesome content. But not including at least a simple sales page is a frequently missed step.
#9 Strong Branding & Design
You knew that it would show up somewhere on this list right? Everyone talks about “branding this” and branding that – but we aren’t as branding crazy as most.
In fact, we’d argue that businesses shouldn’t hide behind pretty logos. And that “brand before business” is the greatest online marketing error that we see.
Essentially, what we mean by this is that YOU SHOULD NOT, invest in creating business branding before you’ve mastered the art of creating content and building your online presence.
Content design is everything! Finding an audience, and generating news leads, will help you generate an income.
A pretty logo and a nice color scheme do not pay the bills. Branding specialists will charge you a lot to tell you how your business should “look” if you want to be perceived as one of the cool kids. Whether won’t tell you is that people connect with people, not with brands!
That said, having nice branding and attractive looking design ( when you can ) never hurts. Our recommendation, think of branding as a “want”, not a need. Focus on refining your message, offerings, and creating a content strategy that is meant to attract new people to your business.
Then, use that as inspiration to create a brand that truly encompasses “your business” –
Now, our last suggestion for what makes for a killer online presence may be slightly controversial.
We strongly feel that “You” ( as the business owner ) is an essential part of your businesses online presence. Everything from your own personal LinkedIn profile to the tweets you send out can be optimized to help increase the visibility of your business and your website content. In fact, you would be downright foolish not to take advantage of your own “personal” online presence and use that to promote and grow the credibility of your business online.
But like with all things this does require some consideration and some strategy. For instance, if you have a business that you are representing online, writing long-ass rants on Facebook about how much you hate the habits of your roommates, may not be that great of an idea. Unless of course, that type of attitude was part of your brand’s image… ( see here, everything is debatable ).
What we are trying to get at is that who you are ( as the business owner or the representative of a business ) and how your business is promoted online should be cohesive.
We subscribe to a belief that “if you a person then be a person” – behave online in a way that is personable and showcases your “true personality” but also make sure that is cohesive to how you want your business represented.
After all, how can you expect other people to care about your “business” if you don’t act like you care? It is 100% a-okay to be a fan of what you are doing, and share your own “marketing content” through your personal channels. You’ll likely have more luck attracting an audience and generating new leads this way as people prefer to connect with one another ( not with logos, brands and sales lingo ). Additionally, however, this also means that you’ll have to be putting extra energy into making sure your content is something that you feel proud to share. “If you wouldn’t want to see it don’t post it” comes to mind.
As you can see here, a strong online presence IS so much more than just a website.
When people are looking for you online ( they probably don’t know it ) – instead they are looking for information, entertainment and engaging content that relates to their interests. Being aware of this, it makes way more sense to invest your energy in quality content creation than it does to invest all of your marketing budget in branding or web design.
Even if you still intend to have a professional do your website for you, all these 10 components should be taken into consideration and a goal focused strategy drawn up to help you actually achieve some results through your online marketing efforts.
What you don’t want is a website that just sits there. Maybe it ranks on Google when you search your business name word for word. In this day and age, that simply isn’t good enough.
Most business minded people focus on “profit” and how to actually make their investment back when they pay for marketing. This is why it is essential to consider the big picture. What do you want to happen through your online presence? What is the actual goal that you are trying to achieve by making this investment? How can having a strong online presence benefit your business ( and earn you money ) both long and short term? When you start to ask these critical questions, the truth about what you need to be focusing on should reveal itself.
Yes, your business should have a website. That’s practically a given.
But what should that website say and how should it function?
Additionally… simply having a brand that “looks nice” on paper is not enough to build something that people will be attracted to. Content design and your overall offering to the online world is everything! This is where you need to begin!
Who Wrote This?
My name is Brandie Peters, and I am the B and the P in Creative Marketing Strategies. In 2012, I started my career online as a content writer and later began consulting and developing strategies. My passion is digital story telling using content and social media! I am also an avid Facebook Live Broadcaster and I still blog just for fun!