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How do I get more visitors to my site?

Whether you're seeing the numbers in a visitor tracking program like Google Analytics or you've just noticed that visitors to your website aren't ordering much or calling / emailing you often, you're wondering the same thing - "How do I get more visitors to my site?" (also known as "How do I increase traffic to my website?"). In short, there is no simple answer to this so let's take a look at just a few of the possibilities.

Search Engines

"How do I get my site higher on Google/Bing/Yahoo?" This is one of the most frequently asked questions (right after "How do I get more visitors to my website?"). There are three paths to solving this - hiring an SEO company, working with the company who designed/hosts/manages your website, and doing it yourself.

Hiring an SEO Company

Since NRG Networks is not an SEO (Search Engine Optimization) company, we've partnered with a few to be able to provide more complete services for our clients. We can provide with these names upon request or you can research your own - there are plenty out there even in just our small state of CT. You will want to make sure that you've found a reputable company though. The easiest trick to doing this is to go by what they don't promise you.

Whatever company you choose to use shouldn't promise you a guaranteed #1 spot on Google/Bing/Yahoo/Search Engine X. The only people who might be able to pull that one off are the engineers over at your search engine of choice and they aren't sharing their secrets any time soon. What they should promise you is movement - movement from where you are to as close to page one as you can be. This movement will depend on the keywords you're looking to use and how fierce your competition is for the same keywords.

What are keywords?

These are the terms that you or another web user type into the big search box on your search engine of choice. Your SEO company should spend a good deal of time with you figuring out what those words and phrases should be for your site. For example, you might want to use the term "lawyers" for your law site, but that puts you in competition with every law site in the world who also decided to use that term.

Using something like "lawyers in Cheshire, CT" really narrows down your competition and gets closer to the market you want. Someone typing in just "layers" might live in Scotland and be a bit too far away to travel to your firm whereas someone typing in "lawers Cheshire CT" probably lives in your area.

Once the keywords are set, your SEO firm will monitor how your site is doing over the period of time you have retained them for - often its six months to a year. They will then make adjustments to your content and metatags (code on your site that lets search engines know which keywords you're going for) to get you higher up in the list of search results that are returned to your potential client.

This experience, while valuable, can be a bit pricey which is why you might want to consider some alternatives, but if you want everything all wrapped up on one bundle - that's the way you go.

Using Your Current Website Company

This is the part of this great list where we at NRG Networks would come in, but you can usually talk to whoever it is that hosts (holds your website on their servers), manages, and designed your website. We're not an SEO company, but we've worked with quite a few and have learned a few tricks. Every website we design is done so with our collective search engine knowledge in mind. This means that your web page titles and headers are constructed using keywords that match both your page content and links to that page. We also add in metatags to enhance your keyword recognition with search engines and code toward w3c (World Wide Web Consoritum) specifications to keep the code used to build your site as friendly as possible to your web visitor, search engines, and the changes of time.

We will also advise you on how you might structure your content to appeal to search engines. For example, you'll want to use those keywords we talked about in the SEO Company portion of this article above throughout the content you write so the search engine knows who are you are and what you do. By the same token, you want your website visitor to know that same information along with the all-important "What can you do for me?" Write your content as if your website guest has no idea who you are (as they probably don't) with some nice, specific keywords and search engines should see your site as a juicy bit of information to display thus increasing your chance at ranking higher. Where we differ from SEO companies though is that we base the keywords we use off your content and not months of research in your field.

Beyond this we can run our Google-Friendly protocol on your site which generally means that we go through each page, compare it to the advice of google engineers and the w3c, and change the code of your site to meet those specifications. Usually, this has no outward aesthetic effect on your site, meaning... you probably won't see the change until you look at your visitor count.

Doing It Yourself

By reading this article, you've already started gaining the knowledge you need to figure out what search engine optimization your site needs. The web is full of articles written by website creators, SEO companies as well as the engineers over at Bing (MSN), Yahoo, and Google. Once you feel in touch with what your site needs you can either edit your own pages via a host portal, website creation program like Dreamweaver, or through ftp access to incorporate the new code or you can ask your web design company to do it for you. Then monitor your results through analytics.

Search engines are always changing the parameters they use to determine who gets ranked on page one. Part of this is because of competition with other search engines and part of it is because of workarounds some site creators use to get their site ranked higher than it should be. The end result is that working to make search engines happy with your website is always a work in progress.

Links and Referrals

Links - those little words and phrases people click on to get to your site - are almost always a good thing. They are especially good if you can get well-known sources to include links to your website on theirs.

Links To Your Site

Do you have partner companies that you work with often? Is there a list or directory for your industry that you feel your site should be included in? Contact them and offer a link exchange - you'll link to them on your website if they link to you on theirs. Be careful when doing this though, you should never have to pay for links and don't get your site involved in untrusthworthy link portals - if you wouldn't visit a site or click links from it, chances are your website visitors won't either. Look for names that are known in the industry instead.

Links Within Your Site

Now, it is difficult to control who links to you, but you can control links on your own site. Use phrases with nice keywords in them to link to other pages in your site. Let's say you are a community medical clinic site and you have a sentence on your home page that talks about the many clinics you have in the state of CT. Let's also assume you have a page with a list of those clinics. You will want to choose the words in that home page sentence that you feel someone is most likely to type into a search engine and make those into a link to your clinic location page. This is why you want to avoid the term "click here" when writing your content - no one's going to type "click here" into a search for your site.

You can also add links to all the pages of your site in a sitemap and/or at the bottom of your page. This helps both search engines and web visitors figure out how to get where they want to go. To go a step further, you can even make the file name of that page include those same keywords. If that's stopped making sense to you, don't worry about it. You can ask your website host or designer (like us!) to do that for you.

Blogs, Forums, Q&A

Two of the best things you can have on your website are recently updated content and interactivity. The first of these tells search engines that you have new and relevant information that will be useful to people doing searches on their site (Remember - the motivation of a search engine is to give the user who is searching the best information related to the terms they typed in as quickly as possible. This is why good, solid information trumps most SEO tricks.)

This also tells visitors to your site that it is worthwhile to visit over and over again. They may even refer friends if they feel the information you have on your site is useful to them. A note on content though - while good information is best, it's also best if you put it in bite-sized, easily understandable chunks. The average web user has an attention span of about 3 seconds.

This is where blogs and forums come in. They allow you to post new, usable content frequently so your visitors have not only a reason to come to your site, but to return again. They especially like to return if they can interact with your site. Being able to post comments and ask questions that they will receive answers to will help drive them in. As a double bonus, all those answers you're generating for your users counts as new and attractive content for search engines and new users. If you choose NRG Networks for your website work, we can build a blog, forum, or question and answer section to attach to your site that you can control at will to help achieve these goals.

There is a downside to using these methods though. As much as new, usable content and inteactivity are a great help for your site, old content and lack of interactivity (for example - lack of answers to questions) will drive users in the opposite direction you want them to go - away from your site. These methods take time and energy to maintain, but even monthly posts are a plus.

Social Networking

Don't have your own forum or blog? Read someone else's in your field and start responding. Include your website in your posts (so long as you make sure your posts are professional) so users can begin equating your name with the kind of information you can provide. Dive in and be a part of the crowd on LinkedIn, Facebook, and other networking sites. It's hard to put your name out into the crowd if you never are a part of it.

Don't have a facebook page for your site? Want a video on Youtube or a profile on Myspace? NRG Networks can help you build that web presence. We can integrate you into the social networking community as much or as little as you like once you say the word.

Paid and Local Advertising

Paying for ads is another way to pay a company to do the work of getting your name out there for you. It's quick, it's simple, and it's effective. Some options are Google Adwords and Facebook advertising. In both of these venues, you sign up for an account, select your keywords, and pay by either the number of times your ad is shown or the number of times someone clicks on it.

Google & Facebook Advertising

With Google, your ad will show in either the top yellow box above a set of search results or to the right hand side next to the search results. On Facebook, the ads are all to the right hand side. With Google, you generally pay more and reach more people. With Facebook you pay a little less and can choose your target market (the type of people you are trying to reach). Remember, the more speciifc your keywords are, the fewer the competition, and thus the less you'll pay for a good spot.

Local Advertising

Alternatively, you can advertise locally. Find shops that relate to your business and ask if you can give them some flyers or business cards to put on a counter or hand out. Spread the word about your company through friends and family and by donating to your community. You can also of course, pay for advertisments mailed to your potential clients and put up posters and signs... and hope they don't get ignored. The best rule of thumb here is do things that you yourself would pay attention to or try to put yourself in your client's shoes. What do they want? What are they here for? Where would they go that's related to what you do?

Free Tools, Guides, & Articles

What websites do you return to constantly? Chances are it's something like a news page or your email. These are places that are constantly updated or that you can visit to do things. What other things might you visit?

Website Tools

Do you use an online currency converter? Weight calculator? Stock tracker? Movie showtime list? Now that we're in that vein of thought, what tool pertaining to your business might a user want? Find it and place it on your site. You're a trucking company that specializes in mass quantity of mulch? Put a yardage calculator on your site that your visitors can use to figure how much mulch they need. DOn't know how? Ask us. We can build it.

Website Articles

Sometimes there are no tools for your industry or at least none you can think of. Here, you'll want to resort to articles much like this one. Find a niche - something you get asked a lot that you can explain in detail and write about it. This is interesting and useful to your visitors and it provides plenty of new content for search engines to chew on. Are you a law firm? Explain how a divorce works legally or the transferrance of titles. You don't need to give away trade secrets, just pick out the little things and explain them in detail. People want to know.

Summary

Work toward those goals.