The first step to increasing your Web traffic is understanding where your visitors are coming from now. In this article, we’ll also discuss how you can learn more about your website visitors.
When you’re just starting out, most of the traffic that comes to your website comes from people who know you, people like your friend Jamie and your uncle Peter. In time, the biggest chunk of visitors to your site will be people whom you’ve done business with before. Obviously these people are critically important to your business, but in terms of new growth, they aren’t the focus. We need to find people who are not in your circle yet—preaching to the choir won’t get you more converts.
There are three main tools used by digital marketers to grow your circle:
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO): The goal of SEO is to get your website to appear at the top of the search results when someone looks online for your products or services. You do this by optimizing the content on your web pages and getting other sites to link to you.
- Search Engine Marketing (SEM): Sometimes this term is used as an umbrella term covering all forms of website marketing. For our purposes though, I am specifically using it to describe pay per click (PPC) advertising. It’s similar to SEO, except with SEM, you are paying for your position in the search results page.
- Inbound Marketing - also known as Permission Marketing or Content Marketing: Historically, most marketing was based on interrupting your audience to get their attention and then pushing your message to them. The concept of inbound marketing is that you earn that attention. You do that by producing content that people will value and seek out. It’s a lot of work but well worth the effort.
There are more than 200 search engines on the Internet but Google is the undisputed king. 67% of all searches are done through Google. As such, it gets most of our attention.
Do you know how Google does its thing? It’s pretty fascinating. Periodically, they send a software robot to “crawl” your site. It clicks on every link and indexes every word and image. All of that information is then stored on their servers. When you do a search, Google doesn’t check the Web, instead it checks its index. That’s how they do it so fast! What order the results appear in is Google’s secret sauce. Their goal is to deliver the most relevant results at the top of the search engine results page. There is a lot to know about how they do this that I’ll explain later when I discuss SEO.
The results page is made of several parts. Outlined in green are the Google AdWords ads that are purchased on a pay-per-click basis (mentioned above related to SEM). Advertisers bid on position and pay when someone clicks on an ad that links to another website page.
The orange triangle points at Shopping results. If you have an e-commerce store, you really want your products to appear in this box. This box won’t appear on every search. Sometimes in its place, you’ll see a row of YouTube videos or photographs here.
Outlined in pink are the organic search results. They’re called “organic” because no one pays for position. You can use the best SEO tactics to appear high in these results, but ultimately, Google decides. They’ve spent a lot of time and energy developing technology that makes those results the most relevant they can be for the searcher. The first position is nearly twice as likely to be clicked on as the second position, so getting to the top of these listings is a goal for business.
There are two types of searches that people do: name and keyword. Name searches are done when people know your business’ name but not the URL to your website. Creative Company is a perfect example. Lots of people know our name but don’t know that our website address is creativeco.com. For most businesses, the majority of search traffic will come from people searching on a variation of your name.
Keyword searches are different. These are done most commonly by people who have never heard of you. For example, if you want to buy a chainsaw but don’t know who sells them, you’ll search for chainsaws rather than by company name. Long-tail keywords, or keyword phrases, are also used to narrow down a search. For example, chainsaw dealers in Oregon will deliver a more narrowly focused result. Businesses can use long-tail keywords to bring their business up in search results for common terms.
The last brick in this foundation is to be aware of the tools you’ll be using to increase your traffic. The most important is Google Analytics. It’s free from Google. To use it, Google will give you some code you’ll need to put on your site’s home page. After that, you’ll have access to a myriad of valuable website stats that I’ll help you make sense of in a later article. If you have questions about setting up your Google Analytics, drop me a line. I’m happy to help you get set up.
Google also has another free tool called Webmaster Tools. It too is free and you’ll have to install that code on your home page as well. It gives you a host of details about what Google’s crawler saw when they visited your site. If there are errors, or broken links, you’ll learn about them here.
Another tool from Google is their AdWords system. This is how you can buy those pay-per-click ads that I mentioned above. Even if you don’t advertise, you’ll want to use the keyword tool that’s here. It’s free to use but you will need to sign up for a free account.
Finally, a tool not from Google. It’s, PR Checker. This site will tell you what your Google PageRank is. PageRank is a grade that Google gives your site based on who links to it. It’s a score from 1-10, with 1 being the best. The average site rates a 2 or 3.
There are other tools available, many of which require a subscription. We’ll cover some of those in other posts as we go along. I’ll help you get set up with a website toolbox that will make understanding your site’s traffic easier.
Making sense of your traffic, tracking it over time and managing it is a service that Creative Company is happy to offer its customers. If you would like to learn more, call us at 503.883.4433 or just email me.
This is the second article in a series about increasing your Web traffic. If you haven’t already, please click the subscribe button in the right sidebar so you won’t miss a single article. Below are other resources to help you understand the world of websites, inbound marketing, and how they impact your business.
- Here’s another blog post about why Google’s ranking is essential.
- Download our free guidelines to inbound marketing.
- Learn more about HubSpot, our recommended software platform for building a comprehensive inbound marketing program.
- Wondering how your website is viewed? We’ve summarized research from Stanford University in our free website guidelines for credibility.
- And of course, please visit Creative Company’s website to see examples of our work.
A website is a central component of an optimized brand. Why? Because that’s where most people start looking for what you offer. No matter what industry or category you’re in, your website is an essential point of choice for your organization. We’ll work with you to make it more effective.
Ron's in-depth experience in the world of digital marketing includes stints at RR Donnelly when the first online yellow pages were being developed, to performing as a one-person marketing director/designer/web developer and manager for a manufacturing company. He brings his deep understanding of all things digital to Creative Company's brand work. Ron