Once upon a time, you could build a flashy website that was really sexy and that made everyone who found you online think you were sexy too. Then search engines came along, and they didn’t even look for much of that flashy stuff. Who cares if you’re cool if no one can find you?
Maybe you thought a website needed to be an online brochure with all the information anyone ever needed to learn about your company, once and for all. Then content-management software arrived, which allowed your competitors to update their web content regularly, keeping it fresh and relevant. Now your brochure website is out of date and stale; and that’s how your brand looks, too.
These days it’s not nearly enough to have a website. Instead, you need a web presence. As the essential nucleus of your brand, your website should be seen as part of a fully coordinated online presence that communicates vital characteristics of your company.
Here are some strategies you should explore that will enhance your online credibility and elevate your brand’s recognition.
Blog ’til It Hurts
Assuming you have even a basic WordPress-style content-management website, you should embrace blogging. When done right, a blog is an active content-generating device that search engines like to see.
So, what is the right way? Simply put, you need to outline the key topics your firm can discuss credibly that relate directly to your primary service or product offering. If, say, your company develops software, you should create content that outlines the benefits of your approach and cite examples of how your product solves problems. You can also comment on other approaches that operate in your space or link readers to other industry-leading commentators whose views on software support your own.
Stay on message by working up a 12-month editorial calendar of the topics you intend to post. If you can’t post daily or weekly right away, don’t panic. Establish when you can post, then stick to that schedule. A summary of your blogs works really well as a newsletter that you can send to clients, vendors or friends of the firm.
And don’t be deterred if writing is not your forte and you can’t enlist your staff to help out; there are plenty of freelance writers out there who are willing and able to develop content for your approval.
Give Something to Get Something
Because this is your business, you most certainly have a depth of knowledge about your products and services that potential customers will find of value. You may also have examples of how your products or services have performed in an exemplary way. Craft these examples into case studies that will make for compelling reading in the form of ebooks or infographics.
Create a few of these and hype them on your site as FREE downloads. As well, link them in your blog and share them on your social media platforms. When visitors download these files, you capture potential leads—or, at the very least, potential subscribers to your newsletter.
Go Social—But Be Smart About It
If you have a social media presence, updating it must be informed by the key values and essential messages you want associated with your company. Posting trivia is seen as just that—trivial.
Instead, as you develop more content about how smart you are and how great your products or services perform, post links to this content on social media platforms. Those postings will drive traffic to your website, where visitors can explore all your content and, possibly, download an ebook or infographic. Likewise, if your professional qualifications are updated, or if you or your company receive some credible recognition, you should add this to your personal profile on sites such as LinkedIn and highlight it in your newsletter.
Never Stop Gauging How You’re Doing
Ongoing, real-time website analytics are essential if you’re going to better understand who’s visiting your site, where they’re coming from, what they’re looking for, how long they’re staying and where they’re dropping out. These are just a few of the metrics you will want to explore.
Many basic versions of these tools, such as Google Analyticshttp://www.google.ca/analytics/ are free from search engines. Working with these tools is enlightening—and humbling. Best of all, website analytics can provide a real-time glimpse of what is and isn’t working on your site.
The ultimate goal of enhancing your online presence is to engage potential and actual visitors in order to fulfill a key objective of your online mission: growing your brand community. That’s what transforms your online investment from a cost centre into a business builder. Now THAT is sexy!
Wayne S. Roberts is president and chief creative officer of Blade Creative Branding, a firm specializing in strategic branding, creative advertising and innovative online solutions.
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