According to Wikipedia the number of Web users doubled between 2005-10 and was expected to surpass two billion in 2010. And as of today, there are at least 7.73 billion pages indexed by Google !Yahoo and Bing. These two stats point out: the web is growing – and fast [forgive me for shamelessly stating the obvious]. In usage and in pages. Good news and bad news [maybe?].
This growth means that even though more people are coming online, competition for their attention is growing. Even though your opportunities are growing, so is the competition for those opportunities. So your website must make a good first impression – and quickly. Here are some time-tested tactics to help you draw your audience’s attention and keep it.
1. Use keyword techniques
A lot of people think that on-page SEO (search engine optimization) is less important than it used to be before the web became “social.” This is just plain not true. SEO will be important as long as people use search engines to find things on the web. You have to pay attention to what your customers are searching for and how they are searching. Then you should work to integrate these into your website.
The first step in SEO is to know the keywords and phrases that your website audience uses to search for your products or services. Use Google’s Adwords Keyword Tool to search for those terms. Once you have identified keywords and phrases that you think your potential customer is using to find services such as yours, incorporate those terms throughout your site wherever there is text and wherever it makes sense. Don’t sacrifice your readers for SEO though. Reader experience should trump keyword usage every time.
2. Create great content
Make sure that your content is:
- Useful to your audience (Is your content so great that people will bookmark it?)
- Free of broken links
- Without grammatical or spelling errors and well-written
- Original – no lifting paragraphs, sentences or ideas
3. Make your website social
This is the era of engagement. Give people the opportunity to respond to what you have posted. Have sharing buttons for Twitter, Google+ and Facebook. I use the Simple Social Buttons plugin for WordPress. This allows readers to tweet, +1 and like your post without leaving the page. Make sure you have sharing buttons so that people can subscribe to your content, follow you on Twitter, add you on Google+ and LinkedIn. Of course there are other ways that people can engage with you but I consider these the big 5: your blog, Twitter, Google+, Facebook and LinkedIn.
4. Have smooth usability
Usability is about your readers’ experience on your website. Make sure that your site is easy to navigate. Google likes websites (I confirmed this at BlogWorld Expo in Los Angeles) that use breadcrumb trails, internal linking – but not overly linked, a visible search box for your site and a sitemap. If you have advertising on your site, keep within the 80/20 rule – 80% your content, 20% ad space.
Have I missed something in my 4 time-tested steps? What do you do to draw readers’ attention and keep them? Let me know… I’m curious.