Original article published at Washington Technology Industry Association (WTIA) July 9, 2018.
Tips for a Powerful Web Presence
I recently gave a talk to a group of entrepreneurs on what it takes to have an effective web presence in today’s market. The topic generated a lot of interest, so I thought it would be helpful to share it with a broader audience. In a nutshell, I will be covering four focus areas that are vital for your web presence.
No one can deny that having an effective web presence is key to the success of today’s business. I have discovered that this requires using a holistic approach. It’s not enough to just build a website, it’s not even enough to have search engines crawl your website, it is not enough to pour money into paid advertising campaigns, and it’s not enough to just create some social media accounts. They all need to work together to promote your brand and realize your business goals.
THE PROBLEM: A couple of years back, I was in my previous company office and the Marketing Director called us all and proudly said – “We got approval to spend $120,000 for website redesign and separately another $30,000 for online advisements.” I looked at this approach and thought to myself – what a waste of money! It wasn’t a Holistic Solution, it was what I call “a Webpocalypse.”
The company thought they were not effective on the internet because the website needed a redesign, or that a few ads might turn more people into clients. They used different agencies for each initiative; this is what I call a piece-meal approach.
To me, in the web world, these are the Four Horsemen of the Webpocalypse — Website, SEO, Paid Keywords, and Social Media. You need to tame all these horses in order to have a sophisticated web presence that goes beyond the status quo.
First Horsemen of the Webpocalypse: The Website
“Conquest” – to me, in the web arena, is your Website. You build it, you launch it, and you are ready to conquer the world. Here are a few questions to ask:
- Will your website experience stick positively in the minds of the users?
- Do each of your pages tell a story? – Will your customers engage and be able to relate to their own emotions?
- Is your website content optimized for search discovery?
- What about the mobile experience? More and more people are using their mobile devices to do business.
- Is your website running processes efficiently behind the scenes? How easy is it for your website content to be kept fresh and relevant?
- Is it sitting on a secure platform? It is vital to protect your key web assets – your domain and your website host. Here’s an article that shows how a particular website host, WP Engine, prevents millions (yes, millions) of attacks each month for their customers. At Komaya, we ourselves recommend such host for our customers. Make sure your site is protected.
It’s not all about the website looking good, it needs to stick in the minds of the people who visit. It should have a great user experience, not just by aesthetics, but by functionality, and a feeling that they are invited. Additionally, your website should be easy to maintain and update, empowering your marketing team to promote events, launch new campaigns, and instantly react to changing markets. If website content updates can only be done by a developer, the inherent latency can result in missed opportunities in connecting with potential clients.
Second Horseman of the Webpocalypse: SEO
“War” – to me, in the web world, is SEO, the war of search engines and the fight for your website to climb to the top of their results. Here are a few questions to ask:
- Are all of your web pages ready for the current demand of today’s search engines? What sets your page apart from every other website on the internet? Why would your page climb up the SEO ladder?
- Have you considered search engine spaces such as Google’s Knowledge Graphs?
- What about other search channels? Is your web presence dependent upon a couple of search engines, or are you also showing up on the other platforms that people use to search for businesses?
- By the way, are you for any reason still using Meta Keywords on your web pages? This technique is a bit dated and not effective with today’s highly sophisticated search engines.
SEO is not all about just putting the right keywords on your web pages. Yes, it is very important to consider context and industry-specific keywords when you are writing web page content, but also to understand that there are other aspects to consider, such as Knowledge Graph technology, that you have access to. Is your web page ready to show up in that Q&A type of result that you have seen on Google? Do you make use of all the real-estate that Google has given you by utilizing the Post Knowledge Graph feature when you have an upcoming event or announcement?
Third Horseman of the Webpocalypse: Paid Keywords and Ads
“Famine” – to me, in the web world, is the Paid Keywords and Advertisements. This is the wasted money spent on under-researched advertisements and simply, the wrong keywords. We have seen many companies and their marketing team’s frustrations and wasted resources, month-after-month, with negligible to even nil outcomes. Here are a few questions to ask:
- Are you spending too much for premium keywords, or conversely, not spending on advertisements at all?
- Have you researched the keywords that your potential customers are searching on, or did you consider the niche your company is in? Check out Google Trends to discover search trends for your products and services.
- Are these same keywords also reflected throughout your website content and SEO optimizations?
We have seen both extremes that have brought famine to a business’s online presence. Some companies put in enormous amounts of money into extremely competitive keywords that cost very high dollars on each click. In turn, this results in them concluding that online advertisements are too competitive and not very cost-effective.
On the other side of the spectrum, some companies think they do not need online advertisements at all – the internet will just discover and come to them on their own. Yes, some extremely niche companies may have a different agenda for reaching their target audience, but unless you are like Tesla with no advertising needed to-date, you should probably include an ad strategy in your integrated marketing plan. Have you thought about why Coke, Macy’s, Lincoln, or just about any successful company advertises? We find it’s usually best to utilize both an organic search and paid advertising strategy mix for reaching your target audience.
Fourth Horseman of Webpocalypse: Social Media
“Death” – to me, in the web world, represents Social Media. Why the comparison with this horseman? We see so many entrepreneurs and companies create social media accounts, but after just a few posts go silent, deathly silent. The Pale Horse of the Apocalypse took over. We at Komaya call this as lacking the social heartbeat.
Here are a few things to consider:
- Have you contemplated having a social media audit done for your company? What is your current state? How strong or weak is your social heartbeat?
- Does your branding and website look-and-feel carryover into your social media account profiles and imagery? The user should instantly feel comfortable and identify that they are in the right place.
- Have you conducted any industry research on which social media channels are appropriate for your company? More so, what channels you shouldn’t even be creating accounts on?
- What channels are your customers and competitors using? Why Facebook, why Twitter? Is there a specific reason the audience is extremely active on one versus the other?
- Have you identified what channels the Influencers & Experts in your company’s niche are using? Do you follow and interact with them? This will not only help you figure out which social channels you should be active in, the Influencers may just happen to mention your company to their followers.
There are many other considerations such as what time of the day you should post, the days of the week that your potential customers are likely to be using that particular social media channel, etc. Are you following the “rule of fourths” when posting on social media? It used to be the rule of thirds – one-third of your posts are about your company products and services, one-third you share helpful tips, and one-third you share an industry experts’ posts. But now, the fourth rule has come into the picture – customer support. If you look around, companies like 1800flowers, Zappos, Walmart, are directly providing real-time support to their customers over social media building confidence, trust, and solving issues with minimal delay.
THE SOLUTION: As a start-up or emerging business, consider stepping into today’s internet world with a holistic web presence strategy. Just a website or a piecemeal approach can likely slow down your business growth potential. All the aspects discussed need to work together to tame the horses and effectively market, attract, and engage your target audience.