If you find yourself in the position of having to market a website, there are some fundamental principals that are worth familiarising yourself with before you go any further. Here's the lowdown.
1. Built Right
Your website needs to comply with some basic, simple guidelines to help you maximise advertising & marketing opportunities. The two key areas of focus when building your website should be:
(a) Best Practice Standards - best practice HTML guidelines must be followed. Note that standards & web development language are 2 different things. Just about any web development language will allow a developer to meet all the necessary standards. A good standards reference is http://www.w3.org/ . Some simple rules to remember:
- If your website is not cross browser compatible it is highly likely that some search engines may have trouble indexing your website.
- Every page of content needs to be navigable through hyperlinks: a search engine will not interact with a search form so if you cannot 'click your way to a certain page' then the search engine won't find it.
- Frames are a bad move.
- Page titles should be inside H1, H2, & H3 tags depending on the hierarchy of the title.
- Populate unique page titles, meta descriptions, & meta keywords for every page.
Your website should be simple, intuitive, & usable. Make information accessible. Remember that different users behave in different ways: make the same information accessible in more than one way, follow accessibility standards (e.g.: allow impaired users to increase font size).
2. Traffic Sources
Websites rely on 3 primary sources of traffic:
(a) Search Engine traffic
Your website gets found on search engines such as Bing or Google. You need to identify the important keywords that will drive your website the most relevant traffic, & target these keywords for top search engine rankings. Remember: Keywords you are targeting must appear regularly within your website content (but not too regularly or your website could be penalized for attempting to trick the search engine).
(b) Paid Advertising
Paid advertising offers any website an immediate solution to increasing their web traffic. Paid advertising is generally sold in 2 ways: CPM (Cost per 1,000 Impressions) or CPC (Cost per Click). Whilst CPC is very popular because the advertiser only pays for a tangible outcome (a click on their ad), CPM advertising offers great value when your goal as an advertiser is to promote your brand. CPM is oftent sold upfront, so the advertiser is assured of a specific number of ad views. CPC requires a more activate, hands on management role, as bids need to be tracked & monitored regularly. In terms of CPC advertising, Bids refer to the advertisers bid for a click on a specific keyword that they have idenfied is relevant to their business.
Top pay per click advertising platforms usually offer access to either a search engine or a content network. Search Engine Marketing refers to bidding on keywords that are searched on top search engines. Content networks offer keyword bidding, just like search engine marketing, but ads are matched to content on participating website publishers.
AD:DYNAMO, Bing, & Google all represent good pay per click advertising opportunities to advertisers.
(c) Direct Traffic
3. Harness the Traffic
So you have the traffic you desire, now you need to convert it into a sale. Most websites either (a) market a product or service OR (b) sell their own advertising on their website in order to monetize the traffic they receive. Note: if your business model is to monetize your traffic with advertising, you should definately consider our Publishers Advertising Solution - an instant solution to start earning revenue on your website.
Digital advertising allows advertisers to not only track conversions (a conversion or acquisition refers to what you have identified as the measured goal(s) you have targeted on your site - such as a sale or enquiry), but advetisers can even cost a conversion against the specific keywords that are directing them the conversions at the lowest cost.
OK,so you have the basics mastered & want to evaluate other ways to drive traffic to your website... read on!
1. Search Engine Optimization
SEO refers to the art of increasing the ranking of your website on top search engines for relevant keywords, & therefore the traffic to your website.
What affects the ranking of a website on a search engine?
Internal Factors (the factors you control)
Volume of content, relevant keywords within your content, unique content, regularity that content is updated, & the age of your content all count towards increasing your search engine rankings.
Your website must be 'readable' by a search engine & make all content logically accessible by an automated spider.
External Factors (the factors you have limited control of)
(c) The Competition
If you are marketing something unique with no competitors, you will achieve rankings for the keywords you target easily. The more competitive an environment is, the harder you will have to work.
Saturation refers to the visibility of your website on a search engine. Visiblity is largely determined by the mentions your website receives on other websites. Track the number of inbound links to your website (a good measure of your saturation) by visiting Google, Bing, or Yahoo! & typing - "link:www.yourwebsite.com" into the search criteria. You can also use this command to evaluate competitors who rank about you to help you determine how many inbound links you should achieve to outrank them. DO NOT be seduced into buying links - most search engines are aware of these schemes & 'artificial links' could even lower your website ranking.
2. Search Engine Marketing
SEM is commonly used to refer to all paid advertising, NOT just search engine advertising. The rule of thumb when it comes to SEM:
"Established products in the Cash Cow phase should target search engines, products still introducing themselves to the market or products that have over matured & need to re-introduce themselves to the market should use Content Network advertising such as AD:DYNAMO"
or, put differently, search engines work well for 'pull advertising' - customers looking for a specific service, whilst content advertising works well for 'push advertising' - when you need to introduce the idea of a product or service to a potential customer that they most likely were not considering.