At Bower Web Solutions, we are asked this question constantly. Here is a list of items you need to consider to help drive more traffic to your web site. Many of these items we do for you as part of your web development project. If you created your web site yourself, or if it was done by someone else, we can still offer some of these web site search engine optimization services. While we are not discovering any “secret recipes for success”, and the rules of engagement as far as Search Engine Optimization and generating web traffic are constantly changing, we have tried to list a few of the techniques here in an attempt to help our customers so they can make informed decisions about marketing their web sites.
Remember, however, that increased traffic to your site does not always mean or guarantee increased sales. You still need to offer quality products/services that the public wants, all at a fair price.
Below is listed some of the standard search engine techniques we use as part of our regular web development process as well as additional marketing steps you may wish to try on your own or with our help.
Search Engine Strategies
The most important technique in ranking higher for your preferred words on the main search engines in “organic” or “natural” search (as opposed to paid ads) is to use these terms as much as much possible throughout your site, WITHOUT getting penalized for overuse. Search engines send robot “spiders” to index the content on your web page, so let’s begin with the steps we at Bower Web Solutions use to prepare your web pages for optimal indexing for SEO (Search Engine Optimization).
- We help you write a Page Title
We can help you write a descriptive title for site. This page title will appear hyperlinked on the search engines when your page is found. We try to create Page Titles for our clients that use words people are most likely to search for.
- We help you write a Description
Many search engines include this description below your hyperlinked title. Some times search engines will place a portion of the page’s text on the page. In either case, a page’s Meta Description is very important when it comes to SEO.
- We help you write Keywords
We help you come up with a list of 10-20 single words or phases customers are most likely to search for as it relates to your site. The “keywords” META tag (a piece of web page programming) is no longer used for ranking by Google and many other search engines, but it is sometimes used for paid inclusion technologies. It is currently used by Yahoo. Regardless of the lesser importance paid to Keywords these days, thinking up keywords is a very important exercise you will want to perform. It will help you to use these keywords within your actual pages as actual text (NOT graphics), which is one of the most important thing when trying to improve search engine results.
- When we build your site, we try to include your “Keywords” in opening paragraph “Headlines”
Search engines consider words that appear in the page headline and sub heads to be important to the page, so we suggest you use your desired keywords and phrases in one or two headlines when creating text for your web site.
- Make Sure Your “Keyword”s Are in the First Paragraph of Your Body Text
Search engines expect that your first paragraph will contain the important keywords for the document. Again, you don’t want to overdo keywords either. It’s a tricky balance.
- Make Your Navigation System Search Engine Friendly
- Develop Several Pages Focused on Particular Keywords
SEO (Search Engine Optimization) specialists don’t recommend using external doorway or gateway pages any more, since nearly duplicate web pages might penalize you. Instead, you may consider developing several web pages on your site, each of which is focused on a different keyword or key phrase. For example, instead of listing all your services on a single web page, try developing a separate web page for each. Normally we at Bower Web Solutions create the minimum number of pages needed with a site for a client’s needs to help their projects within budget. However, you may wish to consider having Bower Web Solutions create additional web pages with special file names to help with search engine placement. Contact us for more details and cost quotes on this service.
- Submit your web site to “FREE” Search Engines
When your site is completed by us, Bower Web Solutions submits your site to the important Web search engines that robotically index the Web such as Google, Yahoo and Bing. Some of these services feed search content to the other main search engines and portal sites. It’s a waste of money to pay someone to submit your site to hundreds of search engines. Avoid registering with FFA (Free For All pages) and other link farms. They don’t work well, bring you lots of spam e-mails, and could cause you to be penalized by the search engines. It usually takes between 2 -4 months sometimes before your site will show up in one of these “free” listings within a search engine.
- Fine-tune with search engine positioning
When you host your web site with Bower Web Solutions, you have access to an administrative console through your browser. Along with performing basic commands such as adding email accounts, you will have access to detailed reports. These reports show you traffic statistics to your sight as well as what search engine terms people are using to find your site. As time passes, you should really consider adding/removing/fine tuning the text content of your site.
- Track Your Results
Google Analytics is a great free resource that you should try to help you gain valuable information about your visitors. This data can help you in your efforts to fine tune your search engine text. Ask us what’s involved to add Google Analytics to your site.
Online Marketing Strategies
There are additional steps you can take to market yourself online. As always, Bower Web Solutions can assist you with any of these items:
It is definitely worth to effort to have links from other sites to your site, as it will bring you additional visitor traffic. Since Google and other major search engines consider the number of incoming links from related sites to your own web site (“link popularity”) as an important factor in ranking, more links will help you rank higher in the search engines, too. But be warned: all links, however, are not created equal. Contact us to find out why.
Here are some marketing ideas you can try on your own or that we can assist you with.
- Submit Your Site to Industry Sites and Specialized Directories
You may find some directories focused on particular industries, such as education or finance. Be sure to register with these. You probably belong to various trade associations that feature member sites. Ask for a link. Even if you have to pay something for a link, it may bring you the kind of targeted traffic from an info hub that you need. Beware of directories that solicit you for “upgraded listings.” Unless a directory is widely used in your field, your premium ad won’t help — but the link itself will help boost your “link popularity,” and hence your search engine ranking. Marginal directories come and go very quickly, making it hard to keep up.
- Request Links
Find complimentary web sites and request a link to your site (especially to your free service, if you offer one). Your best results will be from sites that get a similar amount of traffic to your site. High-traffic site web masters are too busy to answer your requests for a link and don’t have anything to gain. Look for smaller sites that may have linking pages. Try to look for company web sites that offer a service or product that compliments your own, not necessarily a direct competitor.
- Write Articles for Others to Use in their Newsletters
You can dramatically increase your visibility when you write articles in your area of expertise and distribute them to editors as free content for other people’s e-mail newsletters. Just ask that a link to your web site and a one-line description of what you offer be included with the article. This is an effective “viral” approach that can produce hundreds of links to your site over time. One great way to distribute your own newsletters online is to do sign up for Constant Contact. If you wish to hire us to help you develop a customized Constant Contact email campaign, please feel free to contact us.
- Issue Your Own News Releases / Blog Postings
Find newsworthy events (such as launching your free service), and send news releases to print and Web periodicals in your industry. The links to your site in online news databases may remain for years and have some clout with link popularity. If your site has a blog, make new postinsg to it on a regular basis. Don’t have a blog? Contact Bower Web Solutions and find out how we can add one to your site.
- Social Media
Update your Facebook status. Tweet about yoru company on Twitter. Post a new video on YouTube. All of these activities factor into searhc engine ranking.
Traditional Marketing Strategies
Just because “old media” strategies aren’t on the Internet doesn’t mean they aren’t effective. A mixed media approach can be very effective.
- Include Your URL on Stationery, Cards, and Literature
Make sure that all reprints of cards, stationery, brochures, and literature contain your company’s URL.
- Mention you web site address on your phone answering systems Welcome/On Hold message
While people are waiting to be connected to speak with you, why not let them know you have a web site?
- Promote using traditional media
Don’t discontinue print advertising you’ve found effective. But be sure to include your URL in ALL display or classified ads you purchase in trade journals, newspapers, yellow pages, etc. View your web site as an information adjunct to the ad.Use a two-step approach:
A) capture readers’ attention with the ad
B) refer them to a URL where they can obtain more information and perhaps place an order
Look carefully at small display or classified ads in the back of narrowly-targeted magazines or trade periodicals. Sometimes these ads are more targeted, more effective, and less expensive than online advertising. Consider other traditional media to drive people to your site, such as direct mail, classifieds, post cards, local theater advertising, cable TV, etc used to promote sites, especially in a local market. Bower Web Solutions can also create special landing web pages for you to assist in tracking hit results. This will help you determine which print ad campaigns are successful for you. Contact us for more details.
- Develop a Free Service for your clients
It’s boring to invite people, “Come to our site and learn about our business.” It’s quite another to say “Use the free kitchen remodeling calculator available exclusively on our site.” Make no mistake, it may mean investing a little more time and expense to develop free resources, such as calculator, database, message board, chat forum, game, electronic postcards, polling, etc. but it is very rewarding in increased traffic to your site. Make sure that your free service is closely related to what you are selling so the visitors you attract will be good prospects for your business. Give visitors multiple opportunities and links to cross over to the sales part of your site.
Don’t neglect e-mail as an important way to bring people to your web site. Just don’t spam. That is, don’t send bulk unsolicited e-mails without permission to people with whom you have no relationship. Use email intelligently.
- Install a “Signature” in your E-Mail Program to help potential customers get in touch with you
- Publish an E-Mail Newsletter
While it’s a big commitment in time, publishing a monthly or bi-monthly e-mail newsletter (“ezine”) is one of the very best ways to keep in touch with your prospects, generate trust, develop brand awareness, and build future business. It also helps you collect e-mail addresses from those who visit your site but aren’t yet ready to make a purchase. Ask for e-mail address and their first name so you can personalize the newsletter. Bower Web Solutions can create a Mailing List manager for your site to allow users to subscribe and unsubscribe to emailing list within ever having to bother you directly. One great way to publish your own e-mail newsletters is to do sign up for Constant Contact. If you wish to hire us to help you develop a customized Constant Contact email campaign, please feel free to contact us.
- Send Offers to Your Visitors and Customers
Your own list of customers and site visitors who have given you permission to contact them will be your most productive list. Send offers, coupon specials, product updates, etc. Personalizing the subject line and the message may increase the results.
Again, a great way on sending up coupons and special offers is by using Constant Contact. Sign up for your FREE trial today!
- Announce a Contest
People like getting something free. If you publicize a contest or drawing available on your site, you’ll generate more traffic than normal.
- Ask Visitors to Bookmark Your Site
It seems so simple, but make sure you ask visitors to bookmark your site. Bower Web Solutions and also incorporate a “Tell A Friend” or “Share” feature.
- Exchange Ads with Complementary Businesses
Have a company place a web banner ad on their site for free for you if you do the same for them. Bower Web Solutions can create a web banner ad for you for a small cost. For instance, if you sold billiard tables you may wish to partner with someone that sold a complimentary product like bar stools.
- Devise Viral Marketing and Social Media Promotion Techniques
So-called viral marketing uses the communication networks (and preferably the resources) of your site visitors or customers to spread the word about your site exponentially. Word-of-mouth, PR, creating “buzz,” and network marketing are offline models. Facebook, Twitter, You Tube and now Google + are all great social media sites to get your word out.
Paid Advertising Strategies
None of the approaches described above are “free,” since each takes time and energy and in some case, money. But if you want to grow your business more rapidly, there comes a point when you will need to actually pay for increased traffic. Online advertising is sold in one of three ways:
- Traditional CPM (cost per thousand views)
- Pay Per Click (PPC)
- Pay Per Action, otherwise known as an affiliate program or lead generation program.
Do some small tests first to determine response, and then calculate your return on investment (ROI) before spending large amounts. Here are some methods:
- Buy a Text Ad in an E-Mail Newsletter or a Banner Ad
Some of the best buys are small text ads in e-mail newsletters targeted at audiences likely to be interested in your products or services. Many small publishers aren’t sophisticated about advertising and offer attractive rates. Banner ads usually offer a low click-through rate (2%). Contact us for more details.
- Begin an Affiliate Program
Essentially, a retailer’s affiliate program pays a commission to other sites whose links to the retailer result in an actual sale. The goal is to build a network of affiliates who have a financial stake in promoting your site. If you’re a merchant you, need to:
- determine the commission you are willing to pay (consider it your advertising cost)
- select a company to set up the technical details of your program
- promote your program to get the right kind of affiliates who will link to your site
- Buy Pay Per Click (PPC) Ads
Purchase Pay Per Click (PPC) ads on Google AdWords and Yahoo. The top ads appear as featured links at the top of search engine results for your keywords in many search engines. Your ranking is determined by how much you’ve bid for a particular search word compared to other businesses. This can be a cost-effective way to get targeted traffic, since you only pay when someone actually clicks on the link.
- List Your Products with Shopping Comparison Bots and Auction Sites
Shopping bots compare your products and prices to others. Google’s Product Search is free, so be sure to list your products there. Some work on a PPC basis: mySimon (www.mysimon.com), BizRate (www.bizrate.com), and more. Others expect a commission on the sale and sometimes a listing fee, especially sales systems that host the merchant. These include eBay (www.ebay.com), Yahoo! Shopping Auctions (http://auctions.shopping.yahoo.com), and others. You pay to acquire first-time customers, but hopefully you can sell to them a second, third, and fourth time, too.
We certainly haven’t exhausted all the ways to promote your site, but these will get you started. To effectively market your site, you need to spend time adapting these strategies to your own market and capacity. It is important for you as a web consumer to know of the options available to you. When shopping for a web design or SEO company, ask exactly what services they will offer you and how much these services will cost you. Be wary of companies that “guarantee” top 10 listings within all the major search engines. There are simply too many variables beyond the control of the client and web programming to make such guarantees.
Hopefully some of these tips will help promote your site. If you need any assistance, Bower Web Solutions offers many of the services listed above to help promote your site. Contact us today to find out more!