Traffic, the lifeblood of your Internet business
I’m sorry to tell you but the Web is a harsh place. You can have the best looking site in the world with great resources and content and go entirely ignored or unnoticed. It happens. It’s happening right now. Somewhere out there in cyberspace is a brand new, attractive website loaded with great content, and nobody cares. Poor little lonely site.
Here’s the sobering truth …
No matter how much money you spent on it, how stunning it looks or how persuasive the sales copy is, your website is nothing more than a bunch of files sitting on a computer. It just so happens these are HTML files on a computer that is connected to the Internet, therefore anybody can get to them.
But ultimately, they can only get to them if they know they exist. Somebody has to link to them, or they need to be given the URL. Otherwise, your website remains invisible.
But there is hope
Every website had its early days. Even sites that get hundreds of thousands of visitors a day started out with none. But it’s a gradual process and you won’t suddenly start getting hundreds of visitors to your new website overnight!
In most cases, you cannot rely on ‘free’ traffic alone
There’s still a widespread myth that you can run a profitable Internet business without spending money on advertising. It’s simply not true. Very few online businesses can succeed without paid advertising.
The vast majority of Internet businesses will need to advertise or they doom themselves to a meagre existence of small sales, smaller profits – and gradually decreasing profits at that.
It’s true that by carefully optimising your website for the search engines, you can bring in a steadily-increasing stream of “free” traffic. But this takes time (at least three to six months to see significant traffic). And, of course, this traffic is not truly free because you need to invest time (and probably money) in Search Engine Optimisation (SEO).
Traffic from search engines
To get a steady stream of “free” traffic from Google and the other search engines is the Holy Grail of Internet marketing.
Not only is search engine traffic the least expensive, but the people who find you through the search engines are likely to be the most responsive, because they have sought you out themselves.
To get traffic to your site for the search words or “keywords” that are important to your business, you will need to put some time and effort into search engine optimisation (often abbreviated to SEO).
There is a huge amount of literature now available about SEO. Much of it is highly technical, and much of it is out of date.
Slow and steady wins the SEO race
For most businesses, it’s a slow and steady process to get your website to rank on the first page of Google. There are many factors that need to be working well to get a website firing on all cylinders and delivering well qualified sales leads on a regular basis.
But the good news is, it can be done, once you grasp a few basic principles.
The approach I recommend is to attract Google’s attention by creating the types of content that people value and want to read.
Once people start talking about you and like your products, then you are probably going to get some free high-quality links to your website, which will make Google love you even more.
Google is the only game in town
It’s worth noting that more than 92% of all web searches in New Zealand are now made through Google. (Figures from Hitwise New Zealand, January 2009). By the time you read this, Google’s share is likely to be even higher. MSN and Yahoo have about 3.5% each and the rest are really insignificant.
Worldwide, Google is slightly less dominant but its share of global searches is now more than 70%.
The bottom line is, optimise your website for Google and your ranking on other search engines will take care of itself.