Too many times, I have heard clients complaining, “I’ve set up my website – but I don’t think anyone’s visiting it!” And they begin sharing the tricks they’ve tried to jump-start their hit counter, ranging from pricey site add-ons to dubiously ethical wizards who try to outwit the search engine requirements.
Traffic generation can get complicated, there’s no doubt about it…but the underlying concepts are really quite simple. Having the right keywords, of course, is important…but even beyond that, there are additional factors.
First of all, Google is notoriously slow to notice new sites, even after they’re submitted for indexing…it can take three months or more for a newly launched site to show up in searches! So your first job is simply to get noticed.
There are two parts to this job – first of all, providing high-quality content that will catch the attention of the Web-crawling spiders, and second, giving that content credibility with incoming links.
But, you might say, “I’ve already set up the content on my site, and it gives all the necessary information about my company. Isn’t that enough?”
Not really. You’ve heard the saying, “Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there?” Same principle here. Your site could be brilliant – and if all your content creation stopped on launch day, that site will be far down in the rankings.
Why? Google loves fresh content – the fresher the better. It’s the hallmark of a living site, sign of a living online business. Remember your high-school biology class and the signs of life? Same principle. If it reproduces (i.e., aquires new content), it’s alive. Otherwise – who’s to say?
So having a frequently updated blog, or a reader’s resource page of articles about your industry, products, or services, or other forms of new content, is key to the success of your site.
Next – credibility. As a wise Internet marketing guru told me: Google is rather like New York’s A-list Runway nightclub. If you try to get in on your own, you’re not likely to pass the bouncer. If you show up hobnobbing with Angelina Jolie, however, you’ll probably be ushered right in and treated like royalty. On the other hand, if you arrive with Lindsay Lohan, you may get in, but find yourself treated rather differently.
In other words, on the Internet as in life, you’re judged by the company you keep. You can affect your Google ranking by the quality of your incoming links (that is, the sites that link to your site). High-ranking professional organizations’ sites and networking sites in your industry are good, and incoming links from these will earn you a higher Google ranking. Local Chamber of Commerce sites are also good…and these are just a few examples. You can also contribute marketing articles to a high-ranking content site like EzineArticles.com to build credible incoming links.
On the other hand, “free-for-all” link farms and free link exchange sites (also called banner exchanges) are bad, and Google will penalize your site with a low ranking – or worse – if you participate in these.
What do I mean by high-ranking sites? These meet Google’s standards for content and credibility. They show up at or near the top of the screen when you run a search for one of the logical keywords identifying your field of business.
So, for example, if you enter “green business” as a Google search, GreenBusiness.net shows up high in the rankings. Listing your site on this membership site for eco-entrepreneurs could boost your own Google ranking.
How can you get listed on these sites? Posting your company information and URL (Web address) in their member directories is one way. Purchasing an ad gives you an additional Google boost. And most of these sites offer ways for you to link to them in return, by placing their logo graphic or widget on your site.
Why would you want to post a reciprocal link on your site? Several reasons: first, of course, the credibility. If you’re a green business with a Green America seal on your site, for example, you’re demonstrating that you’ve passed their screening, thus earning a level of instant respect from green prospects. Second, posting other logos, such as a Buy Local seal, quietly tells visitors that you offer special values to qualifying customers. Finally, by posting some logos, you can earn not only credibility as a member of a respected organization, but also enhanced membership values for your own business.
In other words, gaining a high Google ranking for your site isn’t that different from building a reputation offline. Prove that your business is alive and growing, that you have reputable associations and credibility in your field, and you’re halfway there.