07 June 2013, by A. Cedilla
Sometimes in the push to get more visitors to your website, on slow days you might find yourself sitting in a corner of your office after checking your site metrics, muttering darkly about page rankings and comparative quality of content. You work hard to find the best writers for your website content, push to provide quality products, service and support, post testimonials, use the best keywords, and yet, and yet….*mutter-mutter*
On those days, try to look at things from another point of view. Actually, a million-million points of view.
You are doing business on the world wide web. Something that has billions of virtual connections, intersections and rootlets, and thousands upon thousands of groups and communities building out, building deep and building bridges… If you’re micro-focused on getting to on the list of “who’s on first”, you could miss out on other things that can prove to be even more powerful.
For a business to succeed, it’s not only about the first look, it’s about the ones who linger, and the ones who stay (plus of course getting them to stay, and keep them coming back, but that’s for later).
Climbing up the page ranking is different from creating a successful presence online. Page ranking is trying to take advantage of algorithms and particular words to get ahead. Getting known online is easy –scandalmongers do it all the time– but building something of worth, something that will live longer than a scandal, takes more than that.
Search engines are not people — people want value, relevance and connection. Search engines calculate. You picked your niche for a reason. You keep finding out new things about the people in your market, you start and grow a relationship with them, you cultivate your customers and use good, strong strategies to strengthen that relationship, you grow your own fan-base. You’ll have people broadcasting your message for you.
Search engines can’t do that.
Content marketing and articles are a cornerstone of developing a relationship with your intended audience. If enough people like your content, re-tweet it, “like”-like it, recommend it, forward it, share it and so on, then it follows that those things can’t help but boost your ratings as a side-effect. You just have to keep giving your audience a reason to keep doing so.
I don’t want to to use worn words like “optimize”, or “maximize” this time when I’m talking about making connections, they feel so clinical, so we’ll fall back on the classic rules to making your website a welcome place for visitors, old and new, to enter and linger in.
- Make sure the content of your site is relevant to your target audience. “Relevant” as in “relating to” their needs and wants. See? It’s all about the relationships.
- Don’t bug them with distracting foo-foo like auto-play (sound or video or both), surprise!pop-ups or info-dumping on the main page. Sudden loud sounds or videos can be startling, not to mention embarrassing at work (Better to not get them into trouble while browsing your site, yes?), and a solid wall of text can turn people off before the content even registers.
- Let your audience know who they’re dealing with. “About Me” and “About Us” are just carryovers from the real-life practice of introducing yourself to other people. It’s the polite thing to do, on and offline.
- Another part to this introduction thing is telling them a little about your products, a textual “30-second elevator soundbite”, if you will, in the form of well thought-out FAQ’s.
- Another way to keep people coming back: a consistently updated blog gives visitors something to look forward to and keeps their interest sharp.
- Carefully place your opt-in boxes to take advantage of your high-traffic pages so you can keep building up your mailing list.
- Sharing new content regularly lets them know you are active and engaged with the community.
- Small design issues can mean a great difference to your audience. Readability, color harmony, cross-browser compatibility…things like page-load times matter when your audience lives on fast-forward and click-time. Tweak your website to make it as fast and as pleasant to visit as possible.
- Get your audience to do something after taking in your content, whether it’s to think about what they just read, answer a question for themselves, opt-in, buy, re-tweet, whatever, but call them to action.And make it as easy as you can to do so.
- Make yourself stand out by knowing what makes you different from your competitors and building on that.
When you have enough people visiting your websites, commenting on your articles, engaging in communication with other readers in the community you formed online, the next step is using that foundation to broadcast your brand. A community behind you can spread your message faster, further and wider than you can on your own.
Think about those ubiquitous one-click social media buttons that can be used to spread the message via Twitter, Facebook, and Google+, not to mention the old standbys of video reactions and response-articles. Think about the buttons that can bookmark your articles and let others know what your visitors are reading…there are a lot of things out there that you and your community can use to spread the message, and by taking advantage of them, you can grow an audience, a following that is a built-in market for what you say, make and sell.
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