Secrets of the Internet Marketing Gurus

How to increase web traffic to your site

Nearly three-quarters (73 percent) of all UK households have access to the internet, according to Ofcom (PDF report). The Wall Street Journal reports that online ads will soon bring in more revenue than newspaper ads, shooting from $24.2 billion in 2009 to $34.4 billion in 2014, coming second only to TV commercials. Globally, internet growth is even more astounding. According to Internet World Stats, internet usage went up more than 400 percent in the last ten years. The market for e-commerce is certainly growing, and other companies are working hard to get their share, but your advertising budget isn’t the only factor and HP is here to help you market your business online.

Get ready for visitors

Before you invite a customer to visit your shop, you would make sure that it is tidy and the welcome mat is out – your virtual shop is no different. Your website should be pleasant to read and easy to navigate – frustrated customers are usually lost customers. You know that your products are high quality, but that quality has to shine through in the images and text that you use. Most importantly, there should never be any question about how to purchase your goods; virtual shopping carts are intuitive and will be familiar to most of your potential customers.

Get the word out

The web has grown from a few million sites 15 years ago to over 800 million sites today, so customers aren’t going to find your website unless you place it right under their nose. Register your website with popular search engines – most customers’ first stop when looking for something new online. There’s no question that you should advertise online, using services like Microsoft’s adCenter, but don’t forget about real-world advertising. Incorporate your URL into all of your normal advertising: there is no reason local customers can’t also buy from you online. 

Improve through careful analysis

Setting up your website is the beginning of a long process. Use web analytics to see what consumers are doing on your website, how long they spend on each page, and what activities ultimately lead to a sale. If consumers consistently zip through one of your pages, it isn’t compelling and needs to be redesigned. If one of your pages is disproportionately responsible for your revenue, you need to figure out what makes it so successful and recreate that success throughout your website. But don’t fall into the search engine optimisation trap: customers who come to your site only to find a jumble of buzzwords are likely to leave just as quickly.
Once you have set up, use these tips to bring more people to your site:

  1. Make sure that your website is fully indexed. If search engines are only indexing some of your web pages, then it can’t direct customers to the products that will most interest them. Register your site with popular search engines, such as Microsoft Bing and Google and use their webmaster tools to make sure your site is properly indexed.

  2. Create a sitemap. Your internal links should allow users to find what they want quickly, but you should still create a site map as a back-up plan. If a large number of users are using the site map to find specific web pages, then you may need to give those pages more prominent links. You can also create a machine-readable version of your sitemap to help search engines scan your site.

  3. Focus on the long tail. One of the great innovations in web marketing is the long tail business strategy. Online commerce strengthens niche markets by removing the logistic challenges that would have made their bricks and mortar forefathers go out of business. Homing in on these profitable niches will help you win customers in a market dominated by the big online retailers.

  4. Submit your links to online directories. Some people prefer online directories, such as DMOZ, to search engines because the content has been reviewed. Adding your site to these human-moderated directories makes your site easier for other search engines to find too.

  5. Start a blog. Writing an interesting, informative blog is one of the best ways to increase traffic. As with marketing, focusing on your niche will make your blog more relevant to readers. By giving people something of value, you will naturally build a customer base and ,since readers trust you, they will be more likely to buy from you than from your competitors.

  6. Use social networking. Facebook and Twitter have re-imagined how people share information online, and there is no reason why you shouldn’t take part. Use social networking to advertise new products and sales, but don’t spam the networks. This will only drive people away and risks having your account closed down.

  7. Offer useful, free services. Selling health food? Include a calorie calculator and some free diet information. Selling property? Provide cost-of-living comparisons between major cities. By providing relevant, free services, you will not only increase traffic to your site but also increase goodwill between you and your customers. As other sites link to this free service, your site’s prominence in search engines will also increase.

  8. Put your URL on all corporate media. Business cards, letterhead, advertisements, fliers – any time someone sees the name of your company in print, your URL should be nearby. Ideally, your URL should be easy to remember so that customers can type it in by memory.

  9. Form partnerships with complementary websites. While you probably don’t want to help the competition, linking to websites that sell different, but closely related merchandise can help both of you increase sales. And because more sites are linking to you, search engines will rank you even higher.

  10. Experiment with ads. Since you know which online ads your customers are clicking, you can easily switch your resources into campaigns that are more effective. You should always have multiple ads in circulation, essentially competing with each other. Determine what separates winners from losers, and use new ads to test your theory. Improving your online ad campaign should be a permanent priority.

  11. Send personal emails. A ‘thank you’ email for customers who have bought items from you can add a personal touch. Try to collect information on customers’ birthdays so that you can send personalised birthday offers. If this sounds like too much work, remember that you can automate the process to keep from getting bogged down.

  12. Use auction sites to your advantage. Auction sites might seem like part of the competition, but they can be a great way to find new customers. Put a few items on sites like eBay, but include your URL in the item description. Even if a customer chooses to buy through eBay initially, sending information about your website and a promotional offer could create a long-term customer.

  13. Prominently display your bookmarking tool. People don’t really need a special tool to bookmark your site, but a button makes it easier and reminds people that they can. This is important for customers who aren’t sure they want to buy, or who know they want to buy from you, but not right this second. Reminding them to bookmark your site ensures they will find it again in the future.

  14. Give your website a professional feel. After years of blocking spam and watching out for scams, online consumers don’t respond well to over-the-top rhetoric. If you have red lettering, multiple fonts and lots of phrases in bold, you might want to rewrite your web copy.

  15. Write for other websites. Write articles or thoughtful comments for other websites free of charge, as long as they include a link to your website. This gives customers a new way to find your site, adds legitimacy to your company and, by increasing links to your site, improves its search engine ranking.

  16. Produce videos related to your products. Putting together videos is labour intensive, but it can also be well worth the trouble. Although they aren’t usually looking for products, if people on YouTube see your video with a link to your website, it gives them another way to discover your online store. And as always, increasing the number of links to your website improves its position in search engine results. You don’t need to be Steven Spielberg to create a useful, profile-raising video for your site.

  17. Base your ad campaign on fewer keywords. It may be tempting to bid on as many keywords as you can think of, but this could dilute your ad campaign. Putting your ad next to fewer, but more relevant, keywords will increase the number of customers who actually click on the ad and cut the cost of each click.

  18. Write press releases. Press releases aren’t just for governments and multi-nationals. If you have an innovative new product, writing a press release is a great way to get exposure from your industry’s press. The more time you put into writing it well, the more likely it is to create some buzz.

  19. Put your business on the map. Creating a Google Maps and Bing Maps entry provides a connection between your online store, your physical store and the community that you work in, giving local consumers multiple ways to find you.

  20. Get help online. There is a lot more free advice online. Visit Microsoft UK’s small business centre and  Intel® IT Galaxy UK for additional insights. Check out HP’s Web 2.0 marketing advice on our website and visit our blog for regular marketing tips. You can also put business IT questions to the HP Agony Aunt.

This business advice article published in association with HP. Find out more about HP Laptops, Tablets, Desktops, Printers & Servers

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