It is estimated that up to 60% of new traffic to your Web site will come from search engines. This means that unless you are already so well known that people will be using your name to search for your site, you need a search engine strategy. Thousands of new Web sites are created daily, so axiom "Build it, and they will come" does not apply.
Effective Web site promotion requires a serious and continuing investment of time and resources, whether you do it yourself, or hire a professional. It is not a one-shot deal, but an ongoing process, meaning you should evaluate return on your investment. You can collect a vast amount of crucial information about your traffic, and make strategic business development decisions, in ways that are unprecedented in real world.
Setting your goals
We've all met person who boasts of "thousands of hits a day" on his Web site, and maybe we felt a little envious. But let's debunk hype . . . .
It's important to distinguish between individual visitors, and "hits". The latter refers to every piece of your site that is downloaded, and this includes all graphics files separately. Thus, one visitor viewing your home page, which contains text and four images, will generate five "hits". If that visitor explores your site further, he or she will generate more hits, but it's still same user.
You want to ask yourself whether you want every visitor that you can get - which could be thousands of indiscriminate, unqualified people, or whether you would prefer 20 highly qualified decision makers per day, looking for exactly what you provide?
There are no right or wrong answers, but you should have goals for volume and quality of traffic that you would like, so you can measure results (more on this later!)
The next step is to identify some keywords and key phrases that will differentiate you. Imagine if we all used "professional speaker" as our main key phrase. How many of us would show up on top of search engines?
Furthermore, there are too many results for typical search. So, visitors will be combining "professional speaker" with something that narrows down what they are looking for - perhaps "customer service" and "banking", or maybe a location, such as "teambuilding" and "Chicago". You will discover keywords that work best for you when you run a log analysis - for now, make your best guess.
Think about topics you offer, which industries you specialize in, which locations you serve, and anything else that sets you apart. Make sure that your keywords are in language that your clients use, and not industry jargon - I have never seen phrase "keynote speaker" in actual searches.
Then, build these into a set of keywords and phrases. Because of frequency of most single words, phrases often work better in narrowing a search. Include your name, common misspellings of your name, and any other key element of your site. Use both singular and plural forms, and mix capital with lower case letters, except for proper names (some search engines are case sensitive and will exclude lower case searches for words that you have capitalized).
As an example, here are key words and phrases for my site:
Philippa Gamse, Phillipa, Games, CyberSpeaker, internet speaker, internet seminars, Internet marketing programs, internet marketing speakers, search engines, online marketing strategies, Web site promotion, traffic logs, internet consultant
Not an exhaustive list, but a good start ;-)
When you have keywords and phrases, use those to build:
1. a page title containing your most significant keywords. It doesn't matter if title doesn't read well - it's piece that appears in colored bar of browser at top, and very few people see it. Contrary to popular belief, titles are for search engines, not people!
2. a brief "knock their sox off" description. This will be displayed in search engine results, and will attract visitors to come to you. Most search engines display 2 lines or less, so wording such as
"Welcome to My Company - a full service provider of . . ." is probably most of what you'll get - and you haven't said anything yet! So keep it pithy, and include keywords.
Now - do this for every significant page of your site!
Your site is (or should be) more than your home page. The spider search engines that index every word on a page allow you to submit multiple pages. So do it! This increases by many times your exposure, and angles that you can use to promote yourself.
For example, I have an article on my site about choosing an Internet Service Provider (if you want to read it, check out my list of articles). Many people searching for this topic find this piece as their entry point to my site. If they want to find out more about me, they can follow navigation aids back to get more information.
Reviewing and updating your pages
When you have your keywords, key phrases, titles and descriptions ready, it's time to insert them into every significant page of your site. You may need help from your Web designer to do this.
First, you need to incorporate these elements into header record for each page - in special places called "meta tags". These tags, which aren't visible to visitors, are used heavily by several of major search engines.
As an example, header record for my home page looks like this: Internet speaker, Internet marketing speaker, internet seminars, online marketing programs
Also, make sure that text of each page includes main keywords again - but don't spam - that is, repeat them incessantly. At best, search engines will ignore more than about 7 occurrences of each word, at worst they may even exclude your site.
While you are reviewing your Web site pages, look for any hidden roadblocks for search engines that your Web designer may have unwittingly introduced. These can include: