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1. Choosing your online presence

Topic: Build your web presence

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Hiya! In this lesson, we’ll introduce you to all the ways you can create an online presence—from websites and social media to local business listings and review sites.

You can see just how important it is these days to be online, so let’s get going. The most obvious way to “go digital” is with a website. Early websites weren’t much more than online brochures that described the who, what and where.

Today’s websites can do much more. Your site can help people do research, chat with experts, read customer reviews, watch videos, buy things, track orders - and much, much more. If you decide that a website makes sense for you, the key is to think about what your site actually needs to do in order to support your business goals. We’ve got a whole lesson coming up where we’ll talk about that in detail, but for now, don’t worry about whatever today’s shiny new technology is if it’s not going to directly contribute to your goals.

Of course, it’s also possible to do business online without a website. If you own a bakery for example, you want customers to be able to find you, website or not.

Think about the last time you had a craving for a carrot cake. You probably searched for something like ‘bakery near me’ and reviewed your options.

You might see a website for a local bakery...or you might discover a good option in local listings.

Some businesses use local listings to create a digital presence, using products like Google My Business and Bing Places for Business. These types of directories let businesses publish details like descriptions, reviews, maps and images.

These listings are usually free, and are a good way to help your business appear on results pages when people search.

Beyond local listings, there may be review sites for your specific type of business where people can leave feedback—and you can respond. Rave reviews will give you the edge over the competition.

You can also use social media as your digital presence. People all over the world use Facebook, Twitter and Google+ pages to complement—or in some cases replace—a website.
Another way you can reach customers online is through their mobile. You’ve probably downloaded apps or games on your mobile phone. You can create and offer these apps to customers yourself.

Apps can take advantage of a mobile device’s unique capabilities, like GPS, mapping and phone, to connect with customers.
If a customer installs your app on her mobile, the next time she’s near your shop, the app might send her a special offer, thanks to GPS.

Apps could even let her place an order right then, so when she comes in she can skip the queue, pick up her order and pay by tapping her mobile against the till. Mobile apps are often used as loyalty tools, to encourage existing, frequent customers to come back… and maybe get a free coffee with that carrot cake.
So, to recap: whether you use a website, local business listings, social media, mobile apps, or all of the above, the trick is to decide what you want customers to do, then create a home that accomplishes those goals. Together, these things work as your digital storefront: your space to interact with customers online.

We’ve got lessons covering all of these areas, but for the next little while we’ll be focusing on websites: you'll learn the basics like how websites work, how to pick and register a proper domain name, and how to make whatever you decide to do online as friendly as possible to your digital visitors AND support the goals of your business. And if you keep watching, we’ll cover all of this and more.

Conversion

The action you want visitors to perform. Examples include e­commerce purchases, form submissions, phone calls, and video views. E.g. “My main goal is for people to book a consultation on my website, but signing up for my email newsletter would also be considered a conversion.”

Actual Cost-­per-­Click (CPC)

The true amount that a business pays to the search engine when their ad is clicked. Businesses set a Max CPC which acts as a “ceiling”—they can never be charged more than that figure. However, depending on the number and relevance of the other ads in the auction, the actual amount paid can vary. The formula for cost­-per-­click may vary slightly across search engines, but generally works like this: (Ad Rank to Beat ÷ Your Relevance Score) + £0.01. Let’s see an example. Your competitor, Wanda’s Weddings, has the next­-best Ad Rank (that’s the Ad Rank to beat in this formula). Her Ad Rank is 12. Now we need to divide that by your relevance score. Let’s say you’ve scored a 9 out of possible 10. So, your actual cost­-per-­click will be (1 2/9) + £ 0.01, or £ 1.34. E.g. “I’m willing to bid as high as £1.75 for my wedding photos ad, but luckily my actual CPC is only £1.60.”

Goal

The action you want visitors to perform. Examples include e­commerce purchases, form submissions, phone calls, and video views. E.g. “My main goal is for people to book a consultation on my website, but signing up for my email newsletter would also be considered a conversion.”

Anchor Text

The visible or clickable part of a link on a web page. E.g. “If you click the link whose anchor text says ‘Organic Produce photo gallery,’ you’ll be directed to the page with more photos of our fruits and vegetables.”

Desktop

A non­mobile computer. E.g. “I prefer to use a desktop at home, but when I travel I use my laptop.”

Backlink

Any link incoming into a page or website from another page or website. E.g. “Our blog posts are very popular and filled with useful information, so we have loads of backlinks to them from other websites.”

Click Through Rate (CTR)

The number of times people click an item of interest, like an advert, in comparison to the number of times people are exposed to that item. For example, if your ad received 100 impressions and 3 clicks, your CTR is 3%. CTR is a crucial indicator of whether your ads are relevant to the people using the search engine—think of it as the difference between the amount of people actually coming into your shop divided by the amount of people stopping outside to look through the window. While there are no specific guidelines, you should always be working toward improving CTR. E.g. “I improved my CTR quite a bit when I added pricing info to my Wedding Photos ad—that clearly made more people want to click through.”

Ranking

A listing’s position on a search engine results page. E.g. “With a lot of work, I’m hoping to get my website to the #1 ranking on search engines for my relevant keywords and audience.”

Search Engine Marketing

A form of advertising that allows you to bid for your advertisement to show along with search results for keywords that people are typing in. This lets businesses be seen by people at the very moment they’re searching for the things a business offers. E.g. “SEO is a long process, but using SEM helped me get a lot more website traffic really quickly.”

Average Ad Position

The position of your ad on the search engine results page (SERP). Search engines typically denote the highest position as “Position 1.” If your ad appears half the time in Position 1, and half the time in Position 2, your Average Position would be 1.5. E.g. “My average ad position for my pet photos ad improved from 7 to 3—I’m thrilled!”

Crawler

A programme designed to systematically browse content on the Internet and collect information about it to help searchers find what they’re looking for. E.g. “I’m scared of spiders, but not the ones that help my website appear in search engines.”

Traffic Acquisition

The process of attracting visitors—often referred to as traffic to websites, mobile apps and other digital assets. E.g. “My acquisition strategy focuses on targeting people who have recently bought old houses.”

Keyword

The specific term a user searched for before they reached your website. E.g. “The keywords “luxury romantic getaway” are performing great for my site.”

Ad Extensions

Optional extra information that can be displayed below a search ad. E.g. “We added sitelink ad extensions to our ads, giving our customers extra options to click through to on our site.”

URL

The unique address of a page or piece of digital content on the Internet. E.g. “Max, you can access my website by typing the URL into your browser.”

Visit

A group of interactions that take place on your website within a given time frame. For example, a single session can contain multiple page views and e­commerce transactions. E.g.“My website got 2,000 visits last month, but what I really care about is whether those visits resulted in sales.”

Internal Links

Links from one page to another page within the same website. E.g. “Website visitors can click on internal links on the homepage to see the web pages in my fruits and vegetable gallery section.”

User-Generated Content

Content created by users of an online platform such as videos, comments or posts. E.g. “Most social networks rely on user-generated content for posting and sharing.”

Home Page

The introductory or “main” page of a website. E.g. “On my home page, visitors can see examples of my most beautifully painted houses.”

Conversion Rate

The ratio of conversions to visits, often used to measure digital performance. E.g. “I’m not sure why, but my conversion rate on external painting is very low for male visitors.”

Landing Page

The first page on a website that a person usually sees—not necessarily the home page of that website. E.g. “I’m directing people who click my ad to a landing page with a discount coupon so that these visitors will be encouraged to buy.”

Banner Ad

A form of advert found on web pages and mobile applications, available in a variety of formats (such as images, animated GIFs and rich media). E.g. “I’m using banner ads to bring new customers to my website.”

Index

A searchable catalogue of web pages and digital content used by a search engine to provide relevant results. E.g. “Before my site appeared in the search engine’s index, people couldn’t find my website when they searched for foyer murals.”

Bid Price

­Your maximum cost­-per-­click (CPC), or bid price, is the highest amount that you are willing to pay for 1 click on your ad. However, you will not necessarily be charged the full Max CPC. For example, if your Max CPC is £1.25, you may only pay £1.04 for the click, depending on competitive factors. However, raising a bid might increase the likelihood of a higher ad position on the search engine results page. E.g. “I’ll bid as high as £2.25, but that’s my max CPC—I’m not made of money!”

Advert

A sponsored result that appears on a search engine results page, or SERP. Ads are typically formed from a few lines of text, and may include additional elements like a street address, reviews and phone numbers. E.g. “My ‘Beautiful Wedding Photos’ ad is already bringing in tons of new business.”

Application

A programme designed to run on smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices. E.g. “My house needs painting, so I used a local app to find a reputable service near me.”

Natural Listings

Results from a search engine that are not paid adverts. E.g. “The higher my website ranks in a search engine’s natural listings, the more website traffic I’ll get.”

Social Media

Content such as text, images, or videos, created by individuals and shared across the Internet. E.g. “Social media changes all the time, so I hired someone to help me create a social media strategy.”

SERP

A list of results appearing in a search engine in response to a user’s search query. E.g. “After I searched for ‘buy high­ gloss paint in bulk’ I noticed that the SERP had both natural listings and paid listings.”

UGC

Content created by users of an online platform such as videos, comments or posts. E.g. “Most social networks rely on user-generated content for posting and sharing.”

White Hat

Tactics that optimise web pages for users, not for search engines. E.g. “I only use white hat tactics to help search engines find my website www.blakeproduce.com.”

Bid Management Software

Software that can be used to automatically manage a search campaign, often to pre-set rules.

Black Hat

Manipulative or deceptive SEO tactics that optimise only for search engines and not for users. E.g. “I was especially careful to avoid any black hat SEO techniques; I didn’t want to hurt the ranking of www.mydeliciousorganicveggies.com in search engines.”

HTML

Hypertext Markup Language. A language used by web developers to create websites. E.g. “My website was written using HTML.”

Link

A text or image that provides a link from one web page or website to another. E.g. “When a major home decor blog linked to my website, I got a lot more visitors.”

Search Engine

A tool that indexes and returns relevant digital content in response to users’ keywords. Popular Internet search engines include Google, Bing, Yahoo, DuckDuckGo, Baidu, Yandex and more. E.g. “I use search engines to look for trends in home decor.”

Search Term

The keyword or phrase a user types into a search engine in order to find what they’re looking for. E.g. “When people use the search term ‘hairdresser’ they might be looking for tips on how to do it themselves or a service to do it for them.”

Algorithm

A set of rules used by computers to solve problems. Search engines use algorithms to determine the rankings of a page for a specific search query. E.g. “I hope search engine algorithms match my relevant web pages with my desired audience.”

Vlog

The video version of a blog, where updates are new videos rather than written posts.

Bot

A programme designed to browse the content on the Internet and collect information about it to help searchers find what they’re looking for. E.g. “When I launched my website, I made sure that the pages were visible to search engine bots, so they could index my pages.”

Pay­Per­Click

An advertising system in which advertisers pay for users to click on their advertisements. E.g. “I’m going to use pay­per­click adverts to promote my new faux finishes.”

Search Engine Results Page

A list of results appearing in a search engine in response to a user’s search query. E.g. “After I searched for ‘buy high­ gloss paint in bulk’ I noticed that the SERP had both natural listings and paid listings.”

Quality Score

A measure from 1 to 10 of how relevant your ads and landing pages are to the keywords you’re bidding on. Improving your Quality Score can help you achieve better ad positions and lower prices for clicks.

App

A programme designed to run on smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices. E.g. “My house needs painting, so I used a local app to find a reputable service near me.”

Spider

A programme designed to systematically browse content on the Internet and collect information about it to help searchers find what they’re looking for. E.g. “I’m scared of spiders, but not the ones that help my website appear in search engines.”

Click

When a person visits your site via an ad. For most SEM campaigns, you only pay when the searcher clicks your ad. E.g. “My ‘Cute Puppy Photos’ ad gets substantially more clicks than my ‘Cute Kitty Photos’ ad.”

Session

A group of interactions that take place on your website within a given time frame. For example, a single session can contain multiple page views and e­commerce transactions. E.g.“My website got 2,000 visits last month, but what I really care about is whether those visits resulted in sales.”

Email Marketing

The process of using email messages to share information and promote products and services.

Query

The keyword or phrase a user types into a search engine in order to find what they’re looking for. E.g. “When people use the search term ‘hairdresser’ they might be looking for tips on how to do it themselves or a service to do it for them.”

Search Query

The full, exact word or phrase that a person types into a search engine in order to find what they’re looking for. It may or may not exactly match the keywords advertisers are targeting. E.g. “The search term ‘pet photographer Cardiff’ is performing well for me every month.”

Max CPC

­Your maximum cost­-per-­click (CPC), or bid price, is the highest amount that you are willing to pay for 1 click on your ad. However, you will not necessarily be charged the full Max CPC. For example, if your Max CPC is £1.25, you may only pay £1.04 for the click, depending on competitive factors. However, raising a bid might increase the likelihood of a higher ad position on the search engine results page. E.g. “I’ll bid as high as £2.25, but that’s my max CPC—I’m not made of money!”

Conversion Optimization

The process of improving your digital strategy in order to increase the percentage of visitors who complete your goals. E.g. “Once I add a new line of faux finishes to my website, I’m going to start focusing on conversion optimization.”

CTR

The number of times people click on an item of interest, like an advert, in comparison to the number of times users are exposed to that item. E.g.: “My click­through rate on ads about external painting is 2%, but my CTR on ads about indoor murals is less than 1%.”

Ad Network

A platform connecting advertisers with publishers who want to host their ads. The advertiser pays the network every time an agreed event takes place, such as an ad impression, a click or a sale. The network then shares the revenue generated from the advertiser with the publisher, after deducting the network fees. E.g. “We chose an ad network for our display campaigns, so we could get our ads out to a wide range of websites quickly.”

Content Marketing

Creating online content such as blogs, videos or infographics to attract and engage a defined audience.

Title Element ­

The title of a web page as indicated in the HTML of a page. Also often used as the title of your page in a search engine results page. E.g. “I pay careful attention to the title element of my web pages, to help search engines understand what the pages are about.”

Destination Page

The page being linked to from another page. E.g. “If you click the link to “Gallery,” you’ll see a destination page chock full of images of our fruits and vegetables.

SEO

The practice of making changes to web pages, content, and the promotion of that content to improve visibility in the organic —or unpaid—search engine results. E.g. “Investing in SEO helped my website get a higher ranking in search engine results.”

SEM

A form of advertising that allows you to bid for your advertisement to show along with search results for keywords that people are typing in. This lets businesses be seen by people at the very moment they’re searching for the things a business offers. E.g. “SEO is a long process, but using SEM helped me get a lot more website traffic really quickly.”

Cost per conversion

Often referred to as cost per acquisition (CPA), this ratio measures how much money you spend on advertising relative to the number of conversions received from the ads. For example, if you spend £100 and receive 4 conversions, your cost per conversion is £25. Your cost per conversion should be lower than the value of a conversion. For example, if a conversion is only worth £20, then a £25 cost per conversion is not profitable. E.g. “My cost per conversion was too high, so I started spending a little less on online advertising and reviewed how I could improve my ads for future campaigns.”

XMP Sitemap

A listing of web pages on your site that helps search engines understand your website. E.g. “Adding a sitemap helped search engines understand the pages on www.blakeproduce.com.”

E­commerce

The sale of products and services online.

Link Building

The process of encouraging high-quality, relevant incoming links to a website through the creation of unique, relevant content that can naturally gain popularity in the Internet community. E.g. “Because our content is relevant and engaging, other websites are more likely to link through to our pages, thus helping our link-building efforts to improve our search engine positions.”

Sitemap

A listing of web pages on your site that helps search engines understand your website. E.g. “Adding a sitemap helped search engines understand the pages on www.blakeproduce.com.”

Browser

A computer programme used to navigate the Internet on computers, tablets and smartphones. Examples include Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer and Safari. E.g. “I’m not sure why my website looks different depending on the browser a person is using.”

Impression

The number of times an advertisement is displayed; it doesn’t necessarily mean someone clicked on it. E.g. “I’m getting a lot of impressions on my Baby Photos ad, but not many people are clicking—I may need to rewrite it.”

Blog

A regularly updated website with posts written by an individual or a business, typically in a conversational style and focused on a specific subject.

Web Spam

Techniques that try to cheat their way to the top of search results, like repeating keywords, paying other sites to link to yours, or putting invisible text on the screen. This is considered bad form because truly relevant websites get buried in the results. E.g. “I received email offers to rank first in Google search results but have turned them down because the techniques used are spam.”

Analytics

The analysis of data generated by people’s activity on websites or mobile apps, for the purpose of discovering ways to improve websites and marketing campaigns. E.g. “I’m using a web analytics tool to understand how to improve certain web pages with the goal of increasing customer engagement on my website.”

Ad Rank

The overall “score” an ad receives that determines where it can appear on a search results page (SERP). Higher Ad Rank leads to higher positions on the SERP. The formula for Ad Rank varies slightly across search engines, but generally works like this: Max CPC X Quality Score. For example, an ad with a Max CPC of £2 a nd a relevance score of 6/10 will have an Ad Rank of 12. If this is the highest Ad Rank, this ad wins the top position on the SERP. E.g. “Improving my adverts’ relevance and increasing my bid helped me improve my Ad Rank.”

Impressions

The number of times an advert is displayed. E.g. “My new marketing campaign for home-baked dog treats received thousands of impressions, but I’m not sure if I’ve made any sales yet.”

Web Analytics Tools

The analysis of data generated by people’s activity on websites or mobile apps, for the purpose of discovering ways to improve websites and marketing campaigns. E.g. “I’m using a web analytics tool to understand how to improve certain web pages with the goal of increasing customer engagement on my website.”

Duplicate Content

Content that it is similar or identical to content found on another website. Search engines tend to ignore duplicate content. E.g. “We avoid duplicate content by investing in original content.”

Redirect

An automatic forward to a different URL than the one entered by the user. E.g. “We implemented redirects when we moved the website to a new domain.”

Uniform Resource Locator

The unique address of a page or piece of digital content on the Internet. E.g. “Max, you can access my website by typing the URL into your browser.”

Unique Visitor

A single visitor to a website during a specific period of time. E.g. “No matter how many times Uncle Bob visits my website, he’ll still count as one unique visitor.”

Spam

Techniques that try to cheat their way to the top of search results, like repeating keywords, paying other sites to link to yours, or putting invisible text on the screen. This is considered bad form because truly relevant websites get buried in the results. E.g. “I received email offers to rank first in Google search results but have turned them down because the techniques used are spam.”

Social Network

A community of individuals creating and sharing content. E.g. “Social networks could be a good place for me to showcase my beautiful foyer murals and maybe get new customers.”

Content

The digital material available to users, via text, video, audio, images, etc. E.g. “I’m adding more image and video content to my site, so it’ll be more engaging.”

Organic Listings

Results from a search engine that are not paid adverts. E.g. “The higher my website ranks in a search engine’s natural listings, the more website traffic I’ll get.”

Meta Keywords

A short list of several words that succinctly describe the content of a page. Not used by any search engine. E.g. “I don’t worry about including meta keywords on my web pages, as search engines do not use this information.”

PPC

An advertising system in which advertisers pay for users to click on their advertisements. E.g. “I’m going to use pay­per­click adverts to promote my new faux finishes.”

Display URL

The URL that is shown on the ad, often a shortened version of the actual or destination URL. E.g. “So that my users don’t see a long url, like “http://www.blakeproduce.com/proucts/specials/italiantomatos.com”, I use a url shortener service like https://goo.gl/, which allows me to create a shorter, more user-friendly display url for use in social media updates.”

Cost per Click

The amount of money required to produce a single click on a digital advertisement. E.g. “Cost per click prices seem to be higher during weekends, so I’m only running my campaigns during the week.”

Search Engine Optimization

The practice of making changes to web pages, content, and the promotion of that content to improve visibility in the organic —or unpaid—search engine results. E.g. “Investing in SEO helped my website get a higher ranking in search engine results.”

ROI

A calculation an advertiser uses to try to identify if their online marketing campaigns are profitable. One common formula used for calculating ROI is the following: return on investment = (gain from investment – cost of investment) / cost of investment. E.g. “The sales driven by our display advertising campaigns have demonstrated positive ROI this quarter”.

ALT Text

Text used in the code of a page to describe an image. If an image is broken and can not be loaded by the page, the ALT text appears in a blank box that would normally contain the image. ALT text is also used by screen readers to improve accessibility for blind and visually impaired people, to tell them what is on the image. E.g. “The homepage of my website www.blakeproduce.com features an image of a fruit and vegetable garden. I included the following ALT text in the image code to describe it: ‘Fresh fruit and vegetables picked from Blake Produce gardens.”

Avatar

An image used to represent a person, business or organisation on social media. E.g. “When I click on my avatar it brings me back to my profile.”

Return on Investment

A calculation an advertiser uses to try to identify if their online marketing campaigns are profitable. One common formula used for calculating ROI is the following: return on investment = (gain from investment – cost of investment) / cost of investment. E.g. “The sales driven by our display advertising campaigns have demonstrated positive ROI this quarter”.

Meta Description

The description of a web page included in the code of the page. May also be used as a part of the description in the search engine results page. E.g. “I write meta descriptions for each page of my website in case the search engine displays the page in the search results.”

Ad

A sponsored result that appears on a search engine results page, or SERP. Ads are typically formed from a few lines of text, and may include additional elements like a street address, reviews and phone numbers. E.g. “My ‘Beautiful Wedding Photos’ ad is already bringing in tons of new business.”

Chatbot

A computer programme that simulates human conversation often over the Internet. E.g. “We created a chatbot to answer common customer questions and help with customer service.”

Geo-targeting

Use geo-targeting to only show ads to people in a certain geographical area. E.g. “We adjusted our geo-targeting to only show our ads to people within 50 miles of our business.”

Paid Listings

Advertisements that appear on search engines results pages. E.g. “I’m thinking about paying to have my website appear in the paid listings, so that I can bring more customers to my website.”

Click­through Rate

The number of times people click on an item of interest, like an advert, in comparison to the number of times users are exposed to that item. E.g.: “My click­through rate on ads about external painting is 2%, but my CTR on ads about indoor murals is less than 1%.”

Virtual Reality

Computer-generated simulation of a three-dimensional environment with which you can interact using equipment such as headsets, sensors or joysticks.

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Key learnings

There’s more than one place for people to find you online. In this lesson we’ll explore just how important being online is these days, as well as some common ways to do it including:

  • websites
  • local business listings and review sites
  • social media
  • mobile apps.