Building an online presence is more than just having a social circle on Facebook or a bunch of Twitter followers, but having a reach that stretches beyond your circle- to showing up on the first page of a search result for those looking for what you have to offer. It also means having a presence that stands out and sticks in people’s mind.
While Facebook is certainly a good place to start, there are definitely other areas to invest in as well as having proper tact and effective strategy with certain skills and action plan. So here are 7 pillars to building an online presence:
1) BRANDING Perhaps the most fundamental element to building an online presence is proper branding. I emphasize “proper branding” because many people understand branding to be nothing more than a design-theme or logo. But real branding has to do more with essence. A logo is good, but it’s the meaning and purpose behind the logo that really matters.
That is why it is so important to define and clarify the purpose of your endeavor in order to exude the meaning behind your image. A tag-theme is also another important element to branding; for example, my tag is “In the world – not of the world”. Again, proper branding has more to do with your essence while the logo, design-theme and tag-theme are just tools that reinforce that essence.
One more important detail worth mentioning here is a Gravatar. A Gravatar is a Globally Recognized Avatar that displays your profile photo everywhere you leave a comment or link- which is a very important feature to help people recognize and remember you. To sign up for your own Gravatar, go to: gravatar.com
2) SOCIAL MEDIA After formulating your brand, you may begin to establish this image in social media sites by engaging with people and making meaningful connections. Social media sites should not be used to have a pitch-fest, but mainly a place to connect with people and maintain relationships. Pitching to people on social media sites is usually not very effective nor tasteful, but there are many ways to stimulate interest and attract people to the value that you have to offer. See- “Social Media Etiquette and Online Human Relations Defined“
There is a plethora of social media sites to choose from, but a few that should not be ignored:
- Facebook is the largest website on the net with an abundance of interactive features; is essentially a global community-blog, yet also has search features as well as groups, specialized pages and pay-per-click campaigns.
- LinkedIn is the largest professional social media site with many features similar to Facebook, but geared more for professionals
- Youtube is the largest video social media site which is valuable if you use any form of video as it also lends to search engine rankings because it’s owned by Google. But Youtube is rather tough on marketers so Vidler is a social media video site that is more market friendly.
- Google+ is the social media version of this search engine giant with a multitude of interactive features similar to Facebook and LinkedIn
- Twitter is a micro-blog which can be quite effective in drawing people to your site
Social media sites are notorious for consuming too much time spent in frivolous twiddle mode, so be sure to set time limits and use that time wisely.
As people are attracted to your message and the value you display, they will be more inclined to come and take a closer look at what you have to offer.
3) YOUR WEBSITE While social media sites bare the resemblance of the community town-square, your website represents your very own “home” or “shop”. This is your online real estate which you own and control and have the right to design as you please. Opening your home or shop enables better relationships with your friends and clientele and gives you another platform to brand yourself.
A WordPress website, as opposed to a static website, is better for accommodating visiters and visiter interaction, plus Google resonates well with WordPress. A very vital element of this kind of site is a blog.
4) BLOGGING Blogging is what really enables you to properly brand yourself and display your expertise with useful and beneficial content that keeps your site fresh with valuable updates to keep your visiters returning. It does take time and dedication to create content, but each piece of content is an asset that can be used and reused for various purposes as it is the life-force of generating free traffic to your site by ranking at the top of the search engines if done properly and consistently with effective SEO strategy.
5) SEO Building an online presence must include a basic understanding and implementation of SEO (Search Engine Optimization). This is how your content gets ranked on the search engines, so it is very important to at least know the basics. SEO basics include:
- Keyword Research & Strategy- Proper research to find specific keyword phrases that relate to your expertise and constructing relevant content around these keywords is basic keyword strategy. These keywords need to have substantial search demand, yet not over-saturated with competition. See- “Keyword Research Basics“
- Quality Content- Building an archive of quality content and establishing your website as a valuable resource is the best thing you can do for search engine optimization. It’s important to know that search algorithm is primarily based on what people are looking for, not what search engine robots are looking for, but people. So while some knowledge of search engine algorithm is handy, the primary focus should be on giving real value to real people by providing them with what they want and need.
- WordPress SEO- It’s always important to have your site dialed-in so that search engine spiders have an easier time sifting through and indexing your content. So organizing your content into categories is essential. Also, there are various SEO plugins to utilize such as “All in One SEO Pack”, “Ultimate Tag Warrior” and “BWP Google XML Sitemaps”. A bit more advanced, but better than the “All in One SEO Pack”, is “Yoast WordPress SEO”. Yoast has a much wider display of settings which takes some know-how, but even the default settings are highly effective.
- Backlinks are when other websites link-back to your site as a reference. This indicates a degree of authority which is recognized by search engines for better rankings. Backlinks can be “fabricated” to expedite this process, but this can hurt your site in the long run as search engines are evolving to recognize artificial backlinks. Natural backlinks take longer to accumulate, but are much better if you are planning on having your website around for the duration. The best way to acquire natural backlinks is by syndication.
6) SYNDICATION Another aspect of SEO, yet worth placing in its own category, is syndication. Leveraging the power of a community is the most efficient way to share your content. Syndication is when a certain group or community of people circulate each others content. These groups or communities can be referred to as “tribes“.
There are basically two types of tribes: Large tribes that produce high-quantity syndication through mass-automation systems such as “TribePro“, -or- small tribes that produce high-quality syndication through a more personal endorsement. Both are good but I always believe that quality is better than quantity, so forming or joining a small but tight-knit-tribe where each member attaches the weight of their credibility to the content they share can be much more effective than mass automated sharing.
The result of high-quality syndication is higher exposure to an audience beyond your own sphere which generates free traffic to your site as well as links which all lends itself to building authority that search engines recognize, thus making it easier to rank on the search engines to generate even more free traffic. The best way to form or find a tight-knit syndication tribe is to engage.
7) ENGAGING First of all, you want to be sure to choose your friends and partners wisely. If you’re going to put your credibility on the line by personally endorsing the content of those in your tight-knit tribe, than make sure this tribe is made-up of like-minded people with valuable content.
Having said that, you don’t want a tribe in which everyone is in the same exact niche, lest everyone steps on each others toes. Rather, having a tribe with positive diversity is a good way to go as long as there is some relativity. So to form or find a tribe like this, you really need to reach out, but this does not need to be as intimidating as it may sound.
One of the most natural and cordial ways of reaching out is by simply commenting on certain websites that you really like. Remember, you want to choose friends and partners wisely so look for sites with the kind of message that you really believe in and it will be much easier to leave a more descriptive and meaningful comment. Don’t just leave a broad comment like, “Great message”, but describe exactly what you like about their content and even recite some of it.
This kind of genuine respect and consideration will be more likely to prompt these people to give the same respect back. Not everyone will reciprocate, so just move-on until you find those that do and you will be on your way to forming a powerful alliance.
Engaging or networking is not, of course, limited to syndication tribes, but a rather fundamental principle of creating an online presence which goes right along with the other aspects, such as branding, blogging and social media. Each of these faucets are all interrelated to form this delicately balanced and uniquely tempered formula of creating your own online presence.
Hopefully by now you know that building an online presence cannot be done by being a Lone Ranger. Loners are often mistakenly attracted to a home-based Internet business with the idea that they don’t have to deal with people. But anyone doing online marketing is, by all means, in the people business.
Engaging with other online entrepreneurs can be just as important as engaging with your customers, especially when other entrepreneurs could very well become your customers.
Hope this has been helpful and I look forward to seeing your online presence! Cheers!