You’ve finished your website, what do you do next?
You have done all the hard work creating your website, it is launched on the Internet, what do you do next?
Well the next thing you need to do is drive traffic to your website, in other words make people aware that it exists so that they will visit the website.
There are a number of ways that you can market your website including search engines, advertising, print media etc. we will cover as many of these as we can in a series of articles.
SEO – Search Engine Optimisation
We will start with SEO or search engine optimisation. SEO is employing a number of techniques designed to improve your websites visibility or ranking on Google and other search engines. Generally when a website is newly launched it will take about 1-2 weeks to become listed in Google and other search engines.
Broadly speaking SEO is split into two categories ‘onpage SEO’ (SEO that can be applied to your website) and ‘offpage SEO’ (SEO that is carried out away from your webpages i.e. getting links to your website featured on other peoples websites)
With search engines, a question people often ask themselves is ‘Why isnt my website appearing at the top of Google?’ , however the correct question to ask yourself is ‘What information is featured on my website that makes it a better search result than the other websites that are listed?’
Google is the No1 search engine in Europe because it returns quality results for each search, if you want to be in the top few results then you need to ensure that your website features high quality information about its subject matter.
Onpage SEO is a term that describes the updates that you can make directly to your own webpages to ensure that it is correctly categorised by search engines and to target particular keywords (or search phrases), this includes items such as adding title and keywords metadata to each webpage (description metadata does not improve search engine ranking), adding a sitemap page to your website, (XML format is preferred), ensuring that the text of each webpage contains your target keywords which is in proportion to body of text (in other words do not overuse the keywords as search engines may interpret this as a spamming technique which will do more harm than good)
If you have created your website using the ICCM Website Builder, your first step should be to use the SEO tool in the website builder, (this can be found in the ‘Goodies & Addons’ section), here you can add descriptions, titles and keyword metadata (metatags) to your web pages (search engines use these to categorise the contents of the webpages). An xml sitepmap is automatically generated by the website builder when you click the publish button.
Your keywords should reflect the words or phrases that you think are most likely to be used by people when carrying out a search for your products, services or the area that your venture reflects, you should try to put yourself in the mind of your customer and consider what phrases or words you would use if you were looking for the type of services or products that are offered on the website.
Ideally, you should limit your keywords to less than 130 characters in total which equates to about 6 or 7 words. You should also ensure that the keywords that you use also appear in the text of the webpage, for instance if you are offering painting service in Galway then good keyword phrases might be ‘Painting Galway’, ‘Professional Decorating Service’, ‘Interior Decorating’. You would then need to ensure that these phrases are featured in the body of your text, but not too often as this can be detrimental to your search engine ranking as a search engine may interpret overuse of your key phrases as a form of seach engine spamming
If you created your website using the ICCM website builder you can use the SEO tool to add keyword metadata (metatags) to each of your webpages.
When we refer to webpage title metadata we are not refering to the heading text that appears on the page, the webpage title is the text that a visitor can see at the very top of their web browser when they visit a website (if you are using the default version of Internet Explorer this is the text that appears in the blue bar at the top of the browser)
The Title metadata is a very important part of onpage optimisation, when you carry out a search using a search engine the webpage title is the text that you will see as the heading of the seach results that are returned. Your webpage title should contain threee or four key phrases that you want to target as your main seach engine optimisation phrases for that page i.e. the phrases that you think are most important for people to find your website. These can be the same or similar to your keywords and should also be mentioned in the body of text in the webpage.
You should chose your title phrases carefully as these will be the phrases that you will be competing with other websites offering similar services. An obvious title key phrase may seem like a good idea but if you are operating in an extremely competitive area it is likely that many of your competitor websites also feature this same key phrase and therefore you may find you are listed well down the search engine result list. It may pay initally to use less obvious title key phrases as these will be less competitive and therefore when people use these search phrases it is more likely that your website will be returned higher up the results list.
If you created your website using the ICCM website builder you can use the SEO tool to add Title metadata (metatags) to each of your webpages.
A more important factor for your websites ranking is ‘offpage’ SEO, basically this is links placed on other ranked websites to your website, you may explore the possibility of approaching other websites, preferably those who offer services in the same industry as your own business, for them to feature a link to your website, for instance if you have created a building website you may find there are a number of business, professional or construction industry directory websites that will feature a link to your website.
Brand new websites will carry a lower weighting with Google and other search engines than websites that have been established for some time. You may consider an Adwords campaign as an option to get your website on the first page of Google in the short term (this is where your website will be featured in the top search engine listings and you pay a predefined amount for each click that takes a visitor to your website). Details of Adwords management can be found here: www.iccm.ie/service/goo.htm
Marketing your website does not all need to be done on the Internet, you should feature your website address on all your office stationary such as your headed paper, business card, invoices and other documents. Printing your website address on biro pens that you give free to your customers is a good way of spreading the word, who knows how many times a biro will change hands before it is finished with.
You should add your website address to the signature on your email addresses, that way you advertise your website with every email that you send.
You can also raise awareness of your website by listing it on various online directories, many of which give a free listing, shopping comparison websites and online business advice websites such as irishpressreleases.ie – where you can announce the launch of your website as well as publish other public announcements relating to your website and/or business
Remember, Google is the No1 search engine because of the quality of the results it returns when a person conducts a search, invariably you will find good information for your query within the first few results. So the question is not “why isn’t my website on the first page of Google?” but “what content is in my website that it deserves to be on the first page?”
Google returns top quality results because of the page rank technology that it employs, this technology uses complex algorithms to calculate the ranking of a webpage but can be pinned down to two main factors – quality website content and external link analysis.
Therefore the two most important factors in ensuring that your website achieves its full potential on Google and other search engines will be to ensure that
1. Links are featured on other websites to your website, you should avoid reciprocal linking services and other linking schemes designed to trick search engines as Google is aware of these and your website will most likely be penalised for using them. The links you should pursue are those that will be featured on other websites which are in a similar field to your own and already have a high page rank, the higher the page rank the more important the link will be for your own websites ranking.
2. Quality content, i.e. information that a search user would be looking for in relation to the search phrases that they are using. You should put information on your website that you feel would be valued by a person who is using the seach words/phrases that you are targeting.
Because of the amount of competition on the Internet and the large numbers of websites available, you may find that, with a new website, it takes time for people to find it and for word to spread about it, in the short term you may want to consider running a Google adwords campaign to give your website a boost in the early stages.