Shortly after the successful launch of my first site and its associated celebration I had the sense of “now what?” The question wasn’t unique to me as one of the more common questions I see new site owners asking in forums is “how do I market my site?” Not an easy question to answer in a single forum post given how general it is. Add to it the level of detail your marketing strategy and tactics may call for and the forum question often gets less than useful answers. This post is an attempt to simplify marketing and hopefully offer an answer to point new site owners down the right path.
Photo by quaziefoto
Sellers and Buyers
Your website is selling something. You might be selling products or services or you might be selling ideas through your content, but you’re selling something. People buying may pay you in cash or credit. They may also pay you in the form of links, word of mouth, or attention. Buying and selling goes beyond the exchange of goods and services for money.
No matter what it is you’re selling and what currency you’ll accept the basic principle is the same.
- Figure out who potential customers are
- Figure out where they spend their time
- Find a way to position yourself in front of them
- Particularly at the moment they’re interested in buying
- Convince them to purchase from you instead of your competition
Given the above think about how you might place a banner ad online. You’d choose to display your banner on sites where you think your target market spends their time. You’d probably want your ad located somewhere on the page where it’s more likely to be seen. You’d create an ad that does what it can to convince people to click on it.
The banner ad example is a simple one. How about one a little more complex? How can the above five points help answer other popular questions such as what is a quality link and how do I get links?
What is a Quality Link?
A link is an avenue into your site that someone may travel to “buy” from you. Of course not everyone who follows a link to your site wants what you have to offer. Some will be more predisposed to buying from you than others. These people are the ones you want to follow links to your site. Ask yourself who they might be and ask yourself what other sites might they be likely to visit. Those sites are where you want a link back to you.
The link is a quality link, because it identifies potential customers and where they spend time and positions you in front of them. The more closely your site is aligned with the site linking to you the closer you are to the moment someone is interested in buying. Again buying is being defined loosely here. What’s being bought might simply be information.
If someone is reading an article about mountain bike repair they are at that moment “buying” information about mountain bike repair. They might also be ready to buy more information on the same topic, or specific tools to help them repair their bike.
Even more quality can be added to the link through well written anchor text as the text will help convince people to click the link.
How do you get Links?
The person linking to you is also buying from you. The currency being exchanged is the link and what’s being purchased is some content on your site. Your first goal is in identifying these buyers. Who are these linkerati who will add links on their sites to yours? Where do they spend their time? How do you position yourself in front of them?
The answers naturally depend on the specific people, but one place they’ll undoubtedly spend their time is on their own sites. To be in front of them you should spend your time there too. Comment on their blogs, link to them in your posts. Both if done consistently can and will gain their attention.
Sticking with the idea of commenting, you convince someone to link to you by leaving intelligent and thought provoking comments. Add something to the discussion on someone else’s blog and you convince that someone it’s worth the time to look at the content on your blog.
A Simplified View of Marketing
Admittedly the few points listed above as well as the examples are a very simplified view of marketing, but that simple view is behind all the detailed marketing decisions you make.
If you sell sewing machines would you choose to advertise in a magazine dedicated to custom motorcycles? Probably not, because the motorcycle magazine isn’t targeted to your market. Sure there are people interested in motorcycles who also buy sewing machines, but the overlap isn’t enough to make the ad worthwhile.
By the same token if you have a site about sewing would you seek out a link from a site about motorcycles. Again, probably not for the same reasons. That’s not where your customers are likely to spend their time.
Search engine optimization and social media marketing can be confusing at times with all the information and misinformation you can find, but if you take a step back and think about what you’re trying to do in marketing your site it can cut through a lot of the details and lead you in the right direction.
Do you find yourself getting bogged down in the details of marketing or do you let a few simple principles guide your decision making?