Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Making more money from your site

So you have visitors arriving on your site and they are ticking over making purchases, but how else can you turn these visitors into income? Here's some ideas.

1) Display external advertising. Depending on your site, it may be suitable to carry some advertising. Maybe Google Adsense or banner adds.

2) Sell add on products. Look at what they have in their shopping basket and see what other people who have chosen those items have bought with them.

3) Sell special offer. Add small ticket price items that they might be interested in. Display them around the basket areas of the site.

4) Offer free postage. Take a look at your customers' average basket order value and offer free postage for a small amount above that. Then watch and see if the average order value increases.

5) Offer special offer items for basket amounts. Again, look at average basket order values and offer free or discounted goods when the basket total is a little more than average.

6) Add monthly 'trinkets'. Have a special low-cost item made and each month make one of these available for above average order baskets.

7) Ask your customers to join your mailing list.

All are very simple ideas, aimed at increasing sales and bringing in more cash in other ways. I'll talk more about each of these ideas over the next week or so...

Monday, 18 August 2008

Run a site forum for more repeat visitors!

I knew the 20 would become more than that before I finished!

A good way of getting plenty of traffic onto your site, whilst building fresh and unique content it to run a forum. This is especially good when you already have a list of regular visitors.

But why is a forum so good and what are the problems? Well, a forum is just people discussing whatever they want to. You as site owner set the topics to be discussed and act as a moderator. Whatever is on people's minds they can discuss and if it's on their minds, it could just be on other people's minds. If they are searching for this then they might find your site!

So how does it work as far as visitors are concerned? Well every thread that's started adds more content to the site that the search engines should index and send traffic to. Everyone posting on that thread will keep coming back to read replies and add further comments.

Sometimes posts will be a little controversial and will attract more people - through current visitors sending links to their friends and acquaintances. This is spreading the word of your website.

These visitors might not be adding directly to sales, but especially if you are displaying adverts then you are bringing in traffic that might be clicking on these adverts.

You are also developing a base of regular visitors. Some of these will sign up for your newsletters, others will browse your site and start to buy products and services. This is the aim! For just the cost of a forum and maintaining it, you have a continual stream of traffic.

You do need to appoint a moderator to watch for posts that go a little too far - but as long as visitors can flag posts then that shouldn't be a problem. And some people will try to fill posts with links to their websites. You either need to be checking for blantant self promotion or adding the tag rel="nofollow" to every hyperlink in posts.

There are plenty of off the shelf packages that can be installed or use a custom built one. Whereas a custom built solution might not have so many fancy features and can be a bit more basic, it can combine into the site far more effectively. For example, latest posts can be displayed in the header of every page on the website so that every visitor can see what's happening in the forum.

A forum is an excellent way of generating loads of unique, fresh content. With a little work it should really drive plenty of traffic into your site.

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

PopUnders to Sell Your Website

If you want loads of traffic and fast, then PopUnders could be the answer to your dreams. Visitors direct to your site, from another relevant site. But what are they and do they still work?

Very simply put, popunders are the display of your website in a new window when a visitor enters a page on another person's website. Popunder campaigns can start off as campaigns of 5,000 visitors and easily work up to 60,000 visitors or more, for an incredibly low cost.

The general idea is that popunders appear under the screen the visitor is currently browsing. They will then see it later, when they close the current screen. They don't always work this way - within a campaign large numbers of the people seeing your website loading will just close the screen down, maybe even before it fully loads.

There are a myriad of popup blockers around - built into browsers or as add ons in tool bars - but in a popunder campaign these won't (usually) count as they haven't opened the window.

For all of these problems, popunder campaigns are cheap and send a lot of traffic in a very short time. 2,000 - 3,000 visitors per day is easily possible. If you choose a good supplier, you can carefully match the category of the website showing your website to your own website's content.

For a small outlay you can rapidly boost your traffic in no time. As with other website marketing ideas, it's not guaranteed that it will work for all sites and I've known customers who have had no success whilst others who's businesses hinge on the results of popunder traffic. For a small outlay, a trial campaign is a must.

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Link Building for Marketing Success (not finished)

Link buidling isn't just about getting your website listed in directories no-one looks at and search engines ultimately ignore. Arranging decent and honest links can not only increase your traffic but also your search engine ranking. But what is this all about?

Link building is as simple as you saying to another site owner, "I'll put a link to your site on mine, if you do the same back for me." One of the easiest ways of maintaining these links, whilst allowing other people to initiate such links without a lot of manual work on your behalf, is to use a links directory tool. With these a lot of the processes are automated, or at least made easier. It's a contact point for people wanting to exchange links with you. They can find out how and where to link to your site; they publish this on their site; they enter the links details into your list and the tool will check that their link is in place and adds their link to your site.

It all sounds very easy! But how do you start off? Where do you find those first sites to exchange with?

Firstly, there are 2 types of exchanges you are looking for. There are those that are for the original purpose - because you can exchange traffic - and those just for link building sake - because every link ultimately helps to increase your search engine positioning. In theory, at least.

Finding link exchanges for genuine traffic is basically about finding similarly themed websites and getting them to put a link in a suitable page. You want to find sites that share a theme so that their visitors will be interested in visiting your site when they see the link.

But many sites these days don't show links in prominent position - instead hiding links away in 'resource directories' and the such like. No problem, but these exchanges are mainly for improving your search engine position.

With these you want to quickly find other sites that will exchange links with you. Search for terms such as 'exchange link', 'add site' and other suggestive phrases along with a word associated with your site, e.g. mortgages, insurance etc.

Once you find these sites, look up what their link requirements are and then add this to your site. Then use their form to tell them where your link is and keep an eye out for the email saying that they have exchanged links.

It can take a while to find such sites and quite often the links aren't that great, but they are a starting point. Once you get used to the idea you can then start choosing sites based on page rank etc. And once you have a reasonable links directory in place, a lot of people will be coming to you for links, meaning you don't have to do the hard work!

Monday, 4 August 2008

Using forums to promote your site

Forums can be a powerful way to promote your website, but care must be taken to not cross the unwritten boundaries. Here I'll look at what you can do, and what you shouldn't do.

First, promoting your website in forums doesn't mean spamming every forum you come across. Done properly, it is subtle and no-one will complain. Done incorrectly and everyone will complain and you will be booted off your forum.

So what shouldn't you do? Unless the topic of a forum is ultra-relevant, you shouldn't open new forum threads with the idea of promoting your site. Moderators will quickly close the thread.

You should also not be replying to open threads just with the intent of name dropping your site. This can also upset the moderators and they are likely to remove your site name and its links. They might even remove your posts and your logon.

So what can you do? If your site is very relevant to the forum then you might be able to announce a new product within the forum. If in doubt, mention it first in an existing thread and see if anyone minds you opening a new thread.

But the main time you can get a site mention is in open threads. Look for people asking questions and needing some help, that your site provides. Maybe you offer accommodation around an event and they are looking for that. Or maybe they are looking for hard to find presents and you sell a suitable idea. A mention of your site name in these instances is (usually) allowable.

Also, many forums allow you to use a signature in which you can mention your website name. Or as part of your forum nickname maybe your site name is relevant. If so, then try it out. I've seen both of these done well and no-one minds. In signatures, the forum may block the link to the site from the search engines, but whenever you are posting replies your signature is seen. If you are posting often and become seen as an "expert", then it's likely that people will want to read more about what you say and that's when the signatures come in useful.

Just don't go randomly posting links to your websites in random forums. Use forums well and they can be your friend.

Sunday, 3 August 2008

Marketing Your Website With Pay Per Click

Pay Per Click marketing is sold as a quick and easy way to huge amounts of traffic. To the opponents, it's expensive and open to fraud. What is Pay Per Click and who might use it?

Pay Per Click marketing, PPC, is where your advert is displayed on search engines or websites and you are charged for every viewer of the advert that clicks on it and becomes a visitor to your website.

This means that you are only being charged when someone who is interested in your advert actually clicks on it. If the site showing your advert places it somewhere on the screen where it is hidden away or the page the advert is on is not appropriate to the content of the advert and it's not of interest to people seeing the advert, it doesn't matter to you. These people aren't going to be interested and aren't going to click.

So what are the essentials of PPC advertising? Well, you are going to have to encourage the right people to click on the advert. Advertisers are not going to carry your advert if no-one ever clicks on it and you won't gain loads of traffic if there's no-one clicking on it.

Starting off, you usually choose the keywords that are applicable to your advert. If you want people to visit your shoe shop, then shoe shop is a good starting point, but it's so general that you probably won't actually get that much good traffic. Try instead choosing keywords more closely matching what you actually sell. Do you sell brands, specialist shoes or hard to find shoes? If so, then base your keywords around these ideas. If you sell mismatched shoes for people with different sized feet, then that's what your keywords should concentrate on.

Not only does this mean you are finding the correct audience more often, you are getting more relevant visitors, who are more likely to convert into customers. By targeting your advertising closely then you get less wasted displays and more relevant clicks. This increased 'click through rate' can, on systems like Google, mean that your advert is displayed higher up the list.

How should the advert look?

Taking the typical, Google format, you usually get a title, 2 short lines of description and a URL. Make the title snappy and to the point. Sell your services in that first line. 'Oversize Shoes', 'Discount Lelli Kelly Shoes' etc tell viewers straight away what you are selling. Writing the title in 'title case', where the first letter of every word is in upper case has been shown to encourage more clicks.

In the description lines give further information about what you sell, without over selling. People act negatively to adverts that are too pushy. Mention benefits like in stock, free delivery, discounts etc. Finish the description with an "action statement" - "click here", "view our range" etc. Don't get carried away with 'title case', write the description as a normal sentence - title case can make this look too much!

How many adverts?

To allow you to closely match titles with keywords, it is a good idea to write a different advert for each keyword, or set of keywords. This technique also allows you to watch the stats from the advert and see which adverts are getting the most clicks - and you can compare that to orders taken.

It is also quite often possible to have more than one advert per set of keywords. This allows you to experiment with different titles and texts. For example, does "Discounted Lelli Kelly shoes - Click here." work better than "Click here for discounted Lelli Kelly shoes."? Try small changes and see which one works better. Then create a new advert with a slightly modified text based on the best advert and see what happens then. By finding out which advert gets the best relevant click rate, you are getting maximum visitors for minimum cost.

How to control the advert?

Just setting off the advert with various combinations and 101 keywords isn't a good idea. Make sure that you set a realistic cost per click and daily budget. The cost per click is the most you are willing to pay per click - not necessarily the actual amount you will be paying. You should also set a daily budget for your campaign so that you don't get an expensive fright when you next logon a day or two later.

Who is PPC suitable for?

PPC can be used by almost any site (just some adult and gambling sites are excluded from certain schemes), but I would always recommend a cautious trial before throwing huge amounts of marketing budget at a campaign. It does suit itself more to established products that people are searching for rather than brand new products lines that no-one has heard of yet, but even these, with careful thought, can be promoted.

As with all website marketing ideas, if you haven't already tried it then give it a go and see if it works for your site. If there isn't much search engine traffic in your niche or most custom is usually reapeat loyal customers, then PPC might be slow. But if you are a market that people are searching for your products, then you stand a good chance of plentiful traffic.

Saturday, 2 August 2008

Website Marketing With Expired Domain Redirects

If you are looking for a cheap way to send plenty of targetted website traffic direct to your website, expired domain redirects could be just what your business needs.

What exactly are these? Across the world people register URLs and publish a website to them. They actively promote their website - through link exchanges, forums, one way links etc. This can develop long term traffic - for example, a site that I removed 8 months ago is still generating enquiries as to where the links have gone.

So for many months after a website closes it can be generating high volumes of traffic still. Traffic, or visitors, who may be looking for a service that no longer exists. If you had the time and the money, you could buy the URL when it expires and use that as your own. So instead of visitors going to the expired site, they go to your site instead. If you know this site sold similar services to you then you should be onto a winner.

But it takes a lot of time and effort to find and buy the right URLs and they can be quite expensive. So what's the easier alternative? Well, quite simply, you buy the traffic from someone who is doing the hard work for you!

Allow a traffic service to buy up the domains and categorise them. You tell them what category of traffic you want and what page on your website is relevant to the traffic and they sort the rest out for you.

Given that the seller knows what the content of each old site was, there's a good chance they can acurately match traffic to website wanting traffic. Usually these services have hundreds of different categories to choose from, making it very accurately targetted marketing.

Another benefit is that the seller can see the IP address of the incoming visitor and usually work out with a degree of accuracy their country of origin. This means that you can not only choose a category, but also a country that your visitors should come from.

What are the downsides? Well, on the whole it's usually very cheap. But there are times when the traffic can be slow, especially if you are needing just UK traffic. Some service providers have stopped offering UK traffic over the last few months. But if you aren't worried about just having UK visitors, then this isn't a problem.

Expired domain traffic can be highly targetted and given it's low cost is well worth trying out, even if you just run a small campaign or two.

Friday, 1 August 2008

Writing articles for more website traffic

Writing articles, if you can think of plenty of content, can be a useful way of generating more taffic directly to your site. If you are very lucky, it also brings in some one way links.

It works like this. There are loads of people out there running e-zines, blogs and websites that want more content. They want a quick and easy way to provide their readers with fresh information and it can be extremely difficult to provide this often enough.

On the other hand, there are a load of people that are 'experts' in their fields. These people have plenty they can say, but are without the circulation list to distribute the content they can put together. Some are inspired by wanting to publicise their knowledge, whilst most want to give their websites or businesses a higher profile.

So there are article distribution sites that bring the two together. The experts write the articles and submit them to the article sites. The articles should be well written, interesting and saying something new, or in a different way.

At the end of the article the expert author usually adds a brief biography about themself, linking to or mentioning their website or business name.

The publishers then come along and find articles that are interesting to them and useful. They publish them as they require and include the biography. Within an e-zine, this is just a link so that interested readers can find out more about the author or their services. Whilst in a website, it is usually a live link to the website, giving not only a chance of traffic, but also one way links from new sites to the author's own site.

So what are the important aspects of article writing? Well, apart from finding a good site to distribute them on, it them centres around writing about content that publishers want to print in a way that they are happy to include. If your articles aren't interesting or are poorly written then publishers are less likely to pick up them and use them.

Articles must be spell checked, written about a subject that is useful and most importantly of all - they should be original. There's no point ripping off someone else's content. Write a good article for yourself and then get it published. Once you are seeing the article spread around the internet you should not only get a good feeling - but also plenty of traffic!

Thursday, 31 July 2008

Keep your content fresh for more traffic

Search engines and visitors love fresh content. By keeping your website updated you can keep both happy and therefore bring more traffic to your website.

Why is this the case? Well very few good websites sit still. There are new findings to report, further information to add, corrections to make to the copy etc. Many top websites grow over time as further information is added to them.

Visitors are more likely to return to sites that are maintained. Think through your own list of sites that you look at often - forums, news sites etc. If shops never add new stock then where's the interest to return to browse latest ranges?

Search engines look for these updates and expect them. If they don't see them then the site is thought to be unmaintained and drops in the rankings. A well maintained site on the other hand can climb with time.

But there is a balance. Over doing changes can be as bad, if not worse, than no changes. I've seen sites putting up random blocks of text on every visit. This doesn't trick the search engines - they see through it. There needs to be a balance between stability and additions to the site.

This can be as simple as a regularly updated news feature. Have a news page and list latest headlines on the home page. This acts not only as a link in from the home page to the news items - making it easier for all concerned to find the new pages, but it also means that the fresh content is shown on the home page. The news can be a mixture of news about your business and about news that affects the area that your business works in. For example, on comparemortgagerates.co.uk I try to add relevant financial news a couple of times per month.

If you are running a shop then keep the stock updated. As new lines arrive add them to your ranges on your website. This keeps the pages displaying the stock ranges fresh and adds new pages in the form of stock descriptions.

Even if you do not carry stock and maybe your company news isn't that exciting and neither is the business news in your area of expertise, there are still ways of producing fresh content. Maybe you are holding events that could be reported on? Publishing a photo with a caption on a regular basis seems to provide fresh content for the search engines and the people attending the event can be told that the photos will be published, which might attract them onto the site. If the pictures are good they will shoe friends and colleagues - just make sure that your site name is printed onto that photograph so everyone knows where it came from!

Even just a photo gallery of visitors or a diary of what's going on can be of interest to visitors and search engines. If you can think of original material to put on the site on a regular basis then it can be of help to the site's traffic.

Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Advertise your website in your shop

Here's a simple way of driving in traffic to your website for next to free - advertise it in your shop (or other outlet). But amazingly many people forget or simply choose to ignore this simple idea thinking that it is not necessary, because the people are in the shop already.

But what when you are closed, or they want to see if you carry certain products before making a trip out? Or maybe they want to print out your menu? What about publicising special offers and keeping their interest in your services? If they are more aware of your website, they are more likely to find it and show it to friends and maybe return to you.

Keeping the website name in your customers' eyes is important. Simply adding the website address to a shopfront facia can be enough for a starter. That way, people driving past when you are closed, seeing an offer in the window can look it up when they get home. They might be more likely to remember the offer if they noticed that you had a website address shown outside.

And the shop front sign is not the only place to display the website address. Buy from any of the main highstreet shops and you can almost guarantee that they will display their website address on the receipt. How much would it cost you to change your receipts to show the URL?

Maybe try adding the website URL to price labels next time you are getting them printed, or to menus, leaflets or anything else that you hand out. If you are not a shop, for example a solicitor, then there are still plenty of avenues to explore. Letterheads, compliment slips, business cards and the likes can all be printed to include your website address.

If people are visting you as customers then make sure that they go away knowing your website's address. If they don't, then it's going to be a lot more difficult for them to find your website and return as a customer through it.