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Seven tips to improve your online presence

Article provided by WebAfrica

Most businesses understand that they need an online presence, but after setting up their initial website, it is seen as a box ticked, and that is often where it ends.

An online presence is, however, not a short-term goal, but rather a permanent work in progress. It needs to be nurtured until it flourishes, and once that happens, it still needs to be maintained. Think of it as a plant, it needs to be planted in the right soil, then it needs sunlight, frequent watering, and every so often to move into a new pot.

So how do you get your business sprouting new leaves and bringing in new leads? Here are seven tried-and-tested tips for boosting your company’s online presence:

Make sure you’re mobile friendly
Fifty-seven per cent of South Africa’s online traffic comes from mobile devices, which means having a mobile-friendly website is a great benefit. A website that has been designed specifically to be viewed on phones displays well, loads fast – helping your customers save data – and considers other user experience details such as readability and easy navigation. But that’s not all, Google’s algorithm, which decides where you rank, now takes into account whether your website is mobile-friendly.

Become responsive
While a mobile-friendly website is designed specifically for phones, a responsive site positively adapts to all the devices it is being viewed on, be it smartphones, tablets, laptops, desktop PCs or Macs. Today responsiveness is a necessity. Ever quickly try and look at a website on your tablet, but it didn’t load? Chances are you swiftly moved on to the next site. This holds true for everybody. There is always another website – or competitor – that can offer the information. That’s why it is essential that your website displays properly on the latest screens.

Get to grips with SEO
Even though it is mostly hidden, SEO or search engine optimisation is an extremely important part of your online presence, and it is a labour love. Want to be on the first page on Google? Forget it… unless you’re ranking for the right keywords and have adhered to a long list of requirements (such as being mobile friendly). Make sure your optimised meta descriptions (that information that shows up on a Google search) is in place and that you have fresh, unique content that is regularly updated and you are well on your way to meeting Google’s many requirements and ranking better organically.

Start a blog
A blog can help you keep your site fresh and up-to-date. It allows you to frequently post new, unique content that is relevant to your industry. A blog with engaging posts will give you a boost on Google, and will also add value to your customers. Do some research about trending topics in your industry and focus on those.

Get on social media
Not on Facebook yet? Get sparking! There are 13 million South Africans on Facebook, and since it is free, it is one of the most cost-effective avenues available to grow your audience. And if you have a budget for online advertising, even better! With highly targeted Facebook Ads you can be reaching the audience you want – and that wants you. Facebook gathers data from users, such as likes, dislikes and where they are situated, and when you use Facebook Ads all of that information is available to you.

Once you are set up on Facebook, see which other online platforms your customers love. Are they a visual crowd that enjoys Pinterest or Instagram? Then that is where you need to be. Are they more business oriented? Then make sure you are on LinkedIn. Have customers who are on the move and into trending topics? Then get busy on Twitter.

Manage your social media
Just being on social media isn’t enough. The secret is being an active participant on the right platforms. Even if you find the perfect platform, if you are not investing time into it, you might as well abandon the effort. Customers will quickly become frustrated if you do not monitor your pages and interact with them or assist with queries, and if you do not post frequent updates, they will unfollow you. But be careful not to spam your followers – that will also lead to them promptly unfollowing.

Social media also offers the perfect platform for you to share your own blog posts with the world!

Invest in PPC
Google AdWords offers businesses PPC, or pay per click, advertising. These advertisements are found at the top of search engine results pages. They are highly targeted and help you reach customers who are searching for businesses exactly like yours. The best part is that you only pay once a customer actually clicks on your ad. It can be a great way to find leads that are actually interested in what you have to offer, and it can also help boost traffic to your website, which in turn can be beneficial to your SEO, which will help you rank better organically.

Ready to water your online presence? We thought you might be, and don’t worry, you don’t have to sing to it. Unless you want to.

You can also join us for our Free Small Business Summits in Cape Town and Johannesburg in July and August for more handy tricks and tips on how to increase your online presence. Click here to book your spot today.

WebAfrica is a proud Partner of the National Small Business Chamber (NSBC).