How to Build an Online Business Presence

online presence
••• Getty Images/Enis Aksoy 

You can’t escape it… no matter what business you’re in these days, you need to have an online presence to be successful.

In every industry and in every niche, no matter what product you sell or service you provide… whether your business is bricks-and-mortar or completely on the Internet… prospects and customers need to be able to find you online. They’re already looking for you… so make sure you’re not “hiding.”

Truth is that people are on the Internet more than ever these days, for work and fun. There are 290 million Internet users in the United States alone. And they’re researching products and services when they’re surfing the web—and buying them too.

As an entrepreneur, you know the number one rule of business is to go where the customer is. And that means you must build an effective online presence.

The great news is that you don’t have to be a web marketing expert or programmer—or hire someone who is extremely expensive—to get noticed on the Internet and bring more people to your offline store or e-commerce storefront.

There are some simple but very effective strategies you can implement quickly and easily to boost your online presence, generate more leads, and sell more—resulting in more profits for you. And all these techniques are free too. That makes for an ideal return on investment.

Whether you’ve tried to create an online presence before and it didn’t work out… or this is your first time, you should try the strategies below.

Not all will work for every business. But once you find the right mix for your target market, it’ll put you on the road to online business success.

The important thing now is that you get started.

1. Create a Website or Blog

As a business, you need an online storefront. Think of it as virtual real estate.

Your website or blog is the place where you can tell prospects and customers about your product or service… and about yourself as the business owner.

Your ultimate goal is to convince them to buy, whether it’s right there on your ecommerce website or they come to visit your real world store. At the very least, you want to keep them engaged and eager to find out more about your business.

To do that you must have compelling “copy” on your site that creates desire and inspires trust.

A good idea here is to also include an “opt in.” You may have seen these before. Essentially you give away something, like a free report to incentivize people to provide you with their email address. Once you have that address, you can send further information to keep them engaged with your business.

2. Build Your SEO

To be honest, you can have the best website in the world, with the most compelling marketing copy… but without effective search engine optimization, all your work towards creating an online presence will go nowhere.

Here’s the deal: there are more 1 billion websites out there. So it does take some work on your part to make your one website stand out. That’s where SEO comes in.

By regularly posting useful content that have to do with your niche and using keywords specific to the type of business you are in, you can rise in the rankings in the search engines.

That way, when people search words and phrases related to your business, your website (maybe even your physical address and phone number, if you’re an offline store) will be high up on the results page.

Most people don’t go beyond the first page of search results. So it’s key to always keep SEO in mind as you create and add to your website.

Far and away the number one search engine is Google. Keep Google happy and you’ll be happy.

3. Get on Social Media

More than half the world’s population is online these days. And a good number of them use social media networks and services like Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and others.

Increasingly these platforms have become an important marketing channel for offline and online businesses. So they’ve become a vital part of building an online presence.

People simply want to interact with brands and the companies behind them online and social media is an easy way to do that.

So make sure you’re part of the conversation.

Create a Facebook page for your business and post often (things like product launches, sales, useful information, etc.).

Film simple YouTube videos that showcase you and your products. You can even use your smartphone. You can do how-to videos, talking heads, or whatever else you’d like really. Check out your competitors for inspiration.

It’s important that all your social media efforts to bolster your online presence be coordinated. Make sure what you say in a YouTube video matches what you posted on Twitter.

You should also be linking in between them. For example, your Facebook posts should link back to your website. You could have Twitter and Facebook posts that link to your newest YouTube video. You get the idea.

4. Get Involved in the “Community”

This next tactic to boost your business’s online presence is related to being active on social media but different enough to merit its own entry.

Just about every niche or type of product has its own online community where people congregate to discuss news, trends, new products, and more. There are forums, blogs, reddit groups, Facebook groups, and other places online where your ideal prospects are… and you should be there too.

But you can’t just join a forum and post a link to your website. You start slow. Join a conversation, offer your opinion. Share useful advice. Don’t be pushy, sales-y, or spammy.

Over time your reputation will grow. People will come to know you as a trusted source. At that point you can direct them to your website, your blog, or your Facebook page to get more information.

What to Do Next

A few last things to remember as you build up your online presence for your business… be strategic, be consistent, and keep track of your efforts so you know what works and what doesn’t.

To ensure that you have a long-lasting impact you must also be consistent in your messaging and provide value. And remember, this process won’t happen overnight. To build an effective online presence takes time. But the positive effects on your business’s bottom-line are well worth the effort.