Index > A guide to promoting your website online

 

While you may think the hardest part of getting your business up and running is the building of your site, annoyingly your battle at this point is really only half won. You still have to get people to visit your site, and as if ¬that weren't enough -- you also have to persuade them to buy something or in the least get them to contact you.

Luckily, if you are prepared to spend time on it –there are lots of tools out there providing great ways to engage with your customers and attract new ones –here are some of the most important ones:

1) Twitter
Getting actively involved social networking sites such as Twitter is essential in this day and age, both for damage control, promotion and for communicating directly with your customers.

Twitter’s strength comes in its ability to connect you with other people and to start real conversations. It helps business owners like yourselves market to current customers and to engage new ones. But it can obviously only help you to do that if you know how to find the people relevant to you, otherwise you spend a whole lot of time talking to yourself! To be successful at Twitter marketing you need followers that might be interested in what you have to offer. The great thing with Twitter is that there is an unwritten rule that says that if you follow someone they will follow you back. With this in mind, what you want to do is follow people that are similar your product or your service. For example if you have a business opportunity for mothers, you want to find mothers that might be interested and follow them.

So how do you find these people to follow? One method is to find your competitors and follow their followers. Or, do a search for the people who are discussing products or services similar to your own at that very moment in time – often exactly when they are in the decision making process and willing to be “sold” to.

Its also very useful for damage control - for example BT’s use of Twitter is a perfect example of using the service to their advantage: knowing full well that people complaining about BT to their followers leads to a negative reaction, if you complain about BT on Twitter you’ll be sure that within 5 minutes you’ll get a reply back saying they’re sorry you’re having some trouble and asking you what seems to be the problem. You’ll get a faster customer service than calling them up, and they’ll even get their technical team on your problem straight away – anything to stop you bad mouthing them anymore

2) Facebook
Facebook is not just for keeping tabs on friends and poking people —it can also be used as a highly effective business tool that’s great for marketing your products and connecting with your customers.

The first thing to do is set-up a "Fan Page."

It’s pretty easy to set this up and its definitely worth spending time customizing it to make it look appealing to your customers. You can install loads of applications on your page - anything from polls, videos or tabs which highlight specific product offers and boxes which sit on your page's main "Wall" that link to your company’s website.

The way Facebook Pages work is when your "fans" interact on your page, all of their friends will see a message on their Facebook News Feed. In this way, your Facebook page works for you, promoting itself. Just about anything you do on it will be noticed by your friends.

A good way to gather fans is to tell them that if they become a fan, they are eligible to receive a discount on their next purchase, or that they will be entered to win a prize just by signing on to Facebook. And make sure to let them know that you want their honest feedback on your product or service. You’ll be amazed at how much success you’ll have - Some people have gone from 100 fans to over 2000 in a matter of weeks.

So its definitely worth getting one up and running!

Depending on how much time you are willing to spend networking online there are lots more tools out there:

3) LinkedIn
This is a business networking tool. It operates on a modified version of the “six degrees of separation” theory and allows members to create business contacts, search for jobs, and find potential clients. You enter your own profile information, and invite people to "connect" to you on LinkedIn. It tracks your connections, and shows you the connections of your connections, and so on up to four degrees away .

By engaging in LinkedIn’s forums you can get your business out there in front of potential customers. The more value you can add to a conversation, the more people are likely to remember your business and want your services. If you are friendly and helpful, the business will follow.

4) You Tube
YouTube’s not just for posting silly videos of sleepwalking dogs - it can also be a very effective business tool. You can use it to show off your expertise, share knowledge, market your products and connect with customers, colleagues and prospects.
If you have a video on your website its definitely worth putting it up on Youtube, at the end of the day it won’t cost you anything and at the very lease will just spread the word about your business!

5) Writing Articles
Another quite clever method to drive people to your website is to write a article that’s laden with your keywords and relates to what your business does, then give it away to other sites--for free with a link to your site at the bottom. Believe it or not, this is one of the best ways to drive a steady stream of customers to your site.

The reason this works is due to the fact that most people come online for one of two reasons: either to check their e-mail or to look for information. Yes, some of them end up buying things, but this isn't generally what they started out surfing the web for. They want the answer to a question or the solution to a problem--and you can provide that in your article. Make sure its rich with your chosen keywords and then have a link to your site at the end. Then just upload your article to one of the many online content distribution sites such as ezinearticles.com. These sites have thousands of articles and people can copy the article if they include your link at the bottom – so in effect this will mean that people plugging your keywords into search engines will be much more likely to end up at your website! Its amazing what lengths people go to!

There are loads of other forums and blogs out there, and you’ll be almost sure to find one that is specifically targeted towards your users, so if you’ve got the time get hunting and interacting with your users – it can’t do any harm and is a proven way to drive customers to your site.

6) Another good tool is Google Places
This tool allows business owners to ‘claim’ their business and customise their listing on Google Maps. Your business details will appear on Google Maps, Google.com search and mobile results

If you have ever done a search for a local business on Google, you’ve probably noticed that Google Places gets listed at the top of the search results, before the standard results are shown. This means that they get a lot of attention, often more so than the actual search results. So if your business isn’t listed in Google Places, you may not get seen, especially when it comes to a local search.

7) What is Google Adwords and how does it work?
Google Adwords lets you create and run ads for your business, quickly and very simply. No matter what your budget, you'll only pay when people click your ads. The ads are displayed along with search results when someone searches on Google using one of your keywords. You ad will appear under 'Sponsored links' in the side column of a search page. You can also choose to

display your ads on targeted websites too.
So ok you’re spending money –but a very direct form of marketing and you're advertising to an audience that's already interested in your business…money well spent I think. Believe it or not there are people out there who focus soley on PPC (pay per click) campaigns as its called and improving your Click through rate, so if you’re not having much luck with Adwords its worth recruiting an expert on this subject - its all about outsourcing if you don’t know how!

8) Search Engine Optimisation
If you’ve spent time online recently, you’ve probably heard of the term Search Engine Optimisation (or SEO as its called). What exactly does it mean?

I won’t go into too much detail as I imagine most of you will want to outsource this. I’ll just outline clearly what it is so you understand what they’re talking about! And also list some of the main things that will require your input.

Ok..what is Search Engine Optimisation? Search Engine Optimisation is the ongoing process of making sure that your website gets placed as high up as possible on search engine results pages. The higher your website gets placed in the results of a search, the greater the chance that that site will be visited by a user. Its one of the most effective things you can do online, and if done effectively will send a lot of traffic your way.

The first thing you should do when starting your SEO campaign is Keyword Research. This is the base for any good SEO campaign and a large amount of your success will be truly dependent on how well you did your keyword research. There are lots of tools out there that will help you choose your keyword phrases, Google has a good free one that you can use.
If you haven’t already got a domain name and are in the process of choosing one - keep in mind that your ultimate goal should be to have a domain name that is both catchy and filled with your keywords..

Another factor that will require your input is something called your Google Page Rank.. This is relatively new in the world of search engines and is an important decision in factors that decide where your site gets ranked. Page Rank operates on a scale of 0 – 10 and is basically an indicator of the ‘importance’ of your site in Google’s eyes. Your Page Rank is determined by a number of factors, the main one being how many sites link to you. So, ebay, facebook, and myspace all have a pagerank of 7-9 because literally hundreds of thousands of sites link to them. A small (or new) site will likely only have a PR1 or 2, because it has not yet established many inbound links. So the more links you can get to your website (and the more important those links) the higher your Page Rank will be!

One of the most important factors in your SEO campaign is on-page keyword optimization (as its called). The person you employ to do your SEO will handle most of this, having received your chosen keywords. The part you will need to help him with is the main copy on your website. This needs to be optimised in such a way that it can suit both search engines & your readers. Its pretty difficult as you have to find the balance between keeping your text copy both readable for human visitors and keyword-rich for the search engines. I would concentrate on your users first, That’s what the website is about - you don’t sell your products or services to search engines but to people. If they find your site hard to read they are very likely to hit the back button of their browser and visit your competition. Once you’ve written your copy then try and modify it for the search engines. Go over it again and try to get some more keywords and phrases in where they fit and make sense. There is no certain amount or percentage that is best, just make sure to just use them a couple of times. Try and use different combinations of keywords and phrases and use lists as they are a good way of getting the keywords into your copy.
Once you’ve had your site optimised its important to then understand your website statistics; who’s using your site and how its being found –this is a vital part of your online promotion.

There are lots of ways of gathering statistics on your site, Google’s tools have the advantage of being free, easy to use, and very well designed and are ideal for those on a budget or who don’t require more advanced features.. and most of us fall into this category!

a. Google Analytics is the best free web analytics tool available today. It provides you with all the information you need to know about how visitors reached your website and how they interacted with it. It should be used for any online marketing strategy to measure your performance, and gain insights into how to improve it.

b. Google Webmaster Tools These are a must-have for any marketing strategy that depends on search engines. The interface provides you with a summary of the most important factors that affect your search engine rankings. It also highlights any problems it encounters with your site, allowing you to take action. I think this is the single best tool Google provides for search engine marketers.

In Conclusion….
These are just a few of the many examples of how much the web has evolved the way in which we do business today. There’s been a massive shift in power towards the consumer and the ease of finding exactly what they want, when they want it and for the price they want, and that means we have to step up our businesses in order to keep up with them.