Well, you’ve done the hard bit and you are now the proud owner of a shiny new website. But regardless of how great your new website looks, a website with no visitors is a bit like owning a Ferrari with no petrol in the tank – it’s just pointless ‘eye candy’.
There are lots of companies (including ourselves) who can help you to develop a steady stream of new visitors to your website and if you can afford it, then we’d always recommend using a Web Marketing professional to help. But if your budget doesn’t stretch to hiring a marketing professional don’t worry as there are a number of free strategies you can use to increase the exposure of your new website.
Why is This so Important For New Websites?
There is a misconception that when a new website is added to Google, it will immediately rank near the top of page one in Google’s search results for relevant searches. So if your new website is about ‘Widgets in Watford’, then you might assume that because your website is relevant it will rank highly whenever somebody searches for ‘Widgets in Watford’ – it probably won’t.
The reason for this is that your new website has no authority with Google; it’s essentially an unknown entity with no reputation. And as there will almost certainly be other websites in your sector that have been around for years, those site have already built-up credibility with Google and will therefore rank above yours.
So how can you build your credibility with Google and encourage it to rank your website near the top of the search results? It’s pretty simple really and down to two factors – Website Links and Social Media Signals.
Let’s look at how you can boost both these critical factors.
Building Website Links
Google has always used the amount of links to a particular website in it’s ranking algorithm. A link from one website to another is a bit like a ‘vote’ from that website that yours is worth a visit – for example, this is a link to Wikipedia.
Up until 2013, it was all about the quantity of links that you managed to get pointing towards your website but as this system was open to rampant abuse by unscrupulous SEO companies, Google changed the rules so now the focus should be solely on the quality, and relevancy of the links to your website.
So where can you get some decent, free links to your website from reputable websites? Well, here’s a few ‘must do’ link opportunities for you…
Although not strictly a link itself, Google Places are the listings that appears at the top of Google’s search results page when you search for a local business. For example, if you go to Google and search ‘Website Designer in Aldershot‘, you’ll see our listing in the places results.
To get started, simply go to the Google Places sign-up page.
If your target market is local customers, this is an absolutely vital step in increasing exposure of your website so it’s worth taking the time to add your listing to Google Places.
Free UK Directories
There are literally thousands of directory websites available and adding your website to as many relevant, good quality ones is a good practice. The main free ones that we’d definitely recommend using as they tend to get the most exposure are as follows (all links open in a new browser window/tab)…
- Hibu (formerly Yell.com)
- Free Index
- Thomson Local
- Touch Local
- Approved Business
- City Local
Note: Some of the above companies offer paid advertising/listings so you might receive a call from their pushy Sales Staff encouraging you to upgrade to a paid listing. In our experience, these paid listings aren’t worth the investment so we’d strongly recommend politely but firmly declining their offers.
If there are any directories relevant to your specific industry then we’d strongly recommend getting your website added to those too.
There are probably scores of other businesses that you come into regular contact with, such as sub-contractors, customers, suppliers and other associated businesses.
It’s worth dropping the owner of each business a quick email to ask if they’d mind adding a link to your new website on an appropriate page of their website.
Social Media Signals
There is still huge debate whether Google counts links from social media websites like Facebook and Twitter when it ranks website pages but regardless of that, it’s highly likely that your potential customers will be actively using these websites. So if you want to get more eyes on your new website, what better place to tell people about it than on the most popular social media websites.
We could write an entire book on how to get more visitors to your website from social media websites but for the sake of keeping this simple, you only need to post links to your website to promote it on Facebook and Twitter.
Even if you’ve only got a handful of friends on Facebook, don’t worry, Chances are that your friends will have many friends themselves, and in turn they’ll have many friends too. Such is the power of sharing content on Facebook.
Now in an ideal world, you’ll have your own business page on Facebook that can be used to link to your website. You can create a free business page by clicking this link.
Don’t just instruct people to look at the website, ask for their feedback or you can be really cheeky and ask them to share it with their friends on Facebook. Perhaps something along the lines of
“We’ve just launched our new website for people looking for (whatever service or products you offer) and we’d be really grateful if you could have a look and give us any suggestions for making it better. Any shares of this post would also be hugely appreciated too (smiley face)”
Obviously you then simply add the link to your website in the post. Whatever you do, don’t make your post a blatant advert as people will just ignore it.
This is an extremely simple way of getting your website in front of a lot of people very quickly. And obviously you can add a new post every few weeks if you can come-up with more inventive ways of encourage people to visit the website.
Twitter isn’t quite as effective as Facebook a social sharing platform for two reasons:
- Twitter has 15 million users against 31.5 million UK Facebook users
- 40% of Twitter users simply read the feeds rather than actually ‘tweeting’ themselves
So unless either you or your business already has a reasonable number of followers in Twitter, there really aren’t any shortcuts to gaining a lot of exposure in Twitter quickly. However, for promoting your website in the future, it definitely worth signing-up for an account and starting to build an audience. And of course, when you sign-up, you can add a link to your new website in your profile.
You can start by following people you know personally and other businesses in your area (but not your competitors obviously). It takes time to build a loyal, responsive following on Twitter so don’t be impatient – only share stuff with your followers that you think they’ll find interesting and keep the self-promotion to the absolute minimum.
There are literally hundreds of ways you can promote a website and increase visitor levels but it’s a marathon, not a sprint. So don’t be too disappointed if you aren’t suddenly awash with loads of new customers – it takes time for Google to ‘trust’ your website and slowly but surely, you WILL receive more visitors.