The old saying "build it and they will come" doesn't always work in the vast world of the Internet. After you build your website, you must take certain steps to make sure they'll come. Essentially, you need a marketing plan. Your plan will be just like the plan for a brick-and-mortar company, except instead of getting people to drive to your store, you want to drive virtual customers to your web page.
The following are some basic steps to help attract potential customers to your website, and keep them coming back:
Directories and search engines
Studies have shown that directories and search engines will drive traffic to a website better than nearly all other forms of web advertising. "web surfers" who are searching for specific information on their chosen subjects submit keywords to directories and search engines with the hopes of locating a website containing that information.
Directories are a great way to drive traffic to your website. Yahoo's directory is one of the most used search methods on the web, and LookSmart feeds its results to popular search engines like AOL, MSN, AltaVista, and CNN. Directories such as Yahoo and LookSmart use a structured organization of categorized links. They can either drive traffic to your website directly, like Yahoo, or indirectly, like LookSmart. Every submission to a directory is reviewed by an actual person and either accepted or rejected by them. Upon acceptance, your site will then be ready to be searched.
Submitting your website to search engines such as Google and Alta Vista is another great way to get your website in front of millions of viewers. In fact, Google is one of the most popular search engines used on the web. By using regularly updated indexes that operate quickly and efficiently, search engines provide extremely accurate results, making them a favorite among web surfers.
In order to continue to drive traffic to your website, you will need to regularly submit your website details to these web directories and search engines in order to make sure you continue to be near the top of a surfer's search list.
Other ways to get your web site ready for a directory or search engine include:
- Create a title for your web page. When somebody uses a search engine to find a particular website, the search phrase is first matched to the titles of pages. This makes the title of your website very important, as a relevant title will put you at the top of a person's search results.
- Create meta tags for all your web pages. Meta tags are HTML codes placed at the top of a web page that provide a list of keywords and phrases relevant to the page. They are used by search engines to help match your page with keywords used by web surfers.
- Create keywords. Keywords are an important element in driving people to your Web site. Keywords should be words that surfers will use to conduct searches. There are tools available like Overture or Wordtracker that can help you create a list of the right keywords used by surfers.
Do not overwhelm your website with keywords, however, as directories and search engines will view your page as a spam site. In addition, it is not suggested that you "hide" keywords, such as competitors' names, by making them the same color as the background of your site. Search engines are no longer fooled by this trick and are dropping web pages that use this tactic.
Advertising on the web is much like traditional newspaper and billboard advertising. Appealing, catchy ads are used to attract potential customers who may not know about your company. Many companies use "banner ads," which are much like a smaller version of a highway billboard, except that web surfers can click on the ad to be taken to your website. Banner ads should look professional to help set them apart from other ads and help make a good first impression.
Viewers of the most recent Super Bowl found themselves asking one thing: What is godaddy.com? The online company used a catchy commercial to entice viewers to check out its website, and for the second year in a row, it seemed to pay off. The site's traffic during the game increased by more than 1,500 percent, compared to the average of the four previous Sundays, according to ComScore Networks.
Using traditional advertising, such as television, radio, magazines, direct mailings, and billboards, is an excellent way to drive traffic to your website, especially if you have a local website that only needs to reach a particular market. Even national websites, which may have a larger advertising budget, can use traditional advertising to their advantage. Companies such as eBay, Godaddy, and Yahoo continue to run million-dollar television ads to help attract, and maintain, new web users.
Having a link to your site on another related site is a great way to increase your web traffic. If you find a website you think is comparable to yours, send them an e-mail explaining your interest. Just make sure the site you request your link on is reputable, as it will be a reflection of you.
An easy way to promote your website is to use what you've already got. Make sure your web address is on all of your printed materials, including business cards, letterhead, envelopes, etc. If you have been using direct mailers to advertise your brick-and-mortar location, add your website address to those mailers. This is an easy way to promote your website by using what you already have.
Generating publicity through press releases is a proactive and inexpensive approach to driving traffic to your website. If you have something that is newsworthy, such as an upcoming charitable event or a new, unique product, then the media may be apt to picking up your story through a well-crafted press release.
While we all hate traffic in the real world, it is your best friend in cyberspace. Making use of all of your available tools can boost your number of hits and your sales. Even though a website is a store of the future, you've still got the same goals as the oldest company on the block: get 'em in, get 'em shopping.