This question is almost as old as the internet itself. Many people who invest in a site find that, no matter how well designed it is, bringing people to it is an entirely new challenge demanding time, effort and knowledge.
Start gaining that knowledge by asking yourself:
Who is coming to my site?
The easiest way to find this out is to set up Google Analytics for your website. This app measures the number of customers visiting your site and analyses their actions when they are there. It’s a good foundation on which to start building up your visitor numbers.
If Google Analytics tells you that your numbers are poor, it may be a good idea to check that your site is set up correctly to be found by search engines without being black-listed.
Once you know who is visiting your site, it’s time to ask how they are getting there, and how more can.
How can people visit my site?
A business website isn’t like a highstreet shop. Customers will only come if you go out, let them know about it and give them a reason to visit. What’s more, you’re competing with more businesses for attention and custom than any local shop.
It’s important to reach out to people, provide them with an easy way to visit your site and give them a reason to follow it. This can happen through social media, blogs, links from other sites, emails linking back to your site, organic search optimisation and adverts.
When used well, social networks can be brilliant ways to bring people back to your website. They have billions of users who you can connect to for free.
To make the most of this, simply link your site to your social media profiles, create profiles for your business where possible, and start posting! Social media platforms have a space for you to enter your website address so they can link users to it and you can also include links in posts.
Post regularly and try to think of things that will be interesting and engaging, particularly to the kind of people you want on your website. Link back to your site, but don’t do it too often or users will start to see your posts as just another advert. Most platforms limit the number of times you can link to a site to about one per day anyway. Ensure that any links you do create lead to a relevant page such as a blog page giving more information on your post.
On the other side of the connection, make sure you have engaging content on your website to link back to, giving people a reason to make the jump. Blogs are a great way of doing this, as are offers, giveaways and other exciting site updates.
With regular, engaging, relevant posts and links, you should have plenty of people clicking through to your site in no time.
If social networks are the oceans teaming with billions of fish, blogs are your hooks with which to catch them. They attract users’ attention and give them a reason to visit your site. Focus on topics related to your products and services and ones your customers will be interested in to get the best results. Do this well, and your blogs will provide a core supply of content for your other marketing efforts, as well as a place on your site to send interested prospects back to. Repost on social media and other sites.
As an added bonus, blogs improve your website’s standings with Google and other search engines too. Search engines love the regular additions of new content that the articles provide.
When combined with a well-made site, blogs can draw in many engaged users who will be ready to consider your business.
Connecting to other sites – Backlinks
Like blogs, links back to your site from other websites have direct benefits and indirect search-engine advantages.
Obviously, they bring people from other sites to yours. Less obviously, they give another boost to your results on search engines like Google, which like well-linked sites.
There are several ways to gain these advantages:
- Subscribe to business listings pages like Bark and Yell, most of which will link to your site for free.
- People look for useful and interesting information in forums, chatrooms and Facebook groups. Link back to relevant info on your site and blogs from these places. For example, I could link to this blog from a web business forum for beginners.
- Businesses that compliment yours or sell to a similar market but aren’t in competition with you might well want to trade links and share customers. This can help all involved and may be the first step towards a fruitful partnership. I could partner with an IT hardware business in this way, for example.
An effective, regular newsletter or email bulletin gives visitors a reason to come back to your site again and again.
Creating a good bulletin, however, is both a science and an art. You can find out more about it here and get in touch with me for even more advice. That said, here are a few basics:
Make it relevant, useful and good looking with an excellent subject and top line – 80% of users will decide whether to bother with your email before they get past this basic info.
Link back from your email to relevant parts of your website such as blogs and info pages with related, useful content. Such links are far more likely to draw customers than one at the end that essentially says ‘You’ve read my stuff, now come buy from me.’
Keep privacy regulations in mind and never let users see each other’s email addresses. Marketing email design apps like Moosend are useful for this. Moosend itself is free up to 1000 recipients, allowing users to achieve attractive email designs easily.
This basically means working to make your site appear high up among search results naturally. It’s a complex task with many strategic choices, all of which can only be seen to work in the long term. We’ve already seen that shrewd use of social media, blogs and backlinks can help you raise your organic-search game. Aside from this, there are a huge number of strategies that can move you up the search rankings.
At this level, I will just say:
- Think of what your customers may search for and include that in the text of your site.
- Label all your pictures with alt text.
- Include your address and the area you cover.
- Don’t expect results immediately, changes can take months to take effect.
The alternative is paying someone to consult on and manage your organic search engine optimisation (SEO).
Advertisements are the quick, specific and easily-trackable ways to bring people to your website. The downside is that they are more expensive than other options. This is doubly true in highly-competitive areas. You can choose between paid-search adverts that appear when users search for a term on Google and on-site ads that appear as users browse.
Back to the upside: Most adverts are pay per click, so, as the name implies, you only pay when they successfully bring someone to your site. Coupled with a good site, advert and offering, they can provide relatively assured results.
It is very important to ensure that the ad users see, the search terms entered and the offering on your page all match. It’s often worthwhile using or creating a dedicated page with a very specific offering for these advertisements to send people to. That way, you can design the page and the ad to match, as well as making it easy for interested visitors to take up your offer.
Paid ads can also be useful for reinforcing your organic search ranking and making your site more popular with more backlinks. Lastly, they are great for testing new sites or online marketing ideas, as they can be set to supply a set number of visitors to a page.
All of these strategies have their different strengths, weaknesses and costs, so you may want to focus on one or the other depending on your business, situation and budget. It’s always beneficial to pull in website visitors from a variety of sources though, as this will reduce the potential damage caused by changes to any one source.
A combination of social media and paid ads can be the best way to bring visitors to your site quickly. However, combining a good blog with emails and a shrewd organic search campaign can bear better results for some in the long term.
It’s all a question of who you want to visit your site, when you want them to visit and how.