One of the most frequent questions I get asked by my clients is "What is the best way to promote my site?" If a brand new customer asks me that question then I will take as much time as I can possibly muster to answer their request, before they get obsessed with search engines, learn about and put on the SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) and ranking blinkers so many website owners wear with pride.
Allow me now to state the obvious, the success of any website is in direct proportion to the number of visitors it receives. If success is about visitors then why on earth would any intelligent business person devote 95% of their promotion time and budget to a single method of advertising their site?
Imagine for a moment you are the advertising executive for a large automobile company. Your company has just released the most economical car ever and your job is to make sure everyone knows about it.
Which of the following would you do?
1. Place a full page ad in one or two car magazines, then spend the next year rehashing and tweaking the wording of that ad, because it wasn't creating the sales you wanted.
2. Advertise in every magazine and newspaper you can find, start national TV advertising campaigns, make sure you have slots on every commercial radio station in the country, advertise on billboards, in cinemas, sponsor sporting events, create competitions and whatever else you could think of.
It doesn't take a genius to work out the second idea is a much better plan.
Plenty More Fish
Now, this may come as a shock to you, but the major search engines are not the only source of visitors to your website. Many SEO gurus are quick to point out to you that search engines are the only way to achieve substantial traffic. That is simply not true. One disturbing idea promoted heavily by the SEO world recently is that "Links are dead" My answer to that idea is if links were dead then there would be no web.
Links are how people travel the web, whether they are text links, graphic ads, banners or email links. To visit any site you need to click a link. Google itself is one enormous searchable link database.
Let's state something even more obvious. Google is not the only site on the web that links to other sites. There are directories and the big one, there are hundreds of millions of other websites. How many of those carry a link to your site?
For any keyword or phrase on the major search engines, there are millions of sites competing for a place on the first page of results, not only this there really isn't a "First-page" of Google any more search results are highly personalised these days. Are you really devoting all your promotion time to Search engines when you are competing with so many other sites and unknown variables in the form of personalised results?
The Real Value Of Links
There is also much talk of the value of links, and nearly all of it is based on the value of links in a search engines eyes, and how that will or will not improve your rankings. STOP!!! You need to get this!!! The value of a link is how many times it gets used BY A PERSON, clicks and visits NOT rankings.
I can pretty much promise you if your site is busy and has lots of purchasing customers Google will not ignore it. When did Google or Yahoo last buy a product or a membership from you? PEOPLE ARE WHAT YOU NEED!
I can hear all the SEO gurus screaming at this next statement but I will say it anyway, SEO is nothing more than educated guesswork. why do I say that? Simply because Google, Yahoo and MSN do NOT tell SEO experts how they order their results. Just the opposite they regularly change how their results are ordered to stay one step ahead of the SEO experts. Why do they do that? Because they do not want their results manipulating period! They want one thing, to deliver accurate search results TO PEOPLE.
Don't take my word for this, go and get the words from the horse's mouth here, scroll down a little to the basic principles section.
Notice most of the advice is geared towards building your site for visitors, not for search engines.
Think Long Term
If you really want to build steady long term traffic to your site, then advertise your site in every legal way you can. Yes, it requires time and a consistent effort. As a wise man once said, " The only place success comes before work is in the dictionary". In closing, how many of the following have you used to advertise your site? If you haven't done them all maybe you need to.
- Listed your site in quality directories related to your business?
- Purchased a few adverts on sites that are complementary to your business?
- Tried a social media promotion or ad campaign?
- Created a Facebook page, Twitter and Instagram account for your business and run a genuine prize draw?
- Started a small pay per click advertising campaign?
- Written articles to do with the genre of your site and offered them to other sites for free inclusion in their newsletter or on their site?
- Donated a product or free membership to a competition on another site?
- Run advertisements in local newspapers and magazines?
- Sponsored a local event?
- Checked into adverts on local radio stations?
- Joined and participated in a forum or group related to your product or service to establish some expertise?
- Sold some of your products on eBay and followed up with buyers suggesting they visit your site directly?
These are only a few promotion ideas that can bring visitors to your site. There are many more ways of making your site known if you use your imagination. This is also advertising that will not be undone in one minute by a Google algorithm change.
As you saw in the list above you should also be including offline advertising within your site's promotion.
Am I saying don't optimise your site? No, I am saying do what Google, Yahoo and all the other search engines recommend, make your site easy to read for the search engines but ultimately build it for people.
Are you putting all your promotional eggs in the search engine basket? If so, isn't it time you stopped and gave your site the best chance of success?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Gary McHugh is the owner of 3001web.com a Web Hosting and Web Design company that offers a full suite of services to website owners.