As online strategy increasingly is business strategy, web presence optimization (dominating the search results for your name and unique tagline) is now more important than ever. So I figured it was time to update my inaugural post on this blog, What is Webbiquity? How to Be Everywhere Online based on four questions that often come up:
- • Why is web presence optimization important?
- • Where do I start?
- • Do I have to do everything?
- • How does business reputation management differ from personal reputation management?
Here once again, for visual types, is web presence optimization in picture form.
Why is web presence optimization important?
Because more than 80% of consumer purchases and 90% of b2b buying cycles now begin with search. If your potential customers can’t find you, they can’t buy from you. Conversely, the more your name dominates for relevant searches, the more likely prospects are to buy from you, because you look like the expert, the “big dog” in the industry (even if you’re really only a small dog).
Also, keep in mind that search is no longer just Google. The second and third largest “search engines,” based on volume of searches, aren’t search engines at all: YouTube and Facebook. If you’re not there, searchers aren’t finding you there.
And finally, your website and blog are no longer the only places that buyers may find you. Social media, online PR and user-generated content sites open up a new world of places to be “found.”
Where do I start with web presence optimization?
As in most things—with the basics. Make sure your website is search optimized by following established SEO design principles (and avoiding common SEO mistakes).
If you don’t have a blog already, start one. It’s not only great for search, but showcases your (or your company’s) expertise, helps humanize your company (blogs are more informal and less promotional than corporate websites), and encourages reader interaction.
From there, make sure that your presence is search-optimized on the “big four” social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube. Don’t just “be there;” make sure your profiles and content reflect a consistent brand message and value proposition. And that you are interacting with your networks on those platforms.
Spread your profile around (more places to be found!). See the reputation management question below.
Promote your content (though not only your content, but other content your readers/followers/fans may be interested in) on popular social bookmarking sites like Digg, delicious, Reddit and StumbleUpon.
Then you can move on to whichever more advanced tactics are relevant to your business.
Do I have to use all of the elements of web presence optimization?
No, not all of these tactics make sense for every individual or business. For example, small service businesses typically don’t get a lot of media coverage, so a social PR effort doesn’t make a lot of sense. Microsites are advisable only if they don’t dilute the search authority of the main business website. Search marketing isn’t for everyone (though it works well for many businesses, increases your “domination” of page one in search, and is worth a trial for almost any business that can drive some type of conversion—either a lead or a direct sale—from it).
The diagram above is meant to be comprehensive, to show all of the tactics that can be employed. Do what makes sense for you or your business, based on your strategy, time and resources.
How does business reputation management differ from personal reputation management?
For businesses, it’s important to have a presence in key high-end directories, such as CompanyPond, LookupPage, Hotfrog, and AboutUs.org. Crunchbase is an important place for any technology-related company to have a profile. Businesses that primarily serve a specific geographic area will want to have a complete and up-to-date profile in key local directories including Google, Bing and Yahoo! (through getlisted.org) as well as YellowPages.com, Local.com and Brownbook.net.
Individuals can expand their online presence through sites like VisualCV, their Google profile, Naymz, Netlog, Retaggr and BusinessCard2.
Smart companies will take advantage of both corporate and personal reputation management for their key people by using both types of sites, linking to the corporate website and blog from individual profiles on LinkedIn and other sites, and using tools like Workface which help promote a company through its people and humanize the business.
For a comprehensive list of profile sites, check out KnowEm.com.
Web presence optimization takes time and effort, but owning your key phrases in search maximizes your chances to be found when your buyers are looking for what you have to offer.