Wednesday, July 18, 2012

6 Ways to Improve Your Online Presence and Visibility

According to Nielsen, roughly 274 million people in the U.S. now have Internet access. In another study by TMP Directional Marketing, 80 percent of US adults under 35 consider the Internet their main source for local information. A third study shows 97 percent of all consumers use online media to shop locally.1 The point is, if your business still isn't online yet, you're missing a wealth of new, qualified and highly motivated leads.
Getting found. Considering online is primarily where you'll find most of today's local shoppers, having a strong online presence is extremely important for promoting visibility. Even 58 percent of those buying offline will research products and services online before buying. That number rises to 87 percent among college graduates and those earning over $75,000.2 If your visibility is low, so are the chances of consumers finding you when they're ready to buy. Here are six ways to increase your online presence and increase your visibility.
Have a website. In today's world, many would say your business may as well not even exist if it doesn't have a website. And given how consumers are searching for information these days, it may not exist through the eyes of potential customers if you don't have one. A website is a basic building block of an online presence and, for many consumers, essentially validates your business. It is the place your business will ultimately be found and chosen. But as many entrepreneurs have discovered, just because you have a website doesn't mean you'll get found. A website is an essential tool that should be part of any integrated marketing solution. And since Google reports that 1 in every 3 searches from mobile devices are now local, having a mobile version of your website can only help increase your findability.
Pay for search engine marketing (SEM). This type of marketing improves a business's online and mobile visibility through paid ad placement. SEM uses a pay-per- click (PPC) or cost-per-click (CPC) model, where businesses select key phrases relevant to their line of work. The business will appear in a search result ad when users search for that key phrase. If they click through to the business's website using the ad or sponsored link, then the business pays for that lead. SEM offers businesses many benefits including the ability to:
  • Maximize online exposure by placing you in the paid search results near the top of the page
  • Tailor your ad message and keywords to suit your needs
  • Track results with greater precision
  • Establish a monthly spending cap
  • Pay only to reach consumers who show an interest in your product or service
Use search engine optimization (SEO). SEO is all about figuring out key search phrases customers would use to find your business and incorporating them into your site. The more your website content matches up with the specific searches people do, the more relevant your site will be considered by search engines such as Google, Yahoo and Bing. As a result, your business page will rank higher than others and you'll appear closer to the top of a search results page. SEO allows you to:
  • Improve the rank of your website in the free search results
  • Raise your position on the page
  • Increase your visibility for free
  • Grow the traffic to your site
Add custom videos. A video link found online is 52 percent more likely to be clicked than a standard text link.1 In the U.S., we are the number one video consumers in the world. In fact, Alexa ranks YouTube as the third most visited site on the Internet behind Facebook and Google. Consumers like to be able to see your business, your store or office, your staff, and your products in living color and full motion. Plus, videos are 53 times more likely than text pages to show up on the first page of search results.4 Some of the many other benefits of using video on your site include the ability to:
  • Tell your story visually
  • Increase chances of your content going viral
  • Differentiate your site from competitors
  • Get 18 percent more viewer attention than TV commercials3
Use online banner advertising. Most Internet users have probably seen plenty of banner advertising while surfing online. Typically, they're the small, rectangular ads seen across the top, bottom or along the side of a page. If you click on one, it immediately takes you to the advertiser's website or their landing page. Just a few years ago, banner ads looked to be fading in popularity. But, thanks to technology centered on how they are bought, sold and targeted, banner ads are making a big comeback. Today's banner ads get exposed to the most relevant target audience by strategically advertising on websites that would appeal to the site's users. Targeted banner ads reduce wasted coverage and bring in more qualified leads for less. Some of the other benefits of banner advertising include the ability to:
  • Guide prospects along the purchase path
  • Provide up to a 27 percent lift in online sales5
  • Offer up to a 17 percent lift in offline sales5
  • Increase brand awareness
  • Easily measure results
  • Compete with national brands
  • Build credibility with future customers
Reputation management. In the world of reputation management, knowledge is power. You can't manage what you don't know about. Reputation management is the process of tracking what is being said about your business. It provides an omnipresent electronic ear to the ground so you know what information is being said about your business and allows you to check for accuracy, share the good stuff, and respond-if needed. Reputation management benefits businesses by:
  • Ensuring consumers find only the best version of your business
  • Allowing you to keep tabs on what is being said about your business
  • Providing the opportunity to address any damaging information in a timely manner
  • Listening to social buzz about your business
  • Helping to keep an eye on the competition
More visibility, more business. Increasing your online presence is one of the best ways to increase your visibility for customers trying to find you. Local businesses need to develop a coordinated offline and online marketing program to reach across the myriad of ways today's digitally savvy and mobile buyers search and shop. Test your business's visibility right now for free. Take a few minutes to get your Findability Score by answering five simple questions about your business.
1 - Source: Kelsey Group, Mobile Market Research, 2010 
2 - Source: Pew Research Center
3 - Source: YuMe and IPG Media Lab, April 2012
4 - Source: GigaOM 2009
5 - Source: comScore 2008 

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