In the classic movie Field of Dreams, Kevin Costner hears a voice that says “If you build it, they will come.”
He takes this to mean that if he stops growing corn on his Iowa farm and builds a baseball stadium instead, then people will come to watch the games, simply because it’s there.
As these things tend to do in Hollywood, this worked out for Kevin Costner.
But would such a marketing strategy work in real life?
The answer, unfortunately, is no.
After having spent a pretty penny or two on web design, it is easy to think that the job is done.
“I have a site now. Business will start to flow in, right?”
The website is actually only the first step in a marketing strategy. It is a necessary step, but it is still only the first step.
In this article, we will focus on three strategies to market your website:
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO)-Friendly Site Structure
- Content Creation
- Paid Advertising
SEO-Friendly Site Structure
The point behind all SEO efforts is to show that your site is a valuable resource to your clientele, and deserves to be ranked high in the search results.
Why do you need to rank highly in search results?
It’s simple, really. There are 820,000+ websites created every day worldwide. That’s 571 websites a second. In the same amount of time, there are 70 new domains registered, 347 new blog posts published, and 4 million Google searches.
How are searchers going to find you?
The answer is SEO. With so many websites floating around, even Google has trouble sifting through that amount of data.
The easier you can make it for Google to know what your site is about and who it might help, the faster they will begin to rank you high in their search results.
So how can you make your site SEO-friendly?
Three main things:
- Make your link structure crawlable
- Make your site easy-to-read
- Target keywords
A website doesn’t look the same to a search engine as it does to you and me.
Just because you have a site, or just because you have content on your site, does not mean that Google can see it.
The most important SEO strategy you can implement is creating a URL and link structure that is easily crawlable by search engines.
As you can see, the homepage (Page A) has links on it to Pages B & E, which is good for search engines. They crawl the homepage first, and move to pages that are linked to it.
Pages C & D, however, are “orphans;” Google can’t see them.
If Google can’t see them, then there is no way for them to suggest your site to people searching online and to rank you high in the search results.
If they can’t see you, they won’t promote you.
Here are some reasons that web pages are typically not crawlable by search engines:
Too Many Links
He also said something interesting: your page rank is divided equally among all of the internal links on your page. This means that the more links you have, the less “Google juice” each page passes between them.
Something to keep in mind.
Site crawlers don’t crawl embedded links, they just search wherever is easiest to search.
Water always flows wherever is easiest; same with site crawlers. They seem to have taken Bruce Lee’s advice.
Web pages that are protected via password, submission form, email address, or acceptance buttons are unable to be crawled by search engines. If you have important content, make sure it doesn’t lie dormant and undiscovered until it gets linked to from a crawled page.
Site crawlers don’t submit forms, they just search wherever is easiest to search.
Make Your Site Easy To Read
Google gives primacy of place to HTML text format. If you want to show Google that a certain part of your site or web page is important, put it in HTML.
However, if you want to go above and beyond, you can take the time to optimize what are called “meta tags,” that is, tags which are unseen by human site visitors, but can be read by search engines.
These meta tags give a search engine text descriptions of images in varied unreadable formats.
Additionally, it is a good idea to supplement Java or Flash plug-ins, which embed content (and make it unreadable to search engines) with text on the web page.
Search engines can’t crawl search boxes either, so you should include a navigation section in the header with crawlable links.
Finally, provide a textual transcript for your video and audio recordings, so Google can access its content.
Always be thinking of ways to inform Google of what your content is and who it’s for.
Information retrieval systems, including Google and other search engines, rely on keywords in order to identify, organize, and store data.
When you type in a particular keyword, say “strategy deployment,” Google can access a particular database where they have stored all information regarding that keyword, in order to bring you results immediately.
If you want to rank for this keyword phrase, then you need to make sure that you have a lot of crawlable content using this keyword.
Do you work in a particular city? Target it with a landing page designed for it.
With so many websites in the world, it can be difficult to rank well for a popular keyword.
That’s why experts suggest targeting “long tail keywords,” so-called because they are part of the “long tail” on this graph.
The more words you have in your keyword phrase, the fewer people search for it.
However, the flip side of fewer people searching for that keyword is that there are fewer competitors creating content targeting that phrase as well.
Long tail keywords are the place to stand out from the competition and get your site out there in front of new visitors.
The second most important way to market your website follows upon the idea of keywords.
Google doesn’t just like to see a website properly set up with good content.
Google loves to see constant content creation.
Former Google Fellow Amit Singhal says this:
Different searches have different freshness needs.
This means that, depending on the type of search you are attempting to rank well for, Google might give preference to newly created content.
Cyrus Shepard from Moz says:
Websites that add new pages at a higher rate may earn a higher freshness score than sites that add content less frequently.
This means that if you are creating new blog posts every month, or seriously updating and refreshing old blog posts and web pages, then Google will likely “prefer” your content over a site which never posts anything new.
Hubspot, the marketing and sales giant, published a list of marketing statistics a few years ago and has kept it updated ever since.
One of the most interesting I’ve read is this:
B2B companies that blogged 11+ times per month had almost 3X more traffic than those blogging 0-1 times per month.
Obviously, 11 blog posts a month is a tall order.
But the point stands: creating content targeting keywords helps to grow your site traffic in ways which just leaving your site alone won’t.
Using tools such as Google Keyword Tool or Moz Keyword Explorer, you can find out what keywords are popular in your industry, how many people are currently searching for it every month, and who is already ranking on Page 1 of Google for that keyword.
Doing some keyword research and publishing new content every month is invaluable to your website marketing strategy.
The third way to market your website is through paid advertising.
While at first, this might sound unappealing, the benefits of a strong paid advertising campaign can deliver a huge ROI.
There are two main groups of paid advertising: general and granular.
General advertising would be something like Google Adwords, where you can pay a certain amount of money every month in order to have your site rank above spot #1 on the search results list.
As you can see here, there are three ads listed above the 1st search results for the search term “plumbers near me.”
This can be very effective, with Google sponsored listings receiving up to 64.6% of clicks from searchers who are ready to buy.
The second type of paid advertising campaign is a granular advertising campaign. This type of advertisement doesn’t target broad keywords, but rather focuses on individuals.
Facebook advertising is probably the best example.
Using their incredibly rich data, you can create an ad which can target Facebook users based on race, age, religious preference, location (within 100 miles of my business, around Front Royal, VA, etc.), hometown, household (2 kids, grandparents, etc.), lifestyle (married, unmarried, etc.), behavior (online and offline), life events (engaged within past 3 months, new baby, etc.) and even recent purchases.
Not only that, you can also choose to target similar audiences to what you specify, meaning if a Facebook user has several of the qualifications you want, but not all of them, Facebook will expand that post’s reach to people like your target audience.
This is an incredible opportunity for marketers to create highly specific ad campaigns.
You no longer have to create a billboard advertising that everyone will see, hoping to get at least some of them.
That type of scattershot never seems to pay off well.
Facebook ads are a way to target individuals, who have incredibly specific interests.
This means you can create an ad for that person, and potentially have a higher success rate.
The more you know about your target audience, the better, and Facebook just made it that much easier.
As a bonus, because of the level of specificity and clarity with granular advertising, you can clearly see if your campaign is working, and what your return on investment is for each campaign.
The best part is, you don’t even need a ton of money to advertise on Facebook.
Setting aside $25-50 a month is more than enough to start reaching your customers.
While it might be tempting to think that your site will attract customers on its own, simply because it’s there, the data says otherwise.
Having a website is an important first step in your website marketing strategy, but at the end of the day, it is only the first step.
Make sure you continually work to rank your website will in search results and drive traffic to your site.
Unlike what Kevin Costner tried to tell us in a movie I still don’t understand, if you build it, they won’t come.
You have to go out and get them.