To grow your advertising-based business, you will always need to drive more traffic to your website using many different marketing methods. This task never stops so it is beneficial for the website owner to understand the basics. These are some general considerations:
Invest in your website content. Content can be news, blogs, articles, tutorials, videos, music songs, games, or other online services. Ultimately, this is what attracts your visitors and is indexed by search engines for a higher ranking.
Your content should be fresh, relevant, useful, descriptive, unique, well-written, and entertaining. It should solve a real problem for your target visitors. It should state the goals directly and clearly in the introduction. It should provide enough detail to be useful and be applicable to their unique situations. It should target both human readers and search engines. It should include primary keywords and important phrases in order to be more visible on search engines. Last but not least, it should be updated regularly with new information so that your website looks alive and active. Frequent updates (newsletters, blog posts, announcements, and contests) maintain interest from both visitors and search engine spiders.
The quality of your content should be compatible or better than that of your competitors. This can be shown through many elements including the website design. Typography, spacing, column layout can add a sense of professionalism, quality and style. The goal is to make your content easy to read, useful, memorable, and stand out from many other websites.
With the rise of social networks like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, and other community forums, businesses have more and more channels to reach out to potential customers. At the same time, the exploding number of communication channels can be overwhelming and chaotic to manage.
Thus, choosing which social networks to use and determining how to manage communications within these networks are important. Even if your company only has limited resources dedicated for social networking, participating in the major social networks is critical. They are free and effective ways to make your website visible and help you stay connected with potential and existing customers. These channels can additionally provide you with valuable information about your target market during your frequent user interactions.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
SEO is a specialized area that focuses on optimizing your website for search engines. The goal is to achieve top ranking on major search engines for specific keywords/phrases. A higher ranking means more organic/free traffic. Some basic considerations include:
1. Page Title
A meaningful title for any web page is crucial. Think of it as a book's title. It helps your visitors know what the page is about in less than 5 seconds. Thus, search engines also look at it as an important factor in ranking. The goal is satisfying both your visitors and the search engines by having a descriptive title with the right keywords.
2. Text of Your Links
This is what shows up when you link one page to another. It helps search engines and also your visitors to predict what the next page is about. Therefore, your links should contain the important keywords for search engines but also make sense to human readers.
3. Meta Tag
Meta tag lists the keywords and descriptions for the page. It is designed originally for page classification by automated systems and still has some importance. Therefore, each page should have a unique description and the relevant keywords for that particular page.
4. URL Structure
Many content management systems (CMS) such as: WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, or your own in-house CMS, have a feature that produces SEO-friendly URLs. With this setup, a page URL contains the most important keywords for that page. For example: "http://example.com/travel/california.html" has 2 keywords "Travel" and "California".
5. Image Description
Stunning images are great at attracting visitors. However, most search engines cannot see images the way we see them. Therefore, adding the image description using the "ALT" attribute for each image is a way to help search engines. In few cases, if visitors disable image rendering in their browsers, they will also see this text description instead of the image.
6. Navigation and Website Organization
• Include text navigation for your website and use keyword phrases as links whenever possible with a consideration for the human readers. Do not fill all links with keywords without any meaning. If text navigation is unfit for a page, include a footer with text links.
• Build a text site map, and link it from every page of your site. This helps search engines find all the available pages within your website and increases your site ranking.
• Cross-link from one page to another page. Build a spider web of relevant links that helps both the search engine and human readers to find information quickly. However, do not link just because you can. Link because it makes sense.
7. Things to Avoid
Web design elements can have both negative and positive impacts. Flash, frames and AJAX do very little for your search ranking and SEO. However, these elements are useful in many cases and can help with user interactions tremendously. However, you should know their impact to SEO. Flash elements are similar to images, not readable by the search engines. Frame can have a negative effect because the page organization does not follow a traditional route. AJAX can return cryptic code and is not useful for either your visitors or search engines. Therefore, use these elements when appropriate and with careful considerations for your visitors and search engines.
Backlinks are links from other websites back to your website. The goal is to have more and more backlinks from good sources to boost your ranking:
• Get listed in directories by submitting your site to major web directories. This will generate traffic directly from these directories and build your link popularity.
• Get listed in search engines by submitting your site to all the major search engines. This will tell the search engine spiders/bots to begin indexing your web pages.
• Get links to your site by placing text links, banner ads, or trading links with other websites.
You can buy different types of text links to get more clicks from visitors and a better search engine ranking. Banner ads help enhance brand recognition. Trading links with other relevant, high-quality websites helps with networking, attracting niche customers, and it benefits both parties.
• Pay for clicks on search engines or directories so that your website is visible near the top of search results.
• Set up an affiliate marketing program or revenue-sharing program to get your affiliates to drive traffic to your website. As compensation, you can either pay per click, pay per lead, or pay per sale/client.
• Advertise your website using traditional media such as prints, magazines, or yellow pages. Sponsor a local event or an event within your niche/industry to enhance brand recognition and add a sense of establishment.
People want freebies and discounts. Freebies are an effective way to pull in visitors, even if only for a short traffic spike. Some simple freebies include free trials, contest prizes, and branded merchandises (pens, notebooks, calendars, greeting cards, etc.) Coupons and discounts can help convert lurkers to clients. However, you need to consider the long term effect of promotions. The goal is to generate first-time interests with promotions and build a loyal audience with other techniques that are more cost-effective.