By Cathie Ericson


OnlinePresence_Body.jpgIt used to be enough for a small business to have a website and a Facebook page. Those days are gone. Today, having a polished and robust online presence across multiple platforms is a business must. Here are five easy ways to enhance yours:

1. Make your online presence consistent

Surprisingly many businesses don’t double-check that basic information, like phone number, website and hours, are the same on all listing sites, says Heather Waugh, digital project manager at Digital Marketing Inc. in Kansas City, Mo. “Not only does having your information correct on all platforms offer better customer service, but it also gives you authenticity and authority in Google's eyes, which can improve your overall quality score and increase your search rank,” she says.


2. Have an easy to use website

“Google cares about user experience when it’s ranking sites, so make sure your site is easy for your visitors to navigate,” says Nathan Gotch, founder of Gotch SEO in St. Louis. Consider such factors as load time62 percent of consumers expect a page to load in five seconds or less—and responsiveness to mobile devices. Research shows that more than half of consumer traffic to U.S. websites comes via a mobile device, so your website must be mobile-friendly, and able to adapt to the screen on which it is being viewed.


OnlinePresence_PQ.jpg3. Be strategic about your social media

Customers expect both B2B and B2C customers to have a presence on social media, but don’t just arbitrarily pick a channel and start blasting out posts about an upcoming sale. First, choose your platform wisely by researching where your target audience is. If you own a home-related business, you’ll want to be on Houzz. If your product or service is targeted to millennials, a Snapchat presence will be important. Then, develop a thoughtful game plan for posting. Make sure you include a good mix of content, such as industry news and educational information, with only the occasional sales-related message. “Randomly posting memes or being overly self-promotional will get you nowhere on social,” says Waugh. Set up Google alerts for key words in your industry to help you find relevant material.


4. Learn the basics of SEO (search engine optimization)

It’s key to have your website show up on Google’s first page, given that fewer than 10 percent of web users click past the first page of results. Gaining organic search traffic from Google is all about ranking for important keywords, says Gotch. Use tools like Google Keyword Planner, SEM Rush and UberSuggest to find prospective keywords for your business, and then include them in your website copy.


5. Create content that youand otherscan link to

Your content, whether it’s a blog post, a free tip sheet or other educational piece, increases your SEO in two ways. First, content that ranks well for your keywords will boost your standings. Second, it can help you acquire “backlinks,” which are links from other websites to your contentsomething Google loves. “Natural backlinks are possible if you are creating stellar content,” Gotch says. To highlight your content so others will link to it, make sure you promote it on social media and look for opportunities to “guest post” on others’ sites to help establish yourself as a thought leader in your industry.


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