Getting qualified traffic to your website can be more of a challenge than building the website itself. While there are plenty of free and cheap website design templates that can give you a professional online presence, the marketing side of the Web is much tougher to master. You can get traffic from other websites, search engines, Web apps, and email campaigns, or you can even pay to put yourself in Yellow Pages directories that only exist on the Internet. Understanding the best tools for your Internet marketing campaign can often be the difference between success and failure in this money-hungry sector.
For a small business, one of the first critical areas for online marketing is in the local arena. A fair amount of Web.com clients serve a limited geographical region, and search engines (especially Google™ and Bing™) have been taking greater strides to show legitimate local businesses among their search results. If you type in a search that includes a city name, there is a good chance that you’ll see a map with local businesses listed above the search results. If your business isn’t listed among the results on the map, then you’re missing out on some of the prime real estate for online searches.
Web.com customers can get submitted to maps and local directories by using the Visibility Online™ service, which also includes basic search engine optimization (SEO) and submission services. For the small business owner, this entry-level toolkit can increase exposure by adding websites to multiple directories as well as local listings in search engines. As an added benefit, the user gets three pages of on-page search engine optimization work, which helps search engines better categorize a business’ location, products, and services. Furthermore, the Visibility Online product has email marketing and traffic-tracking tools to help you understand the results of your marketing campaign.
Some of the most popular marketing tools on the Internet involve the generation of paid traffic to your site. While it is nice to get “free” traffic from search engines and directories, it is often very difficult to stand out among the multitude of competitors. Paid traffic from places like Google AdWords and Bing Search Center can make your site popular in a matter of days if you’re willing to spend the money. As a caution, you should be sure that you understand pay-per-click (PPC) marketing before trying it yourself, because some business sectors are very expensive, and you may be marketing to customers outside your service area unless you put tight controls on your ads. Web.com also offers a professionally created search engine marketing (SEM) service that guarantees traffic to your site, so you can avoid some of the headaches on the DIY side.
Naturally, there are more advanced Internet marketing tools available for those sites that want to create a national or international presence. Such sites generally require advanced search engine optimization, more robust link building, and business-grade eCommerce solutions. Despite the fact that more time, effort, and skill are necessary for getting competitive traffic on the national level, the same kinds of tools that work for a small campaign can work for a large one. You can conceivably begin a large Internet marketing project by making a few small changes to your website and helping search engines understand the content of the site.
Before embarking on any major online marketing campaign, it pays to understand how people interact with your website:
- Is the website easy to use?
- Do people abandon some pages more than others?
- Is there a clear call to action?
- Can people find the information they need to contact you on every page?
By answering these questions, you can often avoid the roadblocks and confusion that crop up when a significant amount of traffic lands on your website. Making your site concise and user friendly also allows you to scale up traffic without worrying about unnecessary phone calls from confused site visitors or lost opportunities from frustrated viewers. If you’re able to turn visitors into customers, you have a better chance of creating a sustainable Web presence, which in turn puts more money back into your business.
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