How’s your website doing? Are you getting a great increase in visitors and customers? No? Well, then you have lots of company, because the majority are not. And here’s why: most businesses developed a website (or had someone develop it for them) years ago.
In the beginning, the strategies used to drive visitors to a site were pretty standard and also pretty ineffective – publish one’s site address in standard forms of advertising (print, radio, mailers, fridge magnets, etc.), print new business cards which included the web address, and hope that potential consumers would come to the site and buy.
The next “generation” of marketing was to get backlinks. This was accomplished by having a campaign of writing articles to be placed in directories and blogs to which targeted markets routinely visited. Basically, an article or post would be submitted for publication and, if accepted, there were allowed a certain number of links back to one’s site.
Then, of course, came keywords – the art of stuffing as many commonly used search terms into articles and blogs. The more the merrier! Content mattered not.
Content Rules Now
Audiences are now more sophisticated, and search engines have developed algorithms to evaluate sites, blog posts and articles. Driving people to a site is now a matter of providing rich content, education, and information all over the web, so that consumers want to read what you have written or view what you have designed.
Website content and design is important, of course, but more important are compelling blogs, webinars, and social media presences. So important has content become, in fact, that companies who can afford to employ full-time content or digital marketers to design and implement their web-based marketing programs. You may not have the money to employ such a person, but you can copy their 3 basic strategies.
#1. Provide More Value and Less Advertising
If your business niche is custom-made window treatments, then you are an expert. You have lots of valuable information to share with others – information about blinds, shades, curtains/drapes, shutters, materials and fabrics, and such. If a customer were to come into your brick and mortar store, you would probably give them lots of information and educate them about all of the options they have for window treatments. You must think of your potential online customers in the same way. They are looking for valuable information, not a “hard sell” (and Google is looking for this too). So, here is what you do:
- Get a blog on your website, and start writing educational posts about window treatments.
- Invite others in related businesses to post on your site, and ask to post on theirs as well. These reciprocal relationships are valuable to both parties because they open up new customer markets.
- Don’t just set up a Facebook presence – engage your social media followers with your company “personality.” Be creative, humorous, and promote your brand name as you do
- Focus always on the content, not on advertising. Many people use the 80-20 “rule.” 80% of what you write should be informational and educational, and 20% should focus on your brand name, sales, discounts, etc.
- Unless your audience is intellectual, be conversational in tone – you are an authority but you are also just a regular person!
#2. Developing Relationships
Link “stuffing” is a thing of the past, so stop it! If someone were to visit your window treatment showroom, how would you engage them? You would spend time with them, developing a trusting relationship. The same goes for your web interaction with potential and existing customers and with other internet entrepreneurs. You want “followers” who like you and who will refer others to you by sharing your link, just as someone who physically visits your showroom will refer others to your store. As you develop these relationships, you won’t have to be the one getting links out there – others will do it for you!
- On your own site blog, be certain you have a function that allows readers to comment and engage with one another; on your social media postings, be certain that followers can comment and share and engage with one another.
- Again, invite business-related entrepreneurs to post on your blog and on your social media sites, and offer to post on theirs. If I owned a window treatment business, I would be looking for blogs on interior design, furniture, wall art, flooring, cabinetry, etc. and set up great reciprocal arrangements for posting. I would be visiting those blogs and social media presences and commenting often!
- Above all, I would be providing value in my posts, not advertising.
#3. Link Building
What Google really wants to see is others providing links back to your site, not you simply inundating the web with your own back links. So, here is how you get that done:
- Guest Posting: Find popular and highly regarded blogs within your general business category. Submit a guest post that is creative, compelling and of high interest! If it gets published, you have a whole new audience, and there is a link back to you. Remember, the content must be exceptional, easy to read and understand, and creatively written.
- Use infographics – visuals are always good. Post them on social media sites and submit them to related blogs. They must be attractive and compelling. Consumers want to access information quickly, and infographics are highly appealing.
- Search for sites that are related but not direct competitors. Email them and ask for a link to your business from their websites. Offer to do the same for them!
- Search for sites that are providing backlinks to your direct competitors (there are apps for this). Provide that site owner/administrator with some really great samples of postings, etc. that you have produced. Ask for a link to your site in exchange for providing content on theirs.
Nothing ever remains static in the business of marketing. And you may not have the time that it takes to engage in content marketing. On the other hand, it is critical for business growth. If you lack the time or the expertise, you do not necessarily have to employ a full-time content marketer. Find someone who is really good at this and contract for their services. Content marketing is a huge business now, and there are lots of freelancers out there!
Images: “businessman handwriting Content Marketing on a transparent board/Shutterstock.com“
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