If you have a business website, chances are you’ve at least thought about and perhaps dreamed of getting it to the top of the search rankings. For most of us, dreaming is all we do!
Marketing your website, commonly referred to as Internet marketing or website marketing, is a mix of darn hard work, persistence and possibly a bit of luck. So strap yourself in for some website marketing 101: But be warned – it’s going to be a bumpy ride!
One of the difficulties with website marketing is the game is constantly changing or, perhaps more correctly, Google keeps changing the rules. Because when we’re talking about website marketing what we’re really referring to is marketing our website so that it ranks well in Google. Because Google is the search engine most people use.
Google is very sophisticated and their search rankings are based on many different factors which make up what it calls its search algorithm. Factors such as the age of the domain, meta tags, headings, content and external links are just some of the factors Google looks at. Google changes its search algorithm regularly – perhaps up to 500 or 600 times a year! While most changes are minor, occasionally a major change is made. If you’ve ever had your website ranking for a particular keyword go up or down markedly in Google’s listings, this is usually the reason.
Google claims the algorithm changes are made to improve results of search listings. There is plenty of argument about this point but rest assured Google will continue to make changes when and as it sees fit. The key, I believe, if you want to consistently rank well for your most important keywords, is to do a range of activities to market your website. In other words, don’t put all your eggs in one basket or that basket may topple one day.
Google ‘SEO is dead’ and you’ll be presented with close to 15 million results. What is SEO and why is it dead? For those who aren’t aware, SEO refers to search engine optimisation or the practice of optimising a website for search engines. In the past SEO has been a core activity in website marketing but there are some people who believe that recent Google changes have meant that SEO is now not that important.
Most experts will agree, however, that using SEO and implementing other traditional methods of website marketing are still important if you want to rank well in search engines.
Traditional website marketing tactics include:
- Keyword research, to ensure you’re targeting the right keywords for your business
- Implementing meta, title and image alt tags that closely align with your keywords
- Developing headings, content and internal links that align with your keywords
- Getting quality external links (i.e. links to your website from other websites) from a range of sites such as:
- Press release websites
- Content and article websites
- Website directories
- Using a variety of anchor text keywords for these external links
- Creating an XML sitemap
- Creating a robots.txt file
- Using Google Webmaster tools and Analytics
Social media the new king
It was once thought that content was king when it came to Internet marketing. Now it could be argued that social media is king. That’s because there is little doubt that Google is placing more and more emphasis on social media activities in its search algorithm.
Here are some things you can do to market your website using social media:
- Develop a blog for your website that is regularly updated with new articles
- Ensure people can easily share content on your blog
- Create social media accounts (Facebook page, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, etc.) and regularly post updates
- Create a YouTube account and post a how to or other video
- Participate in forums and other blogs that have relevance to your industry
Marketing your website can be daunting so make a plan that will help guide you through the entire exercise. State your objectives, the tools and activities you will use, the resources you will need, your timeframes and how you will evaluate and improve your efforts.
Remember, also, that you’re not just marketing your website to get better search engine rankings. Your end aim must be to get people to your website so that they will do what you want them to do, whether it’s contact your business, buy online or sign up for a newsletter. So also consider your target audience, your business’ key messages, key points of difference and calls to action when you’re developing your plan and when you’re looking at your website for improvement opportunities.
By making sure your website will engage and communicate to your target audience, you’re ensuring your efforts in marketing your website won’t be wasted.