Beyond Search Engines
Some webmasters report that search engines account for 75% or more of their total website traffic. However, it is important not to become too dependent on search engines for new business. Achieving a top listing from a major search engine is becoming more and harder over time. The competition for top spots is intense and it's getting harder every day to get listed at all. Also an increasing number of search engines are moving to a pay-per-click version, and paying for top listings may not be in your budget.
The significant search engine businesses are usually secretive about the details of their ranking procedure, so you've got to rely on trial and error when optimizing your website to get a higher position. Additionally, search engines change their algorithms every now and then, and if they do you may find your Web pages bumped down to a lower position. To stay informed about the latest search engine rank procedures you will either have to spend substantial time on your own or pay for the services of an SEO specialist.
While search engines can be a wonderful source of targeted traffic, the people they send aren't necessarily your best prospects. True, the traffic is targeted in the sense that the visitor has actively searched for key words that your website is related to, but that searcher can also be seeing (and presumably seeing ) the links of some of your closest competitors who also appear in the search results. To put it differently, they are"shopping around", and your website is a competition but not the only option. In contrast, somebody who visits your site after reading your post, seeing your advertisement at a respected ezine, or being referred by a friend is interested in your website particularly.
For all these reasons, your marketing strategy should not rely too heavily on search engine positioning. You shouldn't become overly dependent on any one source of traffic, and search engine rankings are especially vulnerable to abrupt changes. Being bumped in the first page of results to the next, or moving from the next page into the third, can indicate a substantial drop in traffic. You need to diversify your marketing efforts and utilize an assortment of promotional methods to attract visitors to your website as opposed to putting all of your time and effort into obtaining a search engine list.
Here are ten other ways you can promote your online business:
1) Get your articles published in ezines and on websites. Find top quality ezines and sites offering loads of useful and relevant content that would appeal to your target market (but that aren't your direct competitors). Contact the writer or webmaster and give free reprint rights to a post you have written that would be a fantastic match for their readers or site visitors. They get additional content and you get new prospects - it is a win-win circumstance.
2) Exchange links with other webmasters. Go to your favourite search engine and search for other high quality sites with content related to the topic of your website. Then contact the webmaster and provide swap links - you connect to their website from a source page on your site and in exchange they link to yours. You will both benefit from the excess traffic, plus you will be adding useful content to your website.
3) Participate in banner ad and link exchanges. Swap banner or text link advertisements with other webmasters who share your own market. You could join a banner exchange system or simply arrange swaps by yourself, but either way make certain that your banner will be displayed to a targeted audience (those most likely to be interested in your product or service).
4) Practice viral advertising. Invite your website visitors and existing customers to tell their friends and coworkers about your organization. Make it simple for them to email a recommendation by providing a link on your website and in your ezine which will fill in the URL and other details in a form that they can customize and send.
5) Run ezine ads. Put your ad in an ezine that appeals to your potential customers. If your budget allows consider sponsoring a complete issue; you receive several advertisements throughout one issue, which increases the impact of your sales message.
6) Place print ads. Run a collection of classified ads in the local newspaper or company publications. Also, seek out special interest publications and trade journals of interest to your potential clients - that the price is usually sensible and you will reach a highly targeted market.
7) Give away logoware. Print your URL and logo on t-shirts, baseball caps, coffee mugs, mouse pads, keychains, pens, or other promotional giveaways. Include them with catalogs, slide them into order shipments, and give them away at public occasions.
8) Try mobile advertising. Have you ever wondered how long spent on the road? Placing your URL on a car window sticker or on an ad board at a bus or cab reaches a wide audience for very little cash. Set a decal or magnetic sign on your car and ask your friends and family members to set your internet decal on their cars, too.
9) Distribute flyers and handouts. A flyer can normally be printed up and distributed for pennies. Just have a simple one page sheet composed with a description of your organization and your website URL along with other contact info. Hand them out in a shopping centre or supermarket or through a fair or special occasions, or cover a flyer distribution business to deliver them door-to-door for you.
10) Do a postcard mailing. Get some postcards printed up with a screenshot of your site's home page or picture of your place of business on the front along with a description of your company and website URL on the back. Bulk mail them yourself or pay to have them included in a "card pack" mailer that goes out in your community.
Search engines are obviously too important to ignore, but do not overlook the many different possibilities for driving visitors to your website. Even if you succeed in getting your site listed and rank well, do not rely on search engines alone to bring you new clients. And if you've tried repeatedly to get indexed by major search engines only to find your website ignored or rejected, do not despair - you do have other alternatives. Do not be afraid to try something different and new. Experiment with new marketing procedures and monitor your results to discover which methods work best for you.