What era could be better than today’s digital age, when small businesses can promote themselves globally without investing a fortune?
The Small business online presence is becoming more important than ever.
Brands, enterprises, and even solopreneurs invest time, effort, and money to build online presence.
The reasons are obvious: most consumers prefer searching for products and services online instead of visiting in person.
Thanks to the internet’s founder, it is easier for us to access information in just a few clicks.
But before anything else, it is also important to know that small business struggle with online presence due to fierce competition. However, it does not mean you cannot successfully build an online presence for your small business.
Before diving into how to create online presence, it is important to know what online presence means.
Contrary to the belief, online presence means making a website, creating social profiles, and sharing content.
However, online presence is not just about creating a fancy website, adding content, and sharing it on social media.
Online presence includes all the entities that a business owns on the internet, whether it be content, videos, forums, social media, SEM, online directories, mobile and web apps, web design, infographics, and so much more.
It can be in any form or any medium where users interact with your business. But the idea behind creating an online presence is to be in front of billions of people searching for solutions in the form of products or services.
Digital presence for online businesses in today’s digital era is no less than a money-making machine. As billions of searches are performed daily, you cannot afford to miss your online presence.
Let’s talk about some of the statistics revealing how an online presence for small businesses can benefit them.
Digital presence for small businesses is not because everyone is doing and so should you.
As we have seen in the statistics previously, 92% of consumers visit business websites, not just for the sake of purchase.
Consumers visit websites to gain more information about businesses, products, and services offered and check existing customer reviews.
Due to digital presence, most small businesses have scaled up to multimillion-dollar companies over the years.
So how could you benefit from digital presence as a small business?
Let’s take a look at some of the benefits of online presence for small businesses in 2023 and beyond.
Unlike traditional marketing and business, online businesses can be started at a minimum cost.
Imagine opening an electronic store near your area selling smart devices, home appliances, and other tech gadgets. Firstly you need to rent a place where you could showcase your products.
Once you have set up the store, you need to hire human resources to manage various departments, from sales to inventory management and handling accounts.
Don’t forget to add other utilities such as electricity, internet, and other bills. Marketing and promotion are yet to be done. Roughly calculate the cost and see how expenses would go up, up, and beyond your reach.
Now imagine building your online presence for your small business.
Unless you are not going for paid ads, most of the marketing can be done for free.
For instance, creating a Facebook page for your business, an Instagram account to reach the target audience, or sharing pins on Pinterest to promote your business are all free.
You only need to pay for buying a domain and hosting for your website. If you could single-handedly manage it, you don’t even need to incur extra costs to hire someone to manage and look after your website.
The same goes for social media marketing, email marketing, and Search Engine Optimization. Many small businesses developed during the COVID-19 pandemic, and that too with the power of digital and online presence.
Online presence for small business comes with many benefits, which includes global reach.
Once you set up your business online, it frees you from geographical constraints. As the world has transformed into a global village, an online presence allows you to break the shackles of borders.
It allows you to reach a target audience globally, whether it be related to consumer products or services.
However, to reach the target audience globally, you need to increase your web presence across different platforms such as forums, directories, social media, and Web 3.0. Unlike traditional businesses, online businesses allow everyone to access your products/services 24/7.
Moreover, you don’t need to have a physical location to start an online business, but surely need to build credibility and trust among the global audience.
It could never be done without promoting yourself on platforms where your target audience is waiting for a solution.
Unlike traditional marketing for small businesses, digital marketing works differently. You can try and test different strategies to look for results that bring maximum output.
For instance, if you use the traditional method, you might promote your product/service using telemarketing, flyers, brochures, and giveaways.
Once you invest money, there is no looking back.
Just take the example of printing thousands of flyers and brochures without knowing how well it works and whether your target audience got the message or not.
Printing and distributing flyers and brochures require some cost, which cannot be taken back. Digital marketing is way different than traditional marketing.
Whether you are a startup or an established business, you can try and test different strategies for a specific time.
You can adopt other methods and platforms if one strategy fails to reach your target audience. That too without blowing your money all at once.
Here are a few ways to reach out to potential customers through an online presence.
Creating a stunning website is the cornerstone and first step towards reaching out your potential customers.
Surprisingly, one out of three small businesses doesn’t have its own website.(source)
A website is just like a store in the locality selling products that cater to consumers’ needs.
However, your website cannot be found anywhere on the web unless you don’t optimize your web copies and blogs with target keywords.
A website needs to stay updated and fresh with content to inform readers and convert them into leads.
Having a social media presence and a cool website helps reach potential customers.
A study found that when businesses engage customers on social media, the shopper will spend 19% more than the average customer(source)
Social media is free to use unless you go for paid campaigns.
Make sure to regularly feed your social media with relevant content to engage and reach a wider target audience.
Moreover, staying active on social media and engaging with followers will increase your chances of turning followers into leads.
But remember that not every social media platform is suitable for all types of businesses.
For instance, if you offer home decor services, the best platform would be Instagram and Pinterest rather than Twitter or LinkedIn.
Content can be created in many forms, including blogs, podcasts, videos, online brochures, and eBooks.
If you want to reach your target customers, creating content frequently will help you do so.
The purpose of creating content is to keep your audience updated and informed about your offerings.
Whether it be a digital marketing solution, cloud storage, or any SaaS product, you can increase user engagement and convert them by providing the information they want.
For instance, if you are writing blogs on your website, you can talk about what the audience faces problems and how your product/service can help them.
Moreover, a detailed short video explaining your product/service would likely reach millions and convert hundreds of customers.
But creating content is not enough unless you don’t include a call to action button.
Don’t leave your target audience wandering around your website or social media platforms to purchase the product or simply look into details about it.
Once potential customers land on your website and find it relevant to their problems, they might not visit it again or simply forget after a while.
Keep in touch with them by asking them to fill up the form and signup for a newsletter to get the latest updates.
One of the most effective ways to grow your subscriber list is to give a free eBook solution to their pain points.
Once they sign up, use the contact information to feed them with the latest updates about your products/services, new features, and other relevant information.
However, don’t let the subscribers unsubscribe from your list by sending them too many emails.
Once you have collected the visitors’ information, they might convert in the future, if not now.
In the early days, don’t expect to drive massive traffic and attract the audience on a large scale.
Much effort and time is required to get to the position, as SEO strategy would take several months to show results.
However, there is no need to worry as you can also go for a paid advertisement to gain early traction and a few sales through paid advertisement.
It is highly effective if you want to gain traction early on without spending time.
Google, Bing, Facebook, and other platforms offer you paid advertisement platforms to promote your product/service to the targeted audience.
Guest posting is another way to reach your target audience.
Find niche-specific websites related to your business, contact their owners, and ask them to place your link on their website.
However, in doing so, you first need to find out the amount of traffic they are getting and from which region the traffic is driven.
For instance, if your target is in the United States, whereas the webmaster’s website is driving traffic mainly from Nigeria, there is no use.
Some webmasters would charge a nominal fee, while other websites like Forbes and Huffington Post would charge from a few hundred to a thousand dollars.
Find out what suits your budget and how much the website is worth bargaining for.
What can be more important for a business and customers to stay connected with each other?
Customers love to engage with brands to know more about the business and its offerings. Whereas businesses that are just building up would find it helpful to know more about what customers need.
But remember that it is impossible without picking the right online platforms where hungry customers are looking for solutions.
The best part is you can address your customers’ queries without additionally investing in support.
The convenience of digital presence is well-known to everyone. No matter what type of business you are operating, a digital presence will allow you to provide ease, flexibility, and convenience to customers.
From getting business information to buying products or services, your website is always open to access around the year 24/7, and similarly, your other platforms. For instance, if you are running a website selling digital and SaaS products, your customers can purchase anytime from any part of the world.
According to statistics, 60 percent of smartphone users have directly contacted businesses through the click-to-call option.(Source)
The numbers say it all, and even if the customers do not purchase anything, you are at least found by them.
Taking your business online allows you to reach the masses globally, along with reduced cost, increased credibility, and great convenience.
All of these factors lead to huge potential for your business to scale up.
For instance, if you were focusing on a website for your business promotion and got a good response, the next step would be to look for other online platforms and techniques such as video marketing, social media marketing, and Search Engine Marketing.
Even if you are handling brick-and-mortar stores side by side, the potential to grow and scale your business becomes higher.
However, you need to adopt the right small business online presence strategy to reap the fruit.
We have seen the benefits of online presence for small businesses in the previous section. You have made a website and social media profiles and listed your business in online directories.
Is this enough to help your business increase revenue and scale up in the near future?
The answer is “No.”
Simply putting your website online and making social profiles is not enough. In fact, the competition is growing with each passing day, and your business might be lost in the buzz of millions of other voices.
What makes a good online presence, or simply how to evaluate your online business presence?
Here’s what makes a good online presence.
Increase in Traffic to Your Website
A good online presence can be determined by the traffic you get on your website.
There are free and paid tools to help you analyze your website’s performance.
Google Analytics is far better than any paid tool because it allows you to track website visitors, how they land on your page and their interaction on the website.
If you are targeting people from a specific country, Google Analytics will also help you track it. Moreover, Google Analytics also allows you to track devices used to access your website.
You can even customize Google analytics by setting goals, trackers, and other events.
Digital presence is incomplete without social media.
As most people spend most of their time on social media, you can’t miss the opportunity to grab their attention and convert them.
When tracking your online presence, looking for what social media channels you choose is vital.
For instance, if you are selling SaaS products or any other business-related services, LinkedIn and Twitter are the best instead of TikTok or Pinterest.
Once you have created profiles on social media, check the frequency of sharing posts, how users interact, the number of likes, shares, and comments will determine the engagement level. However, if you want to gain deeper insight, you need to compare it with your competitors and see how good your social media performance is.
Organic social media reach and engagement will be key factors in determining how well your social media strategy works.
The importance of having a website for small businesses cannot be undermined.
But creating a fancy website without optimizing it with target keywords will bring no results.
If these numbers show an upward trend, your website presence is good enough to make an impact.
However, you need to know the difference between low-quality traffic and high-quality traffic.
For instance, if you are driving loads of traffic through irrelevant keywords to your business, it is no use.
In comparison, if your website traffic is low, but the keywords are highly relevant and match search intent, you will likely convert those visitors into leads.
Make sure that the content you publish is optimized with keywords based on search intent.
Try to figure out keywords that match search intent and people frequently ask.
Here’s how to distinguish between high-quality traffic and low-quality traffic.
Whereas low-quality traffic will turn off the visitor, with no chance of conversion, and will not buy the product in the future.
High-quality traffic to your website is driven through highly relevant keywords.
Make sure to optimize your pages, blogs, meta tags, headings, and alt text with relevant keywords.
Moreover, you also need to alter keywords based on demographics, criteria, and location to appeal masses.
Picking the right keywords for your website that drive quality traffic takes a lot of time.
Instead of randomly picking the keywords that drive low-quality traffic, take your time and pick only keywords that match user intent.
Choose the right keywords if the keyword volume is low and competitive.
A good digital presence is all about how many people are informed about your business.
For instance, if you offer an SEO tool to help webmasters and digital marketers, make sure to look on different social platforms like Facebook and Twitter, like Quora and Reddit, for mentions.
The more the popularity of your product, the better your online presence is. You can also check what consumers say about your business and its offerings.
Note down all the negative and positive feedback to better understand your future plans.
Whether it be small or big business, you need to ensure devising an online presence management strategy for better reach.
It all starts with building a website, creating a content strategy, implementing best SEO practices, and so much more.
As a startup, you need to start everything from scratch; it feels quite intimidating.
Initially, you might scuffle just like any other small business struggle with online presence.
But that does not mean you should not take your first step. If you are serious about your small business’s digital presence, here’s how to do it rightly.
Online presence management for small business starts with a website. Nowadays, building a website does not require you to learn complex coding or language.
With a few simple clicks, you can install Content Management System like WordPress on your website.
Moreover, you can pick from thousands of easily customizable themes according to your requirements.
A clean, minimalistic, easy-to-navigate, and responsive website is what attracts users.
Visitors looking for a quick solution will not spend much time navigating your website to find the desired page, product, or contact info.
A good website is responsive, clean, user-friendly that is pleasing to the eyes, and offers a seamless experience, people love to explore and navigate.
However, before anything else, you must buy a domain and hosting plan to build your website. If you are unsure how to do it, you can watch tutorials on YouTube to get started.
NameCheap, GoDaddy, Hostinger, InMotion Hosting, and BlueHost are a few of the websites to buy a domain and hosting for your website.
Choose a theme that well matches your business offerings.
You can take ideas from your competitor or similar websites.
Most small business owners are of the wrong belief that if they are not selling products online, there is no need to have a website.
It’s not the case because, in the digital era, showing your presence is the most important part.
However, if you have a brick-and-mortar store, you need to develop your website to share contact info, services, and other relevant information.
When a visitor accesses your website, it is similar to entering brick and mortar store.
The more appealing the look is, the likelihood of spending more time will increase.
When it comes to website design, you cannot put it behind and let it go just to avoid hiring a web design agency.
However, hiring a web design agency for website design and development services is not less than investing in something profitable.
Here’s how hiring a web design agency helps you in boosting your website’s performance.
Every small business online operates differently, which requires you to create a website that matches your goals.
Hiring a web design agency will help you develop a user-friendly website that engages visitors and make them stay longer.
The more time they spend, the better they learn about your company and its products/services.
In addition, your website is your brand voice that must create a long-lasting impression on customers.
That is where a web design agency makes it possible by creating a stunning design, meaningful logo, and aesthetic feel.
SEO is not about picking the right keywords, creating backlinks, and keeping your website fresh and updated.
It’s also creating a user-friendly design to help visitors navigate seamlessly.
And if the website’s speed takes time to load, it might affect your rankings.
That is where a web design agency comes to the rescue and helps design a website that is super-fast and easy to navigate for anyone.
A responsive website means that people can access websites on the go on their smartphones.
As most website traffic comes from tablets and smartphones, an unresponsive design could lead to missing out on a major chunk of traffic.
A web design agency will help you design your business website that can seamlessly be accessed on all devices.
Moreover, a responsive website plays an important role in boosting your website’s traffic and ranking, leading to better SEO.
While researching, the chances are visitors will access your competitor’s website.
To stay on top of competitors and attract visitors to take action, you need to make a long-lasting impression to convert them into leads.
Hiring a web design agency will help you develop and design your website from scratch or revamp the existing one to improve the experience.
Staying on top of your competitors and leaving a long-lasting impression is only possible if you hire a professional web design agency.
Search Engine Optimization or SEO goes hand in hand when building your online presence.
If the term ‘SEO’ is alien to you, it is a process of optimizing your website with keywords to rank on the top of Google searches.
It all starts with keyword research as we have mentioned previously.
After you have extracted your keywords, write blogs and optimize it with relevant keywords.
Keep in mind that some keywords are good to use in your blog while others are to be optimized on different pages, including the service page, portfolio, the home page, or other categories.
However, make sure not to over-optimize it because Google considers it spam.
SEO has two main parts:
On-page SEO includes:
Off-Page SEO includes:
SEO is changing rapidly due to Google’s algorithm update released after a few months or sometimes weeks. Yes, it requires you to put effort every day, but once you hit the nail right, you can’t imagine how beneficial it would be.
Once your keywords start to rank on top search results, your small business online presence will be felt within days if not weeks.
If you cannot learn SEO, you can outsource SEO services to an agency or hire someone as a freelancer or in-house to gain online business visibility.
Social media is widely used by millions of people across the globe, including USA, UK, Australia, and Canada.
If you want to build a strong online presence, you need to be active on social networks.
A study by Statista reveals that there are approximately 233 million social media users.
Whereas according to the report by Manifest, 74% of consumers follow brands on social media and 96% users interact with brands over social media.
It is not compulsory to have an account on every social site.
Make sure to do some research and find where your target audience is.
The best approach is to look for your competitor’s social media platforms and get an idea.
One of the highly popular social media platforms that has not only entertained youth and teenagers but also benefited many big and small businesses.
TikTok is one of the most popular social media platforms offering businesses and consumers a way to connect with each other.
Small businesses can connect and engage with their target audience with short and enticing video clips.
Especially if you are running an ecommerce store, TikTok will be the best platform to showcase your products.
TikTok is no less popular than Facebook, YouTube, and other social media platforms.
There are almost 1 billion active users on TikTok, which means you can catch the eyes of thousands, if not millions, of potential buyers.
As you might have scrolled through different TikTok videos, where brands display their product by showing unique features, unboxing products, or offering huge discounts.
It allows you to market in front of millions for free and convert them.
Another great advantage of showing your presence on TikTok is its engagement level.
An average user spends approximately 858 minutes per month, which is increasing with each passing year.
With so many users actively using TikTok, you can ensure high brand engagement.
If you have not utilized TikTok for your business benefit, start today and see how big your business grows.
Many small businesses think that setting foot on every social media platform will help them drive more customers and increase engagement.
However, it comes down to quality over quantity.
Take an example of social media platform where your target audience is far from missing.
How would you expect to have an impact on your sales and engagement?
However, if the social media platform is picked rightly after analyzing different factors, you are likely to save time and effort.
Here are a few reasons not to be on every social media platform
Whenever you are in search of a plumber or electrician near your area, what’s the first thing you do?
You simply go to directories like Yelp or Yellow Pages to find service providers in your area. It will be a surprising fact for you that Yelp gets 178 Million visits every month.
Moreover, Alexa and Siri also use Yelp information to give answers especially related to local searches. Creating profiles on local directories will help you to increase your brand’s visibility among thousands of people.
If you are offering solutions in a particular region, make sure to take advantage of local directories, particularly Yelp. These local directories offer you free listing to boost your presence online and reach your target audience.
Most directories also offer paid promotions to display your services on top of the list.
86% of customers search Google Maps before visiting a business
Whenever you are searching for some product or service, you would either directly enter the name of the company on Google or search for relevant keywords.
On entering the company’s name, you will come up with a dialog box showing directions, phone number, and website. You must also list your business on Google Maps to claim your profile and edit information accordingly.
Moreover, by adding your business address on Google Map Profile, you will appear in search results, whenever someone is trying to find a business near their area.
Another great benefit of creating a profile is that your customers can add reviews, which helps know your weaknesses and strengths.
Lastly, creating a Google Map Profile increases your website’s SEO, which helps your target audience know more about you.
You small business online presence is now reaping fruitful rewards. People are much aware of your brand and the solutions you are offering.
You need to get some reviews to add extra topping to your business’s credibility and trustworthiness.
How can you get reviews for your small business online?
The answer is by contacting webmasters and bloggers to write detailed review about your products and services.
It might cost you money, but these reviews will be helpful in getting more customers in the future. Moreover, you can also ask your existing customers to give a review on social media, local directory, or Google Map Profile.
Most people would be reluctant to write reviews, but no need to worry. You can offer a free giveaway such as digital downloads, a free extended trial, an eBook, or any other gift that would motivate them to leave a review.
Building trust among your target audience is hard.
No one would ever buy your product or service unless they get some validation.
Video testimonials are highly recommended to create a deeper and more emotional appeal for your business.
According to the study, 92% of the consumers said that they look for testimonials before making a purchase decision.(Source)
While 70% of participants in the study said that video testimonials build greater trust in specific business.(Source)
To get video testimonials, you can either ask your existing customer to do a favor.
Or you can invite your customer to give an interview and talk about your business and its impact.
Once you have recorded the testimonial or interview, distribute it across platforms, including YouTube, Vimeo, and social media platforms.
Another great way is to run an ad on social media about the testimonial given by your customer.
Up till now you have done much of the work to build your business presence online.
But the fact is you need to improve it day in and day out to stand ahead of competitors and improve your position on Google.
Here’s all you need to know how to improve online business presence after you have set up your small business.
Is Your Website Driving Traffic?
After setting up your website and writing few blogs, don’t expect to see a huge spike in traffic.
Wait for a while, since Google takes time to crawl your website and index pages.
After a month or two, if Google Analytics is showing an upward spike, it’s a sign that your strategies are working well.
However, if your website’s traffic is stagnant or declining, you need to write more SEO-optimized blogs, tweak your web copies, increase backlinks, and share more.
In addition, track your website’s overall performance, such as site speed, crawl errors, non-indexed pages, and so on.
You can improve your online business presence on search engines by doing all the aforementioned steps.
Your SEO efforts are showing positive results.
Keywords are ranking in top positions, traffic is increasing, and social engagement is on the rise, but they are still not getting enough customers.
Don’t worry; if you want to reach your target audience more quickly, you can always run paid ads on Google, social media, and other platforms.
Social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube allow you to run targeted ads to attract more customers.
It not only brings more customers but also increases your brand awareness, improves brand loyalty, increases leads for your business, and provides useful data.
As discussed earlier, social media is used by millions of people worldwide.
Paid ads on social media will help you reach your target audience at a large scale without spending much.
Instead of waiting for organic results and engagements, you can try paid advertisements on social media to gain more visibility among potential customers.
Problem finding new customers or increasing your brand’s visibility?
Don’t worry, Google Ads is there to help you reach your target audience without waiting for long.
You can run a Google ad campaign if you are struggling with organic results and increasing your business visibility online.
But to make it effective, make sure to target keywords that people in the region search.
If not done rightly, Google ads campaign would leave you with an empty bank account.
So don’t waste your money; hire an expert to get the job done.
The campaign is highly effective, if you want to gain more visibility in less time or you want to drive more sales at specific times of the year.
One of the best ways to build an online presence for a small business is to develop and grow your email list.
An email list will help you stay connected with your current customers and engage your potential customers on a monthly or weekly basis.
To develop your email list, you need to create gated content that users need to sign up to receive. Moreover, you can also create an opt-in form on your website where readers can sign up to receive notifications whenever you share something new.
Some of the best email marketing tools include HubSpot, MailChimp, GetResponse, and many more.
Short-form content is concise, to the point, and addresses the pain points or solutions people are looking for.
It is not only limited to writing blog posts, but also includes short videos, a presentation, infographics, or Facebook/Instagram reels.
Short-form content is easy to consume; normally, people have short attention spans. Make sure you are not wasting opportunities available at your disposal and do more in less.
Whatever benefits your customers/audience, it would help you gain more engagement and visibility across all platforms.
How to gain an online presence for small businesses in the digital age is somewhat challenging and competitive.
In this article, we have answered questions in a concise manner to help you get an overview of why it is important for small businesses to show online presence.
Moreover, we have discussed ways to increase web presence and what a good online presence looks like.
Make sure to start your web presence by building a website and updating it frequently by writing blogs to gain traffic organically.
After that, when you have set up your website, go for social media, video marketing, and local directories to gain visibility among potential customers. In short, all you need to know about small business online presence.
Don’t invest or waste money on promoting your small business through ads.