Editor's Note: Getting noticed by users is priority one for publishers who want to be successful. We've already discussed various ways to bring users to your site, from simple SEM strategies to using Site Submit, and of course, Sponsored Search. But there's even more to marketing your site than those essentials. In the first part of our series on marketing for small and mid-sized publishers, veteran marketer Lee Odden, president and founder of TopRank Online Marketing and the author of Online Marketing Blog, offers a round-up of low-cost marketing tips that can help you get your site noticed by the right users.
Getting your website noticed
With billions of documents indexed on the Internet, small- and medium-sized businesses can sometimes be overwhelmed by the prospect of getting their sites noticed online. Here are five basic tips for attracting visitors and keep them coming back for more.
1. Market offline, as well as online
This piece of advice is as true today as it was in the 20th century. Publish your web site address everywhere you publish your phone number, including signage, print advertising, direct mail, business cards, hold music, brochures and other collateral.
You can also promote offline using a little old-fashioned public relations:
- Research relevant local business and industry publications.
- Find out who the editors and journalists are who write about topics related to your business and industry.
- Write your own articles about the thing that is unique about your web site or business, and the solution or information you provide.
- Suggest the article for publication to the editors of local newspapers and related publications, as well as to writers for relevant industry newsletters, journals and magazines.
Other article and print promotion ideas include:
- Interviews with high-visibility members of your industry
- Lists of suggestions, such as "5 Ways You Can ____ With _____"
- Letters to the editor
- Contests and promotions
2. Announce your site
There are many ways to let people know that you've launched a new site, including press releases, emails to friends, clients and prospects, commenting on blogs and communities with similar interests, and targeted pay-per-click campaigns. If you issue a press release, be sure to include keywords in the title and body copy. Use a wire service like PRWeb.com to distribute your press release, and for visibility on the major news search engines like Yahoo! News. Also send links to the press release, along with a few story ideas, to your local newspaper and any industry publication contacts you have from following the suggestion above
To learn more about how you can optimize your press releases, here's an article on my TopRank blog that you may find useful.
Speaking of blogs, one of the most productive things that small and medium businesses can do to help attract and increase traffic is to start blogging. Blogs are inherently well structured and search engine-friendly. By posting at least a few times a week on topics that are relevant to your audience, you can build up a sizeable subscriber base. It is ideal if the blog is part of your web site, such as www.mydomainname.com/blog or blog.mydomainname.com. There are lots of free and low-cost blogging options available.
Here is a list of 25 tips to market your blog that you may find useful.
4. Optimize content and links
A substantial amount of traffic is available to your site from search engines provided that the search engines can understand, categorize and rank your content. Be sure to use unique title tags on all pages of your site. Also include keywords in the on-page headings, in the body copy, and in links between pages.
Don't overdo it, though. A good rule of thumb to follow is that if it sounds good when you read the content out loud, then it will likely read well for your visitors. Seek out opportunities to gain links to your site from topically relevant and authoritative web sites. Examples include industry associations, special interest groups, community organizations, as well as directories like Yahoo! Directory that have relevant categories. Contributing articles to online publications and engaging the blog community are also excellent ways to attract links. But ultimately, the very best way to attract links is to produce content that is unique, useful and worth linking to---which leads us to…
Once you've attracted visitors to your web site, keep them coming back by adding new content on a regular basis. As mentioned above, a blog is an excellent tool for adding keyword-rich content that search engines interact well with. Blog software can be used to archive press releases, newsletters, frequently asked questions and customer testimonials, as well as a communications tool for product announcements, special news and commentary about your industry.
Make sure you install web analytics software on your web site to track the results of your marketing efforts. While this seems less like a bonus tip and more like an obvious marketing step, many businesses fail to properly monitor, refine and measure their online marketing results. Properly measuring site traffic, time on the site and conversions can make the difference between a profitable site and a failure.
There are very few "silver bullet" tactics for web site promotion, but using a combination of the above tactics will increase awareness of your site, attract new visitors and keep them coming back for more.
---Lee Odden, president and founder, TopRank Online Marketing