Section I: What is Online Visibility and Why Do You Need It?
One of the most valuable benefits of an internet-savvy approach to marketing your company online is the increased visibility that can reach an audience of millions with a few strategic and well-planned clicks.
How visible is your company online?
The more online visibility your company has, the more likely people within your industry will look to you for necessary products or services. There may be better sites for deals on everything from books, toys, and wine online than Amazon.com, but the site gains an insane amount of traffic due to name recognition and search engine priority alone.
An investment made to increase your company’s online presence and visibility is an investment in the future success of your company. From social media profiles to online directory listings, there are a wide variety of ways to bolster the visibility of your company. Determining which approach is best suited to your marketing needs is one of the most important tasks you will handle during your career. A poorly marketed company may still succeed depending on its luck and the quality of its products, but a well marketed company will always hold an advantage. Knowledge is power, and if your prospective audience isn’t aware and knowledgeable about your product, your company may suffer. Having strong online visibility is the most efficient way to avoid this situation.
Chapter 1: What exactly does “online visibility” mean?
Although you may begin to understand the benefits of increasing your company’s online visibility, perhaps you’re confused about what “online visibility” actually means. Simply put, online visibility refers to how easy it is for consumers to find your company and its products in relevant online locations. For example, strong visibility would imply that your dog toy company shows up in the first page of Google results when a potential customer types in “quality dog toy products.”
With traditional advertising, such as TV and radio, the advertisements interrupt the viewer’s everyday lives. In the pre-DVR era, this was especially true, as skipping commercials simply wasn’t an option. This approach delivered a message to passive potential customers, whether or not the product or service was appropriate to them. Thankfully, the era of internet marketing provides a much different approach.
Internet marketing works under the assumption that customers are actively seeking out your company and its products, and that their search is happening right now. Taking advantage of this fact, online visibility strategies create content, advertisements, online directories and more to ensure your company and its brand are visible across all relevant online channels. Whether it’s through social media, search engines or local websites, an effective online visibility campaign will make your company’s presence known to an audience of ideal customers. Best of all, this awareness will happen when the customer seeks you, not the other way around.
The ability to be “findable” online is the best quality a company can have in today’s market. No longer are purchases restricted to city, state, or even national boundaries. If you have a product or service that is needed, it does not matter what area your marketing materials reach. People are engaged in conversations about industries and products every day on web boards and social networks across the globe; isn’t it time your company joined the conversation?
Chapter 2: Why should you invest in increasing your company’s online visibility?
One fact should convince you beyond a doubt that investing in increasing your company’s online visibility is essential to the success of your business. Your competitors are already doing so. If your company falls too far behind, your company may become irrelevant. Building your online presence to increase the findability of your company’s contact info, website and products will help you stay ahead of competitors within your industry both locally and abroad.
Traffic, while not the only attribute that will help you see your profits increase, is very important for turning curious visitors into paying customers. If you cannot keep a steady stream of visitors coming to your website on a daily basis, the chances that your company and its products will remain successful becomes much less likely. An absence of new visitors can lead to little or no growth in sales and, ultimately, a decline in profits.
Unique visitors, new customers and people who visit your site regularly are all of equal importance. Each one of these groups is responsible for supporting your business and keeping it afloat. The more consumer groups you can bring in, the more likely word of your company and its products will seep into various social groups, extending your influence in your industry further.
Brand reputation is important to any company, no matter what industry it serves. Being visible is not the only thing needed to achieve this; you will also need a reputable product as well. However, making your company more findable and visible is still of the utmost importance in building your brand reputation. When people associate your company’s name and image with an industry or product as a whole, you know that your reputation and reception in the marketplace is in a healthy state. Additionally, a strong brand reputation helps a company’s website stand apart from competitors in the same industry. With a strong online presence, you can have people asking “why would I use (competitive) services when (your company) exists?” This phenomenon is similar to the Amazon example pointed out earlier. Even if a price may be a bit lower on another site, Amazon has the brand recognition and reputation that allows consumers to feel secure in their purchases.
Since we live in the internet age, people tend to associate a company’s online image with its overall professional image. It is perhaps this fact that allows online visibility to build brand reputation and recognition the way it does. Maintaining professional communication with potential consumers through online marketing content like blogs, social networks and websites, is a great investment of your company’s time and money.
Once you’ve begun investing in increasing your company’s online visibility, you should never stop maintaining its growth. With the profit increase you are sure to experience by doing so, this growth may sustain itself. A successful online visibility campaign can draw thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of new prospective customers to your web content. Investing in services that help to sustain that incoming flow of potential consumers is crucial to the future of your company.
Section II: Strategies for Increasing Online Visibility
There is a wide array of possible routes to take when increasing your company’s online visibility. Ideally, a strong online visibility and marketing campaign should combine as many of these practices as possible, as they will support one another in increasing your company’s findability.
A few of these routes focus on making sure your content shows up in search engines, or Search Engine Optimization (SEO), while others are about long term continuous connections with your consumer base through vehicles like social media marketing. Other tasks have people boosting your company’s visibility through recommendations and mutual testimonials through guest posting and online PR. Perhaps the most interesting route, however, is the creation of relevant content that provides valuable information to the consumer while inviting them to visit your website for your valuable services, or content marketing.
No matter which of these approaches you choose to help boost your company’s online visibility, your investment will be well placed. With a large margin of all internet marketing now targeting increased public awareness of a brand or product, strong online visibility helps assure the potential customer that your site and your company are legitimate and worthwhile.
Chapter 3: SEO
Defined by Wikipedia as “the process of refining a website to get higher search engine rankings and organic visitors to your site without paying for search engine placement,” SEO is one of the best ways to increase your company’s online visibility. If you want your company’s website and web content to show up in Google, Yahoo and other search engine result pages, SEO can help.
Sites that appear higher up and earlier in search results are guaranteed to gain more traffic than less visible sites. Lacking the ability to be found through a general search, may result in the potential of purchasing customers to never reach your site. Digging through search engine result pages and on-site links to find an appropriate company can be frustrating and time-consuming for the average person. Thankfully, SEO provides the perfect tool for helping to ensure your future customers never search in vain for your product.
How high your product or service will be rank on search engine results pages will depend largely on your industry, and how fierce your competition is. Determining the potential of your site to rise to the top of results page will be important, as it will let you know if SEO is a good investment for your company. For example, TV providers and cell phone companies tend to already have highly dominant companies that earn a lot of web traffic. Until you have the customer base size of the cell phone giants like AT&T and Sprint, unlocking the SEO to compete with them can be nearly impossible. On the other hand, if you are offering a product or service with a niche or local focus, SEO can help you rise through the clutter. For example, in trying to increase search ranking for the term “best dog biscuit cook in Los Angeles,” SEO can be a valuable asset to your company’s online marketing approach.
Keywords are very important factors that increase a page’s SEO potential. Google picks up SEO keywords and phrases, and the more effective the keywords within your web pages and content, the more likely your company is to rise on the results page. Essentially, you want to use language in your content that is similar to what your intended audience will use to seek your services. For example, a child custody attorney would want to include frequent references to child support, visitation rights, and custody types to optimize the SEO keywords on their website. By having pages that speak the same language as your ideal customer base, you can help connect those potential customers to your company’s website.
There are many other factors on a web page that attribute to its SEO potential beyond keyword optimization. One important asset your web page needs is lightning-fast loading speeds. Google and other search engines have publicly admitted that loading speeds provide an important attribute to determining the SEO ranking of a webpage. Beyond bringing people to your website and increasing your SEO, loading speeds are important because they play a big part in whether or not visitors will revisit your site. Studies have shown that few people will consider revisiting a website if it takes longer than 4 seconds to load. Most people have high-speed internet services, and become frustrated when websites do not live up to their expected loading speed standards.
Building backlinks is another important strategy you should implement to raise the SEO potential of your web page. Backlinks are incoming links to your website. Whenever other websites or even your own content links back to your website, you increase the amount of “votes” that Google will consider when calculating your SEO potential and search engine results ranking. To optimize the effectiveness of backlinks associated with your websites, you should vary your anchor text greatly, get backlinks from a variety of different platforms, and most importantly, focus on earning backlinks that will also help drive traffic to your website. Google views websites with a diverse number of trusted websites linking to it as a relevant and trusted site. The more trusted the sites are linking to you, the more effective the backlinks will be for boosting your SEO. For example, a site like CNN would give you a much better boost than a local blog-based news website.
Here’s quick list of backlink sources to consider:
- Manual blog commenting
- Guest posting
- Niche directories
- Internal backlinks
- Web 2.0, content-driven platforms
- Q&A websites
- Authority profiles
- Video websites
- Image websites
The important thing to remember with link building is manual over-automation — quality over quantity. When building backlinks, don’t focus solely on SEO — build backlinks that will drive traffic to your website. Build backlinks that will promote and advertise your company. Focusingly solely on “getting the link” is very dangerous nowadays.
A final way to ensure strong SEO is to invest in making your web pages mobile-friendly. While you should also focus on making content that is pleasing when viewed on a desktop, you are very likely to receive just as many visitors viewing your content on a mobile device. When sites are dysfunctional, sloppy and hard to navigate on mobile devices, they have a hard time retaining a steady flow of increased traffic. Understanding how web design can provide a consistent experience between mobile and non-mobile devices is important, since the convenience to potential consumers in learning about and purchasing your product is your number one priority.
Chapter 4: PPC
Pay-per-click advertising (PPC) has the advantage of being the online visibility boosting practice that can generate the most quantifiable returns. Traffic that comes from PPC platforms can be tracked and analyzed in extremely sophisticated ways, allowing returns to be scrutinized in an effective manner. With the highly analyzable results you will gain from effective PPC campaigns, you will be able to target both the strong and weak areas of your marketing practices, allowing you to easily build future campaigns to be even more effective.
Pay-per-click advertising is one of the most popular advertising models being used online today, serving as a testament to its ability to drive quality, traceable content to a company’s website. Platforms to consider include Google Adwords, Bing Ads and Yahoo Advertising. Although there are other platforms, these three are the major players.
In simple terms, PPC is a mode of online marketing that has companies paying a fee for every time an ad is clicked, as opposed to an overall flat fee. PPC allows companies to buy visits to their site, rather than letting potential visitors stumble upon the sites in a more organic manner. Although these campaigns are more intrusive than many of the other online marketing models, they are still heavily targeted toward users who are already searching for content within a certain industry.
Well targeted text ads are essential to running a high-quality PPC campaign. In many cases, new visitors to your website will be guided there by PPC text ads, so it is important that they deliver the desired message in a clear, concise, and powerful manner. Keeping your customer’s wants and needs in mind is crucial, as it will help in crafting a relevant message that will garner more clicks from potential clients. Putting in at least one relevant keyword in your text ads will help ensure their effectiveness. Many benefits are gained through a successful PPC text ad campaign, including improved click-through rates, better quality scores and, as a result, a lower cost per click.
For a similar approach, but with a bit more flair, PPC display ads may be the most promising route for your company. Using visually appealing banners that are simple and on point provide the same benefits as PPC text-based ads, but with more visual appeal. You can choose keywords to determine where your banners ads are placed, or simply pick the targeted websites where your banners will appear.
Here are the banner ad sizes we’ve found to be the most effective:
For a branding-focused and cost-conscious PPC advertising method, banner ads provide an attractive option.
After you have already engaged audiences with effective PPC marketing or other online marketing practices, it’s time to focus on retargeting your visitors. Retargeting occurs when display ads are served to individuals who have already engaged online with your brand. By focusing on the initial audience previous online marketing efforts have been able to build for your brand, retargeting helps direct the flow of customers further into your traffic funnel. Since a customer has already shown prior interest in your company/product, retargeting allows you to serve display ads that are guaranteed to be both relevant and engaging. Even if a consumer fails to click on these retargeted ads, their existence will help keep your brand’s presence top of mind. Keeping the memory of your brand fresh is of utmost importance to effectively building your company’s online visibility and findability.
Chapter 5: Social Media
Did you know that over 80% of all Americans have active social media accounts? Whether it is Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, many of these accounts see daily use by their account holders. With the sheer amount of people to potentially reach out to on these platforms, it would be foolish to disregard the potential increase in both revenue and visibility that is possible through social media marketing.
Like many other online marketing strategies, social media campaigns are largely non-intrusive. If you are reaching out simply by posting content on your company’s page, viewers will need to “follow” you in order to receive your updates. This allows you to reach out to an ideal customer base that has already shown an initial interest in keeping up to date with your company, its products and its deals. Thankfully, a whopping 53% of active social media accounts follow at least one brand, which shows that the public is open to advertising as long as it is on their terms. With every new “like” or “follow”, your ability to reach audience members increases by the amount of people that follow the profile that liked you. This happens because these people now gain the possibility of recommending your company through “sharing” your post on their own profile.
Knowing when to post, and what content to post is key when running a successful social media marketing campaign. Ideally, your company’s page should post at least once a day in order to reach the widest audience possible, while avoiding bogging down your followers’ feeds. Over posting can be just as dangerous as under posting, as it can become intrusive and lead to your followers unsubscribing from your company’s page. Ideally, you should be posting once a day, as this has been shown to reach an average of 22% of fans by the end of a week’s time.
In addition to knowing how many times a week to post, you should be knowledgeable on what time of day presents the peak visibility hours for your content. Fortunately, there are many social media tools available today that give you this insight and data.
Along with knowing when to post, you should know what kind of content will draw the most attention from your intended audience. Quality content is your number one tool in building a larger following that will promote sharing and even potential purchases. When posting content, you should focus on the emotional impact, format and visuals that appear in your post. Focusing on relevant keywords and images can help your social media page garner a higher SEO if done correctly.
Proper social media optimization should target your posts to both communicate with and reach large audiences. Connecting with popular pages on different social media platforms, that are relevant to your industry, can also provide a big boost to your visibility. Whether you are dealing with Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, YouTube or LinkedIn, each platform has unique aspects that will help you get your company and its products out there in the public’s view.
Although every one of these sites provides particular advantages and disadvantages, Facebook is by far the most versatile platform for advertising your product and company effectively. Providing organic advertising through your posts and content is a great start, but taking advantage of their built-in advertising services can extend your customer base even further. Advertising on the internet has become so popular that it actually surpassed the amount of spending on newspaper advertising for the first time in 2013. An impressive $5.1 billion of this online ad expenditure was spent on social media advertising in 2013.
Although many social media platforms like Facebook were ad-free at their founding, nearly everyone now has well-designed, non-intrusive advertising built into the layout of their website. Even though it may seem like ads on social media sites would not be as effective as regular web ads, the opposite is actually true, and in a big way. In fact, desktop ads have been shown to have an 8.1x higher click rate than traditional web ads while mobile ads scored even higher with a 9.1x higher click rate than normal web advertising. With these kind of numbers to back up their effectiveness, social media advertising has proven itself to be a useful marketing tool that can help you reach users beyond your current followers on social media platforms.
Chapter 6: Online PR
Just as press and news releases can boost the visibility and effectiveness of companies and their campaigns within traditional marketing practices, they can do the same for online visibility.
The most obvious advantage of press releases is that they help expand the amount of people that your message is able to reach. In the internet age, media and PR outlets have adapted their strategies for cyberspace. Online publishing provides a much wider potential for the spaces these announcements can be made in when compared to traditional media such as TV and radio. Ultimately, the press release should be written in a way that delivers the benefits of your company or product in a clear and concise manner that will stick in the mind of the reader for days to come.
Online PR used to be a very effective way to boost your website’s SEO because of the backlinks you can include in the press release content. Due to the fact that this strategy has been abused, this is not the case as much anymore.
But there are still 2 SEO-related benefits of press releases:
- The backlinks you can include in the press release still count as a link for your website — they just aren’t as powerful anymore. And if you use a reputable syndication service for your press releases, your press release with the backlink will get placed on very authoritative sites such as Yahoo Finance and Reuters.
- If you issue a press release on a niche story, there’s a chance the press release can rank in the search engines for longtail keywords related to the niche.
One of the best elements you can include in these press releases is multimedia content. Embedded video, interviews, promotional pictures or product demonstrations can help engage the reader much more effectively. Ultimately, you want the press release to lead to, at the very least, a visit to your company’s homepage, so the level of engagement is important. PRNewswire published a study that proved beyond a doubt that press releases that included multimedia gained more views than those without.
Always link to your website within the body of your press release. Additionally, you may also want to link to any social media profiles your company has. Boosting awareness of your company as well as traffic to your website is the ultimate goal of a press release, but promoting your social media profiles is important as well.
Finally, you must be sure to optimize the summary of your press release as this is often used by the search engines as the meta description. If the content is not made clear and enticing to customers searching for relevant content, then your press release is likely to go unnoticed. You also want to make sure the title of your press release is optimized because an excellent title will pull in more readers and ultimately more buzz for your company.
Chapter 7: Content Marketing
Content marketing is one of the most innovative approaches to marketing ever conceived, and its ability to drive effective traffic online is excellent. Content marketing is the promotion of your company through material such as blogs, informative videos, white papers and other content meant to attract the public toward your company’s website. Ultimately, content marketing is about providing useful and relevant content to an audience while promoting the reputation and recognition of your brand and its products.
By crafting interesting content that potential customers will search for, you allow clients to find you, as opposed to the other way around. With this approach, you avoid the interruption based tactics of more traditional marketing approaches such as TV and radio ads. Getting prospective customers to reach out to you first, known as inbound marketing, is a great way to start your business relationship off on the right foot.
SEO is intertwined with content marketing, as the ultimate goal of content marketing is to increase the potential of your content ranking in the search engines. Knowing how to effectively tackle both tasks simultaneously can help you create blog posts and other content marketing material that will climb up the search engine ranks and attract more organic traffic.
Using services that offer in-depth traffic analytics and rank tracking can help you track the progress of your content marketing. Many platforms exist that allow the user to see statistics in a clear and easy-to-understand manner.
What you want to know is:
- Is my content ranking in Google, Bing and Yahoo for keywords related to the topic?
- Is my content pulling in organic traffic from Google, Bing and Yahoo for relevant keywords?
Chapter 8: Guest Posting
In any industry, professional partnerships and mutual advertising can prove to be extremely beneficial. Online marketing professionals often take advantage of this through a process known as guest posting. Simply put, “guest posting” is when a company writes blog posts or produces other content for another website or blog. The innovative guest posting practice allows companies new and old to expand their valuable professional network while simultaneously gaining access to cheap, or sometimes even free, marketing.
Guest blogging can be done with lengthy, detailed content or even simple content types, so don’t worry that your company does not have the time for this worthwhile investment.
Here are some examples of content you can guest post with:
- In-depth guides
- Blog posts
- List type content
- Video tutorials
- Interview-style content
If you want your brand to reach a wider audience, you should invest in guest blogging. By putting content on other websites, you can provide valuable information to a relevant audience on a platform they already trust. Additionally, you will be able to link to your own website inside of the content/blog you post on these sites. You will be increasing the visibility and reputation of your brand, all while building that ever important SEO potential for your company’s websites.
Both relevant websites within and outside your industry that somehow relate to your brand and product or service have a lot to gain from allowing you to guest post on their site. Mutual promotion is the key, and strong partners make sure to promote their guest posts on their own websites, as well. Sharing details on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter will also help support the company that helps you spread your brand’s image.
Making sure to include a comment section on guest posts is important, and is keeping current with responding to these messages. One of the key goals of guest posting is that it introduces your company to new people, so you want to engage with as many of these potential new customers as possible. Ideally, you should reach out to them immediately after they have read your guest post. By inviting comments, emails or page visits, you open up this line of communication in a way that brings in an audience that is truly interested in your company and its services.
Researching the community you are providing guest posting for can help you tailor your content to appeal to the new audience that is reading your content. Unique content is always important in guest posting, so avoid simply copy and pasting the same guest post all over the internet. Having your content viewed as sincere and useful is important. You want any information your company shares to provide an immediate value to its readers, whether they eventually engage with your company or not. The best way to ensure the existence of this value is to understand the products or services your company has to provide to the audience of the website you are posting on. For example, if you were a dog toy company posting on a shelter’s website, you may want to write about the benefits of dog toys on the emotional well-being of a newly adopted pet.
A lot of emphasis on mutual benefits between webpages exists in guest posting. Not only do you stand to gain value from guest posting on other sites, but you can also benefit from allowing people to post on your site as well. You must always be careful in approving the content and companies you allow to post on your site. Their reputation can easily become linked to your own, but if done responsibly, allowing guest posts on your site can help you build a much larger professional support network. Allowing companies to guest post on your site will further increase the flow of their followers to your company’s websites, and hopefully help boost your traffic as well because of the infusion of fresh content.
Chapter 9: Local Directories
It can be useful to think of online directories as the yellow pages of the internet age. Whether you are posting on a directory that is meant to increase traffic locally or abroad, you will be able to optimize the SEO of your company’s website even further every time you post your company’s information to a new directory site. And prospective customers still use directories so it’s also possible to use directories to attract new customers. The purpose of online visibility is to be active online so you’re in front of your customers when they are looking for your products or services — and this includes directories.
Each online directory listing boosts the amount of backlinks associated with your website. For small businesses, in particular, this is very valuable, as it is one of the strongest tools you have for bringing in new leads. Additionally, the inexpensive cost of this approach makes it accessible to almost any company, regardless of any budgetary concerns. But as mentioned above, these directories can send you website traffic too so it’s not all about just SEO.
While it may be tempting to post your company’s details on every online directory available, it is much more effective to target your industry or audience. Plus, some directories are low quality and spammed to death. Only posting to quality and/or relevant directories will give you a better backlink and provide better traffic to your company website.
Many useful sites exist to help you locate industry-specific, free directories. However, you should also take advantage of directories that may charge you small fees for listing on them. These directories often have an established large audience and a strong SEO that allows them to show up quickly within Google searches. It is a good idea to research the strength of a directory by trying to find them through Google on your own. If you discover that a directory is easily found, it is likely a good investment to list your company’s information on their site. Additionally, simply googling in search of websites that list well-regarded directories by industry can help you identify which sites provide the most benefit to your business.
Always be sure to register your website with the search engine run directories. The four most valuable directories to use are Google My Business, Bing Places for Business, Yahoo Listings and Yelp. Listing information on these directories will help your company become more visible and findable when someone is searching for your product or service in your local market.
Because of the low costs and potential wide exposure a company listing on an industry directory can provide, take the time to invest here. Doing so is often a quick and intuitive process, so it is easy for a person of any technological skill level to attempt. After you have experienced an increase in traffic flow to your website, as well as a boosted SEO for your company, you will wonder why you waited so long to try it.
Section III: How Usable is Your Website?
After you have crafted and implemented the strategies above, you should experience a boost in the traffic flow to your company’s website, as well as your overall online visibility.
But consider this — the most important aspect of your online marketing efforts is often your company’s website. It’s the central hub for most marketing strategies. It’s where you likely are driving your traffic to.
As a result, now that you have people frequently visiting your pages, you will want to make sure that your web design and development provides your visitors an intuitive and welcoming experience. If your website is hard to navigate, hard to understand, or slow to load, you will quickly lose the interest of potential customers. Lastly, ensuring that your site is user-friendly on both desktop and mobile platforms is key to successful online marketing campaigns.
If you are selling products directly from your website, your usability becomes much more important. When customers do not understand clearly and immediately how to purchase something, they will often simply search for that product somewhere else. There’s a reason Amazon has made ordering from them as simple as one click!
Ask yourself this:
- Is your website mobile-friendly?
- Does your website function on all the major browsers?
- Is your web design and development visually-appealing and professional?
- Do you have a call to action on every page?
- Is your contact information on every page?
- Is it easy to contact you or buy from you?
- Does your website load quickly?
Without a highly functional and intuitive website, your results will likely be diminished. Increasing your online visibility is hard work and takes time — maximize your efforts by making sure your website is usable.
How can we help you?
Since 1966, Ballantine has been creating and implementing innovative and cost-effective print and digital direct marketing campaigns that leave lasting impressions, generate greater responses, and help our clients better connect with their customers.