What is the difference between having a website, and having an online presence?

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Being Seen vs. Having a Website

Average Article Read Time: 6 Minutes

1. A Brief Overview

It’s common in the current climate for a great many businesses, especially smaller ventures, to be unfamiliar with the difference between having a website deployed on the internet, and having a robust online presence that is specifically geared towards making their business efficient and capable of achieving its objectives.

But what is it that sets apart having a website from having an online presence?

A website is merely a set of pages delivered through a domain name (for example, www.YourCompany.com) which is hosted on a computer server somewhere, that users can access through the internet.

Online Presence entails an entirely different concept, and can be defined as the total impact that the presence of your brand or company makes within and through the entire digital world, including via your own website(s), through external social media sites, search engines, link aggregation services, and other miscellaneous online forums.

Online Presence can be defined as the total impact that the presence of your brand or company makes within and throughout the entire digital world.

When deploying the services of a technology consulting or web design firm, there is a clear difference between companies that merely create websites that may be aesthetically pleasing, with companies which take a more holistic approach to evaluating your needs and designing a comprehensive strategy in establishing your total online presence.

2. Further Investigation of the “Online Presence”

Your Online Presence is an extension of your business marketing, and with digital technology surrounding us and impacting everything that we do, this presence is a critical part of both growing your business and maintaining the stable operation of your business or brand.

In a nutshell, your online presence can include a lot more than just your website and email addresses.

Here we can include your social media presence on websites like YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, and the like.

It also includes your visibility and rankings on search engines such as Google and Bing, as well as any ratings and reviews you’ve received through them. On the subject of ratings and reviews, your website, business, brand, or any products and services you are offering can also receive these things via Google or other online ratings or review services – these are also a part of your online presence.

Social Media Applications on Mobile Phone
Your website is only part of the picture, and social media plays a major role in your visibility.

Taking link aggregation services into account, although the specific case of Reddit.com began chiefly as a link aggregator similar to websites such as Digg.com, and has instead evolved over time into a social media platform, any online service that performs the function of link aggregation also falls within the purview of your online presence.

Finally, this presence is also marginally impacted by activity on other internet hubs and forums where discussions take place, more so in corners of cyberspace that are related to your particular product or service, and so on.

This is not an exhaustive list of course – mobile applications and any online communications applications for example could theoretically have an impact as well, and new technologies may emerge which may also warrant future consideration.

3. Enhancing Your Online Presence

There are a variety of methods that you can employ to enhance your online presence, whether your intent is to make more visible your brand, company, or a specific product or service.

You can integrate the visibility of your website into your business if, for example, you employ vehicles for logistics (e.g. placing your website address on delivery trucks), or placing your website address into the footers of sent emails, invoices, business cards, social media platforms, and the like.

You can also spread the word about your website via word of mouth if your web address is easy to remember and easy to communicate verbally to other people.

Crowd on Smartphones
Don't just advertise your services, but fully engage with the market you wish to reach.

To maximize your visibility, among some of the strategies you can use are to get yourself listed in relevant forums, search engines, link aggregators. Promoting organic conversations around your brand, company, service or product is in the long-term the most effective way to build for yourself a respectable reputation and foster sustainable, long-term growth.

Google can serve as a very illustrative example of this point – as a search engine it actively penalizes websites that use illegitimate or fraudulent means of attempting to promote their content. The most banal and basic example would be keyword stuffing…

in which keywords are loaded into a web page’s meta tags, visible content, or backlink anchor text in an attempt to gain an unfair rank advantage in search engines. Keyword stuffing may lead to a website being banned or penalized on major search engines either temporarily or permanently.

Wikipedia, Keyword Stuffing

Many companies, marketing departments, public relations firms and the like devise myriad avenues for promoting their content, brands, products, or services. However often times the long-term view is sacrificed for short-term or sometimes even plainly short-sighted strategies that can often backfire.

These methods can leave a negative mark on your reputation and take away from the power of your online (and offline) presence.

In order to enhance your online presence, you require consultation and a comprehensive strategy to develop a robust series of methods for promoting your business.

A good starting point is to build a website that is functional, fast-loading, and visually appealing with a design that is eye-catching and fitting for the industry in which you operate, and appropriately localized for your target demographics.

However, building an online presence is far more comprehensive than just that.

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