If you’re not getting a lot of traffic, and you’ve invested in a solid, reasonably attractive, well-organized design, and basic search engine optimization, the problem is most likely that your site is static, not dynamic. In other words, it’s the same furniture arrangement each time – the content never changes, so it’s not going to draw much of an audience.
That’s the outdated web site thinking from some years ago when people put up web sites and figured there were only a few thousand or so on the web that matter, so if you have one at all, people will come. Remember the dot com bust? But everything has changed. New sites that do well are dynamic sites – their written content is always changing. Not the style and colors – changing that often confuses and alienates the very clients who are interested in dynamic sites – it’s the written content that needs to be continually fresh and new. In fact, one of the rookie mistakes is investing a ton in fancy visual and graphic content, flash animations, etc. while dynamic sites with fairly simple design, fast load, and efficient lay out kick your butt in search engine rankings, inbound traffic, and the viral factor (people you don’t know sharing links to your site posts with other people you don’t know, generating exponentially high traffic).
In the past couple of years, blogs for instance (sites on which the content changes every day or two) have overtaken the static sites of major news organizations in terms of both Google rankings and number of visitors (plus the viral factor is all about dynamic sites – just doesn’t happen with static content), so that those large corporations are in a panic to create their own blogs. But of course their blogs come off as corporate speak a lot of the time and are just taking up space – they just don’t get it. Small businesses, free agents, independents, and volunteers are kicking their arses. On the web, the blogosphere rules and, in the blogosphere, this is the era of the small entrepreneur.
If you have a static site, you need to either add on a blog, pair it closely with a blog, or embed a blog so that your front page content changes constantly. Your blog as the most important part of your xsite. If you’re looking for overnight results, there’s nothing instant about it, because there’s no such thing as a push-button instant climb to the top method (if there was, I’d be a multi-billionaire selling it).
But if your blog or your site hasn’t moved since you built it, there’s really no reason for people to interact with your site on a wide scale, because there’s nothing new, fresh, and regularly (every day or two) updated so they have a reason to take interest. Anyone can hang out an online business card that says “I want your business” – but so what? Ultimately – in the mind of the client, what have you given them to interest them beyond the billboard?
That’s where you come in. Yes you. There’s just no substitute for involving yourself in your own business. 5-minutes a day is all you need – it will take some time to see results, and you’ll need to be consistent to generate interest. But even the big hooplah (justified with truly dynamic sites) about social networking to improve search engine optimization simply won’t work with your site static or changing only seldom – for one simple reason – social networking works on dynamic sites, not static ones. It’s blog posts that get picked up and credited and linked back to and become traffic drivers and, if you’re lucky, go viral and ultimately generate significant interested business traffic from social networking.
And remember the key rule of blog posts: Don’t paste in other people’s writing or links to other writing. There’s no short cut like OPM (other people’s money) – there’s no benefit and significant drawbacks to relying on other people’s content. For one things, search engines will lower your ranking for it, because it’s duplicate content. It’s ‘web-spam’. So copying news articles to paste into your blog would just make your site even less effective, not to mention less interesting – besides which, if you didn’t get explicit permission for each piece from the copyright holder, you’re liable to get sued – especially if you make a dime off of it as a business.
Instead, you write what’s on *your* mind, just like you would an e-mail to someone who’d be interested in what you’re thinking about relative to your line of work, your region of the country, etc. That’s what you post. Surely you don’t make it through an entire work day without a single work-related thought or idea or observation running through your head. If so, what are you doing? You can post common misconceptions, frustrating policies that affect your industry, an outlook on your local market, or just comments on the weather and how it’s too nice to be stuck in the office. Five minutes a day. If you can’t spare that to market your business, it’s either hopeless, or you’ve got plenty of business already – be happy.
Blogging is basically like journaling, except it’s public. That’s also why hiring a blogger is not a particularly good idea. It won’t sound like you, or reflect your thoughts, people have no reason to contact you (they’d contact him), and that person won’t have the interest and industry or regional expertise in what they’re doing that you do – it’d be like putting a $5/hr person in front of your phones – do you really want that person representing your business? They don’t have enough emotional stake in it, and you don’t know if they’re being effective, unless you watch over their every move anyway, and really there’s a good chance it won’t come across as authentic to any readers. Remember, the corporate sites are busy hiring bloggers to do exactly this kind of thing and they’re still really not making a huge dent in it all. Thing small, think personal, and think about what you know, what you do, and what advice or expertise you can give away to other people.
The key to drawing business with blogging is give something away. Tips, tricks, insight, advice, coaching, guidance, inside information, an inside look… things they can’t just pick up easily anywhere. But the key is just talk. Talk about what interests you, and you’ll be twice as authentic. You’re giving away this writing and, in exchange, you hope to build a readership and interested visitors (over time, mind you), that generate primary and secondary referrals.
There’s more to it than this, of course. If you want to build an overall marketing plan for your small business. But this is where you start. If you can’t get this going, it’s questionable what else you can do.
Owners of static sites: You have to think about the fact that if you have a building with great office furniture, and a professionally-produced sign, and a spotless parking lot, in a great area of town, but your lights were off all the time, and no one seemed to be alive inside… how much business are you going to get? Your web site is like that. If you leave it sitting there like furniture and don’t touch it – if it doesn’t live, change, etc (again, speaking of the written content) – it’s not going to draw a lot of interest. There are people who don’t believe this, and that’s fine. There are indeed other marketing methods that also generate business (like mailing out cards or running a contest). And I won’t knock these; I will just say that these work best as part of an overall marketing plan where the pieces fit and interact together.
If you’re with me this far, a couple of articles may interest you: