January 15, 2003
What drives visitors to your website and keeps them there? Good content.
Good content is key to website promotion success. All the bells and whistles in the world will not hold an audience like compelling information. Ask yourself: Why would a visitor stay at my website? What are they looking for? What do I have that they need? What holds them there once I've got them visiting? You have to tell your story in a way that will keep your visitors interested and coming back for more.
The first part of the process is getting visitors to your site through search engine promotion and other traditional marketing methods. As you increase your visibility, more visitors will come to see what the commotion is all about.
The second part of the process is keeping them there. If you provide quality information that is easy to access, you are giving the visitor what they are looking for. Don't give your visitors a reason to click away. Quality content means happy visitors, and with enough happy visitors, you become an "authority" on your topic. Having a site recognized as an authority means good ranking in the search engines.
So how do you get your visitors to stay on your site, and to return to it? First, you need to understand your audience. Who are you trying to reach? Create your pages with them in mind. Do you want to reach a narrow audience, or will you try to reach all levels of readers? Buzz words may make sense to you in your business, but will they reach your target audience? If you are a high-powered underwater basketweaving consultant, focused only on serious underwater basketweavers, you can keep the discussion on your site fairly technical. If, however, you really want to spread the joy of underwater basketweaving to a wider audience, you may want to keep the tone more general, giving newcomers to underwater basketweaving the information they need to become as enthralled by basketweaving as you are.
So what kind of content do you need to provide for your visitors? If you have a site selling gardening books, you will have lists of the titles you have for sale, an order form, and contact information. Everybody else selling gardening books will have these pages too. How do you rise above the crowd? How do you stand out as the definitive gardening book website?
One technique that you can use to good effect is that of writing articles pertaining to your site's topic. After all, who knows more about gardening and gardening books than you? Not only does this give your visitors yet another reason to keep coming back to your site, but it also allows you to reach out beyond your site. There are many other websites out there looking for authoritative information on your topic. Find those sites and submit your articles to them. This creates a "win-win" situation: the other web site gains the benefit of your knowledge, while you are further recognized as an authority in the field. Getting a link from that site back to yours brings more visitors to your site, and increases your site's link popularity.
Keeping an archive of articles on your website builds your knowledge base. You can refer visitors to your articles when answering their questions. People searching for information on the topics you have written about will find your articles listed in their search results. Once they arrive at your site, maybe they will buy something from you: if you know so much about planting bulbs, maybe your site is the place I should buy my bulb-planting books.
What else can you add to this mix? Think about adding professional gardening book reviews, a gardening book club, FAQ's about gardening, gardening articles, a rating system for books, audience book reviews, and other gardening-related topics. Adding this type of information gives your visitors more reasons to keep coming back to your site. Offer free tools, create a forum. Set up a newsletter for your audience with your topic, adding in a discount for your product for newsletter readers. Give your audience a reason to come back to your website.
A primary example of how this works is Google's PageRank. One of the most important aspects of ranking for Google and other search engines is good content. Google wants their search engine users to find what they are looking for, a successful search experience for their users. The keywords included in your site are important; after all, those are the terms your potential visitors are searching for. Now not only do you have your catalog pages and ordering information, but you also have a more in-depth treatment of the topics you have addressed in your articles, book reviews, and other materials. More keywords in more places means you have a better chance of matching a potential visitor's search.
So how can you "rise above" the other online gardening bookstores out there in the search engine listings? Link popularity can be the next important piece that allows you to differentiate yourself from the rest of the pack. All other things being equal, search engines that pay attention to link popularity will list your site higher in their results if you have more links coming back from other sites which have a focus related to yours. In other words, if your gardening bookstore has a number of backlinks pointing to it from the websites of gardening clubs, nurseries, and so forth, your site will be seen as more authoritative. The more authoritative a website looks to Google through link popularity, the higher that site will rank. After all, if all these other gardening-related sites point to your site, they are demonstrating that you have something important to say. That is another reason why it is important to have your material published on other websites.
Maintaining good content is a stepping-stone for your visitors to delve in deeper to your website. Taking the time to build your content and provide for your audience will pay off in good search engine ranking and returning visitors.
Daria Goetsch is the founder and Search Engine Marketing Consultant for Search Innovation Marketing, a Search Engine Optimization company serving small businesses. She has specialized in Search Engine Promotion since 1998, including three years as the Search Engine Specialist for O'Reilly Media, Inc., a technical book publishing company.
Permission to reprint this article is granted as long as all text above this line is included in its entirety. We would also appreciate your notifying us when you reprint it: please send a note to info (at) searchinnovation.com.
Copyright © 2002-2017 Search Innovation. All Rights Reserved.