Unless you set up your website for personal, ego, or purely “image” reasons, you’re probably interested in learning how your website can help develop new customers for your business.
 
For your website investment to work hard for your business, you have to set the stage so that potential customers see your website.

Traditional “In Real Life” Tactics

The old-school approach is to manually distribute the address – the URL – http://your-web-site.com – to everyone you know.
 
You’d add the address of your website to your business cards, your stationary, and even on the street signs for your business.
 
You can tell everyone you know about your website. But doing this reaches no more customers than those that already know about you now. And of course there’s word-of-mouth.
 
The unique power of owning a website is where new prospective customers you would never run into in any other way find out about you online.
 
That’s the focus of this article.

Learning the Online Visibility Game: How It’s Done

Just as your business’s signs on the street have to be visible and not obstructed by trees, buildings or other signs, you need to be easily findable on the internet.
 
There are four general categories of ways that you can develop online visibility and interest in your business.  Any method of online marketing that you’ll read about will boil down a mixture of these techniques. They are:
 
  • SEO – Being findable through internet search: Search Engine Optimization or SEO. Consumers today overwhelmingly use Google, Yahoo or Bing to do their initial product research and shopping. Search engines are used by customers today the way the yellow pages were used 20 years ago. If you’re easily found by your best potential customers through  internet search, then you’ll have a definite marketing advantage.
  • PPC – Driving clicks to your site through paid advertising: called Paid Per Click or PPC advertising. Google AdWords is the most popular and most mentioned form of PPC advertising, but there are many PPC advertising providers. You’re essentially paying to have your ads shown to internet users who show interest in topics that are related to your products or services.
  • Social exposure: social media, blogs, and online discussion forums are the major ways that your relationship with a group of persons or an area of interest can result in exposure for your website and your products and services.
  • Publicity: … or someone else voluntarily writing about your business. Press releases, news articles, and widely followed bloggers who take an interest in your product or business are aspects of publicity.

There’s some overlap of these categories. For example, publicity, and certain kinds of social media exposure create huge SEO value. Your own blogging is initially a purely SEO focused effort until you pick up enough readers that you see an audience building. You can run PPC advertising campaigns on social media that look like non sponsored content but which actually deliver qualified customers to you.

Three Important Facts about Online Marketing to Keep in Mind

There’s three things to know about all of these methods of creating exposure for your new website.
 
  1. Every method requires specialized knowledge in order to be effective and to not cause damage. There are actually instances in which you can lose thousands of dollars in direct advertising costs, or damage the reputation of your website with search engines, by not following “best practices”.
  2. You will either have to learn how to employ these techniques yourself, or hire out the work to someone who does know.
  3. None of these techniques (or rather, the fruits of these techniques) happen by themselves or are normally included in the lowest cost website projects.
In upcoming articles we’ll dive deeply into how each type of website marketing looks in real life and the type of effort that it requires.