Any business in operation today needs to have an online presence. Pre-pandemic, consumers were spending six hours and 42 minutes online each and every day, and we know that number has only increased. The internet has become such a vital part of our daily lives that most people walk around with a computer in their pockets! 

And that absorption of technology bleeds over into the way we search for new businesses. Research from BrightLocal found that nearly 70% of consumers turn to the internet each month to discover a new local business. 

If your business isn’t online, it’s almost like you don’t exist to many consumers. And while the digital marketing landscape can feel huge and daunting, if you take things a step at a time, you can build up a meaningful online presence in a few months.

If you’ve been feeling overwhelmed at the prospect of going digital, here are our top tips for growing online.  

Create a Stand-Out Website 

The heart of any business’s online presence is its website. Your site is the one place on the internet where you have total control over the way you present your brand. You get to select everything, from domain name to layout to content. 

To build a great website, don’t get too caught up in the latest bells and whistles. While you do want your site to look great, it’s your message and usability that matters most. Communicating your value proposition on your very first page – letting visitors know what you do and why you’re better than the competition – is the first major hurdle to clear. 

Once you’ve established a strong value proposition, all the other content on your website needs to serve that purpose. From your lead capture efforts to your content program, they all must tie into your company’s reason for being. 

When it comes to the technical side of things, getting mobile-friendly should be your top priority. Google and other search engines prioritize mobile sites when determining how to display search results, so ensuring that your site works well on mobile devices is key to staying ahead in SEO. 

Start with Search Marketing 

SEO is a critical part of growing online (more on that in the next section), but if you’re just starting out online, you likely don’t have any content to optimize yet! That’s where search marketing comes in (also known as search engine marketing, SEM, search advertising, PPC, etc.). 

Search advertising is a type of online advertising that allows you to get your website listed on Google and other search engines for relevant search terms. But unlike with SEO (where you have to build up authority, trust, and expertise over time in order to show up on search results), paid search marketing allows you to appear pretty much right away for the terms that make the most sense for your business. 

Search marketing results also appear front-and-center at the very top of SERPs. This is great news for a business that’s just getting its online presence off the ground or is looking to expand into other markets and wants to appear for a whole new set of search terms. 

Build a Strong SEO Strategy  

Search marketing can jumpstart your online presence, but SEO is all about the long game 

A great SEO strategy starts with on-page SEO tactics. Optimize each page of your website to show up in search results for the most relevant terms. Do this by creating descriptions and meta tags that speak to a shared keyword, including relevant alt text on images, and then writing content that draws it all together. 

From there, you can branch out to broader off-page tactics, which include link building, brand mentions, and a strong social media presence that integrates with your website. 

The thing about SEO is that it’s never done. SEO itself is constantly changing; the ways that search engines determine how to display websites shift often. Plus, more brands enter the marketplace every day, so you always need to be on top of competitive research, making sure that if you’re performing well in search engines right now, you’re taking steps to keep things that way. 

Related: 8 Ways SEO & Website Design Work Together

Use Retargeting to Stay Top-of-Mind 

SEO and search marketing are the first steps to introduce your brand to a new audience. But just because your name pops up in SERPs and someone clicks on your website once doesn’t mean that they’re now a customer for life. In fact, as the age-old “marketing rule of seven” reminds us, most people need to encounter a brand seven times before they’ll consider doing business with them. And, now, that number has actually increased to over 10 touchpoints.

You need a tactic that allows you to keep appearing in consumers’ fields of vision after they’ve first seen your brand, and that’s where retargeting comes in. These ads are designed to appear on the websites your prospects already visit after they’ve visited your site. They sit alongside the existing content and work to keep you on consumers’ minds. 

In order to get the most out of a retargeting campaign, create ads that pop and capture consumers’ attention. 

Turn to Social Ads to Reach a New Audience 

Retargeted ads serve those who already know about your brand. But where do you turn if you want to engage a whole new audience? Social media advertising is a great way to branch out and get seen by new consumers who may need what your business offers. 

With paid social advertising, you have the power to define your audience. You can select an audience based on demographic information (like location, age, or gender), past behaviors (pages and brands they’ve interacted with in the past), interests (movies, music, television shows, and other brands they’ve liked on the social platform), and even life events (like whether they’ve recently moved or gotten married). When you can create an audience for your ads that’s made up of your ideal customers, you can get the greatest ROI on your marketing spend. 

If you’re running a business today, you need to have an online presence. The internet is the place consumers go to discover new brands, and you must be there for them to find. While there are a lot of moving parts to consider when building an online presence, it’s easy to get started by focusing on the most crucial elements every business needs to grow online. 

If you’d like help getting your marketing efforts off the ground or expanding what you already have in place, we should talk

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