An enigma people often talk about is your digital footprint. What is it, and why does it matter? Essentially it means the amount of impact you have on the web, which affects how easy it is for someone to find you. When someone types your name or that of your business into a web browser, what do they find?
The answer is, that depends. It depends on your website and its rankings in various categories, how large your social media following is, and whether or not you engage frequently on other blogs and websites, including guest posting, comments, and more.
Go ahead. Google yourself. What did you find? If you did not like the results, here are some simple ways to supersize your digital footprint and make sure you are the first thing a user sees when they perform the same search you just did.
Build Your Own Empire
Do you have a website? How about a blog? What do they look like? How often do you update and post on them? If you or your company has not yet taken the plunge, it is past time to choose and purchase a domain name, set up some kind of hosting and design or better yet have a website designed for you.
If you have already done that or you just did, it is time to get to work. If you already had a site, does it look the same as it did in 2008? That was ten years ago. There are new themes, new standards, not to mention that you have to be responsive and mobile ready in today’s world. If you just purchased a site, you need to evaluate your design as you get started.
What do your competitor’s sites look like? You don’t have to copy their design, but users are used to certain things, like shopping carts in the upper right-hand corner, and menus on the left if they are not across the top of the site.
Be creative, yes. But give people what they expect in certain areas or you will drive them away from your site. Post often and update your site on a regular basis. Not only does this bring users back, but it also lets Google know how often to “crawl” your site and look for updates. The more frequently you post, the higher your rankings.
Once you have built your own website, your own empire so to speak, you are ready to move on.
Be a Social Media Jedi
Now that you have a website of your own, you have something to share on social media that you have created yourself. This does not mean that you share only your own things, or that you switch to an “It’s all about me” posting strategy. You should still share the things you learn from others.
However, you do want to share your own blog posts, in the hope that others will share them too. It’s not wrong to ask them to share even. You have to work the social media system for your good, yes, but remember the first word in social media. It is still about being social and starting a conversation. Without that conversation, it is like you with a bullhorn in the mall. Everyone could hear you, but no one is listening.
It’s important to be a social media Jedi. Figure out where your customers are and be there too. Don’t ignore sites like Pinterest for visual posts and LinkedIn for more business to business connection and even landing new customers.
Use the Force for Good
The key to your digital footprint is that it must be a positive one. Plenty of brands have made mistakes, and their brands have been dragged through the mud on social media. The reason is that your digital footprint can work for our against you. Just ask some politicians and actors who have been caught in various indiscretions. We won’t ever forget O.J. Simpson, and his digital footprint is huge, but its not what he would ask for in an ideal world.
How do you avoid these missteps? Simple. Stay positive. Don’t respond to trolls or overly negative comments on your website, blog, or social media. If you make a mistake, be transparent about it. Apologize, sincerely, and correct what went wrong.
If you don’t focus on the good and keep your brand positive, the force you have behind your digital footprint can drag you down rather than building up your brand.
Avoid the Dark Side
There is a dark side to building your digital footprint, and while not as effective or as common as it once was, you will still find SEO and brand building advice that seems, well, questionable. That’s because it is. There are a ton of “black hat” hacks out there that companies and link builders have used over time to elevate Google rankings.
There are two essential problems with this. First, these methods are no longer as effective, since Google has gotten smarter. Keyword stuffed articles that are not really about anything at all actually hurt your Google rankings and can even earn you penalties or removal from their index.
That is the second issue. If you get caught trying to cheat the system, Google will not only penalize you by reducing rankings, but they can remove you from searches entirely. If Google does that to you, you can be assured that other search engines will be quick to follow. This can mean no one will find your business on the web, a virtual disaster in today’s market.
There is No Try, Only Do
Here is the thing. You can’t just “try” SEO or increasing your digital footprint, and when it does not work right away, give up and say it “didn’t work for you.” This type of building takes a long time and is a long-term project. You will start to see progress in 90-120 days, but real growth will come at the six month and one-year mark if you stick with it.
If you want things to work, you will have to simply do it. Blog regularly. Be active and social on social media. Keep things positive and stay away from quick fixes or sure things. They don’t really work. Want to supersize your digital footprint? Start here and be persistent. You’ll soon rule your own little corner of the galaxy.