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Many small businesses have a web designer create their site for them and put it on the Internet, and they think that they are done, that the site is complete and all the hard work is done. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
Leaving aside the fact that most sites are constantly being extended, tested and upgraded, so you can’t ever say they are complete, your site isn’t ‘complete’ until you have customers happily giving you money as a result of your website.
So how do we make this happen? How do we get traffic through your website?
There are several ways to get people to come to your site; you can advertise the site in traditional ways, and I recommend that, but one simple way to get people who would never have heard of you otherwise to visit your site is to have your site listed in the search engines.
Do you use the search engines to look for goods and services on the Internet? So do most people – so it makes sense to take advantage of that for your website.
It isnt hard to be listed in the search engines. You simply need to use the Internet as it was designed to be used, as a web of websites, and have other sites link to you – the more relevant sites that link to you, the better. As the search engine’s spiders crawl the web they will quickly find you.
On the search engine sites (google.com, yahoo.com, etc), you will find ‘submit your site’ links, but dont worry about these, they dont actually get your site into the index these days.
There are two major, good, ways of getting links to your site.
Firstly, you can think about the other sites that you are aware of that are relevant to your business. Do any of your suppliers have a website and would be happy to link to you? (courtesy would indicate that you link back)
Do you support any local organisations that have a website. Where they mention you as a supporter, they should be happy to make the mention a link.
Once you get in the flow, its not hard to think of places to get a link to your website, and the more (relevant) links you get, the better your placement in the Search Engine Results Pages should be.
The second major way of getting links is directories. There are several large directories around, including dmoz.org, allthebizz.com, and wowdirectory.com. You can submit your site to any of these. In addition you may find niche directories that are appropriate to your industry.
Note: not all directories are free, you will have to determine whether the returns are sufficient to justify the cost of listing.
Anything to avoid?
Above I mentioned that links should be relevant, and this is of vital importance. There are plenty of schemes out there that suggest that wink, wink, nudge, nudge, if you link to them, they will link to you… and all their friends…. These scheme have several names, Free For Alls, Link Farms, etc, and the search engines HATE them. If they spot that you are linking to what they call a ‘bad neighbourhood’ they will downgrade your site, and in the worst instance, they may ban you from the engine entirely.
Before you agree to any link from your site, you need to consider whether it is a good link or not. The rule of thumb to use is ‘will it benefit my visitors to see this link here?’. If the answer is ‘no’ then dont make the link, no matter what the inducement.