Something I learnt this week is that having a group of strangers audit your website in front of you is, for lack of a better word, rough.
It is for someone like me anyway. I put a lot of thought into most things, and my website is no exception. So having it critiqued unexpectedly in a group session was not easy.
The story is that I was attending a lunchtime training facilitated by Mike Clark from ThinkRight, which was focusing on optimising your online presence. I thought he was going to go through the importance of a good headshot, how to manage your social media etc. Instead, Mike searched our websites, brought them up on a projected screen and had a qualified website developer review them along with the other attendees.
Mine was first up. Funnily enough, I had just spent the weekend changing the theme to our website because I wasn’t feeling it anymore. I had chosen a theme with a BIG revolving banner where I could place three services Virtual Assist provides. Once I was happy with the new look I sent it to some peers in the Virtual Assistant (VA) world to review and didn’t look at it again.
And that there was my fatal error.
Three things happened:
- One person asked “so what do you do? It doesn’t say anything”. My answer was “well it’s just a banner, which is just an overview”.
- “What’s your company name?” Good question, since my fancy new revolving banner did not include my logo.
- Another questioned, “so where are your services?” My answer; “well you scroll down”. “Oh. I didn’t realise; it’s not something I knew you could do”.
All completely valid points. Do you know why my peers had missed them? These people live and breathe websites. They know: my company and its branding; a banner is just a teaser of what your business offers; and that you automatically scroll down when you land on a webpage.
Do you know who didn’t know this? THE PEOPLE USING MY WEBSITE! I got so much out of this training session, and I wanted to share this will you all.
I spoke with Mike and he kindly agreed to help me compile the list below in the hopes of helping others with their own online media presence:
10 Ways to Improve Your Online Presence
- Be professional – No swearing, no whining, be positive. All of your content on every online platform must adhere to this. People respect professionalism; it’s that simple.
- Establish target audience and focus on them – Who is looking for you online? Think gender, occupation, interests, age group, location. All these factors will dictate the look of your online presence in every way, even down to the time you post something on Facebook. You must know this before you start so you can target it appropriately.
- Branding, branding, branding! – Please, no headshots at your uncle’s 50 with someone’s arm around your shoulder. It looks bad. Just pay a good photographer (I recommend Avodah for those in the Manawatu. $80. One hour. That’s it), and you’ll receive some amazing images that you will be proud to use over the next five years.
Also, make sure you use consistent background images and logos across all platforms. That way, customers can go from Linkedin to Facebook to your website and know they are in the right place since everything flows and looks similar.
- Be clear on your purpose – Are you selling a product? Are you providing a service? What is the reason you have an online presence at all? You must have a clear objective, and then communicate that on your online medium. Otherwise, your audience will be lost and disinterested which makes the whole process a waste of time and money.
- Think about your “Call to action” – A call to action is what you want to happen when customers view you online. Do you want them to call you? Do you want them to read your blog on Linkedin? Do you want them to like your Facebook page? What ever you want them to do, make that very clear, the first thing they see in fact, so they then do exactly that.
- Optimise your layout – Don’t have your main objective at the very bottom of your website. It must be the first thing people see. For example, many individuals don’t know what a VA does, so I have pinned a blog about what a VA is to the top of my Facebook page. Use what’s on offer to showcase your services.
- Understand the online platform – Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is something you need to know about, as well as the Facebook algorithm. If you do not understand how they work or their terms of conditions, it will not only decrease your ranking but potentially result in a suspension if you don’t know the rules. It’s very real; I know businesses have been affected.
N.B. the Instagram algorithm has also just been updated, and it has changed the reach of images to your followers.
- Play the game – Did you know that if your images are highly pixelated or if your website is unresponsive that it decreases your search ranking? Even verifying your business Facebook page or registering for Google for Business can make a huge difference to your SEO. It doesn’t take long (well actually, Virtual Assist’s Facebook page is still not verified because as a sole trader it’s virtually impossible, but I digress…)
- Humanise yourself online – Your customers want to know that they are dealing with a respectful, approachable business and that humans are working there happily. They want to hear about your progress in the business world and feel like they are apart of that journey. By humanising yourself and posting relatable content online, you will build up an interested and loyal following of customers, who will then refer interested and loyal customers to you.
- Update your content regularly – I update the Virtual Assist website a lot, not only for practice but to stay relevant. It also increases your SEO. Facebook, in particular, will not work at all if you don’t post regularly because of the algorithm. There’s a fine line between regular and spam though, so be careful otherwise you will lose followers and potential customers.
It’s a big list this week, but incredibly important, because if you don’t know what you’re doing with your online presence, you will lose customers, and completely waste your time in the process.
Mike is an excellent trainer across many subjects. If you are interested in learning more, you can contact him via the ThinkRight website or Facebook page.
I will also be holding a training that focuses on Facebook for Business shortly (looks like October) so stay tuned for information on that. Also, I would love to hear your feedback on this article, so feel free to comment below or contact us here, and for more tips for business, like us on Facebook.