Digital Marketing

Beginners Guide To Building A Strong Digital Presence

Illustration of a website on a laptop, tablet, and phone in isomorphic grid layout on red background

In our digital economy, your website is now the primary access point for your customers. Think of it as a digital storefront. Everything you would do in person applies the same online—this means that the look, feel, and function of the website should match your displays, ambiance, and layout of your store. This next section will help  guide you through building your website.

Website Options

If you don’t already have a good website, creating one is the first step in establishing your digital presence. How you build your website will depend on your budget. Below are the two most common options.

The Template Approach

Website builders such as Wordpress, Wix, Squarespace, and Shopify all offer generic templates that are easy to create and edit. Think of this as going to IKEA; the furniture is cheap, looks decent, and will be used in many other places. You may add your own flourish through colors, text, and images, but the design language will almost always be the same. That doesn’t mean it is a bad option. In fact, for those looking for the low budget option, these are perfect.

Baskerville - WordPress theme |
The Baskerville Wordpress theme

The Custom Approach

Creating a fully custom website requires a lot of skill. Hiring an agency or employee who is proficient in HTML, CSS, and a plethora of other integration and design tools is necessary to truly create a tailored product. While this is more expensive than working from a template, a custom solution also comes with more flexibility. Brand identity can be designed into every aspect of the site. Also, a good web design agency will design your website with search engine optimization in mind (SEO). Not only will the website look better than a template, it will also be much easier for your customers to locate and engage with.

The custom Michael Albor website by CG Digital

Search Engine Optimization

You might be asking, what exactly is SEO? In short, search engines rank websites by  how relevant your website is to those that search for it. The more your website connects with people’s search preferences, the easier they will find you. In addition, you are sorted by the amount and quality of the websites that link to your website. Like an employer, search engines require that your site has credible references before they are willing to back you.

Why is SEO important? Research by Zero Limit Web found that Google’s first five organic search results accounted for 67.60% of the clicks. Past the first page, the second and third pages only get 5.59% and 3.37% of the clicks respectively. No matter how well designed your website is, these rankings decide whether or not you exist for new customers. There are several steps you can take to improve your rankings.

Keyword Research

Keyword research is the art of finding out how consumers find your product or service. For example, a contractor can perform keyword research to find out if the term “housebuilders” is more searched than “contractors.” Using the more common term, will allow you to get more online exposure. So, how do you find the right keywords?

  1. Putting yourself in your consumer’s shoes. What would you search while looking for your service or product? Looking at your competitor’s websites may also help. Create a list of these terms.
  2. Look at Google’s suggestions and related search terms relating to this initial list. These can often contain variations or terms that you missed.
  3. Use Google’s free keyword planner (through Google Ads) and Google Trends to find out which keywords in your expanded list get the most traffic.

Once you know what keywords are searched for, implement them into the content of your website. Use said words as headers for pages, add them to your copy, and create content based on what people are looking for. This will ensure that Google thinks you are relevant in the right places.

Quality Content

The best way to create links to your website is through quality content. A successful blog or video series is likely to be cited and shared by many other sites. By creating content based on keyword research, you can make sure that you are answering the right questions. Here are our recommendations for creating content:

  1. Create a monthly schedule for releasing content. Consistency will make sure that you have people coming back to your site for the next post or video. Try for at least an article a week.
  2. Write content for other websites. Guest posts will expand your influence and build links to your own website.
  3. Offer your expertise to the media, government, and business groups. A link from a well-vetted source like a .gov domain will do wonders to your rankings.

Backlink Audits

Good SEO is both offense and defense. While you create content to increase the number of credible links to your website, you also need to eliminate bad ones. A suspicious link will cause Google to lower your search ranking. You can use Ahref’s free backlink checker to regularly audit your backlinks. Once you create a list of “spammy, artificial, or low-quality links,” you can disavow them through Google.

Note: links through social media and paid sponsorships will not be counted in how Google calculates your site rankings.

Pay Per Click Advertising

Search engine optimization is not an immediate process. Creating a network of backlinks, creating content, and finding the right keywords can take months to increase your search rankings. Pay per click advertising is the best way to get a first-page placement while you work on your SEO. Here are the two most common types of ads you can create with Google:

Google Search Ads

When you perform search using Google, these ads appear at the top and bottom of the page. Ads are shown based on who the searcher is, and what they are searching for. The advantage of a search ad is that the person is already looking for what you are selling.

Search ads are highlighted in red.

Google Display Ads

Display ads are image-based ads shown on websites that advertise through Google. They are also on youtube videos and in apps. Ads are shown based on who is looking at a website. The advantage of a display ad is the ability to show your ad to many people.

Display ads are highlighted in red.

It is worth noting that PPC advertising like Google Ads is less cost-effective than a good SEO strategy. However, it is useful as a way to cover a broad range of searches that may be impossible to catch with only SEO. These should be thought of as tools in a marketer’s belt along with email, social media, and in-person advertising. Depending on your customers, some tools may work better than others. Make sure that this process starts with a comprehensive marketing plan to identify what makes sense for your business.

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