The importance of having a presence online continues to increase, but how to establish and maintain that presence is changing rapidly. New social networks are popping up all over the internet, and being active on the major social networks online is an important way to make sure you can be found, whether you’re an online business, a blogger, a job hunter, or just an involved web user. However, many people are missing out on the fundamentals of having a robust presence online. Here are some important tips to consider:

Joe Smith? You’re Not Alone

Unless you’re lucky enough to have a completely unique name or organization name, you’ve got competition online whether you know it or not. If you’re a “Joe Smith” or other common name, there are many other Joe Smiths out there that also want to be found online, and they compete with you as far as search engine rankings and on social networks using the same name. There’s also a good chance that at least one of them is semi-famous. How do you make yourself stand out from the crowd? Read on.

A Domain is Still Home Base

The newest social network might be getting all the buzz and attention from media and blogs, but the best method of establishing an online presence is still owning your own domain. Buy yourself your domain name – if www.yourname.com is available, snap it up! If the .COM isn’t available, you’ve got many other solid choices such as .NET, .ORG, or .ME.

What to do with your Domain

Owning your personal domain name is a big step towards being visible online. However, the driving force behind being found online is content. If you have a domain name but it isn’t associated with a website, you won’t get very far. Search engines and social networks alike both value new and fresh content and quality links to that content. A static website is a good start, but depending on your needs a blog can be a better choice. WordPress is the most popular blogging platform available, and you can install it on your own hosting for free! We actually offer an automatic installation of WordPress from our application vault for hosting customers – making it even easier for you to get started. WordPress is great for everyone from beginners to power-users, because it doesn’t require coding or html knowledge, and it has a great intuitive user-interface. WordPress is such a versitile platform, it even powers this blog:

With the growing number of social networks and websites that you can choose to have a presence on, it can be important to have a home-base to link back to. Think of it like the backbone of your online nervous system.

Expanding Outward to Draw Others in

With the proliferation of social networks has come the ability to be in many places at once online. The downside there is that only being in one place online is becoming increasingly ineffective. Creating a profile on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn is a great start. These are some of the biggest social networks, and they’re all great for connecting, sharing information and content and being visible online. There’s more to each of these networks than could be explained in one blog post, but they’re all very intuitive, and the best way to learn them is to dive right in and set up a profile.

If you’re already on the major social networks, consider some others that may be relevant to your interests:

  • Flickr – A social network for sharing photos
  • Dopplr – Share your travels online
  • Yelp – Food buff? Review your favorite restaurants
  • Youtube or Vimeo – Share your videos

Search is still what drives a vast majority of online traffic, so page 1 search rankings for the major search engines are key to getting noticed. If you’ve got a common name, this can be difficult. This is where having your own domain comes in. Having www.yourname.com or similar, among other factors, will help you rank high in search engines. Those social networks can also be a great way to rank well for your name. Having twitter.com/yourname ranks well organically and you just might see your Twitter account jump up the search rankings. If you’ve got a rare name, we challenge you to dominate the search rankings for your name!

If all else fails, Google has extended you a great olive branch with Google Public Profiles. You can create a basic profile in Google that will automatically show up at the bottom of page 1 search results for your name.

End Result: Own Your Brand Online

The internet has undergone a huge mentality shift since the early 2000s. In the early days of the internet, privacy was the norm. Unless you were creating an online business, many people preferred to be anonymous and hidden from the public eye. Now with the growth of the social web, being visible online can be important for a variety of reasons. Job hunting, connecting with friends, sharing media, scheduling events, participating in organizations, and creating new connections can all be aided by being present and active online. If you’re new to social networking online, take your time to learn what you’re doing rather than diving in head first, but now is most certainly the time to get your feet wet.

So what are you waiting for? Find a domain and start connecting!