Thursday, November 29, 2007

Traffic through Search Engines

It doesn’t matter how great your website is, if no one sees it, you’re not going to make a penny. You can spend days producing the perfect design, weeks tweaking the copy, and months writing the code and uploading the pages, but if no one knows where you are, how are they going to know they should buy from you?

When I first started selling online, the first major problem I ran into was bringing customers to my door. I put banner ads on other sites, organized reciprocal links and joined web rings. Those methods all worked to some extent, but what really did it for me, what turned my business from a small earner into a major money-grabber, was figuring out how to use search engines.

Sure, I’d submitted my sites to the major search engines as soon as I’d finished building them, but I didn’t really pay them much attention. After all, I figured search engines are just for people who are looking for information; they’re not really good for commercial sites.

One day, I sat down and checked out which sites were popping up first in the categories that suited my businesses. I found that all the top-ranked sites were my biggest competitors. And when I say biggest, I mean these guys were in a whole other league. They had incomes that were ten or twenty times the size of mine. No wonder they had top billing at Yahoo! and Google! And then it clicked. Search engines don’t list sites by size, they list them by relevance. These sites weren’t listed first because they were big; they were big because they were listed first!

That was when I began to optimize my pages and think about meta-tags and keywords. As my sites rose through the listings, my traffic went through the roof. And not just any old traffic! The people that came to my sites from search engines hadn’t just clicked on a banner by accident or followed a link from curiosity, they’d actually been looking for a site like mine. My sales ratio went up like a rocket. I’d created my own big break.

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