Understanding online marketing
Whether you are a start-up in the throes of getting a website designed or an existing business launching a new, redeveloped website, the important thing to bear in mind is that you need to market it online. Here we look at why simply having a website is not enough.
If you’ve recently launched a website, congratulations. Having a website in this day and age is critical if you want to grow a revenue source online. For start-ups, this is a new task. For brands that already exist online, reasons for redeveloping a site might include rebranding, improved usability, site refresh or responsive web design to be mobile-friendly.
But here’s a fact that some newbies to the online world aren’t always aware of: just because you have a website, it doesn’t mean people can find it. You can spend hundreds, even thousands on a site but it’s a wasted cost if your site cannot be found via search.
Types of Search Traffic
People will reach your website in different ways depending on the marketing activity you do. If you don’t do any marketing activity, then traffic to your site will be low. You can maximise different sources of traffic with recommended activity below:
This is when people bypass search and type out your web-address into the URL box. This is performed by people who know your website’s address. In order to reach the potential of this medium, you want to maximise brand awareness. This may come from distributing business cards, running offline ads (e.g. in a magazine / paper), attending events and generally getting people familiar with your business.
Repeat customers can return to your site by bookmarking your pages.
Users who land on your site this way will have visited other online pages that have your web address listed and will have clicked the link. As brand awareness builds, the number of sites referring your business online might naturally grow, however link building is an activity that needs to be included in your marketing strategy. You should aim to grow a network of quality back links from relevant directories, industry listings or online guides or publications.
Referral traffic can also come from online ad campaigns that are promoted via mediums such as email or display advertising.
In order to grow traffic from this medium, you need to be active on social media. This means setting up and using social media profiles. Decide which networks work for you (see blog about types of networks) and aim to grow your list of followers. This will take time if you want your follows to be of good quality.
Use your social platforms to post content about your brand, industry news and useful information about your products or services. Blogs are great to share on social media, so if you blog regularly, tell your social followers and include a link to each blog for people to not only click and visit, but also share.
Set up a Google My Business page, ensure your address matches that of your website, include a link to your site and encourage reviews.
This is the type of traffic that reaches you from queries typed into a search engine. This is where the majority of most business’s traffic should come from and it involves optimising your site for search. If you don’t optimise your site, you will not appear in the search engine results pages (SERPS) for relevant keywords or even your brand name. Users will only be able to find you by directly typing your site’s address into the URL box (direct traffic).
To optimise your site, you need to start with a few basic actions:
Submit your sitemap to Google via Google Console
Not to be confused with an HTML sitemap (a page that tells visitors to your site what pages exist on your site). An XML sitemap is a file that Google’s search robots use to crawl and index your site. Sometimes your developer will need to create this for you. If you’re doing it yourself then you can get a plugin such as Yoast to add to your admin site (WordPress, Wix etc) and create this. You will need to manually submit your sitemap to search engines. You can do this using the plugin. You can also do this via Google Search Console.
Target the right keywords
If you want users to find you for the products/services you offer, you need to mark your content to Google so that it can return relevant pages of your site in the list of results given to a user. Start by creating a list of relevant keywords you want to target and map them out to different pages so that you can land traffic to relevant pages on your website. Ensure each page is themed to that keyword but don’t write unnaturally just to flag the word. Google takes a semantical approach to page content and will look at synonyms of that keyword too.
Write your meta data for the user
Meta data refers to the page title and page description that appear on the SERPS. There is less emphasis on optimising this for search as Google is more sophisticated at understanding context of your sites content, but it important to write this with the user in mind, to maximise the click through rate of your listing.
Citations for local search
Citations are other online sources that mention your name address and phone number. They are a marker that your business is genuine, and they help with optimising your site for local search. Local search brings more targeted traffic from users who are in the area of your business. You can submit your business’s information and web link to citations such as Google Places. This also allows for people to leave reviews. Good reviews promote your business’s quality to Google, which they are likely to consider a worthy listing. They also foster trust in your brand for people considering you.
There are lots more search engine optimisation activities you will need to do to give your website the best chance at performing well, but these are a few starter tips.
So, to summarise, just having a website is not enough. If you neglect to plan and implement a digital marketing strategy, including search engine marketing, the outlay of your website will not be recouped. It will be a wasted exercise and you will be missing out on a decent source of online revenue.
Need advice on how to grow your business online?
Give Whitefish Marketing on 01303 720 288. Whitefish Marketing are an established online agency specialising in SEO services, Google PPC Adwords, Social Media Marketing and Web Development. Based in Folkestone Kent, we service a lot of clients in the south east, but can also work remotely for clients further afield.