A poorly constructed online presence can can have devastating effects

How Tame Your Web Presence And Keep It From Turning Against You [Part 1]

| Branding | Marketing

Your web presence is a massive, ever changing, and volatile element. And as it continues to grow, it can quickly spread into fantastic brand recognition or it can spiral out of control leading to negative results.

The good news is you can learn to tame it with little effort.

But before we get any further, what do the terms “web presence” mean?

Your web presence is the consolidation of your entire online brand. This starts with the websites you own, the social media accounts you manage, your search rankings, audience reach, brand reputation, marketing, etc. Anything you do online that’s associated with your brand or business is part of your web presence.

To make this topic easy to digest, it will be broken down into categories that affect your web presence. Each of the following main topics will be a separate post, starting with websites:

  1. Part I: Website
    • User experience
    • Direction
    • Navigation
    • Message
  2. Part II: Search ranking
    • Listing (local or national)
    • Consistency
    • Verification
    • Positioning
    • Competition
  3. Part III: Social Networking
    • Active channels
    • Published content
    • Conversations
    • Tagging
  4. Part IV: Paid advertising
    • Ads consistency
    • User experience
    • Targeting
  5. Part V: Measurement
    • Benchmarks and monitoring

Your website and your web presence are different terms that unfortunately, get caught together and lumped into one. They are vastly different.

Just like our planet Earth, your website is part of a larger system, which is part of another larger system, and so on. All of this creates your web presence.

The difference with the Universe and your web presence is the insignificant dot known as Earth has little effect on the entirety of the known Universe – your website can pull a massive amount of gravity on your web presence.

The following sections contain the elements of your website that can affect your web presence. If ignored or done incorrectly, these elements can have negative impact for your brand ranging from low traffic to being banned by Google.

If you focus on the areas that need improvement and you follow through with these examples, you will see a positive impact in your web presence.

With any website, there is only a single element that matters: the user experience.

A poor user experience on your website can and will lead to lost customers for life. People don’t like being inconvenienced, misled, confused, or frustrated. And if your website does any of the above, then you’re contributing to a poor user experience.

To avoid this, the steps are easy and take little time to implement. Most of the following steps are simply a different way of thinking about your website.

Everyone needs a little direction

The underlying goal of a website should be basic. Show visitors the content they’re after, and show them how to make a purchase (if available).

Two elements of a website’s design that can impact a visitor’s mood are images and layout. A cluttered layout will make people feel uneasy with information overload. Too much content to digest. Keeping things organized and intentional helps to make the visitor’s journey through your website an easy one.

The inclusion of images in a website not only help create character, they can illustrate concepts, and humanize the brand.

One thing to keep in mind when using images on your website (or ads) is the direction the image is pointing to. Some images have a clear perspective, the direction is easy to spot. While some images are a little harder.

With the images on your website, especially images of people’s faces, make sure the eyeline points to the center of the page or the call to action. We are drawn to images of faces and more importantly their eyes. Next, we will look in the direction that the eyes are looking.

Elements of direction within a design are powerful enough to influence mood

And if your image is facing outwards, my focus is now off the screen. But if I include an image of a person looking towards the slight center of the page, I can direct your attention to the purchase button I want you to click on.

Elements of direction within a design are powerful enough to influence mood and simply being aware of the images you include on your site can have a huge impact of the user experience of your website.

A more deliberate method of direction is navigation

All websites should provide a clear and simple method of navigation.

This one requires some thought. For the main website navigation it’s best if you can stick to about 5 main categories or pages. By restricting the number of top level navigation items, not only is the design and layout less cluttered, but you’re making the decision easier for the visitor. You don’t want them to have to think too much about getting around your website. In fact, you don’t even want to to realize their navigating through your website.

The navigation elements should be so simple that it’s not a thought. If on the other hand, your categories are difficult to understand. If content is included in the wrong places your visitor is going to get confused.

Poor navigation breeds frustration and will direct your visitors elsewhere on the internet.

It’s all about the message

Not everyone is an expert copywriter (myself included) but we can all benefit from a better understanding of how a website visitor will interpret your message. If your intentions are unclear and your visitor doesn’t understand your content – they won’t stick around.

There’s something I recommend to all business owners who have a website and it only takes a few minutes of your time. Every now and then, pull up your website and while thinking of your ideal customer, read as many passages of text on your website that you can stomach. In most cases, it’s challenging to read through the first page.

When writing the content of your website, it’s easy to over explain and use vague terminology that you understand. But the problem is the content is not meant to be written for your, it should be written for your customer.

You may want to revisit most of, if not all of the content on your website and make sure it still matches the ideas your business today. And does it make sense for the reader? Will they even read it all? If not, then it’s time to focus on rewriting it. This time, write it as though you are sitting across a table from your customer. How would you explain it to them then?

Section Wrap Up…

To sum it up the user experience of your website can affect your web presence simply by how people interpret and use your website. If your website is hard use or difficult to understand, your web presence is going to suffer. Your potential reach and brand exposure will be limited.

Instead, always focus on the user. Avoid anything that leads to the user being inconvenienced, misled, confused, or frustrated.

Part II: Search Ranking factors that can increase or significantly drop your organic listing. Getting a decent ranking on Google is not impossible, in fact it can be done with little effort. Stay tuned…

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