In this article, we’re going to look at the best way to get your website noticed.
With billions of blogs and websites vying for eyeballs on the internet, how can you make yours stand out from the crowd? It’s no good putting up a portfolio website and hoping that people will just find you. You have to market yourself. This process starts with having a good, easy-to-navigate website and strong content. But it’s also about getting out there on the web – interacting, chatting, commenting, advertising, and using social media.
There is no magic bullet in terms of site promotion. Instead, boosting your web profile (and ultimately your visitor numbers) is a combination of several tactics that can have long-term benefits. You need to optimise your site so it can be found easily by search engines; tell people where your site is, and provide something good for visitors to read once they get there. What follows are 20 tips designed to help you get your site noticed.
Check the Technical Components First
- Having a sitemap. Without a sitemap, it’s harder for Google to index your site, which means that they can’t serve it up in the search results. If you don’t have one already, it’s easy to create a sitemap in WordPress.
- Making sure that your website is responsive. If your website is not responsive, meaning that it doesn’t show up well on a mobile phone or tablet, then it’s less likely that Google will show it in the search results. Since so many people are now searching on their phones and tablets, Google needs to make sure that the search results can be easily viewed on small screens. You can find out if your site is responsive using Google’s Mobile-friendly test or this responsive checker, which allows you to scroll through your site (thanks to reader Samantha for sharing this!).
- Making sure that your site is fast. If your site is slow, it makes for poor user experience. How long do you wait for a site to load? Not long, right? Neither do I. Most people don’t. For Google, this means that they’re not providing users with a good experience when they show a slow website in the search results. You can find out if your site is fast here
Follow Best Practices for Content Marketing
Start by considering how content fits into your overall business goals. A bit of planning upfront will benefit you in the long run.
You can do this by preparing a marketing plan. You don’t need to create a traditional marketing plan, but a strategic marketing plan for SEO will help.
In the process of developing your marketing plan, you’ll define your niche. Remember that there are over 1 billion websites – there’s a lot of competition out there. Don’t let this discourage you, though; instead, focus on where you can make the biggest difference and stand out.
Related to that, be clear about who you’re writing for: you simply can’t be all things to all people.
Remember that you have about three seconds to get someone’s attention online: if your content and messaging don’t speak to them quickly, they will hit the back button and leave your site.
In order to get the reader’s attention quickly, you need to make sure that your content is very relevant to them. To do this, you need to consider who your ideal client is. What are they going to want to learn about from you?
Once you’ve gained clarity about who you’re writing for, now you’re ready to decide what exactly to write about. This can be daunting, but there’s actually a really easy way to figure this out:
I recommend to clients that the best source of content is to start with the questions that you’re answering already.
What kinds of questions do you get from clients? Is there anything that you find yourself answering over and over again? These are good starting points for developing your content. (If you’re just getting started, think about the questions that people might ask you.)
Develop a Long-Term Strategy
Because of the current complexity of SEO, you’ll need to focus on developing a long-term strategy. You shouldn’t worry about how much customer traffic you’re getting within a week because that won’t help your SEO in the long run.
If you’re creating good content and using the right keywords, more and more people will eventually visit your site. Many website owners fail to understand this concept because they try to get quick results. While you can use the likes of advertising to boost your traffic, it will be temporary if the content isn’t there.
Developing a long-term strategy can be done by deciding what kind of content you’ll produce and how you’ll engage customers. You need to build a core audience because they’ll be the ones that are giving you the most traffic.
This will boost your site’s SEO significantly because people will be searching for your site instead of being redirected to it. This is what’s commonly known as “organic traffic.” Google prefers this overpaid traffic because it shows that people want whatever you provide.
Follow Best Practices for SEO: Write Content That Ranks
Now, once you’ve made sure that your website’s foundation is technically sound and you know who you’re writing for and what to write, you can start writing articles that answer the most common questions you receive.
This provides you with content that is useful to your audience and lets the search engines know that you have expertise in those areas. Plus, it will save you time later when you get the same question from a new person because you’ll be able to direct them to the article that you already wrote.
Create High-Quality Content
One of the most effective strategies that you can use to get high traffic on your site is to create high-quality content. Good content comes in many forms and will be relative to what the goal of your site is. The goal behind this is to create content that people enjoy, encouraging them to keep coming back to the site.
For some people, high-quality content can mean HD and engaging videos. Others will think that they need to post blogs that keep visitors reading. Either of these qualifies as high-quality content but require different approaches.
The type of content that you create will attract a specific audience, so you may not be able to get people to read blogs if most of them watch videos on your site. However, it’s possible to widen your clientele by producing multiple forms of content, allowing you to bring in more traffic to the site.
This strategy is more important today than ever before because Google can see how long people are engaging with a website. The longer people stick around on your website, the more its SEO will be boosted because Google’s algorithm will think your site could be a good fit for others.
Follow Best Practices for SEO: Optimize Your Content
After you’ve written your content, you want to make sure that you follow the best practices for SEO copywriting.
SEO copywriting is the practice of writing for the web in such a way that you can get traffic to your website.
It involves a few key ideas.
Focus your content on a specific keyword: Keyword research is a whole field unto itself, but here are a couple of ways that you can get started. First, think of the words that your ideal client would actually using to search for your services online. Seed Keywords is great for this. Simply create a scenario such as, “You want to change careers. What would you search for?” and you’ll be given a link that you can send to people to find out what they would actually search for. You can also Google’s Keyword Planner to find out the search volume and competition for specific keywords.
Optimize your site: Use that keyword and related keywords in key places on your page, including in the website title, the heading, and the meta descriptions. The Yoast SEO plugin is the best way to do this on a WordPress website.
Keep posts short and easy to read: As you know from your own online experience, no one actually reads online content. We scan. Using headings and subheadings, bold text for emphasis, bullets and numbered lists, and short paragraphs are all standard practice online because they invite your readers to scan your content. This helps to keep people on your site and increases what’s known as “dwell time,” which is one of the factors that Google considers when deciding which sites to show in the search results.
Use images: All websites benefit from the use of images. They break up your text and add a nice visual element. They can enhance your message. Plus, they help with SEO because your site can also show up in image searches.
Make your content easy to share: Add the Facebook like button and the Twitter tweet button to your blog. This will make it easy for people to share your blog posts with others.
Why is SEO Important?
In case the above mentioned didn’t clarify the importance of SEO, I’ll mention it here. Proper SEO is very important in acquiring search traffic and conversions on a local and national scale organically. If your business fits into either of these categories, then you’ll want to apply SEO in your grand scheme of things to get your website noticed on search engines. When working with these marketing strategies, you’re sure to gain more business, start beating your competitors online and solidify your position as an authority in your industry.
I will let you know, though, SEO requires time and lots of it in order to get pages ranked on the search engine result pages (SERPs). But, when done right, can prove to be a great long-term investment that offers incredible value to your business.
Research the Topics and Keywords
In the past, you could get customer traffic by filling a website with random keywords that ranked high on Google. Today, the algorithm has been changed to find websites that are more relative to what someone searches.
Using managed SEO services makes the process much more convenient because you can learn about what people want to see and compare your site to others.
If your site has a blog, you must research the topics because you need to find keywords that are relative to the topic. Whenever someone searches for fitness guides, they won’t be redirected to a site that shows them how to program. In the past, you could’ve gotten away with this providing that you had the right keywords.
Keywords still play an important role in SEO because they’re what people search. However, the keywords that you use within an article need to be linked in some way another. For example, your blog post about fitness should have fitness-related keywords.
Google will see that your site is directed towards those that are seeking fitness-related content and will increase your rankings for those keywords.
Knowing how to phrase your keywords can be difficult for companies that try to cover a lot of topics on a single website. In this case, it’d be best to make multiple websites for each topic you’d like to cover so that your site isn’t cluttered with content.
Write Irresistible Headlines
Headlines are one of the most important parts of your content. Without a compelling headline, even the most comprehensive blog post will go unread. Master the art of headline writing. For example, the writers at BuzzFeed and Upworthy often write upward of twenty different headlines before finally settling on the one that will drive the most traffic, so think carefully about your headline before you hit “publish.”
Follow Best Practices for SEO: Promote Your Content
Once you’ve planned your content, written something great, and optimized it, there’s still one last step:
You need to promote your content.
What does this mean? Well, it means that you have to let people know about it so that they can link back to your website.
Let’s break this down a bit.
When another website links to your website, Google considers this a “vote” in support of your site. Because of this, it will rank Site A higher than Site B if it has more backlinks.
So the question becomes, how do I get links back to my site?
There are a few ways to do this.
The most common is to do email outreach to targeted bloggers and websites. The link research needed to identify these possible sources of backlinks is part of an SEO audit.
However, if you want to do it yourself, you can follow these steps:
- Register for a free account with WebMeUp.
- Search online for an article on a topic related to yours.
- Enter the URL (web address) of the article into the WebMeUp search bar.
- Click on backlinks. This will show you other sites that are linking back to that site.
- Look through the backlinks and find ones that might be able to link back to your article.
- Send them an email with a link to your article. You don’t want to be pushy, but if you let them know that you thought they might be interested in your article, they might be willing to link back to you.
Like keyword research, link research is a huge area but the steps above will get you started if you want to do your own SEO.
This one is so obvious, we’re going to look at it first. Paid search, social media advertising and display advertising (try our Smart Ads Creator!) are all excellent ways of attracting visitors, building your brand and getting your site in front of people. Adjust your paid strategies to suit your goals – do you just want more traffic, or are you looking to increase conversions, too? Each paid channel has its pros and cons, so think carefully about your objectives before you reach for your credit card.
If you’re hoping that more traffic to your site will also result in more sales, you’ll need to target high commercial intent keywords as part of your paid search strategies. Yes, competition for these search terms can be fierce (and expensive), but the payoffs can be worth it.
Post Content to LinkedIn
LinkedIn has become much more than a means of finding another job. The world’s largest professional social network is now a valuable publishing platform in its own right, which means you should be posting content to LinkedIn on a regular basis. Doing so can boost traffic to your site, as well as increase your profile within your industry – especially if you have a moderate to large following.
The strength of your link profile isn’t solely determined by how many sites link back to you – it can also be affected by your internal linking structure. When creating and publishing content, be sure to keep an eye out for opportunities for internal links. This not only helps with SEO, but also results in a better, more useful experience for the user – the cornerstone of increasing traffic to your website.
Interview Industry Thought Leaders
Think interviews are only for the big leaguers? You’d be amazed how many people will be willing to talk to you if you just ask them. Send out emails requesting an interview to thought leaders in your industry, and publish the interviews on your blog. Not only will the name recognition boost your credibility and increase traffic to your website, the interviewee will probably share the content too, further expanding its reach.
Don’t Neglect Email Marketing
So many businesses are focused on attracting new customers through content marketing that they forget about more traditional methods. Email marketing can be a powerful tool, and even a moderately successful email blast can result in a significant uptick in traffic. Just be careful not to bombard people with relentless emails about every single update in your business. Also, don’t overlook the power of word-of-mouth marketing, especially from people who are already enjoying your products or services. A friendly email reminder about a new service or product can help you boost your traffic, too.
Make Yourself Heard in Comment Sections
You probably visit at least a few sites that are relevant to your business on a regular basis, so why not join the conversation? Commenting doesn’t necessarily provide an immediate boost to referral traffic right away, but making a name for yourself by providing insightful, thought-provoking comments on industry blogs and sites is a great way to get your name out there – which can subsequently result in driving more traffic to your own site. Just remember that, as with guest posting, quality and relevance are key – you should be engaging with other people in your niche, not dropping spam links on unrelated websites.
Submit Your Content to Aggregator Sites
Firstly, a disclaimer – don’t spam Reddit and other similar sites hoping to “hit the jackpot” of referral traffic, because it’s not going to happen. Members of communities like Reddit are extraordinarily savvy to spam disguised as legitimate links, but every now and again, it doesn’t hurt to submit links that these audiences will find genuinely useful. Choose a relevant subreddit, submit your content, then watch the traffic pour in.
People love to learn, and webinars are an excellent way to impart your wisdom to your eagerly waiting audience. Combined with an effective social promotion campaign, webinars are a great way to increase traffic to your website. Send out an email a week or so ahead of time, as well as a “last chance to register” reminder the day before the webinar. Make sure to archive the presentation for later viewing, and promote your webinars widely through social media. If you’re wondering how to do a webinar, click the link for some tips.
Whatever industry you’re in, chances are there are at least one or two major conventions and conferences that are relevant to your business. Attending these events is a good idea – speaking at them is even better. Even a halfway decent speaking engagement is an excellent way to establish yourself as a thought leader in your industry and gain significant exposure for your site.
Well, that just about does it for today’s post. If you’ve got your own tips for increasing traffic to your website, I’d love to hear them.
Research the Competition
If you haven’t used software like BuzzSumo to check out what your competitors are up to, you’re at a huge disadvantage. These services aggregate the social performance of specific sites and content to provide you with an at-a-glance view of what topics are resonating with readers and, most importantly, making the rounds on social media. Find out what people are reading (and talking about), and emulate that kind of content to bring traffic to your website.
Research the Topics and Keywords
Tip 1 Know your keywords
Most websites get their traffic through search engines like Google, Yahoo! and Windows Live. So what are the search keywords that you need to tap into? What might people type into Google to find your site or an article you’ve written?
You can test out search terms by using tools such as Wordtracker and the Google Adwords Keyword Tool. Type ‘illustrator’ into the Google Adwords Keyword Tool and you’ll be able to see an estimate of how many searches the term gets, along with related searches such as ‘illustration’, ‘illustrators’, ‘book illustration’ and ‘fashion illustration’. Type ‘graphic design’ into the same tool and you’ll see that the phrase ‘graphic design’ has a higher search volume than ‘graphic designer’.
Tip 2 Use your keywords
Optimising your site by embedding relevant keywords in your content is an easy way to make it more visible to the search engines. At the very least, your site’s <title> tag should include those keywords that best describe your skills – ‘illustrator’, ‘graphic designer’, ‘animator’, etc. Take a look at www.bentheillustrator.com, for example. Not only has the site owner used the word ‘illustrator’ in the web URL, but the site’s <title> tag reads: “Ben The Illustrator! Illustration, Landscapes, Sunshine.” In addition to using keywords in your website’s <title> tag, you should also work them into your categories, URLs, post titles and subheadings where appropriate. Don’t overdo it, though. Search engines will penalise your site if you stuff it to the brim with keywords: keep a natural balance.
Tip 3 Buy your own domain
While it’s easy to use a blogging service like WordPress.com or Blogger to set up a website in 10 minutes, nothing screams professionalism than having your own domain name. Not only does it give you a more memorable and marketable URL, but you can also use a customised email address for correspondence. Many graphic artists and illustrators use their own name in the URL, which is fine if a suitable .com or .co.uk address is still available. Otherwise, consider working one of your keywords into the domain name – again, www.bentheillustrator.com is a good example, as is www.attitudedesign.co.uk.
Tip 4 Add keywords to images
Using relevant keywords should also extend to the filenames and the ALT tags that you give the images on your site. Rather than upload a picture called ‘landscape3.jpg’, add a keyword to make it more relevant to your SEO efforts, such as ‘landscape-illustration-3.jpg’. Similarly, don’t skimp on the ALT tag when posting an image. Add a meaningful and relevant description to accompany every picture.
Tip 5 Start blogging
Search engines love fresh content. If you don’t update your website very often, the search engine spiders won’t visit it very often. Unless you can update your web portfolio every day (or every few days), the easiest way to post new content is to start a blog or have a ‘news’ section. Use this to talk about what you’ve been doing recently, where your work is currently featured, the techniques you use, different art styles, industry observations, logos, other artists you like, and so on. Update your site regularly and write about anything that will appeal to an audience beyond potential employers. Write for other artists. Write for hobbyists. Need an example? Have a look at Jim Stoten’s website at www.jimtheillustrator.co.uk.
Tip 6 Create unique content
It might seem like a no-brainer, but having content that no other site has is the first step to drawing a crowd. Many sites across the web will regularly quote, pinch, spin, rewrite and link out to other people’s content. Not only should you always strive to be original, but you should also try to be ‘link-worthy’. By writing original content (something that’s useful, informative, funny, free, beneficial or helpful, for instance), you’ll encourage people to link to what you’ve created. Links to your website, especially from sites that are more established than your own, will help boost the visibility of yours in search engines. All Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) techniques start with good content creation.
Tip 7 Try ‘linkbaiting’
Say what? Linkbaiting is the art of generating populist articles such as lists, Top 10s/20s/50s/100s, showcases, ‘How To’s and tutorials. Linkbait articles are designed to attract links to your website, boosting its traffic. People are already doing it – see 99 Sites ALL Designers Must Know About and 50 Beautiful And User- Friendly Navigation Menus. Think of the keywords that apply to you and generate article ideas around them. Perhaps you could blog about ‘The Hottest Illustrators Working Right Now’, give your take on ‘The Greatest Logo Redesigns’ or ’10 Great New Fonts For Designers’, or list ‘7 Ways To Get Your Creative Juices Flowing’. The more timeless (or ‘evergreen’) the idea, the better. You’ve got a wealth of design experience, so write about what you know and package it up tabloid-style for mass consumption.
Tip 8 One idea at a time!
Your web pages and posts will work best when they are centred around a single idea, topic or keyword phrase. If you’re a graphic designer and an illustrator, try having links on your homepage to separate ‘graphic design’ and ‘illustration’ sub-pages. Kev Adamson’s website, for example, has separate sections for his web design, illustration, graphic design and animation work. While the category titles are short, the page URLs are nicely optimised for search. Click the ‘web’ category and you’ll find yourself on a page with the URL: www.kevadamson.com/freelance_web_design.html. The phrase ‘Web Design Services’ also appears prominently as a subheading.
Tip 9 Kill that pretty splash page
Yes, so the big agencies like Lambie Nairn use attention-grabbing Flash intro pages. But these guys don’t get the majority of their work from people searching for ‘design agency’ or ‘graphic designer’ in Google. Such a splash page can dilute the effectiveness and importance of your homepage, especially if you can’t get any of your keywords on it.
Tip 10 Spread the word
Unless you start shouting about yourself, nobody will know where your blog or website is. On a basic level, make sure you add your site’s URL to your email signature so that it shows up on every email you send. Put your website URL on your business cards and letterheads, your invoices and thank-you notes, your Facebook profile, MySpace page, forum signature and portfolio pictures. Get your friends to link to your website from their own sites, and see whether your clients will give you a link to your website if work you’ve done for them is featured online.
Tip 11 Get listed
Boosting the visibility of your website with search engines is all about building links to your site. Ultimately, your website’s popularity is determined by how many other sites link to you and how popular these linking sites are. Put it this way: getting a link from a national newspaper, magazine or the BBC is worth its weight in gold. One of the ways that you can boost the number of links to your website is by submitting it to directories such as DMOZ, Technorati, BlogPulse, BlogExplosion, blogarama and MyBlogLog. You can find a more detailed list here. You can also get a free business listing on Google Maps (handy if people are searching for local talent) and FreeIndex. co.uk, or submit to specific design directories such as www.folioplanet.com.
Tip 12 Work with a partner
As Benny Gold explains in our interview, one of the channels he uses for promoting his brand is his column on the website Highsnobiety. It’s essentially a cross-promotion exercise – Highsnobiety gets a regular link from bennygold.com, while the favour is returned with a bio (and link) on each of Benny Gold’s columns. If you can land a guest posting gig, it’s an excellent way of exposing your blog to a whole new set of readers (and hopefully grabbing a few in the process). Another option to consider is co-producing a website design or theme. Work with a web coder to produce a free WordPress theme and you can include a link back to your site in the footer.
Tip 13 Share your stuff
Social media tools like Facebook, MySpace, Flickr, StumbleUpon and Twitter are an ideal way to publicise your blog or website. On my own website I use the Twitterfeed service to automatically announce new blog posts on my Twitter account. At the same time, Twitter posts are also bounced across to Facebook as status updates (using the Twitter application for Facebook). And that’s just the start. Maximise your exposure by submitting any link-worthy posts to content aggregators like StumbleUpon, del.icio.us and Reddit. Use RSS. Publish a newsletter. Consider adding bookmarklet icons (small computer applications stored as hyperlinks) for these websites to your own website, to encourage your visitors to share your content.
Tip 14 Make your site ‘sticky’
Attracting visitors to your website is only half the battle. How do you go about keeping them? Google visitors might only ever see one page of your website, so treat every page as a homepage in its own right. Ideally, you want to tease your visitors into exploring your site further, so sell another click by showcasing as much of your best stuff as possible. How about a box at the bottom of each page that displays your contact details? A list of related posts? A pointer to some free downloads? Or perhaps a customised ‘best posts’ listing that shows off the work you’re most proud of? Make sure that visitors can access your contact details, portfolio and services information from every page of your site too.
Tip 15 Give something away
Another good traffic-building trick is to give your readers something for free. For example, you could make some original artwork available as desktop wallpaper. Add your name and web URL to the bottom of the image and make the file available in a range of resolutions – 800×600, 1024×768, 1280×800, 1280×1024 and 1600×1200, for instance. For longer-term traffic building, you could try offering your readers a set of free image downloads if they sign up for your newsletter.
Tip 16 Launch a shop
If you’re regularly working on your own illustration or design projects, consider opening an online store to extend the reach of your brand. A store can be set up very quickly and cheaply – illustrator Jonathan Burton, for example, has used a simple Blogger blog template with a shopping cart and PayPal payment system. In contrast, fashion illustrator Di Murphy’s online store is much more polished and professional.
Tip 17 Internal linking
While search engines will rank your site’s importance and popularity based on the amount of quality links you have from other websites, it’s also important to link to other pages within your own website. This process ensures that you have links to all of the pages on your website, and encourages the search engines to follow those links and to index the pages they find. By using a keyword in the anchor text (the text you highlight with the link), you can also increase the relevancy of the linked page for that keyword. The golden rule is to avoid throwaway anchor text like ‘click here’ or ‘read more’. Don’t write: “For samples of my illustration work click here”. Do write: “View more of my freelance illustration work”.
Tip 18 Content marketing
One of the best ways to boost your website’s visibility is to get your content in front of as many people as possible. And that means getting on as many websites as possible. Consider submitting your best articles to article directories such as EzineArticles or ArticlesBase and leaving a link to your website in the author biography. For an example, see: http://ezinearticles.com/?Welcome-to-21st-Century-Online-Printing&id=1948145. You could also consider submitting your artwork to showcase sites, such as deviantART.
Tip 19 Manage your reputation
Grab yourself a Google account and set up Google Alerts. This will help you to monitor mentions of your name and your website across the web and blogosphere. It’s a great way to see who’s talking about you but not linking to you.
Tip 20 Analyse your stats
Do you know what the visitors to your site are reading? Or where they are coming from? Install Google’s Analytics code so you can see how many people are visiting, what they’re looking at, how much they’re reading and how long they’re staying. You can then use this information in two ways: one – tweak the content and keywords on unpopular pages to see if you can drive traffic to them; two – work out what content on your website is proving popular and produce extra related content to tap into the demand. One of the most popular pages on my own website is the Simone Legno/Tokidoki interview that I wrote for Computer Arts Projects, issue 116. Maybe I should do another one.