Whether you have an older website, a brand new website, a newly redesigned website, or just thinking about having a website built, the tips, strategies, and techniques listed below will help you to market and promote your website, both online and off. The more tips you can implement on the list, the better the returns will be, which means more traffic and more sales.
The internet is massive and has an estimated 1.8 billion websites. Close to 1.6 billion of these are considered inactive since they have been left forgotten and do not receive regular content or software updates. This means there are about 200 million active websites which receives most of the traffic from the 4.66 billion internet users in the world.
Every year this statistic grows as more businesses go online. With this many websites competing for visitors attention, it can be hard to get your website noticed.
The number one way to drive traffic to your website is to have it listed in the organic results of search engines. These organic results usually appear below the paid ads on a search results page. Google is by far the most popular search engine in the world with 91.84% of market share, followed by Microsoft Bing with 2.33%, and Yahoo! with 1.47%.
For search engines we will mainly concern ourselves with Google because of the overwhelming monopoly they have. Google currently has 56.5 billion web pages indexed and ranked in their database. This database is constantly being updated by Google Search Bots that wander the internet looking for new and updated content. Google also constantly tinkers with their ranking algorithm trying to ensure that only the quality content these bots find, ranks well for the appropriate search keywords and phrases. As any user of Google knows though, low quality content pages and spam do trick the ranking algorithm and can rank higher than they should in the search results.
New websites have the additional problem of not having been around long and therefore may have not yet been discovered by the search engines. Even if they have, the website itself and the individual pages will not have developed a long enough history of ranking signals to be able to rank higher is the search results than their competitors. Instead of being on page 1 or 2 of for a particular keyword or phrase in the search results, you will often find your website buried deep in the result pages where one seldom looks, or even worse not at all.
The best case scenario for ranking a page from your website in the search results is in one of the top 3 result spots on page 1 (usually there are 10 organic results per page) for your focus keywords. Anything less than this can mean exponentially less traffic to the listing. For example a recent study reported that for the average search, the first organic result on page 1 receives 28.5% of the clicks (but can be as high as 46% in some cases) with the second result getting 15% and the third 11%. By the tenth position it is down to a click through rate (CTR) of 2.5%. Visitors rarely go to the second page which sees less than 1% CTR for each listing. With these type of falling numbers, ranking on search result pages beyond page 2 will mean virtually no clicks.
As we said earlier there is a lot of websites, and a lot of them will be competing with yours for the same keywords and phrases you want to rank for. There are all sorts of on and off page signals that Google uses to determine page rank so you want to make sure your website and page has as many as possible.
Whether it is a new website or one that has been around for many years, performing the tips offered below will help promote your website and drive traffic to it through multiple avenues. Most of these tips deal with online marketing but we do offer a few offline marketing solutions as well.
In most cases online marketing will by far drive the most traffic to your website.
Please note if a link to your website is going to be displayed on the internet that can be tapped or clicked, it is best to use your complete website address for the URL. This includes the “https://” protocol part and the “www” sub-domain part as well (if you use this sub-domain). For example “https://www.esilverstrike.com”. This will ensure visitors get taken quickly and directly to your website without any redirects in between. It also gives a stronger ranking signal to search engines.
Here is a list (including brief overviews) of online marketing strategies you can use to promote your website:
Google Search Console & Bing Webmaster Tools
To get your website found by the search engines you have to let them know it exists. The easiest way to do this is create an account for your website on Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools and add your website. These tools and the reports they offer allow you to also measure your websites search traffic and performance along with letting you know about any issues related to search they find.
Create a sitemap file for your website that contains the links to all of your important pages and the dates the pages where last updated (along with some other details). You can then log into Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools and let them know where to find this file on your website so they can more easily discover all the pages your website has.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
This is just an overview as SEO is a big topic that covers multiple sub-topics which will be too lengthy to get into in any detail with this article.
Ideally, search engine optimization for your website needs to be considered right at the beginning of the website design process. Everything from how the sitemap is structured and the name of the pages, to how the content on the page is defined and laid out needs to be considered.
When pages and posts are added to the website the number one most important thing in regards to SEO is the quality of the content. Well written content that is free of grammar and spelling mistakes, will be ranked higher than poorly written content. Quality content also has a better chance of being linked to by other websites (called backlinks) which is also a very important ranking factor.
Along with the content for the page, you need to ensure you have a properly written page title and description. Headings need to be defined and cascade properly, and all media should have the important HTML tags defined. You can also bring structured data into the mix which allows search engines to better understand the content on the page.
For SEO you need a good website foundation, but it is also an ongoing process which should be performed at regular intervals through the entire existence of the website if you wish to stay relevant in the search results. For the most part this ongoing process deal with 2 areas:
Content is what drives traffic to your website. Adding new content and updating existing content when appropriate are all signals to search engines that the website is active and being maintained and therefore deserve higher rankings. Examples of things you can do with content include:
- Updating static content periodically like your About Us page to include the most recent information
- Update pages with newer information that contain sections for Testimonials, Supporters, Reviews, Portfolio, Products, Services, etc.
- Add new articles or posts about topics relevant to your visitors
- Add posts about any news regarding your business like milestones reached, special events, promotions, etc.
- Add posts about industry related news and give your opinion on it
Adding new content not only shows an active site, but allows another page to be independently ranked in the search engines and become a traffic source. These new pages and posts also increase your chance of attracting backlinks which not only affects the pages themselves, but the ranking signals of the entire website.
You don’t want to build a website and just forget it. It will soon become stale and your rankings will most likely start falling. Keep it fresh with new and updated content.
Backlinks (which are other websites linking to pages on your site) are important signals to search engines that someone finds your page interesting. The higher that other website ranks in the search engine the more important the backlink is, not only for the traffic it may provide you, but as a signal for the search engines.
While search engines stress the importance of having backlinks occur naturally, there are a number of ways you can gather them without the search engines penalizing your website (by lowering your rankings) for manipulating the search results. This includes:
- Creating new pages of content that are relevant to your website which other websites may reference and link back too
- If you have other businesses as customers, ask them to link to your website
- If you have a vender that you are an important customer of. Provide a testimonial or review which they can use and link back to your website
- Any business partners you have, who have their own website
- Donations to Local Charities may earn you a thank-you and a link back to your website
- Join a Chamber of Commerce. They will have a Members Directory that will list your contact information including your website
- Any Friends/Families websites that relate to your business
- Directory Listings like Google My Business, Yelp, Homestars, etc. (see below)
- Social Media like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc. (see below)
Other techniques to get backlinks, like paying the website owner for a link, are considered “black hat” (or bad). If the search engine determines you have done this or something similar, they will penalize your website and it will fall in rankings. Once this happens it can be difficult to get the penalty lifted and get your rankings back.
Search Engine Marketing (SEM) / Ad Networks
Search Engine Marketing refers to paid advertising on search engines (also simply called Paid Search). Since Google has over 90% of the search engine market share, using their ad service is the obvious choice (3rd parties cannot sell ads on Google Search). If this is something you wish to do, you will need to create or connect your existing Google account to Google Ads (formerly called Google Adwords). Once your account is setup and the payment details have been added you can then create some ad campaigns to run. Most ads are displayed on search engine result pages with several listings at the top and the bottom. These listing look very similar to the normal Google organic listings except they are marked with a small “Ad” icon. To get your ads to display you must bid on keywords and phrases. Bids range in price from a few cents to well over $50 per visitor click on your listing (called pay-per-click or PPC). The more money you bid the higher the chance you have of appearing on the first page of the results. Appearing on the first page means more clicks though that doesn’t mean all of these clicks are of high quality and will convert into a sale. Don’t worry though, very few first page ad listing clicks cost $50. It’s just some keywords for certain business niches in certain locations command a higher price since the related products or services are more expensive and may convert better than other keywords from other niches. Google Ads also allows you to setup and run ads on YouTube, Google Maps, and other websites using Adsense.
Adsense is not SEM but an Ad Network. It uses the Google Ads infrastructure to run the program. Website owners can sign up to Adsense to display ads on their website. Google then pays them for the ads displayed on their site based on user clicks on ads (PPC) or on ad impressions, depending on the type of ad. Ads can be text, images, or video. Ads displayed on websites usually relate to the content of the website. There are other Advertising Networks that work in a similar way but in most cases it is not worth using them unless your business is in a unique vertical that has a reputable ad network.
Even though Microsoft Bing has a lot less of the search engine market share (just over 2%) it still can be worth creating an account with Microsoft Advertising (formerly called Bing Ads) and running some ad campaigns. On average they have about 700 million unique searchers per month on the Microsoft Search Network. Microsoft Advertising uses a similar process as Google Ads.
This is just touching the surface of how SEM works, there is a lot more to the bid process, finding the right keywords, and creating and running ad campaigns which we will go in further detail in future articles. Remember, while advertising can be expensive, don’t consider it an expense. If done right, It’s an investment that gives returns.
Google My Business
Google My Business allows you to sign up for a free business profile for your storefront or service area that will show up in Google Search and Maps. You can personalize your profile with information like:
- Your locations and/or service area
- Hours of operation
- Services Offered (a collection of categories related to your business)
You can also add photos, offers, and posts to give your profile a unique vibrant appeal that shows your business is active and cares about their clients and customers. Google My Business also allows users to add reviews about their experiences with your business, and send you private messages right from your profile about any questions they may have.
Having a Google My Business profile will help your websites SEO as it is another ranking signal Google can use to help determine the legitimacy of your business and where it should rank on the search engine result pages for different search terms.
The top Google My Business profile listings for certain keywords also get listed above the organic listings on the first page of the search results which includes a map showing their locations. With top billing like this, it means they will get the majority of the clicks. The rest of the profiles are also just a “View all” button click away.
To stand out and to rank higher than other similar businesses that have a Google My Business profile you need to make sure you include the right type of information and keep your profile updated and active.
Places on Maps (Apple Business Register)
Similar to Google My Business, Places on Maps allows you to claim your business places and manage them across Apple services like Maps.
Websites that offer Directory listings for businesses which are organized into categories use to be important back in the early 2000s. Now days Google does not give them much ranking significance for SEO (because these type of websites got very spammy). The only directories that are worth getting your business listed in are the really popular ones that people actually use. These have the potential to drive traffic to your website and bring real customers in your door. This includes general directory listing websites like BBB, Yelp, Angi, and HomeStars. These websites list millions of businesses from all over the country that offer all sorts of products and services to customers. Some though are for certain business types and may not list businesses that offer services to other businesses only (B2B).
These online directory listings can be a 2 edged sword. You have control over some aspects of the listing for your business like the name, hours, location, contact information, and photos you post. Unfortunately you have no real control over the reviews and pictures people post about your business and the experience they have with your business. There is some quality control done by the directory websites to try to weed out fake reviews, but in most cases it is very hard to get a negative review taken down since you cannot prove they were not an actual customer. Still, even the best run businesses with excellent customer service can have an off day every now and then and will get a negative review. It is not the end of the world and in an odd way, a negative review may be helpful as it means you can reply to the review and try and fix the situation. Plus consumers may be leery of any business that appears too perfect and has all 5 star reviews.
Directory listing websites make there money by offering sponsored listings. For example if someone needs a plumber in their city and does a search on Yelp for one, they will be returned listings that are paid advertisements first. Likewise your own listing page may show advertisements from your competitors. Some directories do allow you to pay a fee to remove these sponsored listings from your business page.
The other thing you need to take into consideration is that some of these websites will list your business even if you do not want them to. Reviewers can add the business themselves and then post a review about their experience. Therefore your business may already be listed. If it is, or if you want your business to be listed, then you may want to start asking your favorite customers to post some positive reviews.
On most social media accounts you have a place to add your website on your profile. Make sure it is there and all of your other contact information is up to date.
It is also a good idea to create posts about your business and website on your social media account that are published at regular intervals (usually at least weekly) including any news, milestones, etc. that promote your business in a positive way. You should also create posts that are informative which include a summary of a topic that will have the viewer wanting more. In your social media post you can then link back to your your website which includes a more detailed post about the topic. These posts can be about the services you offer or about problems potential customers may have which you can solve. Think of them as gateway posts to draw potential customers to your website. With each post, make sure to include some eye catching images or if you have the time, expertise, and budget, video.
The most popular social media platforms based on monthly active users (MAU) are:
- Facebook (2.7 Billion MAU)
- YouTube (2 Billion MAU)
- Instagram (1.16 Billion MAU)
- TikTok (689 Million MAU)
- Twitter (353 Million MAU)
- LinkedIn (310 Million MAU)
We have trimmed this list somewhat and only have include social media platforms that include the ability to easily promote your business and website through posts etc. for free. Some of these platforms also have better visitor engagements than others depending on your business niche and your target audiences. For example Instagram and TikTok are for younger adult audiences while Facebook is for an older audience. LinkedIn is ideal for businesses looking for other businesses as clients.
Some social media platforms like Facebook go a step further and allow you to even create a page dedicated to your organization. On it you can add all sort of information about your business. You can also post as the company (and not your individual profile) messages, photos, and videos. They even have other features like private messaging and allowing users to write reviews. Most of these features are free, but to make money, social media platforms allow paid advertising to happen which can include promoting your posts in other users feeds and having your business discovered easier in searches.
The other way to promote your website and business on social media platforms like Facebook is to either start a group based around the interests related to your business or join an existing group and become known as an expert in your business niche. Either way, the goal is to be helpful to others while not aggressively promoting your own website and business (as this is not allowed in a lot of groups). Obviously the help you offer can only go so far when replying to someone’s post, but sometimes the online conversations you have may lead to a private message asking for more help as the person realizes your value and is willing to pay you for your time. Also, over time others in the group will see your willingness to help people with solid advice and may start tagging and recommending your website and business not only to people within the social media group, but their friends and family as well.
Do you have an email list from an existing website or past promotions that you use to send out newsletters and other marketing material? Do you collected email addresses from clients? If so this is a great way to drive traffic to your website especially if you have recently had it redesigned or added new content and features. Just remember to make sure the recipients have given you permission to send them marketing content and always make it easy for them to unsubscribe by including a link in the email.
You always want to make sure you follow your countries Anti-SPAM laws. For more information visit the websites for the Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) or the United States CAN-SPAM ACT to find the rules you need to follow when sending emails, and FAQs that should answer any questions you may have.
Email Signature / Text Signature / Voice Mail Message
These are easy places to add your website address to remind potentially new and existing customers where they can find more information.
Offline Marketing is important for reaching potential local customers or clients. A lot of these offline strategies can be done through your local print ship or online print companies like VistaPrint, Canva, GotPrint, PS Print, and UPrinting. Some of these online companies will even send out free sample kits for you to inspect first hand their print quality.
Instead of listing all your contact information, locations, etc. on physical promotional materials and signage, in most cases just listing your website domain works best. Your website will have the latest information, and it makes things less cluttered looking. Your website address also has a less of a chance of changing making the effectiveness of your physical marketing items last longer. On these items, it is also ideal just to list the domain and not the entire URL to your website. This means dropping the protocol “https://” and the sub-domain www (if you use this) from your website address. If your domain is made up of multiple words you should also capitalize the first letter of each word to make them stand out and easy to read, for example “BestBuy.com”. Don’t worry, on every website we develop, we make sure it is setup to work without requiring the visitor to type “https://” or even “www” if you use it.
Here is a list (including brief overviews) of offline marketing strategies you can use to promote your website:
Staff / Partners / Family
Review your website and its marketing strategy with anyone who has a vested interest in your organization. Make sure they understand the purpose of the website and what it offers visitors. Some of these people, like your staff, most likely deal with your clients and customers on a regular basis and is an excellent way to get the word out.
Local Print Advertising
If you have any print advertising done like:
- Newspaper Flyers
- Newspaper Ads
Make sure they include your website address so anyone reading them know where to get more information.
Promotional and other Business Materials
If you give out items to clients that promote your business like:
- Business Cards
- Items (pens, pads, cups, bags, etc.)
- Apparel (t-shirts, hats, etc.)
or even business related paperwork like:
The next time you place an order for these type of items, remember to update your artwork to include your website domain.
Signage / Storefront
For any signs, and graphics on windows and doors of your store, warehouse, and office, include your website address so people know where to get more information. Give yourself a larger space on your signs and graphics by removing other contact information so you can predominantly display your website domain.
Does your organization own a vehicle? Whether it just a single car or a fleet of vans, you should consider adding graphics or decals to them. Especially for fleets as this gives your business a more uniform look and will help promote your business. Make sure your website address is displayed predominantly on the sides and the back of the vehicle so potential customers can see and remember it.
Most organizations will do a mix of online and offline marketing for their website. Some of these strategies are passive marketing techniques like SEO which when put in place will help to continually market your website in the background with search engines. Others are active marketing techniques like paid advertising which puts information about your website in front of the people actively looking for services that you offer.
Most of these marketing strategies are on-going and require work to keep it performing optimally. Even SEO should be reviewed annually to make sure any new content (both copy and media) is following the existing SEO guidelines for the website, and if any additional SEO strategies can be implemented. Search Engines are constantly updating and adding new ranking signals which may need to be taken advantage of, to give your website that extra boost it needs to jump up a few positions or even pages in the SERPS.