Many business owners tend to believe that if they build a bigger and better website, customers and prospects will come flocking to it. They want to check the website off of their “to do” list and forget about it.
Nothing could be further from the truth. The following steps will protect your investment in website development and spread your influence to those you want to reach. To fully realize the benefits of your site, marketers need to insist that business owners and managers don’t stop at Step 1.
Step 1: Optimize the Website
A well designed and search-engine-optimized website with quality content is Step 1. It should include engaging content, be fully optimized for your keywords, provide a news section, and be easy to update regularly.
Step 2: Build In-Bound Links
Organizations that provide inbound links include trade associations, publications, local business organizations, suppliers, and strategic business partners, to name a few. For local businesses, Google Places is a great no-cost traffic booster. The business directories with the highest Google page rank include Hoover’s Online, Business.com, KellySearch and BizWeb. Not all of these are free, but many are, including top-ranked KellySearch, B2B Yellow Pages, and B2B Today. Be careful how you list your business on these directories. Your business description should include important keywords that can drive traffic to your site, as well as photos and other information important to buyers.
List your business in as many relevant categories as possible. In a recent post on his Eat Metrics blog, Eric Rodriguez demonstrates the dramatic positive impact that additional category listings on Yelp have on restaurant reservations. His study is based on online reservation volume over time from Yelp.com for 35 restaurants.
Listing your business in online directories is not glamorous work, but a critically important step to drive traffic.
Step 3: Share Through Social Media
Social media is Step 3 because I believe marketers should first exhaust the least expensive promotional methods before spending money on paid advertising. Placing your content and interacting with customers and prospects on social websites will drive traffic to your site. It involves only a time investment. On Contentforbiz.com, referrals from social media sites comprise about half of all traffic. We regularly post our content to appropriate LinkedIn Groups, and Twitter. Recently, leading social media author (New York Times Best Seller Trust Agents), speaker and consultant Chris Brogan helped drive traffic to our site, when he promoted Mary Klest’s “Secrets of a Content Sleuth” to readers of his blog.
Review sites such as Yelp and Citysearch have also been proven to drive rankings. While marketers can’t control what the reviewers say, they can encourage reviews, and provide keyword rich responses. Instead of responding, “We’re glad you had a positive experience,” a home organizer might respond, “We are so happy you are enjoying the benefits of a well organized home office.”
Social media requires weekly, if not daily diligence. There is a clear payoff in terms of both web traffic and engagement. Keep in mind that just because an employee is a regular user of Facebook, it doesn’t mean he or she is qualified to handle social media for your business. Social media training and outsourcing are two options that time-strapped marketers and business owners should consider to ensure that social media goals, policies and legal ramifications are kept in the forefront.
Step 4: Get the Word out with Publicity and Advertising
While pay per click campaigns can be a great way to generate traffic, don’t overlook all the other opportunities you have to promote your website content to customers and prospects. Integrate your print and online marketing by including your web and blog addresses on press releases, business cards, vehicles, signage, invoices, brochures, email marketing and other forms of advertising.
In summary, “build it and they will come” is a mantra that doesn’t apply to the realities of online marketing. A website is not a building. It is more like a machine that needs regular maintenance to keep it running at peak performance. Ignore that, and it will undoubtedly let you down.
Which of these four steps have you found to be the most challenging to implement?