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6 Actionable Tips to Build a Sustainable Online Presence in 2024

The author's views are entirely their own (excluding the unlikely event of hypnosis) and may not always reflect the views of Moz.

In-house marketing teams work tirelessly to keep their brand relevant, and the internet has long been the best place to reach the biggest and most engaged audience.

But things aren’t always smooth sailing, and maintaining your online presence is rarely easy. There are lots of things that can set us off course, from SERP volatility and algorithm updates to updated positioning and new competitors.

This guide explores the best (and most actionable) tips to sustain your online presence and ride the wave — no matter how choppy and unpredictable things get.

But before we dive into advice, let’s define what a sustainable online presence is, and why you should aspire to have one.

What is an online presence?

Online presence is a term used to describe how visible your business is on the internet, and how easy it is for searchers to find your offering.

The scope of this online presence can be as broad or limited as you like. For the purpose of this article, we’re going to focus on how businesses can build and sustain their presence in Google’s search results pages (SERPs). It is the biggest search engine in the world, after all.

What does it mean to build a sustainable online presence?

A sustainable online presence is one that withstands volatility and grows or remains stable in the future, despite fluctuations and uncertainty.

A steady decline in traffic and rankings signals that a business is struggling to sustain its online presence. By contrast, a steady uptick in these metrics over time indicates a healthy, well-sustained online presence.

I think it’s clear which of those two options we all want. But how do you actually go about building a sustainable online presence? Well, there are a few things that SEOs and content strategists can do in particular.

1. Build topical authority in your area of expertise

One of the best ways to build a sustainable online presence is to earn yourself topical authorityTopical authority exists where a website demonstrates its expertise about a particular topic, often by offering a lot of comprehensive information about that particular area.

If you’re searching for answers online, you’ll naturally want to hear from someone who specializes in that field and has expertise — not someone who attempts to cover as many topics as possible but isn’t an expert in any. Google recognizes this user behavior and rewards websites that can showcase their authority and expertise on the subject matter.

Google’s Helpful Content Update last year confirmed this further, with Google’s guidance emphasizing the importance of expertise in creating quality content.

In their guidance, Google refers to the benefits of a website having a primary focus and positioning itself as a widely recognized voice on a particular topic.

Screenshot of Google's Helpful Content Guidelines highlighting questions about expertise

But what does this mean and look like in practice? Well, it often involves creating content that answers the more specific questions individuals have about a topic.

For example, our area of expertise at Juro is contract management. Our goal is to become the best source of truth for all questions relating to it.

To achieve this, we’ve created hundreds of articles on our website with tips and advice from how to manage specific types of contracts to how businesses can solve various contract management challenges.

Usually, this means selecting long-tail keywords with fewer monthly searches but an opportunity to deliver a lot of tailored expertise and value to the reader.

For example, we created specific articles on how different departments and industries can manage contracts more effectively, with case studies and tailored advice that aligns closely with these use cases. This gave us the opportunity to demonstrate our granular, detailed knowledge of contract management across a variety of contexts.

Screenshot of Juro's blog homepage with content targeting long-tail keywords

This topical authority can give you the edge over websites competing for the same keywords as you’re better positioned and more knowledgeable in Google’s eyes.

This type of content doesn’t only provide value by delivering better rankings and more traffic, though. It also helps to convert this traffic once you’ve captured it. In fact, a recent survey revealed that more than 80% of individuals consider trust as a deciding factor in their buying decisions.

In an industry like ours where our audience (lawyers) are risk averse and slow to trust, content that showcases the depth of our expertise pays dividends — both on the SERP and beyond.

2. Create content for all stages of the funnel

Fast-growing businesses often prioritize transactional, high-intent content that’s most likely to drive conversions, and that’s an effective way to generate demand.

However, in their pursuit of more immediate results, they can become short-sighted and forget the important role that low-intent, informational content also plays in the buyer journey.Yet, businesses that neglect low-intent content miss out on a bulk of traffic that has the potential to convert in the future.

Meanwhile, businesses that create content for all intent types and funnel stages will be front of mind when these individuals and organizations do eventually decide to buy.

I know what you’re thinking: if we could capture all of the keywords at every stage of the funnel, we would.

But you need to be strategic about which low or mid-intent keywords you decide to go after. Consider who is going to be searching for the low-intent query now and what role they might play in a buying process later down the line.

If you can’t join the dots, the keyword probably doesn’t have much value to your business, and the traffic will be a vanity metric. If you can join the dots, and there’s a decent search volume, it’s usually worthwhile.

For example, we created a guide to the five best contract management courses in 2023. While we don’t offer a contract management course of our own, we do sell software that future contract managers will benefit from.

Screenshot of blog post titled 'The 5 best contract management courses in 2023'

By creating content for all stages of the funnel, we’re able to stay front of mind for our target audience throughout the buying process, building trust and topical authority at the same time.

3. Consult go-to-market teams on your content strategy

To build a sustainable online presence, you need to deliver value to your audience on an ongoing basis. To do this, you need awareness of what is actually valuable to them in terms of content.

Marketers know a lot about the products and services their business sells. We also have some great keyword research tools at our disposal. However, we rarely know as much about the problems our customers and prospects are facing as the colleagues who meet and interact with them daily. This makes our go-to-market colleagues a goldmine of new content ideas and angles.

At Juro, we regularly discuss how our content is performing with our sales and customer success teams. Not only do we invite feedback from our go-to-market colleagues, but our marketing team also listens to calls with customers and prospects to understand the language they use and which problems they want our software to solve. This enables us to better understand customers’ queries and provide content to satisfy them ahead of our competitors.

Screenshot of message in Slack where member of the sales team is requesting a piece of content.

4. Schedule reviews and refreshes for dated content

It can be tempting to disregard content once it’s on your website and bringing in traffic, especially when it performs well initially.

But what works today might not work in a year’s time, especially if the topics or trends you’re covering in your content develop over time. Posts that once ranked well and generated traffic might have grown dated since you originally hit publish.

When this happens to high-performing pages, it can have a dramatic impact on your online visibility. At this point, you’ll have two options:

  1. You can aggressively ship new content and target new keywords to try and compensate for these losses

  2. You can try to increase yield from your original content by updating and refreshing it

The latter requires less time and resources, but it can still be highly effective. In fact, research by HubSpot revealed that updating old blog posts can increase traffic to these by 106%.

A rewrite won’t always be a quick fix, though. First, you need to diagnose what elements of your content might be causing it to underperform and why. It could be that you need to introduce more user-generated content for a high-intent page or an angle that isn’t covered elsewhere in the SERPs.

Consider what the reader would want to know in this climate, what’s already ranking well right now, and how you can deliver unique value.

Not only will this increase the reach of your content, but it will also improve the quality of it, encouraging people to return to your site for similar content in the future. This is critical to sustaining your online presence.

5. Bring external voices and thought leaders into your content

Thought leadership content is often viewed as separate from search-optimized content. Different people own the two types of content, and they rarely collaborate on content production.

But this can be a big mistake. By segregating the two types of content, you miss the opportunity to enrich your search-optimized content with real-world experience, opinions, and expertise.

Even if you host thought-leadership content in a separate collection on your website for hygiene reasons, you can still benefit from drawing upon these interviews and perspectives within your search-optimized content. Combining the two types of content enables you to create pages that not only get found in the SERP, but that deliver unique, authoritative information for those that click through.

The need for this crossover has become even more apparent in recent years, with Google’s Search Quality Rater Guidelines describing the importance of the writer’s experience in high-quality content. While experience hasn’t been recognized as a ranking factor, Google will aim to “reward” pages that can showcase first-hand experience.

That’s why we regularly include contributions from thought leaders and experienced in-house lawyers in our search-optimized content at Juro.

Screenshot of a pullquote embedded in a blog article to showcase EEAT.

The same applies to user-generated content (UGC). Lots of businesses only capture their reviews on a testimonials page, or they fail to harvest them from independent review sites at all.

Yet, research by G2 reveals that 97% of consumers consider reviews left by existing customers when making a purchase decision. It’s clear what both the reader and Google want from our content, yet so many businesses are failing to deliver this.

The best and most effective way to build and sustain an online presence is to recognize that readers don’t just want a comprehensive response to their queries, they want it from someone with experience.

6. Don’t forget about off-page optimizations

Producing great content is only half the battle. For more competitive keywords, you’ll need to make some optimizations off-page to move the needle.

This is because Google still relies on off-page SEO signals, like backlinks from other websites, to determine how trustworthy your website is.

Unfortunately, there are no shortcuts here, and there’s no silver bullet either.

You need to build backlinks organically and avoid spammy link-building practices. Instead, focus on delivering valuable content that people want to share both on their website and social media. The best assets for these include things like tools, guides, glossaries, and original research.

For example, we survey hundreds of in-house lawyers each year for our Tech GC report. This report is not only shared widely throughout our community of in-house lawyers but the research is also recognized across high-profile external publications.

screenshot of a backlink report in Moz for a report

It’s these all-important trust signals that enable us to improve our authority and build a sustainable online presence.

How to get started

We’ve discussed a wide range of strategies that your business can implement to build, improve, and maintain an online presence. However, we know that you can’t implement everything at once.

Fortunately, there’s a common theme in all of these recommendations. If you take away one thing from this article, it’s that your content needs to show experience, expertise,trust, authoritativeness. It also needs to be relevant and of high-quality.

Gone are the days when you could stuff your keywords into your blog, and it would rank. In 2023, a sustainable online presence requires a better understanding of your audience and a strategy that focuses on the production of genuinely helpful content.

If you get that right, your online presence will continue to grow.

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