By far the biggest roadblock to creating a successful online business is anonymity.

Each year, an estimated 6,000,000 businesses are started in the United States alone. Many of those exist only in cyberspace, while a large percentage of others will utilize the Internet for branding and marketing.

So, unless you do something about it, your business will more than likely fade into the background.

Whether you’re putting together a side blog to make some extra income, or you want to expand your multi-million dollar company to the Internet, you have to stand out in the crowd.

So without further ado, here’s how to do it:

1. Planning

Would you build a restaurant without meticulously planning every last detail? Or a movie theater, or an engineering company?

Write out a detailed business plan for your Internet presence just like you would any physical business and you’ll be ahead of the game.

2. Fill Out Your Social Profiles

Many online brands use dull and lackluster descriptions for their social profiles. If you want your online brands to stand out, be unique, enthusiastic, and even a little goofy, if it fits your style.

3. Post on Your Profiles Consistently

By posting continuously on your social media profiles, especially on your Facebook Page, you’ll beat out most of the competition with ease.

4. Spend Time on Headlines

An article is only as good as its headline, because no one clicks on mundane headlines. Spend some time writing out 10-15 headlines for your articles (and even your social media posts), pick out the best one, and reap the rewards of more traffic.

5. Respond to Blog Comments

Every time someone comments on your blog, treat it like someone is talking to you as an employee at a store. It would be incredibly rude not to answer, right?

Your website is your store, and by responding to comments you cultivate an atmosphere of participation and communication.

6. Write Bigger Lists!

Everybody loves a good list! That’s why David Letterman’s Top 10 is a nightly staple; if he stopped, there would probably be rioting.

However, if you surf a few websites, you’ll notice that everyone does lists. To stand out, you have to do more than just a list, you have write bigger, better lists that require forethought and research.

7. Use Your Picture

If you’re running a one-man show, use your real picture on your blog and on social media. If you run a large business, show pictures of employees, your building, cubicles, etc. Potential customers who can attach personal images to your brand are much more likely to trust you and do business with you.

8. Talk About Your Failures

Along with #7, this is a great way to humanize your brand. Of course, if your business is going bankrupt, you might want to keep that to yourself. However, if you try a new marketing strategy that backfires, share what you learned! You’ll appear more honest and likeable. Your brand will have a more human touch than most robotic company interactions out there.

9. Encourage Connection on Multiple Levels

Tell your Facebook fans to visit your blog. Invite your Twitter followers to Like your Facebook page. The more interaction you have with potential customers, the quicker they’ll pull out their wallets.

10. Persistent Calls to Action

Every piece of content should have a call to action, no matter how simple. This can be as easy as inviting comments on your articles or asking for opinions on Facebook.

11. Write Posts that Require Research

The better and more informative your content, the more you’ll stand out. If you aggregate all the best information about a topic, you’ll save readers lots of research time and they’ll love you for it.

This blog has been the work of brainstorming over a few days and honing a list down to the best tips I could find. That work is much more than the average web owner would ever put in.

12. Offer a Product Not Found Everywhere Else

The ability to offer a product that everyone else isn’t is invaluable to your brand’s image. Here are a few ideas:

– Change the pricing model (for example, if someone else charges a subscription, you could charge a flat rate.).

– Create better headlines and descriptions for your product.

– Give bonuses to increase the perceived value.

– Create informational type products related to your industry (video series, ebooks, etc.).

13. Ask Your Readers For Their Opinion

Once again, this boosts the human aspect of your business, as well as fosters participation. You can ask your readers what they need help with (relating to your industry), and use that information to improve your service or products and even generate content ideas.

14. Hold a Contest

Holding a contest with a valuable prize will garner interest pretty much no matter what. We recently held a contest for our local brand, and we’ve never had more interaction!

15. Write Articles That Others Will Want to Share and Revisit

Like I’ve mentioned before, simply creating awesome content will be one of your main focal points. Your mindset with article creation should be to create articles that others will want to bookmark and refer back to from time to time. Creating quick content just to push out there won’t produce the results you’re looking for.

16. Create or Use Outstanding Graphics

Using graphics, especially in your Facebook posts, helps you stand out from the mindless, uninteresting masses. A couple good places are iStock photo and Deposit Photos.

17. Don’t Be Stiff on Social Media

Maybe you’re noticing a theme, but the more you let some personality show, the more you’ll stand out.

Even if you’re striving for a professional atmosphere, it’s ideal to lighten things up every once in a while. You don’t have to adopt the laid back style of Build-A-Bear, but don’t turn into a complete machine, either.

18. Let Them Peek Behind the Scenes

By letting people see a little more about your business, you seem like a real, regular person or company. If you can, let customers know about projects you’re working on, company updates and upgrades, new hires, etc. And don’t forget to include lots of pictures.

19. Point to Content That Isn’t Yours

It’s very easy to write articles and be stingy on giving out links to relevant content. It’s understandable; you don’t want someone to leave your site and get distracted by great content somewhere else.

Here’s the rebuttal: the more helpful and informative your articles are, the more repeat readers you’ll have. They may leave your site for a few minutes to check out that other article, but they’ll remember that you gave them great information.

Plus, pointing to great content on social media helps give you more material to use.

20. Use a Professional Looking Site

This probably won’t be an issue for high-budget companies, but many companies try to save money by scrimping on a cheap design.

Hiring a designer to build a quality site isn’t an extreme cost, but will help set you apart in your industry!

Know of any other ways to stand out in your market? Let us know below!