‘Build it and they will come’ may have worked in the movie Field of Dreams, but it won’t work for your business.
You have a shiny new website and you assume you can stop there, right? Wrong. You probably understand the purpose of your site:
- To let people know you are a business
- To show what you offer
- To let people know how to buy your product or service
- To create a ‘hub’ for your prospects to find out about you and engage in some way
But how will they know your website is there? Of course, there is word of mouth. You can also count on your friends and family, right? If you stop there, you are missing at least 99% of your potential business. What do you need to do?
You must waive a red flag in front of search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing. Get their attention. These search engines use mathematical algorithms to determine if your site is worthwhile for its searchers. They know if you are trying to ‘game the system’ by flooding your site with keywords, or trying to fool visitors by making outrageous statements like ‘meet Lindsay Lohan here’, when you sell kitchen utensils.
There are three key factors in SEO (Search Engine Optimization):
- 1. Original quality content. Writing original content to your target market on a consistent basis will make search engines very happy, indeed. They’ll recognize you as a legitimate business and you will show up in more searches – and show up in a higher ranking. There’s no way around the work here. Writing new, consistent, original blogs which provide education for your prospects is the best method here.
- 2. Inbound Links. These are links to your site (http://www.janedoewebsite.com) which exist elsewhere on the internet. Think of these as high speed trains that take visitors to your website. We’ll talk more about these later, and help you decide which are most effective.
- 3. Social Media. Think of social media as a way to have a conversation with your prospects, while building trust and authority. If you own a business and think social media is just for young adults posting photos of their selfies or what they had for lunch yesterday, you are missing out on a huge opportunity.
We’ve talked about creating original quality content before. If you need a refresher, see our blog “Discover the Joys of Blogging in 7 Easy Steps”. Your blogs and site content should contain natural keywords that the average person will use in a search. No keyword ‘stuffing’ will work.
How do Inbound Links help drive traffic to my website?By having your website address (a link to your site) on other sites, you automatically become a trusted source of content to a search engine. This presupposes the other places containing your links are already legitimate, trusted sources as far as Google, Yahoo and Bing are concerned. Here are a few ways to help tip those algorithms in your direction:
- Guest blogging. You offer to write a blog as a guest on the blog of another reputable business. This works best if yours is a complementary business, such as a dog trainer blogging on the website of a well-known dog breeder. Quality is everything here. By guest blogging, you get the interest of all the readers on that website, plus you have the advantage of the trust their visitors already have in their product or service. Those visitors will assume you have something great to offer just by being there. Your link will bring those people to your site.
- Creating Videos for YouTube or Vimeo, .pdf’s, presentations for SlideShare or PowerPoint Slide Deck. The goal here is to get your quality content and educational information in front of people who will benefit from it. If they love what you have to say, they will link to your website for more.
- Professional organization directories. This includes business directories such as Chamber of Commerce sites, GetListed.org, Yext.com and others. Your business information can show up here with a link back to your website. You benefit from the association with trusted sources.
- Sponsoring local events. Your community likely has many opportunities available for you to do some real good for a worthy cause and at the same time advertise your business with a link to your website. You will be spreading good karma and people will like you – and therefore want to do business with you.
- Participating in forums and Q&A websites. You’ll provide a helpful service and get the attention of readers who will click on the link to your site to learn more about your business. Search for related or complementary products or services by entering keywords that may lead you to a conversation in which someone is asking for expert advice. You may just be the right expert for the job.
There are so many benefits to participating in Social Media that without it, your business simply may not thrive. Here are some ways in which you can put the power of Social Media to work for you:
- The ‘Group’ effect. Many social media platforms have ‘group’ functionality, which allows users to discuss topics of interest. Social Media channels offer the ability of instant sharing of your valuable information with large numbers of prospects – and they do so with just one click. Your brand-awareness will soar.
- Real Humans. Your brand will have the ‘feel’ of a real human – giving you a social voice that helps define your business.
- People talk. Take advantage of this! Your presence on Social Media will allow you to see what others are saying about your business, join the conversation, and even have the opportunity to clarify what’s being said if it isn’t exactly correct.
- Word of Mouth. When asked ‘how do you market your business?’, business owners often answer ‘by word of mouth’. You only have one mouth. Social Media allows you to reach hundreds (or more) of people at once, and allows others to endorse you to many of their ‘friends’. It’s like having many of you out there promoting your business at once.
What are the best Social Media choices for my business?
Know your target market. Understand their demographics and psychographics. Then consider the following:
Facebook and Twitter are at the top of the list when trying to reach both small and large markets. More women use these, and their primary (although not exclusively) age ranges are 18-29.
Google + is growing, after a somewhat lackluster beginning. It now has as many users as Twitter. Mostly men hang out on Google +, and half of those are single.
LinkedIn is great for growing business-to-business (B2B) opportunities. Most users are educated professionals looking for advancement, or business owners looking to connect with like-minded professionals who can offer a product or service they need. There are more male users and the ‘typical’ user tends to be in the 25-64 age range.
Pinterest has grown exponentially in the past couple of years. It’s simple to use, with a high value on the visual. Remember, most people’s interest is piqued visually. Most of these users are educated women between 18 and 50.
There are others. The key here is to do your research. Find out where your prospects ‘hang out’. Talk to them in their language in places where they are comfortable.
Do you feel overwhelmed by the amount of time this will take? Next month, we will talk about the most effective and time-saving ways to get your business noticed. In the meantime, explore some of these avenues and let me know how you think your business can benefit from using them.