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Beaver Computer Consultants Limited - Consultants in systems engineering for business, mission and safety critical systems

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Driving visitors to your site : advertising, search engines, and directories

 
If you have a site the first thing you'll need, not matter how good the site or your products or services, are visitors to the site. A pretty basic requirement but often over looked. What you need are methods to drive users to your site. Here we'll outline the various methods.

Start by ensuring your web address is given on company brochures, business cards, adverts, conference and display materials, and any editorial material you submit for publication. Capitalise on your existing customers to start with. To gain new customers you'll want to bring them to you site, marketing and advertisement campaigns using traditional media can be used, there is also the internet resources themselves, enabling users to search for sites who have a product or service they are interested in.

People can find out about your site using the internet resources through two main methods, a directory, such as the grand daddy of them all, YAHOO, which are the equivalent of a business phone directory which classifies sites under various headings with cross-referencing, and they are generally put together by hand. The second method is via a search engine such as Lycos. These are large databases which use programmes called robots and spiders to automatically index sites, using special meta tags which should be contained within the pages of your site, and the body of the text.

So the obvious thing to do is submit your site to the directories and search engines. However remember that most people, including business users, use only 6-8 main sources, despite 1000's being available. Don't worry about registering with them all. Go for a small number so your site target has a high search result, and pick any directories or search engines that are relevant to your business.

Well that sounds easy doesn't it. Try searching for your site and also your competitors. Where do you rank? As a rule people will only try the first 10-20 finds at the most, normally its the first 5, before they refine their search words, or try a different approach. The web contains a lot of redundant information and searches often produce poor results so if you can get near to the top your off to a good start. But as you can imagine given the number of web sites in the world getting in the top part of a ranking is not easy. Some companies promote search engine or directory registration services which work on just taking the web address. This is not a guaranteed method as you'll need some hand working of the sites code. Simple submission to 500 or 1000 engines is not as effective as submission to say 5-10 engines with a properly refined site. Some people try to boost ratings by spamming, which is placing lots of keywords and hidden text on each of the pages, in the belief they'll get a higher rating. Search engines recognise spam-indexing and either penalise your rating or do not list your site. Its not just the word count, its relevancy and match of meta tags and text, and link popularity that counts now. To get top ratings you'll need to know how each directory or engine works and that would be an article in its own right! Remember search engines and directories are also refining the methods they use to index sites and also to attract users to their service.

Also sites can have lots of information spread over it, rather than register 1 page or having poorly related keywords and page text, which give low ratings, our recommendation is to break site up into a number of pages, each having a focus on a product or service, creating door way pages which are registered and are specific to a product or service so visitors do not have to hunt round your site. The page text and its keyword meta tags used for each page match closely, are very specific, and ideally have links to associated popular sites. This is a strategy to produce better rankings. Also consider whether your market is local, regional, or international and adjust the strategy to take this into account.

As well as search engines and directory services you can use three other proven methods to get visitors to your site which are based on an understanding of how people use the web.

  • The first method is to work with your suppliers and associates. Do you resell for someone? Are they a well known name for their product or service? If so find out if they have a partnership programme which lists dealers and distributors and get put on the list. This has additional value through branding with a well known name and also may increase your link popularity rating.

     

  • The second method follows the branding or known names theme - people often use business directories to identify companies with services or products to help, they can now do this using web alternatives, they are slightly different to web directories, and are an extension of their paper media version, for example www.eyp.co.uk which is part of BT's Yellow Pages, which if you are listed in already use the option to include a link to your website, this also has the effect of bring all web referenced sites to the top of any search list. People go to EYP because of the brand recognition of Yellow Pages. Thomson Directories do the same.

     

  • The third method is to use banner adverts on popular sites with high traffic that matches your customer profile. By clicking on the web avert the user transfers to you site. Increasingly business users may use portals or vertical trading markets on which to place web site advert links on. Costs are generally based on per 1000 click throughs and the site on which the advert is placed may target adverts to the searches being made on item or based on a profile of the visitor, so the advert campaign is very cost effective as its target.

The above three methods, as well as search engines and directories, use significant traditional media advertising campaigns to promote their services and attract users using TV, radio, paper, and road side hoardings. This is a competitive area, with each service now fighting to build a user base, and extend into selling partnerships and raise advertising revenue from their sites. By using these services you build off of this first level marketing. What ever methods you choose just having a strategy to people to your site is a valuable first step.

Link here to return to Beavers main web site evolution page or here to read about how to optimise your site so when users find it they stay around to read it and don't click off like 1000's do on other sites! Understand why its important for users to have good navigation structure and for the site to load quickly and what you need to do make the site work.