There are steps and plans for starting a business, getting officially established legally as a business, and the back office day to day functions because those have been around for a very long time. But knowing what to do or
where to start online can be challenging.
In this Online Marketing series, we'll explore the various stages of developing your online presence.
First of all, what is an 'online presence'? There are some obvious ways you have a presence online, for example having a Facebook page for your business as well as other social media accounts. But an 'online presence' goes much deeper than that.
Sure, your presence online needs to be targeted at what people will see online and the resulting impression they will get of you and your business. But even more important, is what Google, Bing, and other larger search engines 'think' about you online.
Search engines operate on very complex algorithms that take into account many factors to determine your 'authority' on a given subject. Your online 'score' or 'rank' is based on 3 general things:
Content & Time
Quantity/Quality of where you post your content
Let’s take these one by one.
From blogs to newsletters, to ads, and social media, Google and other search engines are constantly indexing and re-indexing the content on the internet. This means they are organizing, matching, categorizing, and comparing everything on the internet to everything else on the internet. It is a truly mind-boggling task that’s going on behind the scenes 24/7 every day. This makes it possible to search for say an author’s name and have the search results bring back events that person was connected with, Social media references, as well as videos, blogs, and basically anything that was put online that had that person’s name in it. Periodically Googling yourself or your business name will give you an idea of what the search engines are concluding about you.
But it’s not just the ownership or having a name associated with a piece of content that the search engines look at. It’s the content itself. The more content you are associated with around a certain topic over time, the more the search engines give you authority (ranking) on that subject. And that content is scrutinized for relevancy so it's the words collectively NOT specific phrases or words that gives the idea of authority on a subject. Case in point: This blog! In reading it you will have formed an opinion of my expertise regarding online marketing. Similarly, the search engines are effectively doing the same thing.
2) Quantity and Quality
This one is pretty simple to understand. The more you post on quality sites, the more credibility you have. But also, if you manage to create quality content that attracts another esteemed online organization to link to your content (called a backlink) and you are seen as a resource to others, then that gives you greater ranking.
Audience engagement is a critical piece of your ranking score. You could just dump a bunch of content out onto the internet, but if it never attracts a viewer it means nothing! If that viewer only watches 15 seconds of your 3 min video, then there was little engagement. If they watch the whole thing, that’s better engagement. If they watch the whole thing and ‘Like’ and/or ‘Share’, then the person is really engaged. So, basically search engines use other people to determine how important and relevant your content is.
At this point you might be wondering WHY Google, or any search engine would go through this much trouble to hash out rankings! So, let me ask you a question. Not counting your phone data plan or your internet wifi connection, how much did you pay to use google or any search engine today? I’m pretty sure your answer is the same as mine… and that is ZERO!
And yet, Google is a gigantic and pretty powerful company. How did they give their ‘product’ away for free and grow to be such a major player in this digital age? The answer is an age-old marketing strategy that’s been adapted to work in an online environment and that is…. to create an interesting event or service that draws an audience, and then sell marketing rights to outside players. It’s like stocking a fish pond and then charging people to come fish in your pond. Google created free services such as email, an impressive search engine, cloud storage, editors, just tons of tools. People came in droves to get a free email account when nearly everyone else was charging for that service. Google built loyal followers who now advertise to have access to their audience. But even richer than that is that YOUR content, YOUR posts that create public interest mean that Google can sell ads to target the audience you are attracting with your content.
It’s getting harder and harder to be ‘seen’ online. It used to be that all you needed was a Website. But the digital pace is increasing exponentially and that is why it is critically important to business survival to understand how the search engines work and why attracting audiences is so very important.
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