You have spent months preparing your website. You’ve got the text, the wording, the images just right. Finally your small business has an online presence. Now all you have to do is sit back and wait for the visitors to come in. This seems to be the common belief people have about a website. They think once they build it; the traffic, and the money will automatically follow.
To really be successful on the web, a small business owner is going to have to go out there and promote his/her website both online and offline. Fortunately, they are a number of popular marketing tools that make it easy to increase traffic. A lot of theses strategies are discussed in Justin Michie’s Street Smart Internet Marketing.
One of the best things you can do for yourself is to make sure your website has content. Many businesses use the web as a billboard ad, which in the end can be annoying and a waste of time to visitors. You need specific information to generate traffic. For example, if your website is about a pizza place, then list the company’s menu, background information about the owner, and directions to the store. This is the sort of information visitors will find useful.
There are also a number of simple and inexpensive things you can do to make your website rank high on search engines such as Google and Yahoo. Basically, you want to give the search engines an abundance of clues about your webpage, so it easily pops up in a search.
- First write a descriptive title for each page of 5 to 8 words, and remove any filler words such as “the” and “and” if possible. This page title will appear hyperlinked on the search engines when your page is found, and the more people see that which interests them in the blue hyperlinked words on the search engine, the more likely they are to click on the link. Also make sure that the title is in the text of your website, not just within a graphics file.
- The same text rule applies for keywords which is the second way to give search engines clues. Write a sentence or two describing the content of the webpage, using main keywords and key phrases. Also make sure to use keywords in the first paragraph of the body text because search engines look for and expect this, and make sure these keywords are hyperlinked. Hyperlinks in the body text is usually viewed as being important and is emphasized by the search engine. Finally, develop several webpages on your site, each of them focused on a different keyword or key phrase. These pages will rank higher for their keywords since they contain targeted rather than general content.
Once you’ve done all this, don’t forget to submit your URL to search engines that automatically index the web such as Google, Yahoo, MSN, AOL Search, and Ask.com.
Other ways to use the web to market your website is by linking to key directories using online discussion groups that you are actively a part of. Look for other sites with the same key interest or in the same industries and ask the webmaster that specific page(s) of theirs be linked.
By participating regularly in online groups, you will help to build a reputation for your website as a valuable resource. As a word of caution, don’t just use the board to make announcements about your website, be a member of the community. It will only benefit you in the long run.
Also don’t underestimate the power of your email, so establish a signature. Most e-mail programs such as AOL, Netscape, and Outlook allow you to designate a “signature” at the end of every mail you send out. Limit this signature to company name, address, phone number, URL, e-mail address, and a one-phrase description about the company.
This same principle works offline. Make sure to list your website on all literature and publications — business cards, letter head, newsletters, fax cover sheets. Even add the website address to the company’s voicemail message.
Basically, use any way you can to get your website address out, blogging, podcast, taking out ads in your local newspaper. It will all work with some patience and persistence.