Getting Noticed on the Net

Article by C.J. HaydenThere’s a lot of talk from Internet marketing gurus about how to drive more traffic to your website. Some will suggest you try to get a higher page rank on Google by optimizing your site for search engines. Others preach using pay-per-click advertising like Google AdWords to attract streams of new visitors. Still others suggest you use social media to send people to your site.

But these strategies are often out of reach for an independent professional marketing his or her own services. Hiring a professional for search engine optimization can cost thousands, and optimizing your own site may be well beyond your technical ability. Pay-per-click advertising is typically only worthwhile for those with unique keywords to advertise and a high rate of conversion from casual visitors to buyers (rare for professional service sites). Building and maintaining a consistent presence on social media requires a significant amount of time and a steady supply of interesting content.

Instead of chasing higher page ranks, paying for clicks, or spending all day online, consider using an entirely different approach to becoming more visible on the web — increase your Googleability. What this awkward term represents is a measure of the number of different places your name appears on the Internet. The more sites there are that mention you and your work, the more likely it is that a prospective client searching for a service like yours will not only find you, but actually do business with you.

When someone types your specialty into Google or another search engine, an ideal result would be for the searcher to see your name over and over again as they begin to surf from site to site. While it would be great to have your own site appear in the top ten results, that elusive goal may not be as powerful in the long run as your widespread presence on other sites aimed at your target market.

Remember that in professional services marketing, the key is that prospective clients not just be able to locate you, they must also know, like and trust you enough to hire you. When prospects see you mentioned in multiple places on the web, they begin to think of you as an expert in your field.

Also, there is another aspect of Googleability to consider. It’s a common practice these days when considering the hiring of a professional to type that person’s name into a search engine and see how many hits you get. If someone does this with your name, the result you want them to see is a wide variety of links leading to different sources. All these links serve as virtual endorsements of you and your work, encouraging prospects to trust in your abilities.

But how do you get all these sites to mention your name and link to you? The good news is that many of the more traditional ways of promoting yourself as a professional dovetail nicely with this new goal, so you can achieve multiple marketing results with the same strategies. Here are some approaches you should consider:

1. Publishing articles — Writing articles in your area of expertise is a well-established technique for boosting your visibility and credibility. To increase your Googleability, what’s most important is not how many articles you write, but how many sites publish them. You can achieve a dramatic increase in your web presence simply by writing three good articles and seeking out a dozen different sites that might publish each one.

To begin finding sites that will publish your work, type your specialty plus “articles” into a search engine, e.g. “financial planning articles” or “conflict resolution articles.” When you spot a site that features articles from many different authors and includes a brief bio and link for each one, look for their article submission guidelines or the editor’s contact information to submit articles of your own. You can also submit articles to large article directories like EzineArticles or ArticlesBase, where editors and webmasters look for articles to publish.

2. Public speaking — When you speak for a conference or association, your name and bio will typically appear on their website. To get more mileage out of these mentions, be sure you always include your website URL in the bio you provide, for example: “To find out more about C.J. Hayden, visit”

Since many of these program listings will only appear for a month or two, offer these groups a free resource for their members in connection with your talk. They may be happy to post an article, tip sheet, or special report from you on their website, giving you a permanent presence there.

3. Serving on boards and committees — Type any professional specialty into Google and some of the first listings you see will typically be professional associations. By becoming an officer or committee chair of an association, you’ll often receive prominent mention on their site. For maximum exposure, choose a public contact position like program chair or membership chair.

4. Participating in online communities — When people are seeking the answer to specific questions on the web, their search results will often include discussion lists, message boards, and blog comments on the topic. By participating in forums like this, you can position yourself as an expert who has exactly the right solution for a prospect’s problem.

Spend an hour or so typing into Google some typical questions your ideal client might ask and look for sites where you see various people posting replies. You’ll get the best results using detailed questions like “how long should my resume be?” or “how can I help my employees be more engaged?” The forums where you see people asking many questions in your field are the ones you should join. Remember to always include your full name, profession, and URL in your posts.

The real beauty of this approach to web visibility is that it can maximize the marketing efforts you may already have on your agenda instead of adding more tasks to your plate. Instead of focusing on beating the search engines, you can work on the bigger picture of gaining more prominence for your work both on and off the web. And that has to be good for business.

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