Tag Archives: sales

10 Tips For Web Success

The webmaster’s biggest job is to get their traffic up and keep customers/visitors coming back. Building the site is one thing, but simply building and posting a website does not guarantee traffic. In fact, a website could be beautiful and an example of all the latest technology and still not attract a single visitor if not promoted correctly. Here are 10 tips to guide you to success with your website.

(1) The internet is a new medium.

At least compared to print, it is. A website is a waste if it simply re-hashes something which could easily be put into print. Don’t have the site be just an online brochure. Put up features which take advantage of the internet as a medium of communication. Filter information for them. Provide search capability. Provide interactivity with features like forums, quizzes and tools. Web visitors like to interact.

(2) Treat the Customer’s Time as Valuable.
When a person visits your website, you have their attention for that point in time. You either need to use it or you will lose it – fast. Most visitors have short attention spans, what you need to design your site homepage so that it grabs their attention and provides what they are looking for right away. Its like walking into a restaurant. If you walk in and just stand there and nobody comes to greet you, you might wonder what is happening. But, if the hostess comes and greets you right away and walks you to a table, then you will be there for awhile and eat. The same analogy goes for websites. Don’t over complicate your website homepage. Best results will be obtained if you make it very clear where to click to find what they need.

(3) Design the site for customers, not the company.
Your site needs to satisfy the needs of customers, not the company. So, don’t post content which is not really useful to the site’s customer. And avoid over-flattering marketing hype about the company. It inflates the ego of the company more than it helps your customer.

(4) Involve the Visitor.
Keep the visitor involved and make them feel like a valuable contributor. Actively ask for the feedback and suggestions. Ask for communication from your visitors and answer that communication swiftly. When getting that communication, capture their email address. This will allow you to communicate with them long after they have moved on and forgotten about you.

(5) Keep it Current.

You need to have content on your website which is timely and relevant to the customer’s life. Posting month-old news is not interesting. Posting dry product information which never changes is not interesting. Yes, you need to have product information and other information on your site that won’t change much, but you can also post more timely content. You can, for example, post content about how your products can be used in certain situations in life. Provide tips and techniques – things which are immediately applicable and solve a problem.

(6) Pay Attention to Form/Design.

Some sites simply over-do it on the eye-candy. Big graphics just for the sake of graphics often impress the site’s designer more than the visitor. Do not use graphics that are large and purposeless. Remember, some visitors may still be accessing your website via dial-up. Your site needs to load up quickly for all users. A slow website will cause your users to leave quickly. Also, pay attention to graphic and design size. Many web designers operate on fairly large screen resolutions and sometimes forget that even though a graphic looks great to you, it will appear enormous to somebody on a smaller resolution. On the flip side, don’t go too light on graphics. A site which is poorly designed and using the default font and no color is not very aesthetically pleasing. Any web visitor, whether they admit it or not, judges your company by your website unless they have something else to go on. A well-designed site communicates professionalism. A poor design makes the site seem like an afterthought.

(7) Promote.
When a visitor communicates to you via email, it is best to use a web form. not only will this keep your email address from being picked up by spammers, it will also allow you to ask your customers for their email address and then store that address for later use. Employ the “push/pull” marketing strategy. A visitor coming to your website is the pull, but later you want to push content back to them in the form of a newsletter or other promotional material. Start a mailing list and use it. Invite visitors to sign up. Promotion makes or breaks a business, and as long as you respect the ethical considerations of your mailing list, you should use it.

(8) Don’t Operate in a Cocoon.
The internet is a medium which is shared by millions. When you set up your website, don’t operate as if you are a self-contained island. Get out there and keep in tune with what is happening on other websites related to your own. Participate in forums. Post links to other websites and ask for a link in return. Form partnerships with other sites if it is appropriate. When it comes to communication, people like personal contacts. Hiding behind general email address like “sales” and “info” is OK as long as there is a way to also email you directly. A company site which allows email direct to the management is good. Just remember how much you hate calling a company and getting stuck in their phone system. Sometimes you just want to talk to somebody. Give your visitors that ability.

(9) Have a Plan to Attract Repeat Traffic.

Use newsletters, out-going email, contests, forums, clubs, auctions – anything that will cause people to return to your website. When posting links to other websites, don’t just send your visitors somewhere else. They may never return. Provide them an exit page. Give them a pop-up when they try to leave your site. Or at the very least make external links open in a new window.

(10) Track Your Visitors
Pay attention to your site’s statistics and react accordingly. What are people reading? How are they finding you? Do they just come and leave right from your homepage? How long as they are on your website? Do they return? This data is immensely valuable in fine-tuning your website based on customer needs and wants. Remember, the biggest mistake of any webmaster is designing the site for what THEY want. A successful website is designed for the target audience, not to impress the site’s owner.

eCommerce Web Site Building: Where Do I Start?

Building a web site isn’t something that is really cut and dry. There’s a huge variety of products and services that can either help you get your web site where you want it or simply confuse you. It’s also important that you make the right choices upfront so that you don’t end up having to restructure your whole web site because of some problem in your design layout. The level of time investment necessary for mastery in a lot of these software packages can range from little to a VERY significant amount. Because of this I feel it’s important to be lead in the “right” direction to make sure you don’t spend time in the wrong areas, or learning some software that might not be all that useful for you later on (*coughs* Frontpage *coughs*).

Where you should start greatly depends on what you plan on attempting to do, and how deep you’re going to dive in. For a moderately professional, clean looking web site without a lot of automation or intensive animated graphics you can probably get by with some basic knowledge of html, ability with a good WYSIWYG editor, and an image editing program. On the other hand, if you’re someone that’s looking to build something that will really wow your audience then you might consider spending some major time and developing some animation skills with a program like Macro media Flash. I personally always spring for what I believe will bring me the greatest amount of profit with a minimal amount of effort, and because of this I usually end up spending all of my time diving in deeper with ONLY my WYSIWYG HTML editor, and my image editor.

## What is a “WYSIWYG” editor? ##
A WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) HTML editor is what allows you to get by with minimal knowledge of HTML. Yes, that means you don’t have to know EVERYTHING about HTML to have a decent looking website. When you use a WYSIWYG editor it interprets what you’re doing (inserting an image for example) as being a certain series of HTML tags with attributes, and does it for you… Thus, what you see on your screen is what you get. Instead of seeing a bunch of HTML code in text format, you’ll mostly see what will actually show up in your browser once your web site is up WHILE you’re making it. I highly recommend using the latest version of dreamweaver — it is well-known as one of the best HTML editors by general consensus. Dreamweaver’s interface is very friendly, has a built in FTP client, and is specifically built to be flexible enough to suit both the coder and the everyday amatuer webmaster.

## Image editing? What do I need that for? ##
Okay, let’s be realistic here: If you’re going to make a professional *appearing* web site it’s important that you can make some basic, decent looking graphics. There’s a lot of graphics problems that can truly get the job done, but as far as power and flexibility goes I recommend Adobe Photoshop. Adobe Photoshop definitely takes some time getting used to, but in the end it’s VERY rewarding. I’ve ended up using my knowledge of Photoshop to make not only graphics for multiple web sites, but also touched up portraits, made business cards, flyers, and other online advertisments such as banners. In fact, I’ve used it for everything except animation… But it also comes with Adobe Image-ready which is very good with animation. This software is amazing, and if you’re going to learn ANY image editing software I recommend you start with Photoshop because of it’s wide range of overall… usefulness!

## Let’s get me some sales! ##
Kick off your new web site you’ve gotten up from your knowledge of web mastering and image editing with a few new sales… Sounds like a plan? Well a great way to do that quickly is with pay-per-click advertising. BUT WAIT! Doesn’t that cost money? Well… Yes. But with the tools brought to us by some of the biggest pay-per-click advertisers out there we should be able to make a good evaluation of how much profit we’re going to make without much investment upfront.

The big question behind pay-per-click advertising is whether or not it’s worth the cash when you can simply get traffic from regular search engine ranking (otherwise known as organic traffic). After all, there are plenty of companies out there that promise to help get you all the traffic you need through optimizing your web site for organic ranking. The answer to this question is quite simple: profit is profit. Through conversion tracking tools such as those offered by Yahoo! Search Marketing and Google Adwords anyone can calculate exactly what their profit is after cost of PPC advertising is taken out. In my opinion, Google Adwords has the most user-friendly interface among the PPC advertisers. Google Adword’s interface makes it very easy to see which keywords are pulling you in the most sales, and which ones aren’t even worth your advertising money.

Let us not forget, however, that in order to make those conversions we’re going to be needing a shopping cart! There’s a lot of diverse software packages out there you can use, but I’ve been using Mal’s E-Commerce Free shopping cart for a number of years with great success. The cart’s server is hosted on their machines so that means you not only get away with not having to pay for the software itself, but you get out of having to buy an SSL security ticket too! Nothing’s a better bargain than free, eh?

## Getting those sales leads you’ve been building up to BUY! ##

Once you’ve scored a few sales it would probably be a good idea to start using some kind of lead management services. I highly recommend the use of auto responders for this purpose. Auto responders are, essentially, a newsletter sign-up that allows you to strategically determine what you want to send each lead after a certain allotted amount of time. For example, let’s say someone visits your web site and you offer them a free newsletter. If you were selling an ebook on some very complicated topic, you might consider sending them only information on the most basic concepts at first to get them interested. Slowly but surely, you can turn those visitors that might have left your web site and never have returned into some serious revenue!

Web Ecommerce: Where To Begin?

In web ecommerce, you are going to find a wealth of information about what it is and what it can do for you within minutes of looking on the web. The problem with this is, it is hard to sort out the good from the bad and the worthless from the maybe-worth-something options. Relying on the bad stuff will leave you broke and everyone is in search of the best options to make them a ton. So, where do you begin when it comes to web ecommerce?

In order to help you get started with web ecommerce, here are some of the things that anyone on the web selling can do to make their business more profitable and more potentially interesting to their buyers.

• Provide quality and something that is user friendly to the client. If you want to sell, you need to convince them that you have something that is better than what is out there or something that isn’t out there at all. You need to provide for them a good experience as well.

• Sales and promotions work as they would in the retail setting of a store. To get people in and buying, offering incentives can definitely help.

• Provide a great looking website for them to visit. Make sure that it is user friendly and that it is easy to navigate as well. Things like photos and graphics that are exciting and appealing are great tools to use as well.

• You can also do well by offering things like chat rooms and blogs that keep up the readership to your website. Allow them to play a role like this and they will likely book mark you and come back for more web ecommerce action!

Web Ecommerce can be a remarkable tool when you use it well. So, as your first step, take the time to explore what ways you can create a great place for your customers and how you can make sure that they come and come back.

To Increase Your Advertising Effectiveness – Stop Selling!

How many times have you heard the old adage, “The customer doesn’t want a drill, he wants a hole in his wall”? While I may disagree with parts of that phrase, one thing is for sure… if you want to increase your advertising effectiveness, you have to stop selling what YOU want the customer to buy and start solving his problems.

What exactly does that mean? For starters, it means finding out who your customers are and what challenges they face. It also means that your ad copy, your tag line, your Web site design, your brochure, your customer service plan and your support need to all work in concert to provide the solutions to those challenges.

The most effective advertising pieces don’t sell… they fulfill. They don’t talk about the company… they talk about the customer. They don’t push price… they provide solutions.

When you focus on the customer in your advertising copy, when you get inside the mind of your customer and speak to their emotional needs, you will see greater results.

Here are 7 tips for creating copy that does not sell… but provides a solution.

1. Talk TO the customer, not ABOUT the company. Yes, you have to mention your company name so they’ll know who you are. But the majority of your copy should speak to the customer and his/her needs. Not: “ABC Web Site Designers has been in business for 13 years. We do great work. Our clients think this or that. We provide design, java and cgi. Our customer service can’t be beat. ABC is the best and you should use us.”

2. Use “you” and “your” and write as if only one person were reading your ad or site. Make your copy personal.

3. Get Real! Use real-life examples in your copy. Reach your customers on their level by identifying with them. Instead of something like, “You can get more organized and stay that way” say “You’ll be able to find your keys in 5 minutes or less and never again wonder if you or your spouse is supposed to pick up the kids today.”

4. Get emotional! Most buying decisions are emotional. Your ad copy should be, too! Bring out their frustration, their anger, their greed. Whatever the situation calls for, use those emotions in your copy. Example: “After you throw the plunger across the room and SCREAM… call ABC Plumbing.”

5. Benefits, benefits, benefits. I know you’ve heard it 1,000 times, but you simply must fill your copy with benefits. Always answer the question, “What’s in it for me?”

6. Show them they’ll get results. Tell your customers what life will be like AFTER your product or service solves all their problems. By showing them that they will get their desired end result, you make a very persuasive argument for your product.

7. Be their friend. Let your copy portray you as “easy-to-like”. Show your customer that you’re their friend who is willing and able to help instead of just another business who wants them to buy.

When you put the focus on the people with the money… the people who keep your business up and going, you can work wonders with your copy. You’ll see your sales improve if you just quit selling!

Three Proven Steps to Improve Your Home Business Advertising

Newspaper advertising is a tremendous source of new business that for so many businesses doesn’t ever reach its true potential. These 3 steps will help you change that forever!

You’re about to find out the mistakes that your competitors keep on making, and to start using techniques proven to grab your prospect’s attention and draw out responses that turn your ad into the ‘customer producer’ you always knew it should be.

Small Business Realities

All business owners want to increase sales, generate more customers, and make more money. Yet few take the necessary actions to do so. Providing a quality product or service is simply not enough.

Many business owners think they need to set an advertising budget, send out a few sales letters, put a few coupons in the local circular, run a newspaper ad, hand out flyers, and do a bunch of other things ‘trying to get their name out there’.

The problem is… a small business that uses that approach wastes a lot of potential. Spending money on this type of exposure is known as advertising. The goal of advertising is to establish a brand name, build an image, and achieve top of the mind awareness. These are some fancy terms taught in business school, but unfortunately they steer everyone in the wrong direction.

You see, small businesses aren’t supposed to advertise. Advertising is all about repeating exposures and building an image. Think about all of the many McDonalds commercials you see on television in a week. That’s ‘high frequency’. Don’t they all seem to show a feeling of friendship, eating happily with family (“we love to see you smile”)? That’s image.

Do you think they intend to get you up out of your seat and go to your local McDonalds right as you’re watching the commercial? Not really. OK, they hope you might, but that’s not what they intend. They are paying to have you see their message so many times that when you are ready to buy their product you will remember them and go there. Now,let’s get to work on your steps to advertising success.

Proven Step #1

So what method will work for your business? It’s called direct response marketing. Here’s an example. Have you ever bought anything after watching an infomercial? Even if you haven’t, infomercials work, they make a lot of people a lot of money. It might surprise you, infomercials are not advertising – they don’t try to build an image or get you to remember a brand, the products aren’t even sold in stores!!

What do they do?

** They take a receptive audience.

** They get them excitedly to pick up the phone and buy. They create action!

This is why most newspaper ads don’t deliver big results. Most newspaper advertisers choose the commercial, but you want the infomercial. Your one and only goal in newspaper advertising is to create action.

In the usual types of Newspaper Directory ads you’re dealing with very targeted prospects. These are people looking up your company type and ready to call you. That’s the beauty and the curse of Newspaper Directory ads. The beauty is prospects can find you easily, the curse is that your competitors are right there with you!!

So how do we get them to pick up the phone and dial your number?

Use direct marketing…which is:

** Directly target a group of people who are in the market for your product or service.

** Offer them what it is they want.

** Generate a response by forcing them to respond to your offer.

Proven Step #2

Your competitors probably waste a lot of money because they’re charged for people who will never even consider their offer. There is a definite and specific market for your service and these are the only people that you should aim your offer to.

For example, if you repair dental equipment you want to market your service to dentists, oral surgeons, etc.. But it’s not generally that easy.

Consider a Home Cleaning Service in a suburb of Cleveland that advertises in the Cleveland Plain Dealer due to the tremendous readership. If 75% of the cleaning company’s clients and target prospects are 3 person families and larger, with incomes of $100,000 per year, living in suburbs A, B and C., they’ve wasted a big chunk of money. Here’s why.

They just spent a lot of money for an ad that will be seen by college students, low-income families, and others that would never consider using their services anyway. Their high percentage prospects make up only a small readership of that paper. Who knows what percentage of those people will see the ad?

Maybe there’s a magazine or community mailer that caters to middle/upper class families in a county neighboring Cleveland or in one of the many suburbs. Sure, maybe the readership is nowhere near as large but the lower cost and targeted readership will generate a much greater return on the company’s investment.

A mailing list of 3-person households and larger with incomes above $100,000, who moved to such-n-such city or county within the last year can be purchased. Direct marketing targets the people most likely to respond to your offer.

Proven Step #3

Most advertising has no offer. And so the prospect has no incentive to respond right now. Direct response always tries to get a response by offering something of value to your prospect right now.

Using the home cleaning service in the example above, you could offer a free hour of cleaning, 20% off the first job, a free pack of sponges and a bottle of Simply Green or anything of value that will cause a person to act.

Since the offer is subject to your terms, you set a date when the offer expires, a number they have to call, a letter that they must bring in, a form that they must fill out.

So, at the end of your promotion you know exactly how much was spent reaching how many people. Also, you will know how many people responded and how much business was generated.

Most of your competitors don’t do this little analysis! They repeat campaigns that cost more than they bring in. So they are forced to set advertising budgets that limit the amount of advertising they can run each year.

But, if every one of your promotions cost you $55 and brought in $225 in business, why would you need a budget? Wouldn’t you just keep repeating the promotion over and over?

Your goal should be to repeat and improve what works for you. If you do, you will not need a budget and you will be able to predict what kinds of repeat and new business each promotion will generate.

The Importance of Web Analytics :: Using Your Analytics Properly

Analytics are very important to your web marketing campaign. If you do not use analytics properly you may not understand how effective your search engine marketing is.

In this article I look at some practical examples of when to use analytics and some things you need to identify in order to get the most out of your analytics.

I came across a situation today that I thought I’d share. It has to do with a client’s analytics.

Many times, as a search engine marketer, it is up to us to tell the client what they should be looking for in their analytics. Right away this seems odd to me. It’s like me telling my client what their business model is, or how they should be selling their product online.

But this does seem to be a common thread among some site owners. They had an idea for a product or service and they wanted to promote it online. So they had a website built, and may have initially had it optimized. But that is as far as their experience goes.

They have no idea on how to track progress or improvements. All to often the numbers they do look at are not the best results to view.

two perspectives on analytics – SEO and client

With my client today, we were trying to nail down what should have been important numbers. And it was a very similar case – they had invested in this super-duper analytics package that was collecting and displaying data upteen different ways, yet they had no idea how to interpret the numbers.

They thought their traffic was increasing, but they had on idea why, really, nor did they have any idea what their customers were doing once they hit the website.

And, as sometimes happens, we fell into the trap of telling them what they should be looking for.

“You want to see search engine referrals going up. That means it’s working” or “increased page views is a good thing.”

But this really isn’t solving their problem is it?

Sometimes as search marketers, we need to step back and say “I know what I need for numbers, but what does my client need to see.”

So this was the approach we took today – let’s have a discussion with the client and focus on what they want to see, not what we need to show them to prove our value as search engine marketers.

When we were done, we had not only shortened their monthly analytics report to a few key metrics (down from pages and pages of statistical analysis) but we had also decreased the time required to complete this analysis.

Sure we still will do some of the analysis for our own purposes, but does the client really care how many backlinks or pages indexed they have? Not likely.

Nope, more often than not, the client wants to know that they are making money. Pure and simple.

So, if you can show them that they are making money, that’s all they really care about. You can add value as a search engine marketer by showing areas of improvement (“did you know that your Google referrals went up by 15% this month? That proves the value of our services, yada yada yada…”)

As long as you can illustrate the bottom line to the client in terms they understand, at that it is improving, then you as a search marketer have done your job.

Keep the pages indexed, backlinks, referrals by keyword and other non-client related data to yourself and present a concise simple report that even the CEO (who has 25 hours per day of work) can look at and understand that the SEO program is paying for itself.

Now let’s look at analytics from the client’s perspective.

If you are a client of an SEO firm, or just want to get a better idea of just how your site is doing online, first you must decide what it is you want to see. Do you want to see sales figures? Or would you rather just look at the aggregate numbers like total visitors and search engine referrals?

What has more value to you – reams and reams of data, or a simple, one page summary of overall performance?

As a recommendation, I’d say you only need enough data to make your business decisions.

In other words, if your website is e-commerce based, all you really need initially are the sales numbers over time. You should also understand how the sales cycle works, and perhaps look at your conversion funnel to see where people are dropping off. Most good analytics packages offer some sort of funnel analysis.

Understanding your sales funnel can also help you improve your sales. Sometimes an analysis of the sales funnel can help you determine where the drop offs occur. By modifying the funnel you can improve your drop off rate, increasing your sales. And really, this has less to do with SEO and more to do with traditional business marketing.

For example, let’s say your site gets 2000 visitors per month. Let’s also assume your site has a 3 step sales process, and your average sale is $11 per item.

If half of your site’s visitors start down the sales path, that means 1000 start (a 50% drop off rate at the first step – this could be due by a requirement to sign up to browse your site). If 40% of that total drop off at the second step, and 30% of that group complete the sale, that equates to $495 in sales, about a 2.25% conversion rate as only 45 of the original 2000 people purchased.

Now let’s experiment with the sales funnel:

If you can improve the final step of the sale by just 10% – that equates to an additional $165 in sales, a 3% conversion rate. However if you can improve the first step of the conversion, reducing that 50% bounce rate to 25%, you can increase your sales by $247.50 – a 3.38% conversion rate.

Further, if you shorten the conversion funnel by 1 step – making a 2 step sale, rather than a 3 step sale, you can increase your sales by over $330 – a 3.75% conversion rate. That’s still assuming the same number of monthly visitors start down the conversion path.

However, if you don’t or can’t find this data in your analytics package you wouldn’t be able to perform such analysis.

And this is where, if you are dealing with an SEO firm, you must get the data you need.

Simply knowing how many referrals you got from Google or Yahoo! won’t help you make the business decisions you need to make.

So whether you are an SEO firm or professional, or employ one, be sure that the metrics you see are the ones you need to make your decisions.

As a client, don’t be afraid to ask – what does this do for me? Because unless you’ve discussed your needs with your SEO, they will likely provide you with the numbers they deem as the best. That is, the ones that illustrate their value to you.

That’s not to say that those numbers are invalid, its just that they don’t do you as much good as those you need to make your business decisions.

Similarly, as an SEO, if you don’t know what your client needs to see, in terms of numbers, how can you justify your income from them. If search engine referrals have gone up, but conversion haven’t then there is no immediate value to the client.

Sure you can say “but we got you all these top rankings” but unless they are turning into sales, your contract with that client won’t last that long.

So be sure as you work with your SEO firm or client that you nail those metrics early, so there is no misunderstanding, and everyone knows what successes are measured by.

Popup Ads – Redesign Them and Explode Your Sales!

Most people put popup ads and Spam in the same category; they genuinely don’t believe in their effectiveness.

However, marketing statistics show that popup ads are powerful marketing tools that can significantly increase your sales and subscribers to your opt-in list or newsletter. On the flip side, popup ads are the third most hated entity on the Internet, behind Spam and adware. This is because most popup ads are the rude interrupting variety that traps the user into an unending loop.

It is possible to produce Popups that provide relevant information to users in a non-intrusive way. You just need to be sure that you are providing relevant information to the visitors to your site (information that they are already actively looking for.

If you are using conventional popup ads on your site, you may have noticed oh, in the last year or so…that your opt in list has been continually declining. You can attribute this decline to the advent of the popup blocker. Just in case you’re not familiar with pop-up blockers, here’s the short summary…over the past year, a lot companies, even the major ISP’s (Internet Service Providers) such as AOL, Google and Yahoo have been releasing software designed to block pop-ups, so that anyone who has the software installed can control how many pop-ups they see from what website or even block them totally. In lots of cases, the average Internet user doesn’t even know that they have a popup blocker installed on their toolbar.

There is new technology available now that lets you create a new type of popup ad. This ad is an animated floating ads that look and behave like pop-ups but are essentially a part of the main web page, so popup blockers can’t stop them.
Unlike conventional popups, which open new browser windows, these ads are part of your web page.

Using this new technology, you can:

1. Conduct polls and surveys to can get useful feedback from your visitors/aid your marketing efforts

2. Capture email addresses from visitors by offering them free information

3. Use your thank you pages to introduce your visitors to your other products. Since they are already in a buying mood, there is a pretty good chance that they will be receptive.

4. Add “tips of the day” and change them every so often to generate interest.

As a smart internet marketer, I’m sure you know that by capturing the visitor’s email address, and then following up with them via an effective auto-responder campaign, you can more than double your chances of closing the sale. By using the new popup ads, you can do exactly that!

Sales Without Search Engines

Imagine two day you flip on your computer, log on to the net and go to google.com. The browser alerts you and says that there is no web-site found at that address. No problem you think, as you head on over to Yahoo.com. Same thing. No web-site found at that url. Now something seems fishy, go to MSN.com because you know Microsoft will seldom run out of funds, and their search engine will be up. Nope, instead you get another alert box telling you that there is no web-site found at that url.

Imagine that!

Yes, imagine an web world where no search engines exist, and someone trying to make a living online selling a product or service has to be found.

Where would you start? Where would you list your site(s)? How would you get your site found by your potential customers?

This is the mentality you should always take when promoting your web-site. Sure, it’d be great to have top rankings in the search engines, and get all of that free targeted traffic coming to your site. But  as easily as you achieve that ranking, you could lose it overnight – with a simple filter alter in the algorithm.

I’m sure you’ve heard of the “Florida” update that caused many site owners panic attacks as their previously highly ranked sites fell off the face of the net. they lost sales, traffic and dreams of web riches.

Why?

As I heard someone famous once say: “Don’t place all your eggs in two basket” – yet  many web-site owners do. they are obsessed with a top ranking in Google instead of building a brand name people will recognize and trust. Top rankings in the search engines should be part of your web marketing strategy, but dedicate only a portion of your efforts to that. You should equally spend your time pursuing partnerships with other non-competitive sectors of the net.

I’m sure you’ve seen a web-ring. To refresh, they are a group of related sites that link to each other. web marketing is the same concept, but on a much grander showcase. You can advertise your site in the costly Pay-Per-Click Arena, and if you have the budget to do so, by all means, that is the quickest way to get found. But keeping in mind that search engines don’t exist, what would you do to get the word out?

1. Press Releases – While they should be reserved for newsworthy purposes (new product/service, acquisition, attending Trade Show or Convention, etc.), they are a great way to get people to visit your site when they are looking for information relating to your product or service. It’s and a great way to build your brand name and to become known as an authority of information in your field.

2. Directory Listings -  simply, this is the easiest way to get your site indexed by search engines. there’s many free directories that you can get your site listed in, and there’s many fee-based directories that are worth the price of adding your site. The added value is that since your site is listed categorically, it helps to re-enforce what your site offers, since it will be found with similar sites.

3. Articles – Expose your expertise! While news story writing is not easy, it is an  valuable asset to your site. By writing, you are generating matchless content found nowhere else and they all know how much search engines love that! It also gives you another way of explaining a product or service without coming off as a sales pitch. Another added benefit of writing articles is that it’s a great way to naturally grow the size of your site in an organic way, and will in turn, make your site become a “hub” of relevant information in regards to your industry.

4. Newlsetters – This should be your site’s bread and butter. The people who have signed up for your newsletter already feel that your site was worth their time to give you their email address, so these people have already place some trust and value in to what you have to say. The newsletter is where you can promote new products and services to interested users without risking any intrusiveness factors. This is the best place to make a sales pitch to your perspective readers!

5. Blogs/RSS Feeds – While to some people this is already old-hat, there’s many users out there (think AOL users) who have no idea about how to customize the content they require to read. there’s many areas to get your blog listed, and it gives an inside point-of-view in to the inner workings of your company or personality, thus giving yet another way for a user to identify with you or your site.

I think it’s safe to say that the search engines will always be around, but to focus entirely on them and ignoring the other resources could be a costly business mistake.

remember to keep your eye on the prize of online success, and customers coming from various outlets, not  the search engines.

-To your online success!