Once your web site is done, it does you little good to have it sitting static on the net waiting for those visitor “clicks.” High numbers of visits to your site from potential customers or clients rarely happen by accident. They are a result of a well designed internet marketing plan.
When our company pitches the benefits of having a web site, we emphasize that a web site is not a form of advertising. An advertisement is owned by the vendor who sells it to you. It runs for a specified amount of time and then is gone. It’s a one time shot to make an impression. A web site is a marketing tool specifically used for communication. It is owned by you forever, and you use it to communicate with the outside world and through it, the outside world can communicate with you.
Other communication tools used by companies are telephones, fax machines, snail mail and personal contact. You can sell and advertise with these tools, but their benefits are far more versatile as are the benefits of your web site. And just as you have to pay your phone bill, though you own the phone and fax, you must pay the web hosting bill – but the phone, the fax machine and the web site are your property and part of your company’s assets.
Once your web site is created and available on the Internet, it is crucial that you verify that the web designer has inserted title and description tags on each page and has submitted the index page, and other high level pages with the major search engines. These two steps – inserting tags and search engine submission – often go unchecked by the web site purchaser. You should ask for the email confirmations of search engine submissions, and a copy of the each html page for the site that has the tags listed. The web designer can point out the tags if you are unfamiliar with the html markup language.
Marketing the new web site
Most web designers will offer to do this marketing piece for you for a fee, but we encourage our clients to assign a person in house to do the marketing piece. Why? Because web marketing is not hard and can be done in as little as an hour per week. It is an ongoing process. The Internet is constantly changing, and someone inside the company should be familiar with the status of the web site and its growth and how it’s adapting to the changing cyber world. That person on the inside is naturally going to have more zeal for seeing that your page rank is climbing and your visitor traffic increasing.
Here are our company’s Ten Suggestions to Marketing Your Web Site.
1. Check your web stats daily if possible.
Pay close attention to number of clicks by unique visitors and the referring site. These fields indicate how many individuals are visiting your site and where they came from. It will also show which search engines brought visitors to your site.
Most servers provide traffic analysis tools. There are also commercial programs that will give an abundance of web traffic information and analysis. One good web based traffic analyzer that has a good FREE version can be found at www.statcounter.com.
2. Scan the major Search Engines for your company.
Run a search using your company’s name in the major search engines (Google, AOL, Yahoo, MSN, alltheweb). Wherever your company shows up, check with that website to see if they will include your URL where your name is listed. It is best to call personally, and then follow up with an email.
3. Search your competitors.
Run searches on your competitors with the major search engines to see where they are listed. See about getting your link listed on these sites or similar sites.
4. Check your area Chambers of Commerce.
If your area Chambers have web sites that list URLs of members, it may be worth your while to buy a membership with that Chamber – especially if that particular Chamber’s web site gets a lot of hits.
A Chamber advertisement is good for a whole year of membership. When you break it down to a monthly cost of having your link on their site, is generally is affordable. If your chamber has a high page rank, having your site listed there could boost your rank.
5. Put your web address everywhere.
Be sure to include your web address on ALL advertising materials (business cards, newspaper ads, web ads, flyers, brochures, stationary). A good rule of thumb – “if you put your company name on it, put your web site address on it as well.”
Does your company make deliveries? If so, put the web address on the delivery vehicle. Even a small magnetic sign on a car can be affective.
6. Scan the web for Directories that list similar companies.
Look for web directories and web listing services that list businesses such as yours as a service to internet users (i.e. realtor.com, Hotel / Motel Restaurant Assoc., expedia.com). They will more than likely be glad to include your link.
For fee based conglomerates, weigh out the cost of having your listing with them against two factors … will the traffic they bring to your site be targeted towards your specific service? Will a link on their site boost your page rank thus elevating your position in the search engine results?
7. Link with Government Offices.
If your local Town / County Government or County Tourism Office has a website, ask to be included on their site if it’s appropriate to their content.
New-comers to a Town and those considering relocating to your area, often check these sites to familiarize themselves with what services are available.
8. Search the web for other businesses that have complimentary (not competitive) services to yours.
Consider whether a link on their website would be beneficial, and then approach them about linking to your site.
For example, we are a marketing and promotion company that does web sites. When clients want brochures or business cards printed we deal with a particular local printer. We send that printer business and the printing company put a link to our company on their site.
This is particularly effective for any business that you partner with for clients or services. (NOTE: when considering reciprocal links, remember that you don’t want to drive traffic from your site to another. Be certain that the web master adding the links to your site assigns the link to open in a new window. Also be careful not to link to a site that could steal away any of your clients.)
9. Use your email for marketing.
Start an email list of potential customers and add to it as often as you can. Ask clients and customers for their email addresses, and collect email addresses from potential clients any way you can.
Once a month send out an ezine (email newsletter) to your email list with news about your company. Include content (non-advertising) that will be interesting to your clients. For example, a real estate agency may include a short piece on home improvements. Always give the ezine receiver an “opt out” link at the bottom of the email. Be sure to include links throughout your ezine that will drive viewers to your web site. Add a link on your web site to subscribe to this monthly ezine.
Be certain to have all staff include an email signature on every email sent out that lists your web address.
10. Change the Content of your web site frequently.
We find that clients who have a “rotating page” – that is a page that is designed to be updated daily, weekly or monthly – have more traffic and keep their ranking in the search engines.
Rotating content keeps your site "sticky" - that is, it gives users a reason to return – a reason to bookmark your site. Some suggestions for rotating content are a “monthly specials” page, “featured product or service page” or a monthly article pertinent to your industry.
We have a "featured partner page" that changes monthly. It highlights a client in our network. We use that monthly change as a header in our ezine.
Rotating content will keep your web site from become static and create a reason for visitors to return.
Be sure to establish a good working relationship with your web developer, if they will be serving as your webmaster. Keep the lines of communication open, ask questions, and make them aware of your needs. Web developers are generally good people that want to make their clients happy. The success of the web site often hinges on the success of the developer / client relationship. When the relationship is good the synergy created between the two can do wonders for your company and your customers.
Mindie Burgoyne is an Organizational Development Consultant and owner of Lowershore.net, a Maryland Business Development Company. She has assisted small businesses and Fortune 500 Companies in business development, product development, staff management and leadership training. www.lowershore.net.