One of the common myths new website owners get caught up in is a belief that there will be an instant flow of visitors to their new site. Keep in mind that if this is a new website with a new domain, nobody knows who you are and where your site is until you make it known. Just like a conventional storefront, you want to make sure you are actively promoting your new site at all times. The following are some channels that can be used to drive visitors to your website.
Search – The most widely used resource for anyone seeking what you have to offer is through search engines like Google, MSN, Bing, Yahoo and countless others. The most common way to get found is to make sure your website is filled with keywords, or terms that search engines use to locate your site when users type in a specific search phrase. For example, if you go to Google and type in the term “web design,” you will be provided with possibly millions of results with websites that contain the search term. However, if type in “Portland OR Web Design,” your results will be much more specific to relevant businesses. It is this level of specificity that your potential customers will use to try and locate your offering, so make sure you keywords accurately depict where your business resides on the international stage. Keywords can (and should) be located within the actual visible content of your site, but additionally, you will want to make sure that you create meta tag titles, descriptions and keyword lists for each of your web pages.
SEO/SEM – Search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM) are great ways to market to the search channel. If you would like to undertake search engine optimization on your own, most search engine companies usually provide documentation for webmasters to help them understand how to best structure content, keywords and meta tags to increase their ability to be found by users. If search engine rank is important for your business, we recommend you shop around for companies that specialize in SEO for small businesses. They know what works and what doesn’t, and their cost is nothing compared to additional revenues that could be gained from better positioning on the world’s leading search engines. SEM is more of a quick and simple way to get your site noticed right out of the gate, but it can be costly if you do not have a strategy. SEM incorporates paid search, or sponsored links, to achieve instant search engine rank. You basically set up an account with a search engine company, and bid against your competitors for the top spots anytime your specific keywords are entered by a potential visitor. Most successful internet companies incorporate a blend of both SEO (also known as organic search) and SEM tactics.
Meta Tags – Meta tags, or meta information, is the behind-the-scenes content that search engines use to understand and organize your website in relation to the millions of others. This information exists within the HTML code of your page, and can be added by web developers fairly easily. The primary pieces of information are page titles, page descriptions and a short list of keywords. The best way to organize meta information is through the use of a meta tag generator. There are several free meta tag generators you can use online, which provide recommended character limits and package the information nicely for your web developer.
Conventional Marketing – Never underestimate the power of conventional tactics to help promote your new website. If you have a physical storefront, you can hand out leaflets or brochures promoting your website to existing customers, who can refer more business your way. Other methods might include sending out mailers, advertising in periodicals, phone sales, email newsletters, customer referral programs, contests, or coupons only available on your website. You can even post your products or services on free online classifieds that link directly to your side. The possibilities are endless.
Tell Your Customers – Your best sales force are your repeat customers. Be sure to inform them of your new website, as they can drive business there faster and usually for free. No form of marketing beats a personal recommendation, so make sure you are asking your customers to spread the word. You will be surprised at how effective your happy customers can be.
Incentives for Web Orders – Many companies employ special discount pricing for web orders for 2 major reasons: (1.) it cuts down on customer service time consumed by conventional order placement, therefore reducing lost time and resources, and (2.) it is a great way to “force” people to use your website. Major airlines, electronics and retail companies use these methods all the time with great success. It is human nature to be resistant to change, no matter how much it can benefit people. Give customers and prospects a reason to use your website, and it will work out better for all involved.
How do you find websites? The most powerful strategic resource you have is yourself. Think about how you look for things online. What are your search methods? What appeals to you? How did you learn about the last 3 new products/services you purchased? If you are having a hard time thinking of ways to promote your website, ask friends and family how they found out about the latest fad product and follow suit. Remember, your job is not to reinvent the wheel. It is to find out what is working and to copy it (without plagiarizing, of course). Be sure to incorporate the mechanics of this first-person consumer perspective into your marketing strategy, and your success rate will go up dramatically.