You have a website that makes you proud. Now you have it, you believe that everybody is going to flock to it and you are rapidly going to become a millionaire. Well … maybe.
The reality is that it is hard work to build up a successful website. Depending on what your aims are, there are two things you need to do. Firstly, you need to build up traffic to your site, and then you need to convert that traffic. By convert, I mean that you want the visitors to your site to attain a particular goal of yours; perhaps it is to purchase your product online. I will look at how to improve your conversion in a future blog post.
The first thing you need to understand is that traffic will not directly come to your website by itself. You are not magically going to appear at the top of people’s Google searches. There is an art, called Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), to get your pages in highly ranked positions.
If you look at your Analytics data, you will see that you source people to your site by six different methods:
- Organic search – people arrive at your site from a search they have done in a search engine like Google
- Direct – your visitor has typed your URL directly into the browser
- Referral – people have arrived at your site by clicking on a link on another site
- Social – these visitors turned up at your site when they clicked on a link in a social media message
- Email – in this case people have clicked on a link in an email to get to your site
Paid search – this is where you have gained traffic thanks to advertising you have done, using something like Google AdWords. Clearly paying to place your ad at the top of the searches is one relatively easy way to gain traffic.
You can increase traffic to your website by working on any of the above traffic sources, although some are clearly easier sources of traffic than others are.
As the name Search Engine Optimisation indicates, the focus here is on improving your ratings in Google and the other search engines. There are some activities that you can do to help you with this. The most important factor in SEO, though, is having high-quality content regularly being added to your site.
a. Focus on long-tail keywords
You may be tempted to focus on broad, generic, terms with your content. If you are a car dealer, for instance, you might be tempted to focus on terms like car or even car sales. The thing is, how many other people do you think are trying to do the same thing? The odds are that the sites listed near the top of these high-level terms are most likely powerful, established sites.
It is far better for you to focus your efforts on what are known as log-tail keywords,(also known as low-hanging fruits). They generally have three or more words, often quite specific, that people type into the browser when they are searching.
Every page or post of content that you produce should target a particular long-tail keyword. For instance, the car dealer may opt to write a post about Ford Mustang convertibles. It will be much easier to get near the top of a search page for this term than it would be for a generic cars search.
b. Write compelling headlines
When people are looking for something in a search engine, they will see a heading and a short description of the page. If the headline does not grab their attention, they will move on. It needs to be punchy and approximately 55 characters long.
c. Write articles rich in content
The better your content, the more people will be interested in it. Google, in particular, penalises websites with poor content.
d. Create shareable content
If your readers like your content, they will want to share it with their friends, usually via social media. Make sure that you have social media sharing buttons installed on each page to make it easier for them. Ideally, you want people who like your content to link up to it. Google really rewards this.
e. Write articles frequently
Readers lose interest if they do not know when you are going to post. It works best if you create a regular publishing schedule and stick to it. Your fans will look forward to any new content you produce.
f. Tag and describe your articles appropriately
There are set things you can do to improve SEO in what you write. This includes using your long-tail keywords in your heading, first paragraph and then repeating the term naturally throughout the article (but not stuffing it in unnaturally).
g. Vary article length
Different readers have different tastes. Have a mix of short and long articles on your site, along with infographics and videos if possible.
h. Include links to other relevant posts in your blog
Links are like gold. Include links to other related articles, both internally and on other websites. If you are lucky, people will link back to you.
Importance of your email list
One clear way of building traffic is to collect emails from your visitors. Indeed, it is often a good idea to have a Coming Soon landing page collecting email addresses, even before the rest of your site is opened.
People, who have given you their email address, clearly have at least a partial interest in you. You can promote your website with a regular (but not too frequent) newsletter, linking to your new posts.
Sometimes website owners create a free giveaway (often an eBook) to encourage people to sign up.
Use social media to promote your content. It helps to have a social media presence that you can use to bring people’s attention to you. Among the possible things you could be doing are
- Creating a Facebook page, and regularly updating this to promote your site
- Post new articles on Twitter – make sure that you do not just use this to promote your site. Interact with your tweeters. Share other peoples’ tweets, and interpose your site promotions with theirs. Mention influencers in your tweets.
- Use Tumblr, Instagram or Pinterest to gain followers – especially helpful if your site and product are visual
- Set up a Google + page – a Google + page seems to help you gain favour with Google’s search engines
- Become a member of industry Facebook and LinkedIn groups
- Start a Facebook group that drives traffic to your site
I have included just a few examples of ways to drive traffic to your site. You can use many different methods to gain significant numbers and interest. As with any marketing it’s a matter of implementing and then measuring results to find what does and doesn’t work for your business.