The year is 2014. Beverage companies and record executives are sending rocket ships to outer-space. Hackers are hacking into your refrigerator and washing machines are Tweeting all by themselves. The internet, as most of us know it, has been lingering around for a quarter of a century or so and you’ve seen the light: you are now [finally] thinking about including the internet somewhere in your new business marketing plan.
Great. You’re ready to join the the 21st century, ditch the phone-book ads, and take your business idea to whole new level. Now what? It almost seems like skydiving from outer-space would easier than learning. Perhaps you have already gone through many sites designed by your “local web guy” and they just aren’t doing the trick. I have even heard of businesses not having a web presence at all. The natural inclination is to think that building a new website is the solution, the answer or the light at the end of the tunnel. It can be – but it is only part of the equation. We need to start thinking in terms of building a web presence, not just a website.
Focus on the core problem your business solves and put out lots of content, enthusiasm and ideas about how to solve that problem.
Laura Fitton, founder, oneforty.com
Just because you build your website doesn’t mean they (visitors) will automatically come (SEO), unless your website is being built by Kevin Costner, in which case that’s all you will need. If you are not so lucky, then read on. Below are seven very important things to heavily consider before building a website.
1. Know what your audience wants
Your customers are looking for something. Right now. What is it? Hopefully you have this answer and a plan to help them find it. Many people seem to ignore the fact that an online based business or online marketing strategy needs a plan, just like any other business. The good news is that your online marketing plan can be a little more predictable since you are able to target your audience better. The truth is that internet marketing can be more cost effective, way more profitable and in some ways more predictable than any other type of marketing. Never before have we been able to market to only a specific niche, to all of their friends who already expressed an interest in your widget and will share it with all of their friends. Never before have we been able to set up an online presence that captures leads from people who, by the time they call you, already know everything there is to know about you, your company, your product or your service.
2. Determine your marketing budget
Even if you decide, for whatever reason, to keep this a highly guarded secret, you will need to know how much you can afford to spend on building your web presence. Remember this is an on-going, recurring, long term strategy you are about to implement; not too much different than old fashioned marketing strategies, like phone book listings, radio commercials and print advertising in obscure places like Money in the Mail. These types of channels used to be effective and at one time were the only option, however they are expensive and inefficient. Internet marketing can cost you as much as 62% less per lead than traditional, outbound marketing. Your initial investment keeps paying for itself, weeks, months, even years later. For example, we shot a video for a local company, uploaded it to YouTube, optimized it for search and over a year later it is still generating thousands of YouTube hits and over $100, 000 in sales.
3. Research. Research. Research.
With all the data that is available these days – about pretty much everything and anything – you should know exactly what you are getting into – and have an idea of what to expect. It all begins with proper research. Before I even think about taking on an SEO client I have to do a little research. Before any content is written, you guessed it, I have to research it.
How many people are searching for what you have? What is the competition like? Can you identify any trends? You may find that there are 3x as many people searching for blue widgets in Santa Fe than there are green widgets in Rio Rancho; so naturally you are going to plan accordingly. There are clients I have been working with for over 4 years now that are seeing nearly 60% of their revenue now come from online leads (vs. referrals).
This is no accident. Especially in the highly competitive world of attorney marketing. One strategy we’ve been using is generating highly optimized blog posts; finding long-tail key phrases with high KEI indexes (high search to competition ratio) and writing about that subject. High search means that’s what people are looking for. Low competition means you have a better chance of showing up.
4. Content will continue to conquer
There are three main components to building an effective web presence: content, social media and search engine optimization. Content is and will remain the king of all ranking factors. Search engines are getting pretty good at determining weather or not your content is genuinely meant for your audience. Is it easy to read? Is it useful, relevant and informative? Are you an authority on your subject? Write stuff that is useful, even if that means giving away your secret recipes, blogging about your company picnic or sharing a video that has nothing to do with your product – but may still be of interest to your audience. Get to know them.
5. Build relationships through social media
Social media is a huge part of building your web presence because building a web presence is building relationships with your audience. People no longer want to be interrupted from what they are interested in – so you need to become what they are interested in. Social media is not just another mega-phone to blast your message out there; it is a platform that allows you engage with your audience on very personal level. Many companies use social media for customer service, contests, promotions, feedback – all the tasks you would normally perform in a customer service center. Social media also does something else: it increases the chances of your website being found because when people share your content, it also enhances your search engine optimization.
6. Search engine optimization
Search engine optimization, or SEO, is a widely misunderstood aspect of building a proper web presence. SEO does not happen over night. SEO is not something you do one time. SEO is not just putting the right words in the right places. SEO is a continuous, dynamic process that changes with the ebbs and flows of the internet, the people using it and the search engines that make it possible to find what you are looking for. SEO is getting to know your audience, applying your research, fine-tuning your content, participating in social media and volunteering as a guest writer on someone else’s blog. SEO is, essentially, everything you do. It is the art and science of making yourself relevant to either a global or local audience on a platform they use on a daily basis: the search engine. This can be done with blogging, tweeting, updating your Facebook status, video, press releases and the list goes on and on. And so should your efforts.
7. Maintaining your web presence
Maintaining your web presence is exactly that: making sure you are present. What do we mean by that? You put up a site and you are there forever, right? Kinda. It’s like those small touristy towns (like ours!) that, even though they are way off the beaten path, thousands of people still visit every month. Why? Because people continue to promote the town, locally and from afar. They talk about it, they tell their friends, the town’s people write and blog about it, the visitors return because there is a vibrant energy about the place. It’s alive! No one wants to re-visit a boring town. Unless, of course, you have to because your cousin is having a wedding or Aunt Sally decides she want’s to have thanksgiving at her house this year. If you would like to learn more about how you can build a better web presence, please free to call Studio 89a at (928) 634 – 1347 or email us and we will be happy to discuss a strategy that works for your business.