Online Presence Blueprint: First Steps For Local Businesses and Online Entrepreneurs
As entrepreneurs, we are living in a fast-paced, ever-changing world of digital landscapes; it’s a wild ride, and to stay in the game, we all came to learn that our businesses need a solid presence online.
Whether you’re launching a fresh online start-up, setting up a brick-and-mortar shop, or looking to breathe new life into an existing business, this guide has something for you.
The Marketing Maze
The world of marketing can seem like a bewildering maze, filled with buzzwords that sound like they’ve been pulled straight out of a sci-fi movie. And the tactics and strategies we hear about can appear as complex as a Rubik’s cube.
My goal with this article is to turn that marketing maze into an enjoyable ‘walk in the park’.
A Clear Path Through the Marketing Maze: 6 Essential Steps
1. Domain Acquisition
Grabbing Your Piece of the Virtual Real Estate
The first stepping stone on this journey? Snagging the perfect domain name !
Your domain name is your address, your own little .corn on the web. It’s not just about picking a name out of thin air; it’s about choosing one that rings true to your brand and echoes in the minds of your audience.
It’s the cornerstone of your online identity, a beacon for your marketing endeavors.
Allow me to paint a picture from my personal canvas. Not too long ago, I stumbled upon a bakery that was nothing short of a hidden gem. I was eager to spread the word to my friends, but alas! This food haven was nowhere to be found in the digital world. It was like finding a treasure chest, but having no map to share its location.
The moral of the story? In today’s digital age, a robust online presence isn’t just a luxury; it’s a necessity. And the first rung on that ladder? You guessed it right – securing a domain!
Why Owning a Domain Name is a Game Changer
A domain name helps customers locate your business amidst the sea of competitors. It’s a crucial cog in the wheel of successful marketing.
Earning Trust and Credibility
Much like a book is judged by its cover, businesses often face scrutiny based on their domain names. Opt for something professional, succinct, and specific to your brand.
Boosting Your Website’s SEO
If your domain name includes relevant keywords related to your business or the products/services you offer, it can help search engines understand what your website is about. When users search for those keywords, search engines are more likely to consider your website as relevant and display it in the search results.
Consistency in Branding
Consistency is key when it comes to effective marketing. A domain name that echoes your brand ensures a seamless brand experience across different channels.
➡️ Resource: I recommend Namecheap.com
I’ve been using their services since 2006 and never had to contact their customer support department, a testament to the quality of their service.
2. Web Hosting for Your Domain
Once you’ve got your domain name, your address, you’ll need a plot of land to build on. That’s where web hosting comes into play. Think of it as the foundation of your home on the web.
You wouldn’t build a house on shaky ground, would you? Similarly, a reliable web host ensures your site stands tall and steady amidst the hustle and bustle of the online world.
Choosing a steadfast web host right off the bat is as crucial as the website itself. It’s like picking a reliable co-pilot for your online journey, ensuring your site remains secure, accessible, and resilient enough to keep up with your business’s growth.
Factors to Consider When Choosing a Web Host
Scalability – your website starts to grow, attracting more traffic, but your hosting service can’t keep up. That’s a nightmare you don’t want to live. So, make sure your web host can roll with the punches, offering scalable solutions that allow you to upgrade or add resources as needed.
In addition to scalability, another crucial factor to consider when choosing a web host is the level of customer support they provide.
A reliable web host should offer responsive and knowledgeable customer support to troubleshoot any issues that may arise, ensuring your website remains up and running smoothly around the clock.
The server’s physical location can make or break your website’s speed. If your audience is concentrated in a specific region, it’s a no-brainer to choose a web host with servers in or near that area. It’s like setting up shop where your customers are, reducing lag and enhancing page load times.
In the digital world, security is king. Ensure your web host wears the crown by providing basic security measures like SSL certificates, regular backups, firewall protection, and malware scans. Ask about their server maintenance routines and steps taken to prevent data breaches. After all, better safe than sorry!
Control Panel Options
A user-friendly control panel can be your best friend in managing website tasks. Look for hosts offering intuitive control panels like cPanel or Plesk. These software make managing files, databases and emails.
Evaluate your anticipated visitor volume and the storage capacity required for your content. Consider factors like file sizes, multimedia elements, and potential visitor spikes due to promotions or events. It’s like planning a party – you need to make sure there’s room for everyone.
CMS and Website Builder Compatibility
If you’re planning to use a specific content management system like WordPress or website builders like Wix or Squarespace, ensure your hosting service is compatible. It’s like making sure your car runs on the fuel you have access to.
Choose a web host that promises high uptime because downtime can be a reputation killer and revenue drainer.
Pricing and Contract Terms
Compare pricing plans and contract terms from different providers. Keep an eye on renewal prices, which may differ from initial offers. Also, watch out for hidden charges or resource restrictions that could affect your website’s performance.
Before you seal the deal, do your homework on customer feedback and testimonials. Reviews on reliability, customer support, performance, and user experience can provide valuable insights, helping you make an informed decision.
➡️ Resource: I recommend A2 Hosting
They offer security, speed and stability.
3. Why You Should Be the Landlord of Your Own Digital Real Estate
Building Your Digital Empire
Now, with the address and foundation sorted, it’s time to get down to the nitty-gritty of developing your site.
Every page, every post, every image should serve a purpose, adding to the grand design of your digital empire.
Picture this: you’re a newbie in the digital world, trying to put your business on the map. You might be tempted to lean on third-party website creators like Wix or Square.
After all, they’re user-friendly and offer a plethora of templates. But, as your business grows from a fledgling startup to a well-established enterprise, you might find yourself yearning for more.
More control, more customization, and more scalability. That’s where owning your own website comes into play.
The Perks of Being a Website Owner
Customization and Control
Imagine being the puppet master of your own digital stage. Owning your website gives you the reins to the design, layout, and functionality. You can tweak it to match your brand’s vibe, something that’s not quite possible with third-party website builders.
As your business blossoms, your website needs to keep up. With your own server, upgrading your hosting package to accommodate increased traffic and additional content is a breeze. On the other hand, third-party websites might put a cap on the number of pages or the volume of content you can upload. It’s like trying to fit a square peg in a round hole.
Hosting your own website is like having a secret weapon for search engine visibility. You can use SEO-friendly URLs, have complete control over HTML coding, and utilize a wider range of tools and plugins to boost your site’s ranking.
Nothing screams “legit” like a personal, self-hosted website. Instead of relying on a sub-domain provided by the website builder, you’ll have a dedicated domain name, such as [yourcompany].com
The cherry on top? You own your website. It’s yours, lock, stock, and barrel. Even if your hosting service decides to call it quits or changes its terms and conditions, your website remains unscathed. Now, that is a comforting thought!
Choosing Your Platform: WordPress.org vs WordPress.com
When it comes to establishing a digital presence, the choice between WordPress.org and WordPress.com can be a head-scratcher.
Both platforms are built on the same robust WordPress content management system (CMS), but they differ like chalk and cheese in terms of ownership, control, flexibility, and functionality.
The Lowdown on WordPress.org
Imagine having the keys to your own digital kingdom – that’s what WordPress.org offers. You’re the king or queen, with full ownership and control over your website.
Speaking of customization, WordPress.org is like a playground for creativity. You can install custom themes and plugins, fiddle with the website’s code, and add any functionality you fancy.
Whether you’re looking to boost your SEO, set up an e-commerce platform, or create a membership system, there’s a plugin for that. .
As for monetization, WordPress.org is your oyster. Run ads, sell products or services, implement various revenue streams – the world is your lobster! However, remember that while the software is free, you’ll need to shell out for hosting service and domain name.
On the flip side, we have WordPress.com – a fully hosted platform that takes care of all the nitty-gritty details.
Imagine it as living in a furnished apartment where everything is taken care of. No need to worry about hosting or software updates – it’s all smooth sailing.
WordPress.com is a breath of fresh air for beginners as its interface is very simple.
However, this simplicity comes with a trade-off – customization is limited. You can choose from a selection of themes, but installing custom themes or plugins requires an upgrade to a paid plan.
As for costs, WordPress.com does offer a free plan, but it comes with limited features and displays ads on your site.
Monetization on WordPress.com? You can’t display third-party ads with the free plan, and even the paid plans have limitations.
So, which one to pick? If you value ownership, control, flexibility, and customization, WordPress.org is your best bet.
On the other hand, if you’re after simplicity and ease of use, and don’t need extensive customization or monetization options, WordPress.com is an option.
4. Unleashing the Power of a Business Blog
For the savvy entrepreneur, crafting a blog on their website isn’t just a passing fad. It’s a golden ticket to a world of untapped potential and benefits.
A Beacon for Search Engines
Search engines are constantly on the lookout for new information. Imagine your blog as a lighthouse, emitting a constant beam of fresh content.
With the right sprinkle of keywords and a dash of SEO magic, your blog can skyrocket your visibility in search results, drawing in a steady stream of visitors.
Not only does your blog act as a lighthouse, guiding search engines to your website, but it also serves as a captivating hub for engaging with your audience, establishing your expertise, and building strong relationships with potential customers worldwide.
The Traffic Magnet
A blog is a dynamic hub of engaging content that acts as a magnet for website traffic. Regularly dishing out valuable insights can transform casual visitors into loyal customers, making your website a bustling marketplace of ideas and transactions.
Building Your Expert Empire
Blogs are the perfect platform to showcase your products, services and expertise. They serve as a stage where you can share nuggets of wisdom and industry insights, establishing your business as a trusted authority. This reputation can reel in more customers and boost sales, making your blog the cornerstone of your expert empire.
Fostering a Loyal Tribe
Blogs aren’t just about broadcasting; they’re about conversation. They offer a unique opportunity to engage directly with your audience, cultivating a sense of community and loyalty.
Boosting Brand Visibility
Consistently publishing blog content reinforces your message and amplifies your voice, making your brand a familiar face in the crowd.
Turning Readers into Customers
Blogs are a subtle yet powerful tool for lead generation and conversion. They allow you to weave calls-to-action into your content, inviting readers towards signing up for newsletters, downloading resources, or exploring your offerings.
Amplifying Your Social Media Presence
Blogs and social media go together like bread and butter. Sharing your blog posts on social platforms can amplify your reach, drawing in potential customers like bees to honey. Plus, engaging with your followers can spark a ripple effect of shares and likes, spreading your content far and wide.
Creating Evergreen Content
Unlike fleeting social media posts, blog posts have a longer shelf life. Well-crafted posts can continue to attract visitors and generate leads for months, even years, keeping your business thriving long after the initial buzz has faded.
However, remember that a successful blog doesn’t sprout overnight. It requires consistent nurturing, dedication, and a steady stream of top-notch content that resonates with your audience. But with these ingredients in place, your blog can blossom into a powerful asset for your business.
Be the Captain of Your Own Ship
One of the most tantalizing perks of running a profitable blog is the chance to call the shots. Armed with the right tools and a reliable internet connection, you can work from virtually anywhere. Be it from the comfort of your home, a bustling coffee shop, or as a globe-trotting digital nomad, the world is your office.
➡️ Resources I recommend :
Monthly Content | Blog Ideas For A Year with Karon Tackston
Really Simple Authority Blogging with Connie Ragen Green
5. The Magic of SEO
Amplifying Your Digital Footprint
Ever wondered about the secret sauce that propels certain websites to the top of search engine results? Here are the key elements of Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Decoding the DNA of SEO
At its heart, SEO is a tactical game plan aimed at boosting your website’s position on search engine results pages (SERPs). The higher your website pops up in the search results, the more eyeballs it catches. This increased exposure can drive a surge in organic traffic and, ultimately, turbocharge your business’s success.
The Secret Weapon: Keyword Research
Keyword research is the bedrock of any triumphant SEO strategy. By pinpointing and understanding the specific keywords and phrases your target audience uses to hunt for products or services akin to yours, you unlock a treasure trove of insights into their search intent.
With this knowledge in your arsenal, you can tailor your content to dovetail with your audience’s interests and needs, thereby pulling more relevant traffic to your website.
The Art of On-Page SEO
On-page SEO spins around optimizing individual web pages to enhance their visibility and relevance. This involves several key ingredients, including:
- Content Optimization: Forge high-quality, informative, and captivating content that orbits around your identified keywords. Whip up content that not only caters to search engines but, more importantly, enriches your visitors’ experience.
- Meta Tags: Keep a hawk’s eye on meta titles and meta descriptions. These snippets play a crucial role in persuading users to click through to your website from the search results.
- URL Structure: Construct clean and descriptive URLs that mirror the content of the page. Both search engines and users tip their hats to URLs that are easy to comprehend and recall.
Tapping into the Power of Off-Page SEO
Off-page SEO zeroes in on building credibility and authority for your website through external factors. The heavyweight champion of off-page SEO is backlink building.
By securing high-quality backlinks from reputable and relevant sources, you signal to search engines that your website is trustworthy and deserving of a higher ranking. When it comes to backlinks, it’s quality over quantity – spammy or irrelevant links can throw a wrench in your SEO efforts.
The Road to Digital Prominence: A Game of Patience and Persistence
It’s vital to underscore that SEO isn’t a one-and-done job but a marathon. Securing and sustaining online visibility demands consistent effort and a readiness to roll with the punches in the ever-evolving digital landscape.
Keep a finger on the pulse of your data, staying open to tweaking your strategy based on performance insights.
In the realm of SEO, content wears the crown. Quality content not only engages your audience but also contributes significantly to better search engine rankings.
To harness the power of content effectively, bear in mind the following:
- Content Strategy: Identify the types of content that strike a chord with your target audience. This could range from blog posts, articles, videos, infographics, to podcasts. Develop a content calendar and stick to a consistent posting schedule to keep your audience hooked.
- Quality Matters: Pour resources into creating high-quality content that delivers value, answers queries, and solves problems for your audience. Content that’s well-researched, well-penned, and visually appealing tends to perform better in search engine rankings and sparks more user engagement.
Mastering the art of SEO is a potent way to amplify your website’s visibility, pull in relevant traffic, and hit your business goals. By conducting comprehensive keyword research, optimizing your on-page elements, and constructing reputable backlinks, you can steer your website towards success.
Triumph in SEO requires patience, and a commitment to delivering valuable content that resonates with your audience.
6. Repurposing Content
A Masterstroke in Strategy
Repurposing content is a smart-as-a-whip strategy that morphs a single piece of content into multiple ones, adapting to various consumption habits. It saves you time and effort while extending the lifespan and value of each masterpiece you create.
Text-Based Formats: The Power of Transformation
One of the simplest ways to repurpose content is through text-based formats. As an example: you’ve got an insightful blog post. Now, you can transform it into a visually stunning infographic.
This not only adds a dash of design and aesthetics but also simplifies complex information, making it easy to digest and shareable on social media.
Plus, turning blog posts into downloadable PDFs or eBooks can act as a lead magnet, inviting visitors to subscribe to your mailing list.
Audio Realm: Breathing Fresh Life into Written Words
Dipping your toes into the audio realm opens up a whole new world of audience engagement. Converting written content into podcasts or audiobooks will reach those who prefer to consume content on the move or during their commute.
This audio adaptation can also include interviews or discussions with experts, infusing a breath of fresh air into the original material.
Video: The Dominant Force in Content Consumption
Video offers a goldmine of potential for repurposing. Transform written content into engaging video scripts and create visually compelling presentations, tutorials, or animations.
Video content often attracts more views and shares, making it a priceless jewel in your content strategy crown.
Bundling: Creating Comprehensive Resources
Grouping related pieces of content together, as assembling a jigsaw puzzle, creates a convenient and comprehensive resource for your audience.
Compile a series of blog posts on a particular topic into a complete guide or e-course, making it a breeze for readers to access and delve into the information.
Giveaways: Sweetening the Deal
Giveaways allows you to repurpose content into downloadable templates, checklists, or worksheets, offering them as freebies to your followers.
This not only adds value to their experience but also strengthens the bond between your brand and audience.
Embrace the Versatility of Repurposing
By converting your creations into various formats such as text, audio, video, bundles, and giveaways, you can cast a wider net, reel in increased engagement.
Embrace the versatility of repurposing, and watch your blog bloom with a diversified and delighted readership.
So there you have it. Establishing an online presence isn’t an overnight process, but with the right tools and mindset, it’s a journey well worth taking.
To Your Online Success!
Janice Dugas, Online Marketing Strategist and Entrepreneur helps you maximise your online presence. Join her community by claiming your free guide Your Story Your Brand, a great workbook that show you uncover your unique story and share your gifts and talents with the world.
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