Monday, October 4, 2010

Where's my website traffic? You have to work for it!

A few new Internet clients have voiced concern over their disappointment that creating and launching a website did not bring them the results they were hoping for. They are not getting significant numbers of what they consider good qualified leads or sales.

Some people feel that if information is placed on the Internet and available over the web that the world will come marching to their door, everyone clutching credit cards and cash! In fact, some new website enabled businesses are actually afraid that there might be too much business and they will be overwhelmed the very minute their site goes live.

Well, I hate to always be the one that sometimes crushes someone’s website dreams but I have to tell people a very disappointing – “Well, that usually only happens with gambling or pornography websites or websites that are giving away really good prizes for free.” I try to never say it just like that but, unfortunately, that statement is honest. Of course, there are always the terrible embarrassing photos of a celebrity that make the rounds of the email world and drive people to go look at the photos. Seriously, we do not even allow those types of businesses on our servers so . . . .

For the rest of us, a website is a tool that still has to be taken out, used and maintained from time to time. Websites are wonderful tools that expand our communication capabilities – they are there, 24 X7, in full color (and sound), giving a lot more information and photos than we could ever afford to put into magazine or newspaper advertising – How many of us can afford radio or TV? Not many, I am afraid. Websites give businesses the ability to collect information and receive questions, quotes and/or orders at any time.

It takes a while to build traffic to a business or personal website and that takes time and good old-fashioned hard work and diligent communication -- Communication of all kind – face-to-face, telephone, email, forums, advertising, etc.

However, it is not all bad news. There are many things that you can easily do to help build traffic to your website as well as hone the information that you intend for your target audience.

Here are some easy, economical things that people can do to drive traffic to their site and over time, communicate with potential members or buyers.

  1. A website needs to be updated regularly with fresh and timely content. Make people want to come back to your website again and again – try to get them to leave something behind . . . email address, money – it’s up to you.
  2. A banner exchange with websites whose constituency is similar or complementary.
  3. A link exchange (similar to above) – you can ask everyone you know who has a website to link back to your website but you should offer them a reciprocal link if they have a business.
  4. Make sure your content tells the story you want it too and use photos to help explain and clarify your message.
  5. Use your domain based email – It just drives me crazy when someone has a website. Visit me at and then their email is MyBusiness@my -- It should be -- there are a million things you can do with email if you have your own domain.
  6. Make it easy for people to find and/or communicate with you. Nothing drives me crazier than not being able to find out where people are and how to contact them. If there is no email address or contact form, I often pass businesses buy. If you are too busy to answer my email, then you definitely do not need my business.
  7. Do not be afraid to list your website on search engine websites. Do everything you can to help people find their way to you. (Just remember to make the trip worthwhile.)
  8. Use the forums that let you talk about your business website. Sometimes forums will not let you have a link if you are not paying for advertising but you can talk about what it is you do and why others should join you to do it. You could also ask your friends and family to do this but this should be more than a once in six-month activity but something that you do and participate in on a regular basis.
  9. Email lists and/or groups – search them out and you may find one that you can put an ad on a regular basis. I belong to a weaving group that allows any sales notices or ads to be placed on Friday. I actually pay more attention to the email chatter on Friday because I am always looking for a bargain.
  10. Ahhhh, the social media bug-a-boo. It’s important to be active (within reason and do not throw away your personal privacy). You can meet a lot of potential customers by using Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, CamoSpace and others. Seems like there are more social media sites that are specific to an audience or a networking site popping up every day. Most are FREE! Use them. Even purchasing an ad on Facebook is rather inexpensive and you can control the content and budget!

But once you start, you want to keep up with it – get in the habit of posting something on a regular basis on a schedule that you are comfortable keeping or get someone in your organization that is more comfortable with the web community to do this. Even if you put it in your schedule to do something 1-3 times a week, it helps to promote your business.

These are just a few ideas for people to use to promote their websites and try to get more traffic to them. However, make sure there is something for those visitors to see or do when they get there or they will not necessarily come back.

I hope this helps as this is just a little synopsis of what I have seen since starting to host and design websites when we were still using DOS Trees as menus and a GUI was still a dream.