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Attracting Visitors to your Website
Website Traffic for Beginners
This hub is aimed at owners of small businesses looking to understand how to attract more visitors to their own business website. It gives tips and advice on topics including keyword research, competitor analysis, gaining links, blogging, on-site optimisation. It also touches upon social media marketing and pay-per-click advertising. Happy Reading and please leave comments if you have enjoyed what you read or found it useful (or even if you haven't it would be good to get some feedback).
Understanding The Basics of Gaining Website Traffic
The internet is a highly competitive marketplace for a very good reason – get your online marketing right and it could open up a world of opportunities and access to huge numbers of potential customers; the levels of which you could only achieve with a nationwide spread of bricks-and-mortar locations, and in many cases more even than that.
But for small businesses that very competitiveness poses a very real problem: how can you compete with much larger organisations with much bigger advertising and marketing budgets? Perhaps the first thing to remember is that you don't abandon your offline efforts: print advertising, trade shows, exhibitions, retail space whatever is most appropriate for your business. SMEs do succeed in the online marketplace but it can take a while to do so organically or cost a lot to do so with paid online advertising.
But eventually, the holy grail for most SMEs is to develop a well-targeted organic marketing campaign that will be self-sustaining and bring in those hoards of visitors.
So just how do you do that?
Start by taking a long hard look at your website from a customer's perspective to make sure the website accurately reflects what your business is about. You could get an expert to do this or do it yourself or just ask someone unfamiliar with your business. Whoever does it, they need to ask themselves the following questions because there is no point putting time and effort into getting visitprs to your site if once they get there they can't find what they want, or you don't offer the product or service they are looking for:
Ask yourself these questions:
- Is it immediately obvious what your products and services are?
- Is your Unique Selling Point clearly stated (and repeated throughout the website)
- Is it easy to find prices/costs (if relevant)?
- Is there a prominent call-to-action near the top of the page, such as "Call us Now on ….." or "Click Here for more information"
- Are your contact details easy to find and do they contain phone no., email address and physical address? Customers will trust a business more that has a real address.
- Is the site regularly updated with news items, new products, blog posts, social media updates etc? People don't want to see reviews or news items that are several months or years out of date.
- Is the page title and page description well-worded to encourage people to click on your website? These are what people will see in the search listings.
Your business may have a great product or service but you need to be able to sell that product easily to potential customers from your website so the wording, layout etc needs to encourage visitors to buy. Make sure that is right before trying to attract more visitors to the site.
Once you are happy that the website is up to scratch you can start work on making it easier for potential customers to find you. This involves 3 main steps...
How to find out what people are searching for
You cannot just guess what people are searching for on the internet – even if you know your business well and think you know what people will look for, you may be surprised when you see the actual data. Whilst truly thorough keyword research and in-depth analysis will probably require the help of an expert it is relatively easy to do a quick check yourself of the most common search terms being used that relate to your products or services.
You can do this by opening a Google Adwords account – it's free and don't worry, you won't need to actually pay to advertise, but there are some very useful and free tools that you can use once you have an account. The main tool to use is the Keyword Planner (although you may also want to look at the Traffic Estimator as well).
The Keyword Planner will take some basic keywords that you type in and show how many people on average search for those keywords each month; it will also make suggestions of other similar keywords. For some sectors there will be certain words with huge numbers of searches but be careful to look for search terms that are specific to your business. Very general terms can not only be harder to rank highly for but also they are unlikely to bring visitors to your website that want exactly what you are offering. It is much more effective to look for keywords that particularly relate to your business, especially if it is a niche business or one with some unique features.
Reviewing your web content and structure
You may have heard the terms on-site or on-page optimisation and this means adjusting certain parts of the coding and content of your site to ensure the search engines can determine very specifically what your website (and business) is all about.
Most websites will have some or all of the following features:
- Page Titles
- Page Description
- Text Content
- Images and/or Video
- Bullet Point Lists
These can all be adjusted to make maximum use of these features to help the search engines accurately, and highly rank your website.
The target keywords that you have chosen following your keyword research should all appear as part of all the different page elements listed above. But, be careful, over-doing it could get your site flagged as being "unnatural" so just make sure the words of your search terms appear, but not too often.
It will be easier to do this is you have individual landing pages for groups of closely related keywords. Where keywords are less closely related you can link between pages to emphasise the importance of particular pages.
And don't forget that search engines do not like static websites any more than human visitors do so make sure it is regularly updated. If you do not have a line of changing products then you could start a blog or publish relevant news items – get into the habit of doing this at least once a week – even if you think you could never be a blogger or don't know how to write well, you can be very casual and chatty on the internet so it does not have to be a literary masterpiece, it just has to relate to your business or industry.
Enhancing Your Internet Reputation
Your internet reputation (sometimes referred to as Domain Authority) is quite different from your real business reputation. Your business might have a good local reputation as, say, one of the best interior design companies but how is that transposed to an internet reputation?
The online reputation of a business is developed through several channels:
- Do lots of reputable websites and well-known people link to your pages and content?
- Do people engage with your website by commenting or reviewing?
- Do you have an active social media presence (Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest etc)
- Do you have a relatively large number of visitors and do they spend a long time on your site looking at a number of pages?
All of these things will build your internet reputation, particularly the first, but just how can you get links from reputable sites and well-known people if you are a small business?
The simple answer is by creating great content - this could be a whitepaper on a topic you have in-depth knowledge about; it could be some great graphics, photos or "how-to" videos. Be prepared to "give away" some of your content to encourage relationship building with influential sites.
61% Increase in Visits in 1 Year
So that doesn't sound too difficult when put simply like that, but the internet can be a complicated place and each one of those steps involves many aspects of research and analysis, concerted and ongoing effort to achieve the goal of high ranking in the search listings. See the graph above showing an example of how your visitor numbers could increase over just one year - this is a real example of a small business I know that increased their traffic by over 60% compared to the previous year just from some very focussed optimisation. Of course they still have plenty of room for improvement if you notice their bounce rate!.
Optimisation of websites has evolved quite dramatically over the past few years and many of the methods used successfully 2 or 3 years ago will now fail to have any impact. Worse, they may even get a site penalised by the search engines. Unfortunately there are still plenty of people out there suggesting methods that will be next to useless so it is important to be very discerning when looking for information to help your small business achieve online success. Talk to other small business owners that you trust to see what has worked for them and, above all, persevere - it won't happen overnight and there is no magic solution that will instantly get your website ranking well, but concerted effort, following Google guidelines will pay off.