Author Carl Heaton (www.webcoursesbangkok.com)
We have seen ways to test your site, analyse your site and even optimise your site but the internet is vast and you need to be noticed. This article aims to how you how to attract users and keep them hungry for more.
Who is this post for? Anyone with a web site. Not all of the list items will apply to you and your business but they are a source of inspiration.
Fresh and catchy content
If you have good content people will always come back for more. One of the most important things about content is to keep it fresh and up-to-date. There have been many great sites in the history of the internet and the ones that have fallen to the wayside usually do due to stagnated and old content. But, just like SmashingMagazine, make sure you archive your content for people to refer back to.
Listen to your community
If you are already lucky enough to have a community or even just some regular users, then listen to them. You can do this by emailing your users directly, setting up comment forms, live chat, or even user feedback systems such as UserVoice which allow users to vote on site issues and functionality. By listening to your community you can find out what they want and this helps you provide a better service to your customers.
Monitor how your site is used
Knowing how users use your site is vital. This allows you to target their needs better to keep them coming back for more. The best way is to keep a close eye on your analytics data, check what country/area your users are coming from, what search terms are working well for you, and what sites are giving you the best referrals.
Find out how users navigate your site via Heat maps. These help you alter your site so that it is easier for your visitors to use and find what they want. This keeps your users happy and more likely to return.
Take part in the on-line community
When you read your favorite Blog or read an article of interest, leave a comment with your name, email and web site address. Ensure you are an active member of a relevant forum discussion or networking group. Make sure you are seen to be an active member of your site’s online community sector.Smashing Magazines commenting system making it easy to take part.
Submit to directories and galleries
This should be an ongoing process as there are many local, national and worldwide directories. Your first port of call should be DMOZ.org. Following this submit to the local directories and those specialising in your sites business sector.
If you are designing web sites and proud of your work, submit your site to web design galleries. These directories such as CSS Beauty and CSS Elite feature beautiful and creative designs and ask users to comment and rate each design. Once people see your work their visitors may become yours too.
Whenever you send out an email, make sure you have your URL attached to the email signature. Simple idea but effective.
Business cards always at hand
Ensure you always have your business card to hand. If you meet someone needing your services it always pays to have a striking and memorable business card to exchange. It is worth spending time on your business card to make it creative and memorable, otherwise you may just be left at the bottom of the pile with the rest.
Put your web site address on everything; pens, letterheads, flyers, and anything that represents your company. Make sure it is clear and promotes people to visit your web site e.g. “For more information on our new product check ourwebsite.com”
Win an award
Winning an award is not easy but it can lead to a flood of visitors to your site. Even if you are a runner up, people will be curious as to who you are. The winner of the
.net magazine interactive site of the year 2009, www.ecodazoo.com,
received huge amounts of visits from the www.thenetawards.com site.
Choose your competition
wisely and remember, winning is not everything but getting your URL in front of as many readers as possible is.
Ecodazoo pushes the boundaries of 3D design on the web.
On the flip side of winning an award, running a competition can be just as beneficial to your analytics stats. This could be as simple as designing a new logo or coming up with a new name for your latest product. Either way this will attract more users to your site and show you are giving back to your users as well as taking.The Webby Awards is the leading international award honoring excellence on the Internet.
Search Engine Optimisation
Effective SEO, common sense and web standards go hand-in-hand. The idea is to create a symantic, valid code, that essentially uses the right tool for the job. This means using the right HTML tags and having a unique title and meta data for each page. Ensure search engine spiders can correctly index your site and good content is a must. Remember the most important way to climb the search engine ranks is through quality links. For full information on this see the Google Webmasters/Site owners guidelines.
Pay per click advertising can drive a great deal of traffic to your site if you correctly target your keywords. Placing your banner or link on relevant sites will vastly improve the chance of you getting noticed.
The most effective advertising gets your message to a relevant audience.
Writing articles for other sites as well as your own is a fantastic way to get noticed. SEO experts will tell you the same thing and one of the biggest sites for articles is www.ezinearticles.com. If you are a web designer, consider writing a tutorial for SmashingMagazine or NetTuts. If your sell power tools consider writing an aritlce about the best router for making coffee tables etc. Just make sure you put your URL next to your name and if it is well written people will want to know more about you.
Create a Blog
As you know blogs are big and they are continuing to thrive as people want quick useful information about a product, service or general news. WordPress has been at the forefront of blogging and gives us the tools to make search engine friendly rich blogs with beautiful design. It is up to you to fill your blog with fresh and catchy content.
Online community web sites
In the past year we have seen the social community web site boom and many sites have reaped huge benefits. Creating your own Facebook page, uploading your work to Deviant Art or creating your own Squidoo page all help build your online presence.
Twitter and Twibes
We all know the power of Twitter by now and much has been said on the subject of using Twitter as a marketing tool, but the fact remains it is a very effective way of getting noticed. Get the most out of twitter by choosing one of the many tools available. Keep inside your niche area, follow people that matter to your web site, make it personal. Do not just use marketing spiel or you will quickly lose followers. If you are part of a niche area consider setting your own Twibe i.e a group of Twitter users.
Pod and Video Casts
If you have something to say and you think others will be interested then consider making a Pod Cast or Video Cast. www.Boagworld.com is a leader in this field for web design and Paul Boag has said that the majority of his new clients have come through the Podcast. Here are eight tips when thinking about Podcasting:
- Invest in a good microphone
- Reduce background noise
- Prepare but do not read as if from a script
- Follow a consistent format
- Invite guest speakers
- Have regular scheduled casts
- Enjoy the process and relaxVideo Blog of David and Marc Perel discussing their passion for Web
Newsletters and RSS feeds
Users sign up for your newsletter and you have your captive audience. If used properly newsletters can be very effective tools for driving people to your site. Check out Smashing Magazines best practices article before embarking on your campaign and when you are ready use services like MailChimp to monitor its success.
Similar to newsletters, having an RSS / subscription feed of your content is another way to keep users noticing your web site. They are easy to setup and a good way to keep your users up-to-date on your web site. Make sure you keep your feeds relevant, interesting, informative and easy to find.
Seasonal cards and e-cards
Send out cards to your clients either by snail male or to their email. Not only is this a nice gesture but also keeps your web site address firmly imprinted in their mind. Using services like Cards Direct is a quick and easy way to spread the holiday cheer with your web site address attached to it.
Run an event
Running an event is both a fantastic way to market your business and to connect with your customers, clients and experts in your sector. For example, the Future of Web Design events are run all around the world featuring many professionals from the web design community. Your event does not have to be around web design, but focused on your site and bussines’s sector to raise awareness of you and your site.
Alternatively you can be one of the speakers. This form of marketing has worked very well for people like Brett Welch, Danny Somekh and Folkert Gorter who spoke at the FOWD London 2009.
T-shirts with your web site address
Be your own marketing tool, have T-shirts, bags, folders etc sporting your web site address clearly.
Joomla raises peoples awareness with its online shop.
Create a phone app
Can your service be provided or product purchased using mobile phone or PDA? If so consider creating your own phone application. If you want to tap into the vast iPhone market you can consider selling your app on iPhone app store. Alternatively you can use a company like Siruna to create the mobile application for you.
You can donate directly to a charity or run a charity event. There are many charities out there, so choose wisely and carefully.
College and University Project Sponsorship
Many courses require a student to do a set amount of work experience or final year project. Contact your local college and or university and offer them a project that you would like their students to help on. “My final year project was to create a new search engine optimised template for a local business directory. The directory benefited from the new template tremendously and we learnt a great deal as a team.”
Submitting proposals for college and university projects not only supports your web site but helps students gain real life experience in their chosen field. Here are a few examples:
- Business Services at the University of Salford UK
- Center for Bioengineering Innovation & Design
- Monash University Australia
Place your content elsewhere
Your web site is not the only place to put your content. If you sell a product you can also list it on eBay. If you are a band why not put your songs on Last.fm, If your site is about tutorials you can also submit your tutorial to other sites like netTuts. Once people notice your content they will be more inclined to visit your site hungry for more.
Give away free stuff
In the case of Vista print they offer free business cards, the cards have your logo and details on one side and theirs on the other. Here is a list of ideas you can give away:
- Pens, badges and other stationary
- Free e-books or even audio books
- Desktop backgrounds
Sponsorship can be a remarkable way of getting your web site in front of 100â€™s or 1000â€™s of eyes. When choosing a sponsorship project, keep to ones that will reflect well on your company as well as being relevant. For more information check out the following sites in the UK and North America. You can also place advertisments that you or your company is looking for proposals from individuals or companies to sponsor. When you receive the proposals have a set criteria in mind of what your looking for.
The DataPowertools.co.uk 5 aside football team.
Get in the news
The news takes many forms in today’s media but one of the most beneficial is to get your site featured on a popular news web site. One of the top five news portals is Google News. There are two ways; to be a feature or to feature news items. Either way you should concentrate on having original content, multiple authors, proper attribution and good response time. For more information check out the Website Magazine article Get Your Website Included in Google News.
Do you have web site that people are interested in on a national or local level? Why not submit a press release informing the public about your new site. Simply place an add in the local paper or sector specific magazine.
Do you have a product that you think will sell? Why not try your hand at merchandising, but if you are new to all this you can use services like arinet.com to help setup your online store. If you do have a number of products list them on various other platforms like eBay, Froogle and Amazon with links back to your site within the product descriptions.
Solve a problem
Find a problem that affects your sites sector, create a fix and publish it. A good solution to a difficult problem is a sure fire way of getting people to flock to your site. One example is the PNG fix for Internet Explorer, this simple site received thousands of hits as it helped solve a problem with image transparencies in IE6.
Adding widgets to your web site
Give your site a boost by adding news feeds, blogs, tweets, various widgets, delicious links, diggs and stumble links to your site. For the most comprehensive list of widgets try the netvibes ecosystem. When adding widgets to your web site keep in mind that they should enhance the user experience and not clutter your web site. Less is more!
Widgetbox gives you more than enough choice of widgets
YouTube channels / subscriptions
We all know that YouTube is massive and already one of the biggest way sites get noticed is through uploading or creating
or damn right weird video.
Setting up your own channel will allow users to subscribe to you thus giving you more eyes on your content and web site
url. Making a short introduction, or a series of clips like
Expert village is a cost effective way of driving traffic to your site as well as climbing the search engine results ladder.
Having a specific free service that is useful and intuitive could attract a plethora of users. Here are some examples of sites with useful tools:
- Freelancer rates calculator
- Kuler colour scheme creator
- Multiple browser tests
- XML site map generator
- Calculate your salary
- Customized currency converter
- Web Page Analyzer
- FavIcon Generator
- Instant Domain Search
Freelance Switch’s rate calculator helps people
work out their standard freelance rate.
If your site is a specialist in its field consider offering a consultation service. A consultation service can be done via the internet, phone or in person. You can provide this service to individuals, groups or businesses and with the power of Skype and a web cam it can be like you are standing next to them. You could even offer alternative consultation services like usability testing such as UX Roast or User Testing.
What tools are the professional online consultants using? Many online consultants use Skype because it is cheap, effective and well supported. When using any peer-to-peer communications service, make sure you set-up a separate account for your consultation service so you keep your private messaging private. Skype offers a Skype Prime account where you can register as a trainer and people can contact you for one-to-one or group learning.
As a business you offer rewards to Affiliate Marketers for every visit or consumer brought to the site using affiliate marketing techniques. This method allows you attract more customers to your site by letting someone else do the hard work. You can offer different types of schemes such as co-branding, white labling, loyality schemes and many more.
There are hundreds of thousands of schemes available, so make yours attractive to marketers by offering high rewards for sales.
The Affiliate Programs forum contains information about 100’s of schemes and, most importantly, user feedback from people using them.
Vouchers and special offers
If you have a marketing budget spend some time attracting users with goodies. Maybe you could offer 10% off their next subscription or a free trial to your service for 30 days. Vouchers can also attract users as you can post your voucher on of the many voucher sites.
Make your special offer loud and proud so people notice.
Become a re-seller
A re-selling service is where you sell an existing product or service such as hosting and domain names. Re-selling is a way to gain passive income by offering a quality product or service you would not be able to develop alone. This ability to give a better service will attract customers and if you ensure good customer service you might benefit from word of mouth recommendations.
Hostgator’s reseller packages offer a lot of choice.
Have a great idea
The internet has been a veritable breeding ground for creative people and ideas. This creativity has given birth to some amazing ideas that make people flock to the site. If you think you have a great idea, harness it. Turn your idea into reality like Google’s originators Larry and Sergey wanting to create a fast and simple search environment with Backrub in 1995 to a student selling pixels to put himself through University in 2004.
“The main motivation for doing this is to pay for my degree studies.”
Create a plug-in, template or widget
A widget or plug-in is a design to enhance the platform. It is designed to entertain or make life easier for users. Keep this in mind when developing your application such as a plugin for WordPress or a template for Joomla. Make sure people know who made it and where they can find the web site.
Theme Forest helps designers sell their work.
If you are an expert in your field and you know what your talking about, choose a subject and write a tutorial on it. You can then make the tutorials available on your own site, to capture your audience, or submit your tutorial to sites such as Nettuts.
Write a book
Writing a book is time consuming and a labour of love but it can reap so many benefits as a product in its own right. It will raise awareness for its topic and author. Books like Elliot Jay Stock’s Sexy Web design, Steve Krug’s Don`t Make me Think or even an audio book like Chris Anderson‘s The Long Tail have brought brand awarness and thus visitors to each of the authors respective websites.
Start a magazine or online publication
Blogging is a simplified version of creating an online magazine. Your online magazine should be much more by concentrating on different types of content, building a community of readers and exploiting various revenue streams.
When creating an online magazine make sure you know your CMS inside out. It will be the foundations of your business and web site and should allow you to make publishing the content painless. Think about how you will make the money to help you grow your site. Newsletters, RSS and forums will help you keep your readers up-to-date and talking.
If you need help with content you can look at purchasing content or invite other authors to help you get started.
Subscription services can help you gain a constant stream of visitors to your site as they download the latest news, music or tutorials.
If you are planning on charging for subscription use an intergrated payment system like Spreedly to take the pain away of setting up payment gateways and storing Credit Card details.
Attend networking events
Networking events can be both fun and a very effective way to promote your web site. Armed with your business cards and an approachable smile you are sure to meet someone interested in your services, or who knows someone else who will.
The key is in choosing the right event for you and being prepared. Networking events are normally around certain types of business or target professionals in specific areas so choose what is best for you. Check online event sites like Facebook or Meet-up, or the local paper. If you can`t find one in your area, run your own!
Offering regular updates to your product you can attract a consistent stream of users wanting to benefit from the new update. You should notify your users when a new update is available and this can be done via the software itself or via your web site. Consider making your updates a regular attraction for users to come back to your site and make them easy to download and install.FireFox makes it simple to update by making it part of the software.
The user does not have to go away, download and install the update, but simply click ok
Label your work
Be proud of your work and put your logo and web site address on it. For web designers, put in your contract that the finished site must feature a back-link to your site. This may not always be possible but anyone enjoying the site you built will be intrigued to see the company who built it. For photographers, put a water mark on all your site samples and producers have your web site address on your packaging. No matter what sector you are in, there is always room for a label on your work.
Links to a sites design company can normally be found on the footer.
White label sites
A lot of sites, especially in the hotel and leisure industry, use what is called a White Lable site. This enables a successful brand to offer a service without having to build the functionality and databases itself. You can go about this two ways:
- Use a white label service such as white label dating, social networking, holiday and leisure to create a site. For more information on white labling check out this article.
- Allow users to use your functionality and database to create their own white label site. Lastminute.com , has created a very successful net of sites that utilise their data and functionaltiy
Sites using Lastminute’s database / functionality can be seen on.
A new sensation on the web is the addition of hidden code that when users press a sequence of keys they get a hidden surprise (easter egg code). Site point and many other sites have done articles on this blast from the past way of entertaining your users. For more information goto http://konamicodesites.com/ but you will need the code to access it: up, up, down , down, left, right, left, right, b, a. Enjoy!
You`ll need quick reactions to score on this Konami game!
Best until last; social bookmarking
The last tip is also one of the best and easiest. Stemming from the simple idea of having a “Tell a friend” form on your web site, allow users to bookmark your site on the many social book mark sites, that way you are letting other popular sites do the hard work for you. Social bookmarking meta services like addtoany area a simple way for users to publish your site to their accounts on Facebook, Delicious, Stumble and many more with one click. Copy and paste their code on to your pages and your away.
That wraps it up for this article, I hope you have enjoyed the read. Some of the ideas are a little wacky but they will all help you get your site noticed.
I look forward to reading your feedback!