A question I am often asked is “how can I increase visitors to my website?” This is a popular question because most people understand that a higher number of website visitors usually translates to an increase in sales.
For most clients, this is a straightforward issue of marketing, optimisation, and which methods to choose from. However, for others, it encompasses a range of issues that can impact on repeat visitors (equally important as new ones) and can go much deeper; does the business have a good product or service offering?; Is it well positioned within the marketplace?; Does the business have good internal processes and customer service? And so on.
While all of these things really go hand-in-hand, this article concentrates on the former scenario of a business looking at marketing and optimisation techniques. If you’re interested in some of the latter issues mentioned above, I talked about some of these in a previous article here.
So, how do you increase website traffic? One thing is clear: there is no silver (or magic) bullet. There are many ways to generate increased traffic to your website, and undertaking any of them, particularly together, can certainly make a positive difference.
This article looks at five common fundamentals;
- An optimised website (organic growth)
- Content is still King – Just keep it fresh
- SEM – or Search Engine Marketing (Pay Per Click growth)
- eMarketing opportunities
- Traditional & supplementary methods
1. An Optimised Website (organic growth)
The first and most obvious point is you need a website! You may scoff at this comment, but according to Nielson research, 44% of small businesses don’t have a website, choosing instead to invest their budgets elsewhere. Many of these believed that a website was either not relevant or not important to them – and others because they simply hadn’t got around to it.
Being that I run a website design company, I’m not going to dwell on this viewpoint. Suffice it to say, while it maybe true that not every business needs a website, I believe every business should have a website – unless you don’t want to be found online, don’t want to increase your business profile and don’t care about competing in an ever-crowded marketplace! In which case, congratulations, you must have a bullet proof business and you can stop reading now !
Assuming that you’re already set up with a website, or you are planning to be (and if so, please do consider our website design services), how can you ensure your website is “Optimised”?
There’s so much talk of SEO or Search Engine Optimisation – you would think it’s the new elixir of life! Well, perhaps it is for your online business – when viewed dispassionately and approached sensibly.
The simple truth is, if Google, Yahoo or Bing search engines can’t access and “read” your website properly – your ranking in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) will suffer. To avoid this, your site needs to be well designed, well set up and “Search Engine Friendly”, incorporating key search phrases that are relevant to the business and general site content.
A full SEO check on your existing site is worth a small investment since it considers these and many other factors in determining how you are likely to fare and which areas you could improve.
In terms of the Purple Dog website design offering, all the site we produce are fully SEO compliant. In terms of our SEO service for existing websites, we look at both the technical and aesthetic aspects, as well as analysing your existing search terms and keywords to ensure your site is the best it can be.
In the next step, let’s look at what you can do for yourself.
2. Content is still King – Just keep it fresh
Recently, Google announced that their latest search engine algorithms have been tweaked to favour search results that reflect the freshest content. In this respect, it goes without saying that if your website is kept up-to-date with regular articles, news feeds, announcements and more, the better your ranking in SERPs.
Personally, I think this has been a long time coming – and that’s why as a website design company, we work with website platforms that incorporate modern and easy to use Content Management Systems (CMS) – such that you are able to keep the pages and news feeds up to date yourself.
As I wrote in this article,
So what can you do? As a webdesign and emarketing company, we advise our clients to write at least one relevant and interesting article, once a week. More if you can manage it. But we realise that your core business may not be in writing great articles on your website! And that you’re probably busy running your business…
So if you can’t do it yourself, you can always ask a staff member to do it for you.
An alternative approach is to think of the content of your site. Could you update your page content regularly? Or perhaps add that new testimonial your customer wrote for you? What about asking a business colleague to write a review of your service or an PR article as a guest writer?
Failing any of that, you could approach someone to write news or PR articles for you.
The bottom line is, a fresh website is more likely to get better results – and not just from Google – your customers and website visitors will appreciate up to date information too!
3. SEM – or Search Engine Marketing – PPC growth
Search Engine Marketing or SEM has seen a massive increase in uptake in recent years, as more businesses switch to spending their advertising budget online. When we think of SEM techniques, Pay Per Click (PPC) is often the most popular and that’s what we’ll discuss here.
With careful planning and use, you can increase visitors to your website through PPC advertising. In a nutshell, PPC allows you to target specific locations, demographics and search keywords (criteria), and display your associated advertisement when these parameters are matched.
As the name suggests, for each ad click, you pay a fee. This fee will be the “bid amount” that you have entered when setting up the ad. Although bid amounts are not the only deciding factor (a “quality score” is also used), generally speaking, the higher the bid amount, the more likely your ad will appear above other advertisers also targeting the same criteria.
Google Adwords is a common and widely used PPC advertising platform and it offers a range of tools to manage multiple campaigns, set daily budgets and keyword bids, along with a comprehensive suite of other tools (e.g. keyword analysis). As Google themselves point out “Adwords is an art as well as a science” and in this respect, you can easily spend a lot of time (and money) perfecting your art.
Purple Dog offer free Google Adwords vouchers on selected products and services to help kick start your online Google Adwords advertising. We also provide a full managed Google Adwords advertising programme. Just get in touch to find out more.
4. eMarketing Opportunities
Although SERPs have traditionally been the focus for online ads, a large – and growing – number of other sites also now offer PPC advertising, for example social networking sites like LinkedIn, Facebook and YouTube. These offer additional exposure opportunities, depending upon your target audience and product.
However, you don’t need to sign up to their PPC programmes in order to have a social networking presence. So if you’re not already subscribed to the various sites (e.g. Twitter and those mentioned above), that’s something you can do immediately. It’s free, and a great way to connect with a large and growing audience.
It can get “messy” having to keep 3, 4, 5 or more news feeds updated though, so if it all seems a bit daunting, we offer a set up and connect service; we’ll set up your Social Network profile and link your sites together, so that you can manage everything easily, from one place.
Also worth a mention here are other High Traffic sites that offer targeted marketing opportunities (e.g. auction sites, online newspaper sites etc). There are plenty of them out there and all of them will be happy to take your PPC budget! Choosing the right medium can be a bit of trial and error and it does largely depend on who you are targeting and what you are selling.
If you prefer a more in-house approach, a good method of increasing traffic to your website is through email marketing. As the saying goes, “it’s easier to up-sell an existing client, than find a new one”.
So if you have new products and services or your existing ones change regularly (e.g. special offers), email marketing is a great way to keep in touch with your customer database and keep them coming back to your site with new offers, announcements, reminders and general news.
5. Traditional & Supplementary Methods
Most businesses understand the need for a mixed marketing approach in order to maximise ROI. Contrary to popular (internet marketing) belief – traditional advertising is still alive and kicking – Radio, TV and print advertising may set you back a small fortune, but can still be a good choice for passive audience targeting.
A simplistic yet relevant point: If you are selling cakes, it makes sense to advertise in food related media that targets your market. If you’re selling to a specific community, it’s a good idea to advertise in the local newspaper and directories. Your advertising should drive people to your website where you can qualify the sale.
Perhaps the biggest downside to traditional advertising is that it’s more like a lucky dip. You serve up the offer and hope someone sees it, remembers it and follows it up! There’s little in the way of reliable stats to show who’s looking at your ad, and you’ll be lucky if you can capture all of the data for the “how did you hear about us” question on your enquiry form. But if you enjoy playing Lotto and you choose the right time, the right product and placement, this approach can still yield valuable results for your site.
- Make a video & post to YouTube. You should also consider making a video (or several) to post on YouTube. Since it is now the second biggest search engine, it’s a great way to be found and get noticed. You could make a low budget commercial, or interview the staff, perhaps a guided tour of your product / service or anything you can imagine! If you make it funny, you’ll probably get thousands of hits and some of these will translate to website traffic.
- Link Building: I’ve placed this here as I consider it a supplementary activity. Although some practitioners would claim that link building is the best thing since sliced bread, I think it’s something that should be undertaken carefully. Search Engines do place a higher emphasis on sites with a high number of links because if the site is popular, it generally equals a higher SERPs listing. While this may be the case, there are good arguments against adding your website URL to any old site. YES you should definitely pro-actively and organically seek to exchange links with partner sites, your suppliers, perhaps clients and all relevant associates. But be warned, if you cross the line, by using so called illicit “Black Hat” techniques or hire someone who does (e.g. that persistent firm that promises 1,000 legitimate links in 3 days), your site could be punished (removed from SERPs) leading to a catastrophic loss of traffic (fall in sales) and lengthy and complex re-establishment battles.
- The “Basic Stuff” you’re already doing: There are so many other simple things you can do to encourage visitors to your site; (that’s also free and easy) e.g. sponsor a local radio show, a football team or a charity, speak at trade fairs and conferences, remember to hand out your business card at every (valid) opportunity; make sure you have an email signature displaying your web address; car signage (if you’re into that); web address on your voicemail message; perhaps employing a PR company to win coverage for you in publications; And, don’t under-estimate the value of word of mouth advertising – a happy customer may only tell 1 or 2 friends, but an unhappy customer may well tell 5 or 6 or more, reducing your chances for repeat and referral business.
Short of all of that, if you’re really brave, you could try door knocking! Hey, it works for politicians (just don’t kiss the babies!)
If you’d like to discuss anything mentioned in the above, you can leave a comment or get in touch with us.