Your website is just the first step
Driving traffic to your website
by Ralph Hilsdon, Web-Clubs
Posted on 20 July 2017
It’s surprising how many businesses invest in a new website and then sit back, expecting business to roll in without further effort! Sadly this is rarely if ever the case, nor was it in the past.
The Shop Analogy
Think of your website as a traditional shop on the high street.
A large shop located in a prominent position, that looks good and stocks the right products at the right prices will get noticed, people will shop there and possibly recommend to friends further afield. On the busy high street there is likely to be competition; offers, promotion and the shop’s appearance will all be used to help the business stand out and successfully compete. Life is more difficult for a shop down a quiet side street, it can look good and have a good product range, but with little natural foot fall, it will need to do something special to get found. Such shops may choose to operate in niche markets and/or promote themselves loudly to get noticed.
The Digital Shop
Our Digital World is remarkably similar, the website can be compared to the shop, the high street to the first page of Google and the quiet side streets to the remaining search engine pages. Almost without thinking, when we want something we “Google” it, we then scan down the results and click on the most relevant taking us to a website, we rarely click onto the second page. (I should of course mention that there are alternatives to Google such as Bing and Yahoo).
Following up on the analogy; a first page listing on Google is highly sought after just like a prominent shop position on the high street. In both cases, there are limits on what is available. Google has only ten organic (or free) entries and limited paid for entries on the first page. The number of shops on the high street is also restricted. As a result, these prime positions command a higher price.
Driving Traffic to your Website
Returning, then to the initial point, having invested in a website, what can you do to drive business to it. There are a number of tools available, all with their pros and cons, it’s wise to be broad minded and consider all options rather than rely on just one. Here is a quick overview of the main tools available.
- Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) – The process of tweaking your website to achieve a high ranking on search engines such as Google. A high ranking is easier to achieve for a niche business than one with many players. In a competitive market getting a page one listing for a small business across a wide geographical area can be close to impossible to achieve, for example “Plumbers in London” will be difficult whereas “Plumbers in Ongar” will be easier.
- Pay per Click (PPC) – The ads above and below the organic search results. Whether your advert appears is dependent on the keywords you have selected, how much you have bid for them and the quality ranking of your website. Providing you are willing to pay enough, you can achieve a page one listing. Similar advertising is also offered on Social Media platforms like Facebook, because they have quite detailed profiles of their users, advertising can be quite well targeted. It is worth working with an experienced agency, poorly managed campaigns can soon run up high costs with poor results.
- Social Media – Platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram offer an opportunity to drive traffic to your website. In addition to paid advertising already mentioned under PPC, you can create interest in your business through the digital equivalent of “word of mouth” through regular posts that are educating, entertaining and engaging, you can demonstrate your skills and raise awareness. Whilst the medium is free, your time isn’t, and to succeed, time is required.
- Email Marketing – Sending informative or promotional emails to a relevant and targeted audience by email. We are compulsive inbox checkers, email marketing takes advantage of this by getting your message inside that inbox. It is suitable whether you are targeting consumers or businesses. It is both effective and cost efficient if implemented correctly, crucially you need access to accurate contact lists, it needs to be correctly targeted and the email needs to engage quickly. Only work with reputable agencies and avoid cheap lists for sale, GDPR compliance is essential.
- Affiliate Marketing – You can place adverts on other people websites that are relevant to your business, you pay them a fee for a click, lead or sale.
Traditional tools – we should not forget advertising in newspapers, magazines and using mailshots etc.
The principles of marketing a business remain unchanged but the tools we have available have developed. Digital marketing can allow a modest sized business to reach a broader market and to compete at a higher level than possible in the past. But, to take full advantage of its features and to avoid wasted expenditure, skills in its intricacies are essential. The best approach is to look to one organisation that can provide one integrated solution comprising your new website, your social media pages and the tools to drive business to them.