Building Traffic With The Engines

How are you getting people to come to your site?

If you’re like a lot of folks out there, you might be using some combination of prayers and word of mouth.

If you’ve scared up some cash, you might have even dived into the wild and wooly world of banner ads or may have embarked on a campaign of print advertising.

And, for sure, some of you are using trade shows or public relations, or email, or swapped links to build traffic. If you’ve been reading ClickZ for more than a few seconds, you know the drill.

You might also be totally missing the boat.

Sure, all the methods I’ve outlined above work in one way or another. Many of you are probably actively involved in any one of those promotional industries. But more often than not, many people seem to be missing out on the most effective (and cheapest!) method of site promotion – search engine positioning!

In a recent study released by ActivMedia in September, Search Engine Positioning was ranked as the number one web site promotional method used by business-to-business sites. Yes, number one – above email, above print, above catalogs, and above trade shows.

Web Site Promotional Methods Ranked As Good/Very Good

Search Engine Positioning 66%
Email 54%
Print Brochures / Collateral 42%
Print Catalogs 40%
Trade Shows 37%

Source: ActivMedia Research, September 1999

Pretty astounding, but not outrageous when you think about it.

If you’ve got customers who need something and they’re not sure where they’re gonna get it from, what do they do? That’s right – they go to a search engine and start searching.

And if your brand or site doesn’t come up in the first couple of pages, you’d better believe that they’re probably never going to see it.

Sure, you’re probably in there somewhere – a hundred or so listings down – but the proverbial needle in the axiomatic haystack has a much better chance of sticking your customer in the behind than your site does.

So how do you get your site to show up higher in the search engines?

You could try using one of those “site submission engines.” You could also put the money you’re going to spend on one of those things in an envelope and mail it to me for lunch money… it’ll probably have the same effect.

Why? Because even though many of those submitters do what they say they’re going to do, getting your site ranked near the top is a lot tougher than simply adding it to “Big Bubba’s Link List” somewhere out there in web-land.

Wanna get better positioned? Better get to work.

First, roll up your sleeves and read every word at SearchEngineWatch.com, the incredible positioning resource created and run by Danny Sullivan, king o’ search positioning. There, you’ll learn that search engine positioning has a lot more to do with good old fashioned hard work and knowledge than any sort of wacky tricks and questionable software.

Next, you’ve gotta have a way of knowing how your site’s currently doing in the rankings and a way to track its position over time as you start your positioning campaign. Not a problem, right? Just go to your favorite search engine and start typing in searches for your site, recording the results as you go.

…and you could also have an enjoyable weekend practicing dental surgery on yourself. As you’ll soon discover if you start checking search positioning by hand, it’s the kind of task computers were made for, not people. It’s long, hard, tedious, and mind numbing – just right for an intern. But if you don’t have a cheap supply of insanely loyal labor, I’d suggest you get some help.

WebPosition Gold is THE tool for checking, analyzing, and tracking your site’s web position… and I tell you this from several years of satisfied experience using it. Combining several killer tools into one package, WebPosition Gold makes it easy to see where you are, figure out where you should be going, and then make it happen.

First, the Reporter function gives you a detailed readout on how your site is ranked on all the major search engines, including information on keyword relevance and page results.

Combine those results with the Traffic Analyzer and you’ve got a great tool to figure out how to get people to your site.

The Page Critic helps you analyze single pages, and the Page Generator helps you generate those vital “doorway” pages that’ll get your site noticed by the engines. Heck, the Scheduler even lets you get search engine reports on a regular basis so you can track your efforts. Cool!

You can download a demo on the WebPosition site, so there’s no reason you shouldn’t check this thing out for yourself.

If you want to try a cheaper alternative (or don’t think you need the full range of services), Rank This is a good place to get a fix on how your site’s doing. In my tests it didn’t always pick up positioning as well as WebPosition, but hey – it’s free!

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