Web Site Marketing Methodologies

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Imagine this: A store filled with Internet users, scouring the Web to make their next purchase. Shockingly, though, all their thoughts and inclinations are displayed while you peruse the aisles.

Yes, it’s hard to imagine, but this store is probably the dream of every Web site marketer. And if it isn’t, it probably should be because Web site marketing is all about getting inside users’ heads.

Lisa Bishop, senior search engine optimization (SEO) specialist at Mannix Marketing Inc., a provider of Web design, development and search engine optimization services, said the cardinal rule for marketing Web sites is to be creative. Creativity, however, doesn’t mean packing a site with weighty phrases without cause — it means reaching the customers resourcefully.

Applying the “six degrees of separation” theory (the idea that anyone can be connected to any other person through a chain of acquaintances with no more than five intermediaries) is a great way to build links to your Web site. First, you need to have a thorough understanding of your customer base. This is achieved through researching your industry, keywords, competitors and, of course, your customers’ personal needs and wants.

“Do consider what the searcher needs to know in order to choose your company — don’t use any kind of cookie-cutter optimization techniques,” Bishop said. “If your Web site meets the needs of the searcher, you’re on your way to being ranked within the search engines.”

Knowing the competition is extremely important for any marketing strategy, but it’s even more so for Web site marketing. Minimally, you want to understand what keywords they use, and you want to appraise their sites’ look, usability and special features.

Once you know the ins and outs of your customers and competitors, ask yourself questions such as, “What other Web sites could customers link to our Web site?” These links could be similar businesses, area businesses, industry associations, industry-specific search engines, directories, etc.

In turn, you can create a “link” section or directory on the Web site, so users can link out to those sites. This often results in them listing your URL on their sites, which is great free exposure.

Make sure the links listed on your Web site, however, are quality resources because an inferior link could put a dent in your reputation. To quickly determine whether a link is a quality resource, check its popularity level, using the PageRank toolbar in Google. Regardless of Web sites’ rankings, however, make sure the links add value to your site.

“The search engines believe that if your site is being linked to, then it must be popular, active and worthy,” Bishop said. “So, the idea behind a link popularity campaign is not to boost traffic, although, if done properly, this may be an added benefit. If you are linking to sites that are related to yours but not competing, chances are you will get some hits from them.”

Including industry-specific “hot” keywords is also extremely important when trying to increase the traffic on your Web site. You want to understand how potential customers will find the site using search engines. This means including different keyword combinations on the site under which you wish to be found. Make sure such phrases include both broad and specific keyword combinations.

“Make sure you have enough text to explain your product or services,” Bishop said. “Try to become an authority on whatever category your business is in. Always use common sense — if it makes sense to you, it will make sense to the search engines. Gone are the days of jamming keyword phrases into your text regardless of grammar. Keep things natural and flowing, and the search engines will respond favorably.”

Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising is another way to boost exposure on the Internet. Bishop, however, said PPC advertising should be regarded as supplemental. “It is often used while waiting for natural placements to appear and can be modified as keywords get ranked,” she said. “The great thing about PPC is that you are in control of your budget. If you have extra money and want to pay for some listings, go for it. PPC shouldn’t be used as a replacement for natural optimization but can be a temporary solution, if needed.”

Although these are only a few examples of Web sites marketing techniques, it is extremely important — regardless of the techniques employed — to assess your strategy.

“A good statistics program is critical to analyzing the optimization efforts and making sure they are working,” Bishop said. “Within a statistics program, you can follow click paths, analyze bounce rates, note which keywords are performing adequately, etc. This information is so valuable to a skilled SEO, as they rely on it to steer the campaign in the proper direction.”

She also suggests monthly assessments to gain clear insight of the site’s performance.

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