January 17, 2011
Filed under: Tip of the Day
The biggest competitive threat distributors have right now are websites selling promotional products. As a result, many distributors are now realizing that they can’t beat these newfound competitors without joining them to a certain degree.
Most distributors today are trying to find ways to increase their Web traffic – either to sell directly to more people or to find new leads through online mechanisms. Either way, the need to drive traffic to a website is paramount right now – but distributors need a plan to do it well.
With that in mind, here are some building blocks to consider for your new Web traffic scheme.
Step 1. Focus on Your Existing Traffic First
James Fraze, search engine optimization (SEO) consultant for expert-marketer.com, says business owners will receive one to two actions, such as a sale or even just a phone call, per 100 online visitors. That’s why he suggests that distributors cater to their current Web viewers before they try to drive in new ones.
“I’d say this is step one, before any optimization, link building, pay-per-click, or especially any traditional marketing,” he says. “If they focus on getting e-mail signups for a coupon, freebie, tutorial, or some other valuable solution, they can convert 10-20 out of 100 visitors.”
Step 2. Start From Scratch
As far as driving additional traffic to your website, Fraze says you might need to change your Web address first. Take a small landscaping company, for example. “Do you buy the ego name, www.bobslawns.com, or do you research and buy the one people actually search for, www.phoenix-landscaping.com?” he says.
That same philosophy needs to go into your home page, as well. Bottom line: Offer more targeted content and fewer bells and whistles, Fraze says. “When you build your site, do you spend thousands of dollars on a flash movie that doesn’t have text anywhere on the page, or do you make a page that uses ‘landscaping’ and ‘lawn care’ terms on optimized, text-rich pages?” he says. “Search engines like text and they can’t read flash.”
Ultimately, Fraze says, your site has to cater to what search engines mine for – text and promotional products or marketing keywords – if you want to increase your traffic. Users will get to the site mostly through search engines, so make sure the wording and text on every page is targeted clearly. Make it less about you and your company, and more about your customer – the types of products and services you provide that they need.
Step 3. Think Locally
Distributors that don’t have a verified free business listing (with a listed phone number in their target area code) need to fix that immediately, Fraze says. “Also, make sure you mention your geographic location in text on your website,” he says. “If you don’t say it in text, search engines do not know you exist.”
Fraze advises distributors to list with every organization that may be remotely related to the ad specialty industry. “Examples are trade organizations, certifications, business directories, local directories, and non-competing related sites,” he says. “Find them, and get links.
“Google uses phone numbers from multiple locations to cross reference. If you are listed on www.bbb.org and other authority-type sites, it really helps your local listings.”
Step 4. Play to Your Strengths
Bobby Lehew, director of operations for Robyn Promotions (asi/309656), says the secret to SEO lies not in competing over the same common keywords, but in understanding what you do well – perhaps better than anyone else – and discovering the keywords that comprise that particular niche within that industry.
Hadfield also emphasizes the importance of using keywords that conform to your specific niche within the industry. “Will you get to the top of a Google search when someone types in ‘promotional products’ or ‘advertising specialties?’ No way,” she says. “But is that really the words your prospects use in their searches?
“You might want to concentrate on getting found by ‘imprinted pens’ or ‘corporate apparel’ for your city. Make sure your keywords are placed throughout your site and in your blog – but not overdone.”
Step 5. Keep It Fresh Through Blogging
Indeed, one of the best ways to reuse those keywords is through blogging on your website, Lehew says. “If I was a distributor that specialized in a work program, I’d talk about developing a work program, with a bunch of how-tos,” he says. “They need to consistently blog about the things that they’re best at. We do company stores, so I blog a lot about company stores for the SEO advantage.”
Hadfield says distributors have to combine useful information in their blog with those keywords on a frequent and regular basis. “For example, if you’re writing a blog about a new sublimation imprinting process, make sure to use the words ‘branded apparel’ and ‘corporate apparel’ or ‘school apparel’ in the blog,” she says, “and try to use the keywords in the title of your blog, if at all possible.
Step 6. Get to the Point and Don’t Overwhelm
Hadfield cautions distributors not to get caught in the trap of blogging just for the sake of throwing out keywords, as doing so may repel some of your visitors. “If it’s not relevant to them, they will stop reading it,” she says. “You should try to blog at least once a week, but quality is more important than quantity.
“For example, give them some ideas on how to increase Web traffic and include how promotional items like a Web key could help advertise their site. Don’t overwhelm them with product details; information is the key.”
If you just don’t have the time to blog consistently, or if you think your writing skills aren’t up to par, ghostwriters can be hired to do the job, Hadfield says. “You can find writers by talking with other distributors who have a blog or by going to websites such as elance.com or guru.com,” she says. “In my personal opinion, as long as you make sure everything is spelled correctly, you can write a blog. Remember: It’s not a dissertation.”
Step 7. Include Social Media Efforts
Of course, any effort to drive Web traffic is not complete without a discussion of the popular social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. The right promotions on these sites can bring plenty of clicks your way, says Lehew, who advises distributors to conduct contests like giving away freebies to your 50th or 100th follower on Twitter, or asking your Facebook fans to recommend a nonprofit to which your company can donate free mugs.
The latter promotion was a real-life success for Lehew, who went beyond Facebook to draw attention to it. “We were foolishly just running contests to run contests. Then, we started asking in particular forums or places on the Web, ‘Have you heard about our contest?’ ” he says. “It develops a little bit of buzz because it got marketing professionals to suggest one of their non-profits for the donation. The buzz that continued because of it was really good.
From Education Adviser newsletter, vol. 35.