I just had a discussion with a prospective client about phone books. Remember those? Now we use them as monitor stands or booster seats for our kids. At my home and at Marketpath they typically go straight to the recycling bin. My environmentally friendly side cries a little each time.
A Yellow Pages ad was fairly simple and straightforward, albeit expensive. We'd put together a simple description of the services or products and a straightforward call to action like "Call Now". Once placed, there was nothing else to do. We just crossed our fingers that people would call or visit our store.
The Delusion of Getting Found
Search engines quickly replaced the phone book as the go to source for business information. In 1999, the year after Google launched, it saw 3.5 million searches per day. In 2012, that jumped to 3.8 billion searches per day. The increasing importance of the search engine was obvious and unavoidable.
Now we have a website with an obscure URL that is hidden from plain view until the right combination of tactics are executed to boost its findability. Those tactics are what most small businesses get wrong or simply ignore. There is no "Builid it and they will come" magic formula. Sorry. Your beautiful new site, as user friendly and appealing as it may be, has no value until people can find it. For most businesses, though, getting found can be relatively easy and straightforward and does not have to consume an enormous amount of our time. We simply need a plan and a little discipline.
Getting to Your Website
Visitors may use one of the primary routes below to arrive at a website:
- Search Engines
- Social Sites
- Banner and Text Ads
- Directory Sites
- Email Marketing
- Direct URL Entry
- Other Referring Sites
Keeping these seven routes in mind, we can devise a plan to increase the visibility of our site. Each route requires different tactics. But they all have one foundational task in common - content.
Content Eludes Us
Why do people visit our site? Because something peaks their curiosity or interest. That something might be a blog post, white paper, case study, infographic, video, or podcast. Generally speaking, it's content. The single most important factor in any online marketing initiative is content. Without it, our efforts are dead in the water.
So we have to write blog posts and case studies. We have to produce videos. We have to create captivating graphics. Content, especially relevant, engaging, and regular content, drives search engine visibility, drives social sharing, and provides the basis for email marketing.
Yet, many of us start strong and stall quickly. Just like a small stream can carve a huge riverbed by continuously flowing, so too can a constant stream of quality content. A dead content marketing effort results in dead visibility. Don't be dead.
We have to approach it the same way we approach exercise. We may not want to do it but carving out small blocks of time a few times a week can have a dramatic impact on our overall well being.
If your content marketing has stalled take a few minutes this week to review your initial plan. If you don't have one, build one. Then follow the guidelines below:
- Keep a list of potential blog or white paper topics. Here's a start: 6 Blog Topics You Can Use Today. These will come in handy when you can't come up with a topic on the fly.
- Carve out one hour at least three times a week to create content or review content produced by others
- If you truly do not have the time or skill set, delegate to a co-worker, employee, or hire an outside firm to do the content marketing for you.
- Post to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+ and other social sites that encourage sharing with each newly created content piece.
- Measure the results of your efforts regularly so you can make adjustments.
You simply can't improve your website visibility and engagement overnight. You need to maintain a regular course of action by producing quality and engaging content.