There’s an old adage that says “If a tree falls in the forest and no one’s around to hear it, does it make a sound?” Although the answer is debatable, I pose a similar question pertaining to today’s internet world: If you create a website and no one knows about it, does it exist?
This brings up the omnipresent dilemma of marketing your website online in the hopes of drawing visitors. Regardless of what you have to offer on your website, your visitors are the lifeblood of your website.
So, how do you get visitors to your site? There are traditional marketing mediums to draw attention to your site, i.e., TV, Radio, Newspaper, Magazines, but I suggest online marketing. There is one big difference between traditional marketing and online marketing: Traditional marketing requires you to search for your audience, while most online marketing has your audience searching for YOU.
The main means of online marketing are online directories, pay-per-click (PPC), search engine optimization (SEO) and social media. I’ll go through each of these in detail to explain exactly what they are and how they can bring more visitors to your site.
An Online Directory is similar to a traditional phone book providing you with listings of local businesses. Just type in your desired product or service and your location. Results will render the name, address, phone number and sometimes short description of a business or website.
There are many online directories today. Some of these include Superpages.com, Yellowpages.com and Dexknows.com. Many online directories will offer a free listing option as well as an upgraded paid option.
Rather than submitting your information to online directories one at a time, you can consider using an online directory distributor like Inlocal.com or UniversalBusinessListing.com who will get your website listed in a network of online directories as well as search engine local maps.
If you don’t have a website but would like to have a dedicated page to list your business information online, then a free business profile like this one from InLocal.com is a perfect solution.
Online directories are an easy and inexpensive way to drive some added visitors to your site without having to do any future maintenance once your listings are up. If you want to go one step further, I suggest using an online directory distributor for even more exposure and affordable cost.
PPC stands for pay-per-click. Search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing allow websites to advertise through the “Sponsored Links/Results”. These Sponsored Results are called pay-per-click ads. These short ads show up on the right-hand side of the search engines and sometimes above the organic or natural results. PPC ads include a title, two-lined description, and display URL. You only pay for the clicks your ad receives, not when it’s simply viewed.
Basically you choose keyword terms that are relevant to your site and then bid on them. You can show up in the search engine results page (SERPs) for most any keyword term that you create. These keyword terms can be as long or short as you wish. Keep in mind that shorter and common keywords will most likely have more competition and higher bids.
As a general rule, the higher your bids, the more traffic you can expect to receive. Some keywords will only require you to bid around a dollar or two to get on the first page. Other popular keywords will have bids reaching the “teens” in dollars for first page placement. Search engines also include a quality score to determine ranking and relevancy.
To help you get the best results for the cheapest price, you must first take into consideration your ideal visitor. If your website promotes your local business, it would be best to include a geographic location within your keyword. This will help lower the amount of competition and bid price.
Let’s use an example; if you live in Portland and your business is renting mountain bikes, it would be best to choose keywords like “Portland mountain bike rental,” or “rent mountain bikes in Portland.” Bidding for these keyword terms will be cheaper than terms like “bike rental” or “mountain bikes” and they will also provide your website with more targeted traffic.
Depending on which search engine you use, PPC ads receive anywhere from 15 to 20% of all search engine clicks. This leaves the rest of the clicks going to the organic results. I’ll explain more about these organic results in part II of this post.
Although PPC can bring in a good amount of traffic, it can also be a time-consuming and pricey marketing option. Unless you’ve got the time and patience, you might want to consider using a PPC agency to handle your paid search. Depending on how much your monthly spend is, a typical agency will charge you around 12 to 20% of that spend for their service.
If you’re interested in trying PPC and you’re looking for new hosting, you can get a $50 Google Adwords credit here: Google $50 credit.
Look for part II of this post next week to learn how SEO and social media can be used to increase your site traffic.