Build It and They Will Come?
“Build it and they will come” might work well for ballparks – at least at first – but it doesn’t apply to your website.
Ideally, you should have a plan for getting people to your site even before you start building it. For most sites, the text you put on the page, the page title and even the filename of the page will make a difference in helping people find you.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
“Search engine optimization” is probably the term you’ve heard most often: the items mentioned above (title, text, filename) will help with search engine optimization – getting your site found when people search for a product or service.
SEO relies on understanding what keywords are most likely to get people to your site. If you sell swimming pool equipment, for example, you’ll want that fact reflected in multiple ways on your home page and throughout your site. You’ll also want pages with the very specific name and description of each equipment item – the more specific the better.
A second major aspect of search engine optimization is getting links to your site. Find out what directories of sites exist for your business and get listed there. Take a look at who’s linking to your competition and see if they’ll link to you as well. The more relevant the links are, the better. “Relevant” is an important word here. If you sell swimming pool equipment, a link from a modeling site isn’t going to help and may, in fact, hurt. Google may think you’re engaged in link spamming.
There are many more aspects to SEO, but these basics can get you started.
Getting found on the Internet goes beyond what we think of as search engine optimization. It involves what Heather Lutze calls “findability”: all the different ways people can find you on the Internet.
Facebook is as almost as much a force these days as Google search. If you sell to consumers, setting up a Facebook page for your business is pretty much a requirement. If you sell to other businesses, participation in LinkedIn can be a new source of business. Use other social networks as they fit your business and your audience.
For local merchants, Google My Business and Yahoo Local can give you great exposure for free. Beyond the extra service these provide, you get reliable links to your site. If you haven’t already claimed your listings here, put it on your “to-do.” Be sure to supply as much information as you can.
While you’re at it, sign-up for Google alerts: http://www.google.com/alerts. Google will let you know when your business name (and/or any other topics you choose) is mentioned on the Internet. If your business is getting a review – positive or negative – you’ll want to know about it. If you get a negative review, it’s especially important to respond to it right away.
Have video? Put it on your site and on YouTube or Vimeo (both is better) with tags (keywords) and descriptions that will help attract users.
There are, of course, paid ways to get found – Google AdWords, Facebook Ads, banner ads are just some of them – one or all of these may fit your business and your budget.
What’s important is to realize you can promote your business online in many different ways. Select the methods that are most appropriate for your business and don’t waste your time and money on those that aren’t relevant.
And don’t think just building it will make them show up.