13 Aug How To Stand Out Online
In today’s competitive market, small business owners are having to think much differently than they did even 5 years ago. For those who adapt to the ever-changing competitive landscape, opportunities are endless. Unfortunately, those who don’t will be swallowed up.
Chances are you know how vital establishing an online presence is for your business. You’ve probably taken the time to set up a Facebook page, and have claimed your Google Places profile. However, attracting followers can be a daunting task. More frustrating is the constant pressure of providing great content on a regular basis.
However, the truth is that creating great content consistently is key to your online success. It used to be that as long as you had a website, you were able to establish credibility with your prospective customers. Your website design and functionality mattered little as much of your competition didn’t even have a website. So just being online set you apart. But all that has changed. Today’s buyers have a wealth of information at their finger tips. In order to stand out, it’s increasingly necessary to match your marketing efforts to the shopping patterns of the day.
I understand this can be overwhelming. As a small business owner myself, I know first hand how challenging it can be to not only run a successful business, but also market your business effectively. The truth is, when it comes to marketing, you’ll either have to invest time or money. If you have the bandwidth, and are willing to put in the time, you can achieve greatness. If you don’t have the time, you’re only left with two choices. Hire someone, or lose more and more market share to competitors who recognize the necessity of establishing themselves as leaders in the online marketplace.
In this post, I’m going to outline some simple strategies you can use to effectively match your marketing and branding efforts to current buying trends.
The first thing you need to do is create profiles on all the social media channels. We’re talking about Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and a host of other sites. Make sure you fill out every single field. Leaving areas blank will hurt you in a big way. Second, make sure all your business information is exactly the same across all platforms, including your website. For example, you want your business name, address, phone number, hours of operation to be identical. Believe it or not, these two things can have a dramatic impact on your businesses ability to rank in the search results.
But it’s not enough to simply create all the necessary profiles. You’ll need relevant, compelling content with clear calls to action. Daily.
Next, you’ll need to create a blog. Research what questions people have when it comes to your industry. For example, if you’re a hair stylist, almost 7.5 million people searched googled “hairstyles” last month. It might be a good idea for you to write a blog post on the most popular hairstyles of 2013. Then create a gallery on your website where people can browse various styles. Make sure you link specific keywords in your blog text to relevant pages on your website. You’ll also want to add your blog feed on your site itself. Do this on a weekly basis, and before long, you’ll have some killer content. Promote every post on all your social media outlets!
Great content is essential for your search engine ranking, so relevant social media and blog posts are vital. The next thing you’ll want to do is get set up with a YouTube channel. Once a week record yourself speaking on a subject that would interest a potential customer or client. The video doesn’t have to be long, and it doesn’t need to have high production value. YouTube videos with links back to your site will help your site rank high in the search results. If you’re struggling for ideas, utilize google’s keyword tool, or simply type your main keyword into google followed by the word “blog”. What are people talking about? What are they looking for. If you have the answer to a question people are asking, they’re very likely to click on your link and end up on your website.
The next thing you want to do is get high ranking websites in your industry to link back to yours. Google ranks each website from 1-10. This is basically a popularity score. The more high ranking websites that link to your site, the more popular your website is considered, and the higher Page Rank, or PR, value you’ll have. Think of it like this; if a 1st grader is invited to play on the 6th grade soccer team, his popularity among other students will rise. He will immediately get the attention of everyone in the school. It’s the same idea with Page Rank. Get high PR sites to link back to you, and you’ll begin standing out as an authority.
In addition to social media, blogging, videos and backlinks, one of the most vital components necessary for your online success is making sure you have great On Page SEO, or Search Engine Optimization. In order to accomplish this, do keyword research, and select highly relevant keywords for each of your pages. Don’t keyword stuff your content or pages. This has a very negative effect on the way the search engines view your page. You’ll also want to write some great meta descriptions. Keep these to about 150 characters. A meta description is what’s seen under the link in the search results. Give benefits of your product or service, and provide a clear call to action. It’s also wise to include your phone number.
There are many other things you’ll want to consider when it comes to your On-Page SEO, such as fixing any broken links, alt text for images, submitting your sitemap to Google’s Webmaster Tools, so make sure your web developer is keeping an eye on this, or learn how to do it yourself.