It seems like everyone nowadays is launching a business website or contemplating doing so because of all the success stories we read of Internet millionaires and billionaires who had an idea, implemented it, and within 5 years were wealthier beyond their imagination. I definitely agree that the Internet is a great place to start a business because the startup costs are extremely low and you can reach a global audience which are two things that your typical brick and mortar business can't do for the most part. I launched an online business in October of 2009 hoping that within 5 years I would be making enough money to quit my day job which I hope is still the case. I have a long way to go to reaching my goal but I'm determined to do it.
After launching my business in October of 2009 I decided to buy a book on Search Engine Optimization because I was determined to get at least 100 visitors a day to my site. It took me two weeks to get through the book because I implemented every strategy the book told me to implement. After it was all said and done my average daily traffic was about 5 people after the first month I started my business. I couldn't believe that all the hours I spent reading and implementing these strategies had absolutely no bearing on increasing my sites popularity. And the kicker is that most of my traffic was coming from paid advertising (Cost Per Click) on Google, Yahoo, MSN, and Ask which was costing me a lot of money on a monthly basis with a pretty high bounce rate so I wasn't receiving any sales from this medium at all. I didn't let this get me down though. I decided to purchase two more books on Search Engine Optimization (a.k.a. SEO) because each author has different ideas and I wanted to become an expert at SEO and make my site a success from the get go. I should also tell you that I bought a book on Search Engine Marketing because I wanted to get better results through my advertising campaigns on the different search engines and even this had no bearing on my advertising results. So what happened next?
After spending countless more hours on the two other SEO books and implementing every idea I came across I was hoping that all the time and energy I devoted to my site would pay off. Once again, I was wrong. I saw no increase in traffic at all yet once again. Not allowing this to put me in a funk I went out and bought two more books on the subject. Once again, I implemented every strategy in each book which amounted to the same results from the previous books I read.....nothing at all. All in all, I bought 8 books on SEO and implemented each and every strategy in these books and reaped no rewards for my time and effort at all. I'm a firm believer that if you work hard it will pay off in time. I'm still hoping that the search engines will reward me at some point for all the hard work I have put into optimizing my site. On top of all the books I have bought on the subject I have also spent hundreds of hours poring over blogs, articles, and any other medium that talks about SEO and strategies I can implement to improve my search engine rankings. Even implementing the ideas I have found through these sources has not amounted to getting increased results.
The reason I wrote this article is to help anyone out there who has just recently started an online business who wants to start getting traffic to their site ASAP. It's also for anyone who has had a site for a while who has gone through the same challenges I have in regards to getting traffic to their site. Here are my tips for getting more traffic to your site:
1) POST ADS ON CRAIGSLIST!!!!: I put this as my #1 strategy because after all the time and energy I spent on SEO this has been the one medium that has brought me the most traffic. I post on CL regularly in different cities because my traffic has shot up doing so and it allows me to reach every corner of the country for FREE. I didn't start posting on CL until recently and I'm so glad I did. My traffic has increased substantially. Another positive about using CL is that you can re-post your ads after they expire with just a few clicks.
2) If you have the means, invest in CPC advertising on major search engines: This has definitely brought me traffic but I have found not many people convert to buyers when clicking on ads. I read a book on Search Engine Marketing and implemented the strategies it discussed and saw no improvement in my results at all. So unless you have money to burn I would say don't waste your money on CPC campaigns. Once you start selling products on your store then by all means I think it's a great idea to advertise online to continue getting your name out there. Until then, focus on free ways to increase your traffic. Craigslist has done wonders for my traffic and this is the one and only strategy I can recommend to get traffic to your site immediately.
Now onto some of the strategies that all of the books I read suggested which have brought me absolutely no results:
Social Networking Sites: We are all very well aware of the popularity of Facebook, Myspace, and Twitter. Unless you have a ton of contacts and/or friends on each site it is completely pointless adding information about your site on these mediums. I have wasted a lot of time doing this and it has brought me zero traffic. If you're currently a user of one of these mediums with a lot of friends I definitely suggest posting information about your business on a regular basis. If you're not a user of any of these mediums and have no desire to be then don't waste your time posting any updates here because it will bring you no traffic.
Blogging: Just like social networking sites, if you don't have people reading your blogs then blogging will bring you absolutely no traffic. I add my articles to my blogs on Blogger and Wordpress strictly for the link juice. Other than that, I have received no benefits in the way of traffic to my site at all.
Keywords for Search Engines: All the books I have read on SEO really stress the importance of picking the right keywords for each page on your website. I suggest using Google's Keyword Search Tool and look for keywords that have low or average competitor competition because you will never be #1 on Google for a highly competitive keyword unless your store has been operating for several years and you're the best authority for that given keyword or keyword phrase. There is also a lot of talk that the search engines don't pay much attention to keywords anymore which I'm guessing is accurate. After all the work I have done optimizing my site for keywords my average position for my keywords is about 150 putting me on the 15th page of most searches for my products. So therefore, I'm invisible since most people don't go past the second page when doing a search. I do recommend trying to rank for keywords where there isn't much competition but don't be surprised if you don't rank highly for these keywords either.
Article Submission Sites: I write articles for two reasons. The first reason is that I actually enjoy it. I have always loved writing about subjects that interest me (like this subject). The second reason I write articles and submit them on several sites is for the link juice. Not only do I receive link juice from the sites I post them on but I also receive link juice from people who put my articles on their site. If you decide to write articles and post them online always provide a link to your site in the Author Resource Box. People who add your article to their site are supposed to also add the link to your site. Most people do abide by these rules but some don't. Writing articles has brought me no traffic at all but I have read that the more links you have pointing to your site the more likely you are to rise in search engine rankings. I have yet to see this but I'm patient so we shall see.
Google Product Search: The web store service I use posts all of my products on Google Product Search automatically and they have told me that this is where most of their customer’s sales come from. I haven't made one sale using this service but I continue using it because I don't have to do any work on my end and I show up on the first page of searches for particular products. This sounds great right? Not so much. You have to realize that you're competing with the big boys like Amazon, Best Buy, and Wal-Mart who also use this service and you can be sure that if you're a small store you can't compete on price with these guys. It appears that most people who use Google Product Search are only interested in buying a particular product at the lowest possible price and could care less about customer service. I definitely recommend using this service since it is free and will allow you to show up on the first page of specific Google searches for the products you are selling but be warned that your product will show up with 2 or 3 identical products and people will usually click on the one with the lowest price. However, if you sell products that major retailers don't sell I can see this being a great tool that will help you get on the first page of Google when people search for your particular product.
Directories: All of the books I have read have talked about the importance of adding your business to directories. I have added my business to about 100 directories and have received very little traffic as a result. I think it helps add link juice for your site but that is it. Every book I have read has mentioned that adding your site to DMOZ is crucial because this is the directory that Google crawls and gives the most attention to. I put in a request to add my site back in October of 2009 and my business still hasn't been added yet. Since DMOZ has volunteer editors approving and disapproving sites it can take a very long time before they ever get to your site. I've been waiting for 7 months now and I'm not sure if my site will ever be reviewed to be honest with you.
I could go on and on about all of the strategies I read about in SEO books but I have covered the major topics in this article. If you plan on opening up an online business or currently operate one and want to get traffic immediately my recommendations are to post on Craigslist and advertise on the major search engines if you have the means. If money is no object I would also recommend hiring an SEO firm to help you rank highly on the search engines for keywords. I'm not at the point where I would hire an SEO firm because according to all the books I have read (which are written by SEO experts and practitioners) people who hire SEO firms either don't have the time to implement the strategies in the books I have read or choose not to. Also, a lot of authors feel that SEO firms are a waste of money because they do the same things that are in SEO books and charge very high rates to do these tasks for you. I truly believe that ranking high in the search engines takes time and there are no tactics to help you rank high for your chosen keywords immediately. I say if opening an online store is something you truly want to do then jump in and do it but don't expect your site to be a success within the first 6 months to a year. While possible, I feel it is extremely unlikely. I hope this article was informative. Thank you.
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