By Mariel Alison L. Aguinaldo

Online visibility is as important as ever as the pandemic has driven businesses to the Internet, all of them vying for the attention of a limited number of eyeballs.

“When people have problems or pain points and they go online to find solutions, your brand should come up. When people are looking for information or resources… it should be on your platform or website. When someone is ready to buy or looking for a reliable supplier, your brand should be on their options,” said Kelvier Canillo, managing director of web design and development company Webworx Design Studio Inc., during StartUp Village’s Online Visibility webinar.

With the right tools and execution, businesses can create an edge over their competitors. These are the three platforms that they can focus on and tips on how to utilize them.

1. Domain name and custom e-mail address

If the Internet is a map, then a domain name is the address that directs people to an establishment—in this case, a business website. Keep it simple when making the second-level domain, which is the part before the dot and contains the business name. Avoid using slang, shortcuts, numbers, and hyphens.

When choosing the top-level domain, or the part that comes after the dot, try securing various versions that are relevant to the business—for example, getting both the “.com” and the “.ph”. This wards off domain squatters who make a business of buying domain names with the goal of eventually fetching a hefty price for them. Mr. Canillo had a client who paid P250,000 to get the desired domain name. To compare, an initial .com domain name purchase at GoDaddy costs P259.

Creating custom e-mail addresses at your company domain is also advisable in order to look more professional. E-mail services, such as G Suite, are able to provide this service for a monthly fee of $4.20.

2. Website

Having a website does not only make a business more credible; it also makes it stand out from competitors. “If your competitors aren’t online yet, they probably will be soon… Establish yourself as a leader in your field by building a high-quality website first,” said Mr. Canillo.

If budget or technical knowledge is an issue, some website-building platforms like Wix provide templates that can be customized without coding languages. Businesses that want an e-commerce extension can try platforms such as Shopify and Magento.

Just like a physical store, business websites require maintenance. Tools like GTmetrix can help track website speed which is crucial to consumer retention and experience. According to Google, the probability of a website visitor leaving a page increases by 90% if it takes up to five seconds to load.

“Customers can be quite vocal about the slow-performing website as well. That’s why our websites need to be fast… otherwise, they’ll tell others not to visit that business any more. For sure, if they get a bad experience on your website, they will never come back,” said Mr. Canillo.

With the right tools, a website can also provide insights that can help shape a business’ online marketing strategy. Web analytics services, such as Google Analytics, can track information such as the location of website visitors and the search terms that brought them to your website.

3. Social media platforms

Insights from web analytics services can identify which social media platforms are best for a business.  Mr. Canillo’s Webworx, a design studio, has Instagram and Behance accounts because of the visual nature of its portfolio.

Businesses must then figure out the purpose of their social media accounts—are they there to make customers laugh or provide them with information. From there, social media managers can create content that will consistently draw in audiences. “Slowly, you will have your audience who will refer your business without a referral fee… They will join your movement or your drive. That’s why on social media, it’s better to create audiences than look for customers,” said Mr. Canillo.

Generally, businesses are advised to avoid hard-selling and discuss relevant topics instead. Customers should also feel that your brand is authentic and genuinely caring for them. “You will earn their trust, but don’t stop there… This is a continuous process. They should see you consistent in every platform: the message you’ve created, the tone that you’ve set, and the brand that you want to be perceived by them,” said Mr. Canillo.