Did you know that 97% of people learn more about a business online than anywhere else?
Regardless of whether you’re a solopreneur, an ecommerce business, or an established business, you need to build a strong online presence. But what exactly is an online presence, how do you build one, and how do you manage it? We’re going to answer all those questions–and more!
What is an online presence?
An online presence is all the collective information and content about your business across the internet. In other words, an online presence defines how easy it is to find a business online.
For example, your business’s local listings, social media accounts, website pages, search ads, and any other digital marketing channels are all a part of your online presence. Having a strong online presence means that your business can be easily found on digital platforms. We’ll talk about why that’s so important next.
Why you need a (great) online presence
Your online presence is crucial to your business. You must manage your online presence in order to grow your business, look legitimate, increase sales, establish your brand, and boost your marketing. Let’s take a closer look at why having an online presence matters so much for your business:
It adds legitimacy to your business
When people search online for the types of services and products you provide, they should be able to find you. Before consumers decide to buy something from you, they’re going to look online to learn more about your business.
In fact, 62% of consumers will disregard a business if they can’t find them online and 83% of U.S. shoppers have said that they use online search before visiting a store. If they can’t find enough information about your business, they may choose a competitor that has a stronger online presence and brand reputation.
You’ll be discovered by new customers
To get your services and products in front of new customers, you have to be online. New customers will discover your business through search engine results pages (SERPs). Without an online presence that gets your business in these places, it’s going to be difficult to get new customers and grow.
You’re able to market your business 24/7
You can’t market your business constantly (manually, at least!), but people can discover your business at any time online. Customers do their online shopping around their other responsibilities and will shop where it’s convenient for them. A strong online presence ensures you’ll be found whenever–and wherever–they’re looking for businesses like yours.
You’ll learn how to spend advertising dollars
Every online advertising platform will have analytics so you can see how well your content is performing. You can use key marketing metrics to understand exactly where your time is best spent and where your audience is connecting with your business online. This data will help inform your strategy moving forward so you can focus on the places that are moving the needle for your business.
Your online presence will continue to grow
As you start managing your online presence by posting online, marketing your services, and developing new channels, your presence will begin to grow. Everything you develop now will pay off later.
How to build an online presence
Ultimately, building an online business presence is just about putting yourself out there, testing the channels that work for your business, and identifying where and how new customers are finding you online. There’s no one perfect way to build an online business presence, and you’ll want to try different techniques to see what works for you. Here are some tips to get started building an online presence.
Establish your overall goals
First, start by thinking about your overall marketing goals and objectives. What do you want your business’s online presence to accomplish?
- Do you want to build more legitimacy for your business?
- Do you want to increase awareness of your business?
- Do you want to find new customers?
- What return on investment do you want?
Keeping your overall goals in mind will help you stay motivated as you build an online presence. It’ll also give you a goal to return to later as you review your progress.
Build a professional website
You need an online hub where people can find you. Your website is your digital storefront. It’s the only piece of real estate you truly own on the web. So if you don’t already have a small business website in place, create one today. An appealing, ADA-accessible website will draw in potential customers and keep them there as long as they can easily search, learn, and purchase.
Keep the following tips in mind for your website:
- Make your website mobile-friendly
- Choose a clean and easy-to-navigate website design
- Add powerful call-to-action phrases
- Add live chat for ongoing customer service
- Use royalty-free images or images you own
- Include contact information
If that feels like a laundry list of website upkeep, try taking advantage of free tools that can help you optimize your website’s online presence all in one go. For example, if you already have a website, the LocaliQ Free Website Grader can instantly tell you how it’s performing and where you might need to improve.
You can check your website’s performance with our free website grader.
Post regularly on a business blog
By creating a business blog, your potential customers can find you through search engine results. A business blog gives you a place to publish high-quality posts pertaining to information your customers are interested in. Every post you write can be optimized with local keywords so that your blog posts have a chance to rank in search results.
Remember to use best practices as you publish content:
- Break up sections with H2s and H3s.
- Target long-tail keywords and frequently asked questions in H2s to try to show up in Google’s “people also ask” section.
- Use bullet points and numbered lists to make your content more scannable.
- Promote your blog posts on your social media sites and in your newsletter.
- Repurpose blog content by turning it into YouTube videos, social media images, infographics, and other features.
- Target at least one keyword or a couple of similar keywords within each blog post.
- Leverage AI in content marketing when you need extra inspiration.
- Never keyword stuff (using keywords that are unrelated or creating content overly loaded with keywords).
Ask for testimonials and reviews
Before your customers make any purchasing decision, they’re going to look at reviews online. It’s no secret online reviews influence how people choose to buy products and services. In fact, 84% of consumers feel that online business reviews are as trustworthy as personal recommendations. Plus, 93% of people are influenced by online reviews. Not only that, but reviews will show up on search engine results pages, so anyone searching for your products or services will be able to see them.
So, you need to ask customers for reviews through confirmation emails, business cards, thank you cards, on your website, and on social media. Asking for reviews is worthwhile! In fact, 95% of consumers left an online review in the past year and would consider leaving one in the future. This means that your loyal customers will likely understand how important online reviews are and would be more than willing to give your business one.
Use these review request email templates to get started asking for reviews!
Post regularly on social media
Your potential customers are going to peek at your social media sites as they consider your services or discover your brand through social media posts. You’ll want to set a few simple social media goals to keep your online presence building on track. Consider where members of your target market spend their time, and show up where they are. If you have a small social media team and are just getting started, choose one site to post regularly on. Posting regularly is how you consistently show up in your audience’s feed. That way, you’re maintaining brand consistency and creating an online presence that sticks.
If you need some help coming up with consistent social post ideas, try our marketing calendar with free monthly social media calendars.
Consider creating a newsletter
A newsletter is another way to create a one-on-one relationship with your customers. It can also help build your online presence by driving people to your online properties, such as your blog, website, social sites, or review sites.
Consider creating a newsletter that offers exclusive discounts, behind-the-scenes content, and other important content. A newsletter will generate new leads for your business and keep you in mind as your customers see your name pop up in their inboxes.
Use SEO on your website and social platforms
SEO is one of the best ways to skyrocket your online presence. With SEO, your business can be found in more online searches and people will discover why your brand is worth following.
Use SEO best practices to manage your online presence:
- Fix and redirect any old and broken website pages.
- Identify the right SEO keywords to incorporate into your web content.
- Optimize your images.
- Link to other web pages and blog content throughout your website.
Connect with your audience
Do you know what makes your brand feel personal to any audience member? Your humanity. Make your brand feel personal by showing your personality.
For example, Duolingo personalized its language learning app with its mascot Duo the Owl.
You don’t have to have a mascot to showcase your brand identity. There are many ways to create a personal connection with your customers. YouTube’s Culture and Trends Report shared that 57% of Gen Z agree that they enjoy when brands participate in memes. Sharing personal stories, participating in trends and memes, and genuinely connecting with your audience will be enough. This can help you grow your online presence on social sites and encourage users to continue engaging with you online.
Create and manage your Google Business Profile
Your Google Business Profile highlights your most important features, hours, location, and reviews and helps you show up in search and map results. You’ve probably seen it before! When you search for a business or type of business, it shows up as the Map Pack or on the right-hand side of search results.
These listings are often created automatically, but businesses can manage them to ensure the information is accurate and to have a little more control over what’s shown to searchers.
For example, Day’s Coffee and Expresso is managed by the business. Its Google Business Profile includes its website, reviews, category, hours, phone number, location, and the types of services it offers. People can understand important information at a quick glance.
Create a Google Business Profile account and fill in important aspects of your profile, like location, website, hours, products and services, and other sections. If you already have a Google Business Profile for your business, make sure to claim it and update it regularly.
Manage your business listings
Whether you know it or not, your business is likely listed on a number of business directories across the web. These business directory listings can either help or hurt your online presence (not to mention your SEO!).
Updating and regularly checking your listings for accuracy can help you improve consistency for your business (an important ranking factor!), direct more searchers to your business either through phone, your website, or your business address, and give you more opportunities to appear in local search results.
For example, sometimes these directories will create “best of” lists featuring the best local places to eat, the best contractors to repair homes, and the best of the best in hundreds of categories.
Owning your online listings will go a long way toward building your business’s online presence. To quickly check the accuracy of your listings in one place, try the LocaliQ Free Business Listings Grader.
Write high-quality guest posts
Another way to build your online presence is to look for other businesses and media outlets that accept guest posts. Publishing high-quality guest posts on other media outlets and related websites will get your business seen by their audience.
Additionally, linking to your website from theirs will improve your SEO. You could even accept guest posts from other individuals, as other businesses and individuals will want their businesses to be seen by your audience.
Consider influencer marketing
If you’re ready to connect with new audience members, you may want to consider influencer marketing. Partnering with influencers in your niche is a wonderful way to get the word out about your brand to other people and improve your online presence.
If you sell construction tools, you may want to work with a popular TikTok contractor. If you sell books, you may want to provide bookstagrammers on Instagram with free copies of books to review. If you sell makeup, consider working with beauty influencers. Be creative!
Swiffer partnered with dancers Cost and Mayor to promote their cleaning products and to encourage equal chore sharing. Nontraditional partnerships can open up new possibilities for your business.
Try online advertising
Paid advertising is another opportunity to build your online presence. Advertising in search results on Google and Microsoft lands you at the top of search engine results pages. Search ads can fill in the gaps in your online presence that your SEO may not be able to fill.
Google Ads showing for “dentist Dallas” search
Aside from search ads, social media ads are also an effective way to inspire purchasing decisions, connect with new audience members, and spend your marketing budget. Advanced targeting options with social media ads help your business reach audiences that your organic posts can’t—increasing your online presence across social feeds.
Host free webinars
Another way to build your online presence? Create free online webinars. Online webinars create buzz for your business, and you can reshare them later on YouTube or your website for an online presence boost.
When you’re promoting your webinar, be sure to ask people to register with an email address. As a bonus, you can then email attendees a copy of the webinar and ask people if they’d like to be on your company’s email list.
Ensure that everything is accessible
One in four adults in the United States has a disability. Your website pages, blog posts, social media posts, and emails must be accessible to anyone who has a disability. Providing accessible and inclusive marketing content opens up your business to new customers—and shows that you care about them.
Create accessible content and develop an accessibility policy at your business. Follow these tips:
- Create accessible social media descriptions
- Use inclusive language
- Caption your video content
- Avoid custom fonts
- Use emojis in moderation
Review your progress and make changes
Last but not least, you need to audit your content, check in on your progress, and make changes. Review your original goals, and see what strategies are working…and which ones aren’t. Don’t be afraid to pivot and try new things.
If you can, try to automate part of your process. You could schedule social media content and newsletter editions in advance and set up email sign up forms to automatically collect email addresses. You could build a landing page that’s made to appeal to your audience and test how different calls to action perform.
Use these strategies and techniques to manage your online presence
There’s a lot of work to do when it comes to building an online presence! However, that work can be well worth it to help your business reach its full potential in the short and long term.
Let’s review the strategies you can use to build your online presence:
- Establish your overall goals
- Build a professional website
- Post regularly on a business blog
- Ask for testimonials and reviews
- Post regularly on social media
- Consider creating a newsletter
- Use SEO on your website and social platforms
- Connect with your audience
- Create and manage your Google Business Profile
- Manage your business listings
- Write high-quality guest posts
- Consider influencer marketing
- Try online advertising
- Host free webinars
- Ensure that everything is accessible
- Review your progress and make changes