What is an online presence?
Online presence is a term used to describe how visible your business is on the internet, and how easy it is for searchers to find your offering.
The scope of this online presence can be as broad or limited as you like. For the purpose of this article, we’re going to focus on how businesses can build and sustain their presence in Google’s search results pages (SERPs). It is the biggest search engine in the world, after all.
What does it mean to build a sustainable online presence?
A sustainable online presence is one that withstands volatility and grows or remains stable in the future, despite fluctuations and uncertainty.
A steady decline in traffic and rankings signals that a business is struggling to sustain its online presence. By contrast, a steady uptick in these metrics over time indicates a healthy, well-sustained online presence.
I think it’s clear which of those two options we all want. But how do you actually go about building a sustainable online presence? Well, there are a few things that SEOs and content strategists can do in particular.
1. Build topical authority in your area of expertise
One of the best ways to build a sustainable online presence is to earn yourself topical authority. Topical authority exists where a website demonstrates its expertise about a particular topic, often by offering a lot of comprehensive information about that particular area.
If you’re searching for answers online, you’ll naturally want to hear from someone who specializes in that field and has expertise — not someone who attempts to cover as many topics as possible but isn’t an expert in any. Google recognizes this user behavior and rewards websites that can showcase their authority and expertise on the subject matter.
Google’s Helpful Content Update last year confirmed this further, with Google’s guidance emphasizing the importance of expertise in creating quality content.
In their guidance, Google refers to the benefits of a website having a primary focus and positioning itself as a widely recognized voice on a particular topic.
4. Schedule reviews and refreshes for dated content
It can be tempting to disregard content once it’s on your website and bringing in traffic, especially when it performs well initially.
But what works today might not work in a year’s time, especially if the topics or trends you’re covering in your content develop over time. Posts that once ranked well and generated traffic might have grown dated since you originally hit publish.
When this happens to high-performing pages, it can have a dramatic impact on your online visibility. At this point, you’ll have two options:
You can aggressively ship new content and target new keywords to try and compensate for these losses
You can try to increase yield from your original content by updating and refreshing it
The latter requires less time and resources, but it can still be highly effective. In fact, research by HubSpot revealed that updating old blog posts can increase traffic to these by 106%.
A rewrite won’t always be a quick fix, though. First, you need to diagnose what elements of your content might be causing it to underperform and why. It could be that you need to introduce more user-generated content for a high-intent page or an angle that isn’t covered elsewhere in the SERPs.
Consider what the reader would want to know in this climate, what’s already ranking well right now, and how you can deliver unique value.
Not only will this increase the reach of your content, but it will also improve the quality of it, encouraging people to return to your site for similar content in the future. This is critical to sustaining your online presence.
5. Bring external voices and thought leaders into your content
Thought leadership content is often viewed as separate from search-optimized content. Different people own the two types of content, and they rarely collaborate on content production.
But this can be a big mistake. By segregating the two types of content, you miss the opportunity to enrich your search-optimized content with real-world experience, opinions, and expertise.
Even if you host thought-leadership content in a separate collection on your website for hygiene reasons, you can still benefit from drawing upon these interviews and perspectives within your search-optimized content. Combining the two types of content enables you to create pages that not only get found in the SERP, but that deliver unique, authoritative information for those that click through.
The need for this crossover has become even more apparent in recent years, with Google’s Search Quality Rater Guidelines describing the importance of the writer’s experience in high-quality content. While experience hasn’t been recognized as a ranking factor, Google will aim to “reward” pages that can showcase first-hand experience.
That’s why we regularly include contributions from thought leaders and experienced in-house lawyers in our search-optimized content at Juro.
It’s these all-important trust signals that enable us to improve our authority and build a sustainable online presence.