“If you don’t know where you are going, then it doesn’t matter which road you take, does it?”
~ Cheshire Cat in Alice in the Wonderland.
A few days back a client was sitting with me when I connected to the Internet and launched my browser. He was precariously surprised to see that the default page of the browser was not my web site, but a general purpose portal.
When I asked him why I should have my own web site as my default page, he said, “In this way, at least you’ll be generating hits for your site if nobody else does so.”
And then, after a philosophical cogitation, he raised an ominous doubt rapt with alarm, “If you are not making an effort to generate hits for your own site, how will you do it for mine?”
Luckily I was able to explain to him that a tsunami of hits on the web site does not in any way bespeak of a flourishing on-line business. Me visiting my own site 6-7 times a day does not make sense because I’m not doing business with myself. What matters is, those people should visit my web site who can make use of my services – people who can be my prospective clients, and subsequently, actual clients.
Generating hits is one of the major concerns of the newbie web site owners. They want to see the numbers increasing exponentially – 200 hits per day, 500 hits per day, … 10,00,000 hits per day. And then they get depression attacks when these hits do not generate a single sale.
Thousands of random hits, or in a refined manner, visits, are important for those web sites who want to earn advertisement revenue. Ok, even for those, just hits don’t work out. They have to be “Targeted Hits“. Accidental arrivals have zero value, or if you are very optimistic, a little more than zero value.
50 targeted hits are more precious than 5,000 untargeted hits, because there is greater probability of them turning into business. Targeted visitors visit your site because they are actually looking for a site like yours, and once they are on your site, it’s up to the presentation of your site whether they do business with you or not. Even if the targeted visitor doesn’t do business on the first visit, there is a big chance that she/he would bookmark your page, and subscribe to your product information publication or newsletter.
Untargeted visitors, on the other hand, needlessly consume the precious bandwidth. They stumble upon your site through some ill-conceived banner or wrongly defined keyword, or due to their own state of confusion. They are not looking for your sort of service or product. They are just giving you false notions and hope by swelling up your counter.
The primordial step towards attracting a target audience is, defining the goal of your web site. Is the web site a general information source for your existing clients/customers/employees/suppliers/relatives/friends/enemies…, or you plan to attract new people?. Once this is realized, put yourself in the place of your prospective user. How would you find your sort of service on the Net? How would you like to use a web site similar to yours? Talk to your friends, accumulate and analyze their feedback. Let your existing clients use a prototype of your web site, and encourage them to give some constructive feedback, in lieu of some incentive if necessary.
To make sure that you attract only those visitors who would like to carry out transactions with you, you have to take into consideration the following points prior to the design and construction of your web site:
1. Do you know what segment of the population would find your web content interesting? What economical, political and social background are they going to come from? What’s going to be the gender, and the age range, and the educational qualification?
2. Are you aware of their surfing habits, their Internet awareness level? Do you know what’s the frequency of their business transactions through the Internet? Are they first time service buyers or seasoned buyers?
3. What’s the hardware/software your audience is expected to use while logging on to your site? What’s their surfing speed and connection speed? Do they have to pay a lot while surfing? Many surfers don’t surf with ease because they have to bear heavy telephone connection cost in order to use the Net as in Europe and Asia.
It’s not sometimes technically and logically feasible to accommodate all the points mentioned above, but as one evolves as a webmaster, things can continuously be improved, according to the feedback garnered from the users, day by day, week by week, month by month.
After you’ve designed and planned out your web site, you can take the following steps to get the traffic of your preference:
1. Define your keywords properly for the search engines. You don’t have to incorporate the entire thesaurus for your product. The more you narrow down, the more target audience you’ll get. Limit yourself to 6-7 keywords if you want to target a highly focussed group. You can also do keyword bidding at various pay search engines like RealNetworks and GoTo.
2. Formulate a concise and to-the-point description of your index page. Try to include words, in a manner that the sentence makes sense, that might help search engines find your site.
3. In directories like yahoo!, always choose the right heading to add your URL. Don’t think that the more general heading you choose, the more visitors you attract. Remember it’s not the quantity that matters, it’s the quality. So go to the lowest level before submitting your URL.
4. Try to include the major searchable words in the first paragraph of your web site content. Many search engines read first 250-300 words of a page to index it.
5. I’ve noticed search tools like Google use the title of the page to give it recognition. But the recommendation by the gurus of web development is that the title should be the name of your company. Still, since Google spiders all the pages if your web site even if you submit just the index page, you can play around with the titles of the other pages. Just make sure that from every page, there is a link to you main page, and the link should be attractive enough.
6. A compelling signature that accompanies your e-mail messages many times generates useful visits. It should constitute of a two-line, pithy description of your business, and the link to your URL.
7. Although this I wouldn’t suggest to people who have to pay for the online time according to the usage hours, you can look for various message boards and bulletin boards to spread the word around about your business. Don’t outright start your media blitzkrieg though. Introduce yourself first, participate in various discussions and debates, and during one of the interactions, you can tell about your business.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Amrit Hallan is a freelance web developer based in New Delhi, India. He also publishes an ezine for web developers by the name of BYTESWORTH REACHOUT and you can subscribe at [email protected]. To know more about his work, you can visit http://www.bytesworth.com