One of the most perplexing problems when it comes to starting an e-commerce company is: how do you get people to visit your new site? Even when you have trendy graphics and great content, you suddenly enter a vast megaverse of competing sites. Fight the temptation to start outright paying for the clicks via Web ads. There are low-cost ways to increase views on any site for any business.
I checked in with several search engine experts to find out the latest techniques to draw attention to a new company site. This is a two-part story. The experts offered their best suggestions on making sure your site is listed at a top position on Google and other search engines. For many of these tips, I'll implement them on a test site and report back on the results over a period of a few months.
1. Focus on keywords, title tags, and headers.
Most of the grunt work for increasing pageviews falls on your dev team and the formatting of pages. Ryan Turner, the co-owner of the Web design company 3Prime, told me you have to do the hard work of searching for keywords in your industry (using tools like the Google Keyword Planner). Each page has a URL, title tag, and header tags (like H1). These should all include the keywords.
"Get specific by making the keywords three to four words long," Turner says. "Once you have your keywords, make sure you have one great page for each keyword."
Brandon Howard, the owner of the Web services company Allmywebneeds.com, suggests creating one specific landing page on your site for each keyword. So, for example, a party supply company might create a page each for balloons, wrapping paper, posters, etc. "You want the landing page to load quickly, be graphically appealing, and allow the user to quickly find what they are looking for," he says.
2. Create vanity linkbait.
This one is slightly controversial, depending on your industry. But I've also seen firsthand how this can work. Russ Jones, the CTO of Web marketing company Virante, told me the basic idea is to create pages that are targeted at specific influencers and high-profile experts. Here's an example: Let's say your start-up wants to create content around the topic of business plans. One approach would be to create a page with a top 10 list of famous business plans, using strategic keywords and tags. Then, you'd start a social network campaign where you let the influencers at those companies know about the link.
The key, says Jones, is to keep repeating this over and over again to increase traffic. But don't forget: the content has to be interesting as well.
3. Focus on YouTube as much as Google.
Alex Genadinik, the founder of business plan app Problemio, told me YouTube can be a goldmine--it's essentially the second biggest "search engine" in the world next to parent company Google. Every company should have at least one YouTube Channel, filled to the brim with SEO terms and links.
"YouTube is the most versatile tool in your marketing arsenal," he says. "It is easier to rank on YouTube than on Google, and YouTube videos tend to be more socially shared as well."
The result? Genadinik says Google will parse the YouTube content and the crosslinks will drive more traffic to your site. My favorite example: a friend of mine runs a small business almost entirely from the traffic he gets from one YouTube video.
4. Do way more blogging.
One of the secrets to increasing pageviews is to have more incoming links, which Google uses to help rank your site. When you write posts on other sites and you link back to your company site, it pumps life into your SEO, says Nora Leary, an Account Supervisor at digital marketer Uplifted. Leary says social media activity has a similar effect--links on Twitter and Facebook help people find the site but they also create linkbacks that improve search engine ranking.
5. Don't forget about email marketing.
Maybe you already know how to use MailChimp and have an active email marketing campaign. Still, it's easy to forget how valuable an email campaign is for increasing pageviews. "Emails that reach your customers directly and keep providing points of interest will tempt users back to the site," says Catherine Gluckstein, the president of SumAll, a business-centric social media manager. "For example, LinkedIn does this very well with their targeted emails about who has recently looked at your profile, or top newsmakers you may wish to follow." Often your customers need just a quick prompt to return. But always remember to offer some real value.