Don't play hide and seek with search engines
Websites are not a “build it and they’ll come” project. I’ve come to realize over the last few months that a lot of people are forgetting this very important fact. No matter how great the site is, it can’t live up to its potential without a little more work afterwards. You would think that the idea of promoting your website would be a pretty obvious thought, but even the best of us tend to forget to do it when we get wrapped up in the day-to-day operations of our business. Plus, there are a lot of people who are doing a great job promoting their company and forgetting small, but crucial, details that could translate into lost sales. Below are a few stories that will help you identify and avoid some very common pitfalls.
Real World Experiment
In most situations, we optimize large websites with a focus on getting results from Google. But a few weeks ago, we wanted to test results for a small site with no optimization to see what might happen organically, as we are often asked if search engine optimization is even necessary.
So we launched a landing page to test how different engines work. Once we had given the search engines enough time to find and rank the page, we checked the results. We were at the top of Bing and Yahoo! searches for keywords that were similar to what was on the site. We had even gotten traffic from Bing – a visitor that later went on to our Red Sage website and spent quite a bit of time there. We were excited! But as we suspected, when we looked at Google, the landing page didn’t even exist as far as Google was concerned.
And here’s why – the landing page used a brand new domain name without a single link going to it. While Bing and Yahoo! were okay with the site, Google required more evidence that the site was worthy of being ranked in the results. The site needed other websites linking to it to help it show up in Google’s search results. Unfortunately, I have seen too many people make this same mistake with their real website.
Getting Lost in the Shuffle
A couple of years ago, we worked with a company that wanted their website to rank on the first page of Google’s search results for a very broad keyword (let’s say “shoes” for the sake of this conversation). In looking at their Google Analytics and how the site was doing organically, we saw that it showed up great for specific keywords – say “red peep-hole shoes” – but was buried past page five for the keyword they desperately wanted to show up for. The keyword was simply too competitive.
In this case, the site had links back to it and good ones at that. The company used a press release distribution service to generate more links and had garnered several articles from respected industry sites. They were working hard enough on their site, but everyone was working just as hard as they were to show up for that keyword organically. In order to be at the top as quick as they wanted to, they had to pay for it by using a pay-per-click campaign. They also had to rely on other advertising means such as online banner advertising and even print ads.
Social Media Greatness with One Tiny Missing Detail
Most businesses know by now how important using social media can be to a successful marketing campaign. We have several customers that are great with it. They post daily, share interesting things, and have gained quite the following. They’re doing so well that it always makes me uncomfortable when I have to point out the tiny detail they’re missing. They’re not linking back to their website where the sales and lead generation processes are completed. Customers are engaging with them on Facebook, but they are not purchasing the products or services the company has to offer. In the end, they’ve built a great brand, but no sales.
I could go on and on with more stories, but I think you get the idea. A great website is nothing unless you are helping to drive traffic to it. Here are a few easy things you can do to improve your traffic:
- 1. Make sure your website address is included in online association directories, such as the Chamber’s membership directory.
- 2. Create or update your Google, Bing, and Yahoo! maps. These typically show up at the top of the page above regular search results. Don’t forget that you can optimize these listings with keywords too and make sure you include your website link.
- 3. Include your website link on your social media accounts and find ways to get people to go to your website. This doesn’t have to be hard sell either. For instance a clothing store, could create an article about the Top 5 Trends for Fall on their website, link to it on their Facebook page, and share pictures from their website on Pinterest. Plus, they can link directly to those trendy items in their online store or let customer’s know that for this week they can get the trends for 25% off. It’s the same thing that fashion magazines do.
- 4. Remember that sometimes you have to buy your audience. This includes pay-per-click advertising campaigns, online banners, paid press release distribution, and even traditional advertising campaigns with print ads, tv, radio, and billboards. Your website alone is not your complete marketing plan.
- 5. Don’t forget to promote your website yourself. At the least, you should have your website address in your email signature and on your marketing materials. I would also recommend that you encourage people to visit your website. If you built it correctly, it should be a great resource for potential and existing customers.
Build it, promote it, and then, they’ll come.