It’s comforting to know that while companies are spending millions upon millions of dollars on SEO and search engine ranking the little guys like you and I can still compete. While they pay lofty sums of money trying to come up with new ways to show up on page 1 of Google, you can do a little bit of work on your site and reap the rewards.
There are a lot of businesses that I’ve talked to over the past 6-8 months that are wrapped up in “getting more traffic to my site.” While it is true that if you aren’t getting traffic, your web site won’t do any selling for you. That doesn’t mean more traffic = more sales. You can artificially bring thousands of people to your site, but if they aren’t buying what you’re selling, you are wasting your money.
So, I’ve compiled a list of things you can do to not only bring more people to your site, but bring a smarter, more targeted group of people to your site. What good is it bringing someone to your site if they aren’t going to buy?
#1 Optimize Your Web site
And I’m not talking about keyword optimization here. I’m talking about the look, feel & organization of your web site. There isn’t any reason to bring people to your site if when they get there they’ll get lost, irritated that they can’t find information or if you have so many flash widgets and videos running the site doesn’t load. Focus on building your landing page as clean as possible. Make it full of action statements, contact information & a way to search the site.
#2 Research Your Customer Base
What are people looking for that would land them on your web site? What are people looking for that you offer? Be sure to think of this in terms of not “what should” they be looking for. Your idea of how people land on your site and their idea might be two completely different things. Why would someone buy your product. Think of your 30 second “elevator pitch” here – what keywords do you use to sell your product to someone in a meeting or on the street? Those are keywords you should use to focus your energy on your site.
#3 Research Your Competition
Most internet browsers these days have the ability to look at the back end of your competitor’s website. If you can’t decipher the HTML coding, sit down with someone who does and look at what keywords they are using to bring in web traffic. Look carefully at how their keywords match the content on each page. This is a major factor in today’s Google ranking. No longer can you just pad the back-end of your site with what you see as relevant keywords in hopes that Google will think you’re the best fit. If the content on the page doesn’t match the keywords in the HTML coding – you’ll get penalized.
#4 Research Your Keywords
There are many tools out there to help you broaden your keywords. Google offers one of the best though (Free ones that is). Take what you know about your business, what you see your competition doing and use this tool to fine tune your keywords.
#5 Would You Rather Go for One Big Fish, or a Bunch of Little Ones?
When I started my business and built my site, I had to come to terms with the fact that I wasn’t going to be first on the page when someone typed in “Columbus Web Site Design.” That’s ok, I’ll let the other businesses use their resources to fight for those top spots. I’ll even let them go after the “Hilliard Web Site Design” and “Westerville Web Site Design” keyword terms. Over time, my site will creep up the list on those terms, but it’s not logical or practical to think I can just walk in and take that spot without spending a lot of money or time (and when you are the owner of a business with me being the salesperson, designer, accountant and boss, time = money).
Instead, I go for less popular keyword phrases. Sure, I’ll get less traffic through those terms, but since there is less competition, it’s easier to compete for those highly regarded top spots. So, as you are doing your research, rank your keywords and use the tools available to you to see which ones are more competitive. Often times, the smaller, niche keyword phrases will result in a higher conversion rate as well. Someone searching for “Columbus Web Site Design” is probably looking for a list of people to contact. Someone searching for “Columbus Vegan Web Site Design” is probably ready to start moving on their project.
#6 Have Realistic Goals…
As with any internet/social media/SEO project – you must have realistic goals. If you think you’re just going to create the perfect site, put in the perfect keywords and have a newfound flow of business – wake up. It’s not going to happen. Traffic takes time. Unless you put together an Auto-Tuned version of “Hide yo kids, hide yo wife”, you just aren’t going to become an overnight sensation. Patience is key. SEO isn’t an exact science, I don’t care what my competition says. Google is changing their search engine algorithm all the time, the way people search for products is constantly changing, content on web sites is always changing. What works today might not work tomorrow.
#7 …But Give Your Efforts Time to Mature
Just like above when I said you have to be patient, you have to give your efforts time to build. Don’t be the kind of person that is constantly tweaking, adding & editing your way into a garbled mess. Free analytics tools like what Google offers are great tools to see exactly what is working and what isn’t. But even the greatest tools can’t predict the all-too-important-yet-overlooked human element. If you start optimizing your floral easter basket in July, you can’t expect the things to start flying off the shelves in October.
#8 Be Ready for Change
There are hundreds of well written articles every day about how the search engine game is changing. Read them. I do. Your competition is. I’m not saying you have to try every new idea out, or scrap your entire key wording program just because some schlep in Kansas said you should, but listen to it, think about it and act on it. The game is constantly changing, and not everything works for every web site. But that doesn’t mean you should ignore what others are trying.
#9 Set Honest & Achievable Goals
Part of any successful marketing campaign needs to have a way to measure success. So when you are laying out whatever costs, whether it be time, or hiring an outside party to help manage/coach you on your journey – there needs to be an endgame. What kind of results do you need for the cost to be worthwhile? If your web guy/gal, marketing genius or social media guru isn’t bringing up this sort of thing in your meeting, they aren’t looking out for your best interest – they’re looking out for their own bottom line.
#10 Have Fun & Be Creative
What? Fun researching keywords? If you aren’t enjoying the process of making your web site more searchable and the excitement of bringing in new business isn’t getting it done for you, outsourcing may be the way to go. To me (and it very well might be my nerdy nature) tweaking the content on my site, seeing how people get to my site and figuring out new ways to bring people in is one of the most exciting things I do for my business. If you are a right-brained creative type like I can be, you’re probably on board. But even if you are a left brained analytics type (like when I bore my wife with the odd keywords that people found my web site though) you should get excited about this too. If new business isn’t exciting to you, maybe you don’t need more business?