The internet is bursting with websites. There are blogs, shopping sites, business sites, news outlets, social media platforms, entertainment and gaming sites and many, many others. New websites spring up every day. It’s thought that there are over one billion sites online right now. It’s not hard to set up a website. Absolutely anyone can do it in a few minutes with minimal effort. However, it is hard to get taken seriously and present yourself as a serious business online.

But, if your business is solely online, your blog is a business, or your website is a key element of your company, then that’s exactly what you need to do. You need clients, other brands, and associates to see you as a serious business entity online. In person, you’d do this by presenting yourself seriously. You’d wear a suit, practice a firm handshake and meet your clients in a clean and well-presented office. It can be just as easy to do this online. It might just take a few tweaks to your online presence and appearance.

Do an audit

Why are you worried about being taken seriously? Is it a general concern? Or have you faced rejection or criticism that has given you a reason to doubt how seriously you are currently being taken? Either way, it’s a good idea to perform an audit. You need to find out where you are now in order to make improvements and grow.

Look at your website. How does it look? Is it professional? Does it include all of your contact information and your brand story? Is the font easy to read and are the colours pleasing on the eye? Is the site easy to navigate and written in a professional tone?

Then, look at your social media feeds. You should have business profiles but remember potential clients and connections might also look at your personal pages. Everything you’ve ever written on a social media platform is still out there for the world to see. If you want to keep old photos and statuses online, consider making your personal profiles private and restricting access.

Now, look at your emails. Check your signature, font and writing style. Would you take your emails seriously? Make a list of anything in your online life and presentation that you want to change.

Get your SEO right

If you want to be taken seriously, you need to be taken at all. So, you need to be found. Social media is great, but search engine optimisation is crucial if you want consistent traffic. Good SEO also helps you to look more professional. Stuffing your website with keywords is obvious, unprofessional and makes your content stunted and hard to read. It’s also out of date.

SEO nowadays is about much more than the use of keywords and phrases. If you lack SEO expertise, get some help.

Look at your branding

Your branding is crucial. A silly logo with no detail or thought behind it looks childish and amateur. Your branding is one of the first things that people notice about you. It can pull them in and hook them. Or, it can turn them off.

Your logo should be simple, informative and professional. It should show at a glance who you are and what you do, and it should be memorable. Think of all of your favourite brands, and you know their logo straight away. You also need a tagline that explains a little more or makes people think. Try not to be too smart or funny and keep it simple.

Branding also includes colours and fonts. This is often where people go wrong and fail to look serious. Don’t just pick colours and fonts that you like. These might be hard to read and difficult to look at for long periods of time. There’s no clearer sign of someone who doesn’t know what they are doing online than bold clashing colours and fancy, impossible to read fonts. Stick to two or three colours that look good together and don’t clash. Then, include plenty of white space on your website, logos, and emails. This looks classy and professional and lets your content do the talking. If you want to use a handwriting style font, use it liberally and mix it with a plainer, easier to read font for the large chunks of writing. Remember, just because you can read something and think it looks good, doesn’t mean everyone else agrees. Check out which fonts work best together to find the perfect combination.

Set the tone

There’s a big difference between casual and professional writing. This is true on social media, in emails, and on your website, just as we speak to our friends in a different tone than we’d speak to a client or supplier. This can be harder to get right, however.

If you are used to writing on personal blogs and social media feeds you might write in a casual tone, and many of us are used to being much more relaxed in our emails than we would be in a professional letter. Start writing emails as you would a formal letter. Stick to a simple signature without any fancy fonts and pictures and always, always, make sure you double check your spelling punctuation and grammar, perhaps using a tool such as Grammarly to help you.

Photos are key

A ten-year-old Facebook profile picture of you at a wedding or drinking with your mates just isn’t going to cut it. But, you don’t have just to display your logo everywhere either. Using photographs of yourself on your website and social media feeds, as well as your company branding,  can help you to connect with your audience and build trust. But, get some professional headshots and photographs taken.

Of course, many other small elements will contribute to you being taken seriously online. Things like having your own domain name, and an email address at your domain name, customer details, efficient payment options, fast loading speeds and custom details that set your website apart all make a difference. These things might seem small, but it’s often the details that push a business further and help it to become a success. These are the things that can make you stand out and look the part.

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