Get More Business on the Net… Without Advertising

Article by C.J. HaydenMost website owners fall into one of two categories: they are spending a fortune on banner ads, bulk email, listings in classified directories, and pay-per-click advertising, or their sites are languishing with only a few hits per day. But you can change all that, and you don’t have to spend a fortune. Here are three ways to get started today:

1. Make your site a destination. The majority of websites look like the owner simply posted his or her brochure on the web. Why should anyone visit if all they can see is your advertising copy? The number one commodity on the Internet is information, and if you give it away for free, people will come and get it.

Posting articles on your site — whether they are by you, about you, or about the type of work you do in general — gives people a reason to visit. Other popular visitor attractions are a regular newsletter, downloadable ebooks or white papers, audio or video of you sharing valuable information, or a message board where visitors post questions and you answer.

When you have this type of free sample available, you can let potential clients know about it in letters, emails, phone conversations, and speaking engagements. If there’s immediate value to be gained by visiting your site, people will do it.

2. Improve your ranking in no-fee search engines. You may think your position in no-fee engines and directories like Google and Open Directory is out of your control, but in fact, you can do quite a bit to improve how your site ranks. Start by seeing what your rankings are now. One tool that can help is WebPosition, which you can try out by downloading a free evaluation copy.

Use WebPosition’s “Reporter” function to check where pages from your site rank in the engines under any keywords you choose. If your pages aren’t in the top ten in your chosen categories, the chance of someone finding you is pretty slim. If you’re not even in the top thirty, you can almost forget about getting search engine traffic.

One way to improve your rank in the engines is to focus on less obvious keywords when designing individual pages on your site. If you use high-popularity keywords, it’s difficult to get a good ranking, because so many sites are competing for the same words. Instead, identify a specific word or phrase that might be less popular, but is a good match for at least one page on your site.

For example, if you search in Google under “marketing,” my site doesn’t have a single page in the top thirty. But if you look under “how to get clients,” my home page is currently ranked as one of the top three. One reason for this is because the page has the phrase “get clients” in the title, the description and keyword meta tags, and repeated several times in the text shown on the page.

An excellent free resource for determining the relative popularity of keywords is maintained by Type in any word or phrase and you will see how many people used Overture to search for it in the past month, as well as other search terms related to it.

You may not have a hope of getting a high ranking on a page promoting “coaching” (29,329 searches last month), but a well-designed page focused on “business coaching” (3,926 searches) would have a good chance. (My home page is currently in the top 10 under this heading on Google.)

To find out exactly how you can increase the rankings for your site, I recommend Shari Thurow’s book, Search Engine Visibility . Shari’s invaluable book covers many more techniques than just choosing the right keywords.

3. Use your site to generate passive income. If you’re going to invest time and money in getting people to visit, why not have something to sell them once they arrive? Instead of trying to make money from the web, you could be making money on the web. It’s easier than you think to get started. All you need is one product, a secure shopping cart, and a credit card merchant account.

Tom Antion’s ebook Click: The Ultimate Guide to Electronic Marketing describes how to produce ebooks, teleclasses, audio recordings, and instructional CD’s quickly and inexpensively. Other ideas for easy products to sell on your site include print-on-demand workbooks, drop-shipped products, or becoming a reseller for assessment tools or business services.

You can get a secure shopping cart that will integrate with any website and a credit card merchant account from one vendor: Practice Pay Solutions. Their Professional Cart Solutions package almost literally does everything but slice bread. It’s easy to install and very affordable.

Within two years after I began using these three ideas, I increased the number of visitors to my site from a few hundred each month to several thousand. And, 25% of my income that year was generated from sales made on the web. Sound compelling enough?

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