Building an Effective Web Presence in 2022
Understanding Search Engine Optimization
First Impressions and Your Digital Footprint
Most first impressions of your web presence happen on a search engine results page. Even web users who know your actual URL will type that URL in the search box of a search engine, like Google. That means that how your website and how your content is represented in search results is a critical piece of your overall digital marketing process. It is the quality and relevance of the search results about your website that determine how those searching for performing arts shows, things to do, or entertainment options respond to your listing compared to content from others.
When you think about your organization’s web presence, the first thing you might think of is your website, then your most active social media outposts, such as your Facebook page or Instagram account. Yet, this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the many ways people may find you and your content on the web.
Your target audience’s first encounter with you online may well be a search engine results page, but it’s just as possible they find you by searching for the answer to a specific question, exploring nearby locations on a map, or scrolling through a social media feed. Now that actual answers to many questions are displayed on the Google search results page, your audience may find the content they are looking for without visiting your website at all.
Don’t assume they’ll be sitting in front of a computer either. In 2021, about half of all web traffic is mobile, so they are just as likely to be scrolling through content or typing with thumbs on a smaller screen. Increasingly, your online content may also reach audiences who aren’t using a keyboard or looking at a screen at all, via voice-activated digital assistants such as Siri or Alexa.
Moreover, several technical developments have dramatically altered how the web works and, what we need to consider when building a web presence in 2022. These changes include:
- Dominance of mobile devices accessing web content.
- Social media networks as dominant content platforms.
- 5G networks and their vastly increased upload and download speeds enable use of rich media like HD video, live streaming content, and within a few years online VR / AR applications will be common.
- Voice-based virtual assistants (Siri, Alexa, Google Assistant) change how users interact with the web.
- Structured data standards power the emergence of the semantic web so that Google can provides answers instead of merely displaying search results linking to websites.
The keystone of an effective web presence is your website, and to a lesser extent, the social media outposts you actively manage. Your website and social media outposts establish a presence online but to improve your visibility on the web, you must do more. Using appropriate keywords, including descriptive metadata, and adding and updating your information within linked, open directories all have an important impact on your presence online.
In short, the best way to ensure your digital footprint represents your organization in its best light is to invest the time to fully optimize your online presence for both humans and machines. That way you are able to move along the digital continuum from simply being present online to being found through search, to becoming an answer to questions through rich snippets using structured data and ultimately being discoverable.
Most of us are used to the idea that we need to invest time and effort to create well-functioning websites and social media profiles designed to appeal to our target audiences. Some have become adapt at keyword-based, traditional search engine optimization (SEO). During the past decade search engines have been advancing significantly beyond using keywords and inbound links, but to consider contextual data provided by browser histories, linked, open data directories, and metadata (data about your data encoded within web pages or databases that provide essential information that machines use to understand the meaning of your content).
Your digital footprint is not only created by what you share online. It’s also greatly affected by what others share about you, and — crucially — how machines access, interpret and correlate this content. This installment of our Digital Playbook focuses on how to build your web site to improve your visibility online, so that your target audiences can find you more easily. It provides practical information, approaches and tips on how to monitor and manage your digital footprint, so that you can maximize first impressions online.
As a result of the varying degrees of the digital continuum, other installments of this Digital Playbook share in-depth information about Social Media Marketing, Mastering Discoverability through the use of Structured Data and Linked, Open Directories and Designing and Producing Awesome Online Events as well as designing and producing Hybrid Events for Blended Audiences.
View or download the PDF of Building an effective web presence in 2022 – Understanding Search Engine Optimization
Written by Briana Doyle, Troubadours & Vagabonds Productions, and Inga Petri, Strategic Moves