While the web designer has an important role to play, the success of a website is not up to the web designer, but up to the person in charge of the business, or the marketing of the business. It's crucial for the success of a website that the website owner realises this.
Search engines are very important. But there are other ways in which you must promote your site. It is not enough to create a site and hope that your prospective clients will find it: websites must be actively promoted.
How much traffic your site gets, through whatever promotion technique you use, will improve your search engine ranking. A higher search engine ranking will, in turn, bring you more traffic. Note that it can take months for a new site to get into Google, or for changes you have made on your site to be visible in Google.
Note also that search engines change their algorithms all the time and no-one knows the rules for them all of the time. No-one can guarantee you a place in any search engine, least of all in Google.
There are no shortcuts to good search engine ranking. The only real way is to make your site as informative as possible. It must have quality content. This way, people will want to visit it, and link to it. While you absolutely must make sure your site is optimised for the search engines, understand that there are no "tricks" your webmaster can do for you that will magically improve your search engine ranking.
Your webmaster can optimise your site for the search engines - after that, the job of promoting your website falls into your hands, or those of your marketing manager.
I. On-site search-engine optimisation - what your webmaster can do for you:
This stage is technical webmaster stuff that needs to be done, though it will have less impact on your search engine rank than what you can do yourself.
1. Research keywords and hone the text on your web pages accordingly. Your keywords need to appear in certain places on your web pages - and they need to be the RIGHT keywords.
This is a very important step. Google, by far the most-used search engine, works by analysing the text on your web pages. So you absolutely must pay attention to this step.
2. Other technical matters to do with the code, based on the best keywords, for example naming the images, alt tags, title tags, h1 tags. This is technical stuff but easy for your webmaster to put into practice, once you have researched the keywords you are planning to focus on.
3. Metatags are keywords and descriptions placed in the html of your web pages. Metatags are not as important as they once were - they will not make or break your site's SE rankings. But they must still be considered.
4. Site maps are good for the search engines. If your site has a significant number of pages, it may be worth building one.
II. Offline promotion - what you as website owner need to do, or ensure your marketing manager does:
1. Put the website address everywhere - on anything printed, on absolutely all correspondance.
2. Print ads in suitable publications, TV coverage.
3. Leaflets, mailshots, postcards.
4. Ads in other suitable places, such as notice boards.
5. Free press coverage through sending out press releases.
6. Whatever other offline marketing strategies you use to publicise your business.
III. Online promotion - also for you or your marketing manager to do:
1. Get as many links from other websites, preferably relevant ones, in the same field as you, to your website as you can.
This is probably the single most important thing you can do to get traffic and a good search engine ranking.
a. Link exchanges - get people with related sites to link to your website. You will probably need to link to theirs in return.
b. Submit your site details to relevant directories/portals.
c. Participation in discussion boards - if you are allowed to put a "signature" containing your website address.
2. Submit your site to the major search engines: Google, The Open Directory Project, Yahoo (Yahoo is only free for non-commercial websites. If you are a B to B site, you will need to pay to be included), Looksmart, Altavista. And others.
3. Submit online press releases - this gets you traffic as well as more incoming links.
4. Submit articles to online article banks - this also gets you both traffic and incoming links.
5. Place ads in suitable places:
a. Suitable websites that take ads;
b. Pay Per Click Advertising - Google Adwords, Yahoo! Search Marketing.
6. Email signature - every single email you send out should have your website address at the bottom.
7. Create an e-brochure and email it to your contacts. Ask them to pass it on. Even a simple email recommendation from your contacts to their contacts can generate very good results.
8. Run an email mailing list or newsletter. If appropriate, keep in touch with your prospects and clients by sending them regular updates/offers etc. Research shows that it takes an average of seven contacts with a prospective client to result in a sale.
It is vital for website owners to understand that the success of your site depends much more on the promotion you undertake yourself, than anything your web designer can do for you.
© Alannah Moore 2006 All rights reserved