Generating Targeted Traffic for Your Website
You could spend a lifetime reading about tips, tricks and tools that ‘guarantee’ that visitors will come to your website.
Unfortunately, a lot of what is written and discussed is rubbish. For new siteowners, the challenge is learning, putting into practise what works and leaving the rest to the geeks and fraudsters.
This article provides an overview of what techniques have stood the test of time. This is where your attention and effort should be focused.
1. Focus on the Search Engines
Eighty percent of internet users do a website search once a week. Google undertakes over 300 million searches a day. On average, only 20% of searchers go beyond page three of search results.
Organic (i.e., listings you haven’t paid for) is the most cost effective marketing that you can do on the internet ... but it is not easy.
In this summary article, I will just highlight a few very important points.
• There are thousands of search engines on the internet, but over 95% of all searches are carried out on just five of them. This where you should focus your effort. They are Google, Yahoo, MSN, AOL and Ask. Also list at DMOZ (www.dmoz.org), as the search engines use this as part of their ranking tool.
• All the search engines, and Google in particular, are focused on one thing: providing the searcher with the most relevant and accurate answer to their search query. It naturally follows that your goal should be to provide fantastic content about your subject area. Your site content will them be aligned with the search engines' goals.
• Don’t just focus on getting traffic to your Home Page. The most successful siteowners get the most traffic entering at the individual specialist pages on their site. These pages are best suited to answering searchers questions. For example, if you have a site about fly fishing and someone does a Google Search on “fly fishing travel insurance”, they would be best served if they go directly to a page on your site about insurance, not the Home Page. This leads to the next point…
• Create a list (and continually update it) of all the search terms that you think people interested in your website will type into the search engines. Your first list should have several hundred words and phrases. Select the most important terms and write a page of content around this term. Put the term into the article title, first paragraph and if your website software allows, in the page's metatags.
• Try and put new content on your site everyday to keep the search spiders coming back.
2. Get People Talking About Your Site
After search engine marketing, viral or buzz marketing is the next most cost-effective marketing technique.
If you offer something new and exciting, the internet, forums and email are the most incredible distribution tools. It is not unusual for a fun, different or special offer email to be distributed to over a million people in a single day.
When creating content and applications, always keep at the back of your mind what you could provide or offer that your audience would want to send to their friends and colleagues. For example, a site about Internet Marketing could create “The Internet Scam Directory” that keeps an updated list of internet rip-offs.
3. Visitors are for Life, Not Just for Christmas
Every visitor that comes to your site is valuable. Often, you just have a few seconds to build a relationship with them ... or they’re gone forever.
This is a checklist for you to consider:
• Is the site visually simple, clean and attractive?
• Can the visitor understand what you do within five seconds of landing?
• Is the navigation intuitive and logical?
• Can the visitor get to the Home Page from every page?
Once they are on the site and are looking around, you need them to take one or more actions that commit them to a longer-term relationship. The best result is signing up for membership to your site or buying your products. The second best result is adding their email to a newsletter list. The third best result is bookmarking your page.
Structure your site to achieve these results. Take a look at the Marketing Sherpa site (www.marketingsherpa.com) to see a site that does this exceptionally well.
4. Pay-Per-Click Marketing
Pay-per-click marketing is when your ads are displayed alongside search results on the main search engine results pages. Google Adwords is the largest provider of these services.
The advantage over organic search listings is that you have control over where your ads appear and how often. This enables you to instantly ramp up your online marketing, or cut back during quiet periods.
The disadvantage is it can cost a lot of money, particularly if you don’t understand what you are doing.
Pay-per-click advertising works by enabling you to bid on what you will pay for every visitor to your site. Typically, the price per visitor is between £0.20/$0.20 and £2.00/$3.00, although the cost per visitor for some categories reaches £30/$50 plus.
The art of successful PPC marketing is understanding what words and phrases your ideal clients are typing into the search engines when they are looking for the services that you offer. You can then bid on these specialist (and hopefully relatively cheap) terms. You should also work out how much you are prepared to spend on PPC marketing per sale and track this very carefully.
For example, let's say your site sells designer yoyos:
- If you are bidding £0.25 for each visitor from the keyword 'yoyo' and your profit margin on each yoyo sale is £5.00, you must make a sale from every 20 visitors or you will be losing money.
5. Linking Strategy
Having a good linking strategy is one of the best ways to build long-term and sustainable traffic to your site.
This is important for several reasons. First, good quality links should generate traffic directly from the other sites. Second, the search engines look at how many sites link to yours when working out how highly to rank your site in the search engine results. Their assumption is if a lot of sites link to your site, it's because your content is good.
There are two types of link – reciprocal or one-way. Reciprocal links are when you agree with another site that you will link to them if they link to you. This type of linking used to work fine with the search engines, but because so many webmasters abused it, the search engines now discount links that are reciprocal. Having said that, you should still agree to these links with complimentary sites because the direct traffic is still valuable.
One-way links are when another site links to yours, but you don’t have a link back to theirs. The search engines still rate these links highly.
The following two methods are good ways of generating one-way links.
i. Submit Articles for Re-publishing
There are hundreds of sites that are always looking for new content. If you are happy to write articles that others can re-publish, it is a great way to get free one-way links.
The idea here is that you write an article that other webmasters and publishers can freely reprint on their web sites on the condition they attribute the article to you and include a link to your website at the end of it.
By distributing it as widely as possible, you can end up with hundreds of incoming links to your site. If new articles are regularly distributed, this can be a very effective marketing strategy.
ii. Create Your Own Affiliate Program
An affiliate program is where another website puts a link to your site. If someone clicks it, arrives at your site and makes a purchase, then you pay them a commission.
There is obviously a cost to this, but other site owners are highly motivated (depending on the commission) to use your link.
You can set up your own affiliate program using one of the many software packages or by joining an affiliate network, such as DoubleClick. If you do the latter, make sure that the link comes directly to your site and not via a third party site.
6. Good Old Fashioned PR
So many website owners overlook good old-fashioned PR.
If you have something of interest to say, write a press release or phone up a journalist. Having a single article in the national press or relevant trade magazine can give your site a real and instant boost in traffic.
You can also distribute your press releases online via one of the many PR distribution services, such as PRWeb or PRnewswire.
If you enjoy writing about your subject area, it is worth considering writing a blog about it, but it is only worth the time and effort if you are really committed to doing it well.
There are over 7.5 million blogs and only a minute fraction of these are being read by a reasonable number of people.
8. Contribute to Forums
If your sector or area of specialisation has one or more well-trafficked forums, becoming a regular contributor is a great idea. This will get you known as an expert in your field and will also drive people to your website. It is a simple and quick technique that works.
The most important thing about marketing your website is doing something!
This may sound obvious, but so many website publishers build fantastic websites with great content, then fail to market it.
Create a marketing plan that lists one small marketing activity that you should do everyday. They maybe a five-minute task, such as contributing to an online forum, or it could be planning a 12-month PR campaign. The important thing is that you have a regular activity being undertaken.
If you do this the cumulative effect and ramp-up in traffic will amaze you.