Once you've built a website, how do you get people to visit it? Web marketing takes aspects of standard Marketing and adds tools like search engine optimization (SEO), meta tags, advertising, and promotion to get visitors to come to your website.
Boosting Your Hits
One of the most talked about subjects is how to get people to the Web page. With millions of Web pages there is sure to be another on your topic and probably lots. So how do you boost hits?
Submit your site to search engines.
Search engines all have different methods of adding sites, but if you submit your site to them, a listing will help improve your site statistics.
Use a submission service.
A simple way to get your site listed in a lot of places is to pay to have it listed in search engines. There are many services like this available, some are online and some you use a program on your computer.
But... While this is easily the best way to increase your hits to your site, it can be expensive. Some services charge hundreds of dollars to list your site in many different engines. This may be worth it to you, but for someone just starting a Web business, it would be better to use the free ones or do it yourself.
Use meta tags.
Meta tags allow search engines to categorize your site based on the keywords and descriptions you place in your pages. They go in the head of your HTML document. Meta tags most often use the keywords and description meta tags. There are even several sites that will help you build your meta tags to increase your standing. But not all search engines use meta tags.
Talk to developers of sites that are relevant.
Most sites have a "related sites" link and if your site is relevant, try to get it linked there. Remember that Web sites don't build themselves, and if you are nice to the owner of a Web site they may want to work more with you to promote your site as well as their own. Also make sure to submit your site to ratings organizations that are relevant to your subject matter.
Word of mouth.
This is a nice, community oriented way to get your site visited. There are services like Recommend-It that make it simple for your readers to tell their friends. Make sure that all your friends know about your site as well.
But... there isn't a lot you can do to promote your site this way. Make sure that you have good customer rapport and encourage people you talk to to tell their friends about your site.
Advertise other than just the Web.
Keep your URL in your email messages and other correspondence. Direct mail (US Postal Service) can get you good exposure, as can billboards, newspaper and magazine advertisements, and posters. Your URL should be on your business card, and if you get promotional products such as pens, mugs, or t-shirts, make sure that your URL is on them too.
But... this can be expensive. If you can, try to get your site featured in local news stories, possibly as a "local color" type interest story. This will get your URL in the paper, and get more people to your site.
Get a Good URL.
Many Marketing people will tell you that their page is a success because it has a good URL that is easy for their customers to remember. A good URL is short, "intuitive", and preferably has a domain name that reflects the content.
Create a Great Home Page
They say you never have a second chance to make a first impression, and that the first impression is made within 5 seconds of meeting someone. Well, with Web pages it's even faster than that.
What does your first page say about your site? Does it grab your readers and hold them, drawing them deeper into the site? Or does it say and do nothing and even drive them away to another page? Does it load quickly allowing them to see what's in store for them immediately? or does it take several seconds to download, making them less and less likely to stay once the page finally arrives?
Your Home Page Has 7 to 10 Seconds
That's all you have to hook your reader and get them to stay on your site. Even for the faster sites, 2 to 3 of those seconds are spent downloading the page. So that leaves you 4 to 8 seconds to get your message across and keep them clicking through your pages.
There are a number of different strategies to make your front page memorable and keep them clicking. Find one that suits you and your site, and exploit it as best you can:
Splash Page Home Pages
Splash pages are front pages that have little more than an animation or clever graphic and a link to enter the site.
Splash pages are a great way to improve standings in search engines, as long as they don't have automatic refreshes to a new page. When you use a splash page, you can trim the content down to just the bare minimum which improves the quality of the search tags and content keywords. Remember to keep them relevant, as your visitors won't stay long on your site if the splash page implies a site that isn't delivered. Be sure to read Splash Pages - Pros and Cons before you commit to a splash page home page.
Navigation Home Pages
Navigation front pages have a lot of information in a small space. They act like a portal to the rest of the site packing in the places your readers can go.
If you have a site with a lot of information, a navigation front page may be the way to go. Often readers don't come to the front page of large sites looking for specific information, they are looking for the "route" to the information they want. While you could argue that having that information right on the front page would be good, for a large site this isn't feasible. If your readers already know the site is large, they don't expect to find the information on the front page, so even when it's there, they don't see it.
Information Home Pages
For sites with one specific purpose, an informative front page gets that purpose right out where the reader expects it.
Sites that are focused around a goal, such as selling something, or displaying artwork, or publishing a family photo album are well suited for an Information Front Page. Make that goal the central part of the page. Hook the readers by showing them an overview of the goal and then drawing them in to the details and extra information that supports that goal.
Your Home Page Should Fit Your Site and Your Content
Your front page should suit your site and your skills. A site with very few pages would not make an interesting Navigation Front Page. And a novice Flash designer may not make the best Splash Page. But, you should also think about what you are trying to convey with your site. The front page is where people are going to (in most cases) form their first opinion. If you have a black, cutting edge Splash page, but your site is about "Choosing a Nanny", you might scare some of your readers away.
Your Home Page Should Be Clear
Your front page should be the clearest page on your site. If people have to guess what it's about, chances are they will have hit the "Back" button without even trying. Your readers don't want to have to work to get their information. We are an instant gratification world, and unclear sites become instant losers.
Tips to Promote Your Website
You've got this great Web page, you have all the latest features of DHTML and Frames, but no one is visiting it. How do you get them to go there? Is there some secret?
Here are six easy ways to improve your page and make people want to come view it.
1. Find out who your audience is
If you know your audience you will know what they want to read about and what keeps their interest.
Ways to find out about your audience:
Request information through surveys.
If you have a bulletin board or chat, review what goes on there.
Keep current with your email.
Read general surveys of on-line users (a good one is the GVU WWW User Survey).
2. Keep it interesting
If you know what your readers want, but don't give it to them, why would they keep coming to your site? If your site has nothing at all, make sure that it has compelling content. People will return to a site that is interesting and useful even if it doesn't use the latest tricks or features.
Ways to keep your site interesting:
Make your site interactive, have surveys and contests to let your readers feel a part of the site.
When people suggest things, acknowledge that help live on the site.
Add additional community features such as a bulletin board or chat room.
Keep your site up-to-date.
3. Put your site in the spotlight
If your site can't be found, no one will visit it. Make sure that the name makes sense and that you use all the tools available to maximize your search engine views.
Ways to get your site found by viewers:
Get a domain name with your company name, or page information.
Submit it to as many search engines as you can.
Use a submission service, like Submit-It, if you can afford to.
Whenever relevant, mention your site, in newsgroups, chatrooms, email, over coffee with your friends, etc.
Have your URL in your email signature.
4. Make sure your site loads quickly
A slow loading page is an instant turn off, and most browsers won't stay, even if the page is worth the wait. Keep this in mind and make your first few pages quick and intense so that they are hooked and then will wait for more.
Ways to improve the download speed:
Use fewer, smaller images. The rule of thumb is no larger than 12K per image.
Keep the total page size down, try to stay below 30K for a total page.
Pre-load images. If you make the size 1x1 the image appears as microscopic dot on the page, and your readers won't know it's loading (really).
Use the lowsrc attribute. If you have a huge image, you can take away the sting of the download by using lowsrc to load a smaller image first.
5. Don't hide information
Important information on your site shouldn't be hidden. Make sure that it can be easily found by your readers, because most won't search for it.
Ways to bring information to the forefront:
Keep your pages to 800x600 resolution.
Don't make your readers scroll for the good stuff.
Keep your navigation intuitive and near the top.
6. Answer your email
One of the best ways to keep people coming back to your site is to be a friendly voice over the Internet for them. Encourage communication with your readers, and when you get it, answer it.
Things to keep in mind when using email as a marketing tool:
Always be polite. Even when provoked, stay cool and calm. Most people forget that they are not talking to a computer, but a real person.
Don't spam. Unsolicited email is annoying and can get you in more trouble than it helps.
Try to be prompt in your replies, or if you cannot, explain to your readers the delay.
Remember to include your URL in the reply.
Top 10 "Secret" Ways to Increase Your Web Traffic
Getting more page views is often the most important goal for Web developers. But there is more to getting page views than posting your site on search engines and writing your meta tags. There are some other things you can do to improve your chances.
Create and maintain actual content on your Web site. If you're trying to sell something, it helps if you have articles and information about it. If you're providing information, make sure that you have more than just lists of links for your customers to browse. Having high quality content that is updated regularly will keep your customers coming back.
More: Content is King
2) Write and send a newsletter regularly
Newsletters remind your customers that your site is still there. Even if everyone who is subscribed doesn't visit every time you send, you still keep your site in their mind. Also, since it's email it's easy for your readers to send it on to their friends, thus increasing your potential customer base.
3) Post to related newsgroups
Groups like Yahoo Groups, Google Groups, or even the About forums have many topics - there is sure to be one related to your Web site. Get involved with the forum - don't just post ads, and your site will get more traffic. Be sure to include your URL in your signature.
4) Post to related mailing lists
Just like the newsgroups, you should find related lists and get involved on them. You can find lists at TopicA and List Universe.
More: HTML Mailing Lists
5) Run a contest
Contests get people interested in your site. And if you have a good prize, you'll get people excited to try to win. Be sure to include an official rules page, and you'll want to find out if there are any rules in your state our contry regarding contests For example, in Canada, there must be a skill testing question to determine the winner.
6) Invite a guest speaker to your site
If there is someone in your field who is fairly prestigious, ask them if they might come and chat with your readers. If you have a chat room, you can hold the event there, otherwise, you can hold it in a public chat room. If they don't want to chat, perhaps they would be willing to write a short note for your site. Remember it can't hurt to ask.
More: Web Based Chat Software
7) Advertise online and off
Banner ads and text links are important, but offline advertising works too. Radio ads, ads in trade journals, and so on all help to generate interest in your site.
More: Advertising for Your Site
8) Give away free items
Purchase things like pens or stress balls with your Web site name and URL on them and give them away to your customers. Perhaps you could give them something if they fill out a marketing survey. Or you could create a screen saver related to your topic and give it away to first time visitors.
9) Copy Winners
If there are sites in your topic area that already get lots of hits, visit them to see what they do that is different from your site. If it's at all possible, mimic what they do to add the same value on your site.
10) Watch your Page Views
Use your site tracking software to stay informed with what is working and what isn't. It doesn't do any good to purchase a new ad and then never determine if it actually worked.