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How To Promote and Market Your Website


Author: Mark Birkett

(see also: What Is Search Engine Optimisation - SEO?)
(see also: What Is Pay Per Ciick Advertising - PPC?)
(see also: PPC or SEO - Which Is Best For Me?)
(see also: How To Succeed In Google?)
(see also: 25 On-Page Optimisation Tips)
(see also: 25 Off-Page Optimisation Tips)

Actively promoting your business' website is always an important task. And for some businesses it's vital - especially those that source most of their new customers via the Web.

So this article is all about helping you focus attention on the task of 'performing well' in Google. Yes, of course there are other plenty of other search engines, but since Google controls 85% of the UK's search traffic, that's our benchmark - whether we like it or not.

(NOTE: We are assuming that you've already understood the basic principles behind search engine optimisation and why keyword research is so important. If not, please do read those articles first and then come back. Otherwise, please read on...)

Website Marketing requires 'online' and 'offline' techniques:

What we need is an overall approach to marketing your business online. Whilst much of the task is Web-based, some of it is also still based in the real 'offline' world.

That's partly because optimising your pages is only around 20% of the task of achieving good search result rankings. The remaining 80% of the task is all about sourcing inbound links; ideally from 'authoritative' and 'popular' websites. So we need to consider ways of earning those inbound links; some of which requires a bit of lateral thinking - as we shall see.

It's also partly because 'offline' marketing should never be forgotten. For example, TV, radio, newspaper and magazine advertising still works perfectly well; so does including your web address on all stationery and business cards; so does 'word-of-mouth' come to that. So part of your strategy for online success will still rely on promoting your business in the orthodox manner.

Remembering to continue with our 'offline' marketing efforts, let's now concentrate on the 'online' marketing methods at our disposal...

How do we qualify 'success' in Web marketing?

If you have ever used Google to research a topic, or to hire a particular service provider, you'll know that the ten results on the first page are those you usually choose from. You are often hard pushed to bother looking at the second page - still less to bother looking at page three or beyond.

So we will aim to at least achieve a result somewhere on the first page for the researched keyphrase that is relevant to our business. In other words, if our keyphrase research has determined that there are lots of people searching for 'cheap widgets' - and we have optimised our web pages around that phrase - then that is the phrase we want to be found for.

This observation may seem rather obvious. However, many business owners think they are 'doing well' in Google simply because when they type their own business name into it, their site comes up at the top of the results. That's not the point. What we want is the traffic that didn't know your business name and who were searching with a generic term.

So, we will consider a result somewhere on 'Google Page One' as a 'success', even if it takes effort, time and patience to do so.

What Is Google's Mission Statement?

A cynic with a Churchillian wit might be forgiven suggesting that Google's Mission Statement is riddled with 'terminological inexactitudes'. However, cynicism about Google's inefficient policing of 'bad behaviour' in the SEO world and rather dubious 'support' for business customers aside, Google has but one purpose:

To Organize The World’s Information And Make It Universally Accessible And Useful

And that purpose is what drives the top-secret Google Algorithm to deliver relevant results for a given search query.

However, Google can only judge the 'relevance' of your website on the basis of you having lots of inbound links, the logic being that the World's Collective Wisdom will shine a bright light on 'good' websites and leave 'bad' websites in the dark. And these inbound links will normally be from people who, for one reason or another, have effectively 'voted' for your content by linking to:

From Google's viewpoint, each of these inbound links increase your perceived 'popularity' or 'authority'. And if Google perceives your website as 'popular' or 'authoritative', then it will also consider your website relevant when someone types in a keyphrase you have optimised for. And if it does that, then your site will climb up the rankings, you'll get more enquiries, more customers and a healthier bottom line.

So it's crystal clear that we need a proper strategy for generating these all-important inbound links.

Hang on a second, isn't Google plagued by SEO 'cheats'?

Sadly yes. If we may digress slightly from the discussion...the 'cheats' of this world have long been 'abusing' Google. Many so-called 'black-hat' methods have been used; methods far too numerous to discuss in detail here but it's perhaps worth considering at least one of them to make the overall point;

This notably annoying practice is where so-called "SEO Experts" have deliberately set up an otherwise-pointless blog web page - sometimes even hidden behind a genuinely popular website - and then created inbound links from it to their client's website. These bogus websites usually have no other purpose than to fool Google into thinking the website receiving the link is 'popular'. This practice undermines efforts to create 'natural' inbound links. It also makes rather a nonsense of what the Web is actually for.

Whilst this sort of practice can yield results in Google for a while, sooner or later the Google algorithm will shift and such websites suddenly 'fall off the cliff' and are nowhere to be seen in search results.

In many cases, companies who have engaged in this sort of practice find that the thousands of pounds they may have poured into their 'SEO Experts' wallet has been completely wasted. You should avoid allowing anyone to create 'spammy' inbound links in this way. Your website may even be removed from Google for good.

But we digress...!

Back to our quest to generate inbound links...

A link to you from a website that itself has very few inbound links, or is otherwise unlikely to be considered as an 'authority' on the Web, is perhaps not worth very much in SEO terms. But a link from a site that is considered 'authoritative' is worth its weight in gold. Here's some examples of highly 'authoritative' website sources:

Some website sources are not necessarily considered quite as 'authoritative' but are nonetheless definitely still worth sourcing links from;

Further down the chain are those sites that are still worth gaining a link from, but which are unlikely to be considered particularly 'authoritative' in their own right;

The Social Media emphasis:

Due to some of the 'cheating' we've mentioned already, Google regularly makes changes to its algorithm. These are designed to remove 'spammy' websites from the search results pages, or those that have otherwise tried to 'cheat' the system. When it works well, those who have cheated will see their results ranking disappear overnight, thus wasting perhaps thousand of pounds of their client's money. Sometimes this will put the spammers and cheaters off continuing with their dark arts. Sometimes it will convince their clients not to make the same mistake of trying to cheat the system again either.

One of the significant recent changes Google made was to place more weight and trust on inbound links generated from 'Social Media' websites like Facebook and Twitter. So you absolutely must include both the Facebook 'Like' and the Twitter 'Follow' and 'Tweet This' buttons on your website pages. The same applies to adding the 'Google Plus' buttons to each page.

Ok, but how do I get inbound links from all these places?

Good question. The answer is that some links are quite easy to source, only requiring you to set aside some time to the task. Others may cost a little money. Others may be very difficult and may only happen as a result of having some luck, having the 'right connections' or applying a little bit of lateral thinking.

However, each of the most difficult ones will come with a reward. For example, you will see an improvement in your rankings if you obtained a link from a hugely popular and authoritative website like the BBC or The Guardian. And you'll certainly see some improvement if you source links from academic institutions. And you may well be surprised at the improvement you see if you have a link from industry-relevant blogs, magazines and community forums.

So let's examine how we might source these links, one-by-one:

Obtaining an inbound link from the BBC or a national newspaper:

The only realistic way to obtain a link from the BBC website or a national newspaper is to try to generate a 'story' that will appeal to its news editors, researchers and/or its radio and TV presenters.

For example, let's suppose you were contributing to providing employment for disabled people in your factory or premises. Or that you've signed a huge business contract allowing you offer employment across an under-privileged and under-employed community. These are just two examples of 'human interest' stories that might prove topically-irresistable to the BBC editor in question. So, if you do manage to secure such an interview, press them for a link to your website from the BBC website. They might even be so keen to interview you that you could insist upon it.

Obtaining an inbound link from an industry-related magazine or newsletter

If you have developed a new product, or an innovative service, your competitors might be quite interested to hear all about it. After all, many industries attract a wealth of magazine publications - all busy 'talking the industry up'. And very often, their editors are as pleased as punch if someone presents them with a ready-made story. Again, you can probably ask for a link from their website in return for the story. And if you don't ask, you certainly won't get one!

Obtaining an inbound link from a university, college or school:

All academic institutions carry 'weight' with Google. They are rightly considered as 'trustworthy' and 'authoritative' for the simple reason that they are centres of learning. So getting a link from one is definitely worth the effort.

So why not hold an open day for your local sixth-form college in exchange for a link? Persuade the college that they can have selected students visit your business, factory or offices so that you can share your industry-expertise with the next generation. Why? Because the college and students get plenty of 'hands-on' expertise for free and you get a link from their website by return. And if there is a local newspaper, you'd probably get some interest from them too. Again, another link in the offing.

Obtaining an inbound link from a community forum or industry-related blog:

There are thousands of community forums and industry-related blogs. If you seek some of them out in a Google search, you may well find a good number of them discussing subjects relating to your business and the work you do. If you contribute a genuinely useful article, or post, you may well find the moderators quite willing to accept you adding a URL to it (i.e. a back link to your website). The main thing is not to abuse it. Hang around the blog or forum for a while until you get a feel for what's acceptable.

Recap on how to promote your website:

Promoting your website is at least as important a task as building it was. So once it is built, use the pointers above - and any other link-building opportunities that come your way - to create a growing 'authority' and search-engine ranking for your own website articles.

For more information, call our local rate number - 01706 345648.

(see also: What Is Search Engine Optimisation - SEO?)
(see also: What Is Pay Per Ciick Advertising - PPC?)
(see also: PPC or SEO - Which Is Best For Me?)
(see also: How To Succeed In Google?)
(see also: 25 On-Page Optimisation Tips)
(see also: 25 Off-Page Optimisation Tips)

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