Two Keys to Building Site Traffic


Publishing date: Dec 26, 2005 05:45

High quality websites are great, of course. But they are worthless if nobody stops by. In the second of two columns, Affinity Internet's CEO says that the two primary ways to generate traffic are pay-per-click and search engine optimization.

Two Keys to Building Site Traffic

E-Commerce and an online marketing program enable small businesses to reach more customers, increase revenue and move beyond their traditional boundaries to challenge the big players in their industry.

In his last article, I examined the key tools for building an effective E-Commerce web site. This column will describe how to effectively draw traffic to your e-commerce web site once it is up and running

Marketing rarely gets as much attention as it should during the planning of an e-commerce site. Marketing is arguably as important as the site design and development process – after all, why build it if nobody comes? Unfortunately, online marketing can be a confusing process, to say the least. The best options for your e-commerce site depend on the customers you are trying to reach and what you are selling.

Pay-Per-Click and Search Engine Optimization:
Effective online marketing consists primarily of two techniques. The first, keyword or “pay-per-click” marketing, can be extremely cost-effective for a small business. Offered primarily on the Google and Yahoo! search engines, keyword marketing allows you to target ads to people using specific terms or phrases. The best part is that you only pay when people click on your ad.

There is a caveat, though. Most keyword marketing programs use a bidding system to determine the price paid for each click for each individual keyword. This is a complicated system, at best. Choosing the most cost-effective keywords for your ads and writing compelling ad copy are absolutely necessary for effective pay-per-click ad campaigns. For this reason, it is highly recommended that small businesses new to online marketing get help with keyword marketing, preferably from an experienced, reputable firm.

The second option is search engine optimization (SEO). In a nutshell, SEO is a process by which websites are made more search engine “friendly." Web sites are optimized around keywords or a set of keywords. SEO helps search engines find and categorize sites. The biggest difference between keyword marketing and SEO is that the search engines do not charge for listings that result from SEO. SEO listings are part of their “natural” search results.

SEO is a highly-specialized process. When done right, it can help your site get listed progressively higher in search engines. As is the case with keyword marketing, the specialization involved in SEO makes it prudent for small businesses to consider using a firm to optimize their site. It is crucial that small businesses understand the basic process of SEO and choose a reputable firm that sets realistic goals for the site’s listings. Beware of firms that “guarantee” top-five listings. SEO is a process, and no one can make guarantees.

Patience, E-Commerce Virtue
The best advice is to take your e-commerce experience in stages. Start small enough to establish success and then scale your online store over time. Most online businesses fail during the first three to four months. In fact, many never really get started. By far, the most common reasons is that the expectations or visions for the store are too grand, and that not enough effort is put fourth to generate traffic.

E-commerce business owners should remember two things. The first is to start with a simple idea. The second is to take the time and harness enough energy to communicate that idea through the online store. A site cannot succeed until it brings in visitors and, ultimately, new customers. E-commerce can be a fun and fruitful way to grow a business. Over time, who knows where it will take you!

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