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How to Build Traffic to YOUR Web Site
By Jeff Senne   Printer Friendly Version

One of the questions that I'm most frequently asked as a Web Presence provider and consultant is, "How do I build traffic on my Web site?" That's what this article is about, or almost about.

The real question isn't how do you build traffic on your site, but how do you get more of the people you want to visit your site to do that very thing. It isn't traffic you want necessarily, it's good, qualified traffic.

WHAT GOALS DO YOU WANT TO ACHIEVE WITH YOUR WEB SITE?

Obviously, then, you have to start with an idea of whom you want to draw to the site and what your purpose is. That relates to your basic site design process. You have to have clear goals or objectives and you have to have clear ways of knowing whether or not those objectives are being met.

Some possible goals or objectives you might have as a business are:

  • Be a business Pioneer and get the jump on your competitors by reaching your niche marketplace with cutting edge technology and thus enhance your reputation through the use of this new technology
  • Conduct current business activities electronically at lower costs
  • Provide a forum for communication with customers or prospects; increase customer service by creating responsive dialogs with customers on everything from technical service advice to product or service updates
  • Using online methods to keep an eye on your competitors and acting quickly to changing customer needs by adding new customer driven products and selling propositions
  • Inform prospective customers about your company's products or services
  • Expand your marketing activities to reach a larger global marketplace in order to generate and close increased sales
  • Provide customers with a way to access technical papers, new product bulletins, case studies, applications notes and other educational information

But let's assume you've done that. You've got good objectives and you know what kind of people you want to reach. How do you go about getting more of them to visit your Web site?

There are only three ways that people will find you on your Web site: through search engines; through links and ads; and because you tell them.

THREE WAYS PEOPLE FIND YOU ON THE NET

[1] SEARCH ENGINES

Search engines attract two kinds of folks. First, there are general browsers. For most business people they're not really the prime audience. Oh, occasionally, you'll get one of them almost by accident, but they're not really who you're after.

There are, however, business browsers. These are the sorts of folks who go out looking for a specific business purpose. They're going out looking for a particular type of company or for a particular company itself, or for something else.

To make sure that you get the most out of search engines, you have to do two things.First, you have to design your site in a "search friendly" way. That means making sure your designers know how to write the code for you page in such as way that it's easy for sites to index and find the words you want them to find. That's becoming increasingly important as the search engines move more and more to automatic indexing. They send out little robots to scour the Web, find sites, and index them. The more that becomes automatic, the more page design becomes your primary tool for influencing search engines.

Jim Rhodes, who designed the site for the Vicarage Hotel that he manages, has been very successful in designing his Web pages to be "search engine friendly." You can access his article on, "How to Promote Your Business Web Page " via the Web where he has it posted at http://www.deadlock.com/promote.

Your second tool is registering. For most businesses, there are only a limited number of search engines that cover most of the waterfront. They're the big popular search engines. You should register with all of them.

Now here are a couple of tips. Register all of the pages that you think have information people will come looking for. You're not limited to one page per site, so make sure that everything that's highly valuable is registered. My own feeling is that you'll be more effective if you register more pages with fewer but more important sites rather than try to register on every search engine that's out there.

There are services that will register you on (at least in one case) over 150 search engines for a fee. I frankly don't see the point in that. For finding the business browser, getting on to the main search engines will probably be plenty. On the Web at URL http://www.submit-it.com you can find a Submission Form that will allow you to submit your site to multiple search engines at once to be registered.

WHAT WILL THEY LOOK FOR IN SEARCH ENGINES?

That's a real important question. You index based on how the people you want to reach will search. And you make sure that the words that answer the questions they're looking for are in the places they need to be, properly registered or in the right part of well-designed pages. So what will they be hunting?

Many of them will hunt your name. They may have heard of you. They may have run across your name in another ad. They may have an old business card, one that you put out before you had your URL on it. They'll go searching for your name so make sure your name is a prominent part of your page and part of your registration.

They look for answers and solutions. People go searching either because they want the answer to a question or a solution to a problem. Your trick is to figure out how they're going to think about that question or that problem and then base your registration on their terms. Probably the best way to get that we tell our clients is to find out what people ask about when they call your office for the very first time. That should give you an insight into the way they think about what their problem is.

Here's a quick example. Some folks may go looking for the name of a particular real estate agent when they want to buy a house. And, some folks will look for "real estate." But lots of people will think about their problem in terms of buying a home. That means that in addition to standard categories like real estate and standard terms like your name, you'll also want to look at the keywords in phrases like "buying a home."

But it won't be enough. Every industry, every business, every profession, every interest has got specialty search engines and search sites. Make sure you're on the ones that matter to you. Usually those aren't called search engines, they call themselves directories. But they have some kind of a registration or linking process that you should be aware of.

Let's recap. Design your pages in such a way that they work well with search engines both now and in the future, and register with every search engine that's likely to be important to the people you want to reach.

[2] LINKS

In addition to search engines, people will find you using links from and ads on other sites. The strength of the Web is the links BOTH within and between sites.

LINKS BETWEEN YOUR SITE AND OTHER SITES

When you think about getting people to your site think about other places that qualified visitors to your site might visit. Then see if you can get a link from those sites to yours.

Those links will come in two forms: paid and free. Paid links are a form of advertising. You're going to a site that's drawing people you want to reach, and because they're delivering the audience, they will charge you for a way to reach that audience. Ads normally incorporate links. Generally paid links, including those from ads, are not reciprocal.

Free links, on the other hand, generally are reciprocal. Who's a candidate for this kind of linking?

Think about people who might logically refer you. Think about other businesses that are part of the process that your customer or client uses to solve a problem. A real estate site, for example, might include links to home improvement companies, and have links from title companies.

WILL THEY COME BACK? -- LINKS WITHIN YOUR SITE

Once you get them to your site, your job's not over. You've got to work on getting them back. That's mostly a matter of having a site that offers them value. If you've done good analysis about whom you're trying to reach and what matters to them then this design should be pretty easy. You should be providing information in various forms that meets their needs.

You should make the site interactive and have enough features that almost any individual can find what they want even if they visit several different times.

Most important, you have to realize that the two key things you're dealing with are benefits and value.

Benefits are the answer to the question, asked by everyone, "what's in it for me?" Just like any other aspect of your sales activity, if you focus on the benefits involved, you'll increase the repeat traffic on your Web site.

The second concept that applies to Web sites just like other parts of business is value. Basically, value is the ratio between what people expect and what they actually get. And it applies just as well to a Web site as it does to any other aspect of your business. Try to give people more than they could possibly expect, deliver on your promises, and you're likely to have a site that people will want to return to.

All of these things are important in building qualified Website traffic. Use them and you'll not only get more visitors to your site, you'll get more of the ones you want and get those back again and again.

What are some ways you can create a dynamic web site that provides benefits and value that bring your visitors back time and again? By providing regularly updated information through a multiple of interactive Web based tools. Some of the interactive tools you can incorporate in you Web site are:

  • Contact Information opportunities to email you and ask questions or provide valuable suggestions.
  • Email-on-Demand or Auto responders that will automatically deliver text files of any variety containing any variety of canned information such as articles, promotional literature, product or service updates and so forth.
  • RealAudio that will allow your visitors to hear sample audio messages from you.
  • Downloadable Video clips that will allow your visitors to download a clip of video and with the appropriate software on their computer SEE you on their computer monitor like they were watching their VCR.
  • Chat rooms that allow real time key board talking.
  • Forums, newsgroups and mailing lists focusing on your visitor's special topics interest.
  • Newsletter Subscriptions that can be either made assessable on your Web site or emailed to them.
  • Search tools combined with information rich archives of information you have provided over the years and kept stored in your filing cabinets.
  • Hypertext documents that allow the visitor to read interactively about your products, services, the way your company approaches doing business, share holder information updates and so forth.
  • Interactive data collection forms such as questionnaires that supply you with information.

And finally, another unique application of an interactive data collection form can draw visitors to your site time and time again is The Platinum Rule Behavioral style instrument provided by CSP, CPAE Tony Allesandra at http://www.platinumrule.com -- The Web site visitor is given an opportunity to respond to a series of questions about their behavior or other's behavior. Once the style has been calculated, they are provided tips for dealing with their own behavioral style or other's behavioral style.

[3] YOU TELL THEM WHERE TO FIND YOU

People find your site because you tell them how to do it. Make sure that your URL is on your business cards, brochures, and other collateral material. Make sure that your sales people know about it. And, especially, make sure that the people who answer your phone know about the Website and what the URL is.

Make sure you include your Web site address and email address in all the traditional forms of marketing and advertising media you use to generate business. This would include radio ads, TV spots, magazine and trade journal advertising.Finally, don't forget to update any contact data collection forms or questionnaires you use in your business to include those two magic questions, "What is your email address?' and "What is the address of your Web Site?"


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