Unleashing the Potential of Your Website Traffic: Strategies for Website Promotion and Search Engine Optimization

Jan 2


Philippa Gamse

Philippa Gamse

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The first paragraph of an article is a summary of the article's content. It is estimated that search engines contribute to approximately 60% of new traffic to your website. This implies that unless your brand is already well-established and people are actively searching for it, you need a well-thought-out search engine strategy. The creation of new websites is a daily occurrence, hence the saying "Build it, and they will come" doesn't hold water. Effective website promotion demands a significant and continuous investment of time and resources. It's not a one-time task but a continuous process that requires regular evaluation of the return on your investment. By analyzing your website traffic, you can gather crucial information that can inform strategic business development decisions.


Setting Your Traffic Goals

We've all encountered individuals who brag about receiving "thousands of hits a day" on their websites,Unleashing the Potential of Your Website Traffic: Strategies for Website Promotion and Search Engine Optimization Articles which may have made us feel a bit envious. However, it's crucial to differentiate between individual visitors and "hits". The term "hits" refers to every component of your site that is downloaded, including each separate graphic file. Therefore, a single visitor viewing your homepage, which contains text and four images, will generate five "hits". If that visitor navigates further into your site, they will generate more hits, but it's still the same user.

You need to determine whether you want to attract as many visitors as possible, which could result in thousands of unqualified individuals, or whether you'd prefer 20 highly qualified decision-makers per day who are specifically interested in what you offer. There are no right or wrong answers, but it's important to set goals for the volume and quality of traffic you desire so you can measure results.

Crafting Effective Keywords

The next step is to identify keywords and key phrases that will set you apart. If everyone used "professional speaker" as their main key phrase, how many of us would appear at the top of search engine results? Moreover, typical searches yield too many results. Therefore, visitors will likely combine "professional speaker" with something more specific, such as "customer service" and "banking", or perhaps a location like "teambuilding" and "Chicago". You will discover the most effective keywords for your site when you analyze your traffic logs. For now, make an educated guess.

Consider the topics you cover, the industries you specialize in, the locations you serve, and any other unique aspects of your business. Ensure that your keywords are in the language your clients use, not industry jargon. For instance, I have never seen the phrase "keynote speaker" used in actual searches.

Next, compile these into a set of keywords and phrases. Due to the frequency of most single words, phrases often work better in narrowing down a search. Include your name, common misspellings of your name, and any other key element of your site. Use both singular and plural forms, and mix capital with lowercase letters, except for proper names (some search engines are case-sensitive and will exclude lowercase searches for words that you have capitalized).

For example, here are the keywords and phrases for my site:

Philippa Gamse, Phillipa, Games, CyberSpeaker, internet speaker, internet seminars, Internet marketing programs, internet marketing speakers, search engines, online marketing strategies, Web site promotion, traffic logs, internet consultant

This is not an exhaustive list, but it's a good start.

Once you have your keywords and phrases, use them to create:

  • A page title containing your most significant keywords. It doesn't matter if the title doesn't read well - it's the piece that appears in the colored bar of the browser at the top, and very few people see it. Contrary to popular belief, titles are for search engines, not people!

  • A brief, compelling description. This will be displayed in the search engine results and will attract visitors to your site. Most search engines display 2 lines or less, so wording such as "Welcome to My Company - a full-service provider of..." is probably most of what you'll get - and you haven't said anything yet! So keep it concise and include the keywords.

Now, do this for every significant page of your site!

Your site is (or should be) more than just your homepage. The spider search engines that index every word on a page allow you to submit multiple pages. So do it! This significantly increases your exposure and the angles you can use to promote yourself.

For example, I have an article on my site about choosing an Internet Service Provider (if you want to read it, check out my list of articles). Many people searching for this topic find this piece as their entry point to my site. If they want to find out more about me, they can follow the navigation aids back to get more information.

Reviewing and Updating Your Pages

When you have your keywords, key phrases, titles, and descriptions ready, it's time to insert them into every significant page of your site. You may need help from your web designer to do this.

First, you need to incorporate these elements into the header record for each page - in special places called "meta tags". These tags, which aren't visible to visitors, are heavily used by several of the major search engines.

As an example, the header record for my homepage looks like this:

Internet speaker, Internet marketing speaker, internet seminars, online marketing programs

Also, ensure that the text of each page includes the main keywords again - but don't spam - that is, don't repeat them incessantly. At best, the search engines will ignore more than about 7 occurrences of each word, at worst they may even exclude your site.

While you are reviewing your website pages, look for any hidden roadblocks for the search engines that your web designer may have unwittingly introduced. These can include:

  • Frames: the separation of the screen into different sections. Several search engines will not go inside these.
  • Java: a programming language used to create "cool" animation effects, and other applications on your site - again, the search engines will not work with Java script.
  • Images: pages that contain only graphics with no text, (even if words are part of the graphic) will be passed over by the search engines unless you include alternative text tags for the images.

Note: there are significant differences between the various search engines in terms of what and how they will index. My suggestions here will help you get through the basics, but for much more detailed information, check out "The Webmaster's Guide to Search Engines".

Submitting to the Search Engines

Now it's time to submit to the search engines.

By the way, they all (currently) accept your listing free of charge - they generate revenue from the advertising banners at the top of their pages.

You may have already received some unsolicited emails (not from me!) offering to submit your site to 500+ search engines for a seemingly very low price. My advice would be to avoid these services, for several reasons:

  • Most of the 500 search engines will be obscure (such as "Fred's Cool Links"), with few people ever visiting.
  • These services will submit your site to all the engines on their lists indiscriminately, whether or not it is applicable. Worse, some of them may be adult-oriented.
  • The services use software to submit your site automatically, which means that they do not take the time to ensure that you appear in the optimum category within each directory. Also, some of the search engines are now rejecting automated submissions.

If you decide to do your own submissions, these are the ones that I recommend using:

Alta Vista; AOL Netfind; Excite; Google; Hotbot; Infoseek; Lycos; Microsoft Network; Northern Light; Webcrawler;

Be aware that the search engines take vastly differing amounts of time to list you. Alta Vista and Infoseek are usually very fast, while Excite and Lycos can be delayed by several weeks.

You should also get yourself listed in the major directories - these are reviewed by human editors, so make sure that your site is ready for close scrutiny! These include:

Looksmart; Snap; Yahoo!

If, and only if, you are selling product directly from your website via a secure server, you can apply for Yahoo!'s Business Express Service. This costs a one-time fee of $199, but seems to virtually guarantee you a listing - and Yahoo! is still by far the highest trafficked directory.

And, if you are willing to pay per click (visitor to your website), check out Goto. This search engine is arranged on an auction system - you bid per keyword or phrase (bids start at $0.01), and the highest bidder's site is displayed first. Your account is debited by the amount of your bid when someone clicks on your listing. Again, this site is controlled by human editors, so the results are pretty clean.

Traffic Analysis - Evaluating Results

Once your site is promoted and starts appearing in the search engines, you can evaluate your traffic. Your Internet Service Provider (ISP) should provide your site's usage logs, which give you incredibly useful information. (And if they don't, take your business elsewhere!)

You will need a good analysis tool to break down this data (some ISPs and/or professional website marketers provide this service as well). I currently use Hitbox, which is excellent.

The report will show you how many individual visitors came to your site, as well as the hit count. You can see which pages of the site are the most popular, and which pages draw little traffic. Maybe this is because you haven't made them enticing enough in your links.

Armed with this analysis, you can intelligently review your site structure and content. For the purposes of this discussion on search engine promotion, look at the sections on search engines and keywords (you can find these by using the navigation links in the left-hand frame of the report):

"Top Referring Sites" "Top Referring URLs" "Top Search Engines" "Top Search Phrases" "Top Search Keywords"

These charts and tables show you which search engines (or other websites that link to you) are driving the most traffic to your site, and what keywords and phrases people are using to find you, broken down both by individual search engine and overall. Here's where you start getting some great feedback. You may have been fairly sure that you knew the keywords that your markets would use to find your site, but you could be wrong! With this information, you can adjust the titles, keywords, and descriptions in your pages, and then resubmit the site. This ongoing process helps to improve your position in the search engines where you may not be so well placed.

This also provides wonderful market research on your audience. Rita Risser's company, Fair Measures, provides legal training for managers in the area of employment law. Her website is an extensive information resource, attracting over 6,000 visitors per month.

Rita told me that her logs showed that many visitors were searching for a specific topic that was a total surprise to her. But there was such demand for this subject that she decided to write a book on it.

If you view the Webtrends report while online, you can click on the most popular search strings and perform that actual search. This will show you how your site appears, and also what other pages are being returned. So if your competition is ahead of you, it may be possible to look at their promotional techniques and work out how they do it!


Take your web marketing seriously. The web affords you the opportunity to track the results of your marketing investment in ways that you never could with traditional advertising. You can learn something about literally every visitor to your site.

Get serious about your website marketing; set your goals, invest in an ongoing strategy, and then become even more successful!

Copyright, Philippa Gamse, 2000