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Congrats! Your site’s been found: so now what? Well, for only a couple hundred bucks a month you can join one of several members-only programs that let you “spin” articles into dozens of variations and post those articles on “high-ranking” blogs all over the world.
You’ll get hundreds of inbound links to your website, and all the good Google vibes that go along with those links.
Or, you can join another members-only program that “syndicates” your content to social bookmarking sites, re-Tweets your articles, “Likes” them on Facebook, and even automatically posts comments to the articles.
It’s what many top internet marketers do to raise their search engine ranking and drive people to their affiliate marketing websites. However, if you are brave enough to sell your own products and services online, then you’ve got to do a lot more than run the risk of getting slapped hard by The Google when the next version of Kung-Fu Panda hits the streets.
Rather than put all your eggs in the SEO basket, you might want to consider putting some of your attention elsewhere…
Do This Before Bowing to the SEO Gods
Don’t get me wrong. Tools that automate or at a minimum ease the burden of getting social buzz and backlinks for your content are quite useful. I’m not ashamed to admit that I use them when the situation calls for an SEO booster shot.
However, if all you do is focus on your search engine ranking, you’ll just end up looking like the host who forgot to order the pizza and beer for the big game. Your guests won’t be very happy with you when they arrive at your door hungry and thirsty.
Before you send out those invites, do your keyword research, and enrich your article with a keyword-rich tag. It’s a darned good idea to get your place ready for your anticipated company with these three essential steps:
1. Design a real, live sales funnel:
Unless all you’re doing is building hundreds of automated websites that sell affiliate products, you’ve probably got one or more specific products and/or services that you’re selling.
Take your hands off the keyboard for a few seconds and ponder this question: How does your typical prospect become a customer?
I love watching companies like Hubspot do their online marketing. They understand that their customers are tech-savvy marketers who enjoy playing with new toys that make their lives easier. They have a very clear sales funnel in which they articulate the value and methods of content marketing.
Their prospects become enamored with the concepts and suggestions Hubspot provides, but lack the tools necessary to make the job as painless as possible. Miraculously, Hubspot just happens to have the right tools for the job.
Hubspot uses content marketing tactics to sell their content marketing products and services. Brilliant.
Get to know your customers. Understand how they got from not knowing you to becoming a loyal fan. Then, replicate that process online so that when a prospect finds you he or she will be led by your loving hand down a garden path of your design.
2. Focus on the list.
Internet marketers have a saying: “The money is in the list.”
It’s true. Whether you’re selling bacon-wrapped donuts to carnivores, vegan beer to the hip crowd in Portland, or how-to advice on getting more pips out of your Forex trading, the real money is to be had by building, nurturing, and selling to a quality list of people who love you.
List building and nurturing should be a natural consequence of your lead generation strategy. Leads can arrive via the search engines, word of mouth social networking, or advertising. However they get to you, your first job should be to get them on your mailing list.
Aside: while requiring “double opt-in” is a pain in the you-know-what, think for a moment about the quality of your list. Why waste your time and energy on people who don’t even bother to confirm their desire to receive information from you? Hmmm?
As you might suspect, there are as many ways to get people to “opt in” to your list as there are problems we face or questions we have. All you do is to uncover those problems and questions and then give away answers and solutions in exchange for contact information and their agreement that you can send them more stuff.
Then, use the list to nurture the relationships. Two to three emails a week isn’t too much if they are short and add value. Throw in a sales pitch every now and then for your (or other people’s) products.
3. Can you say “Mobile”?
Anticipate their mode of arrival. I do much of my website browsing on my iPhone, and if the page isn’t mobile-ready, I won’t read it.
And, then, there are the ubiquitous Flash videos. Adobe, I love you guys, but from here on out I’m creating all my videos in a format that can be viewed on ANY device. For the uninitiated, that means HTML5 for newer browsers and MP4 for everything else.
Another aside: The slick video player JWPlayer from the folks at Long Tail Video will play the same MP4 video in any browser and on any mobile device. And, yes, it plays as a Flash video in older versions of Internet Explorer.
If your website is a WordPress-based site, then all you have to do is install the WPTouch plugin and your site will be instantly Mobile ready. Spend a few dollars on the Pro version – it’s worth the money.
A straight HTML website will be a bit tougher to Mobilize, so instead get your hands on one of many programs that will create what we call “Mobile Landing Pages.” These pages are specifically designed for Mobile devices.
This way, when you direct a visitor to a landing or squeeze page that’s designed to put them on your list, they can do so directly from their mobile device. A feature of some of these mobile landing page creators is that they’ll also let you insert coupons and the like from Google Places. Nice.
And, In Conclusion…
The real purpose of your website is to make you a ton of money. If you build it they won’t come. And, if they DO come, they won’t do anything if you don’t give them something specific to do. So… do; or, do not if you don’t care about the money.
Sid Smith is a freelance copywriter and internet marketing expert who can be found online at his Business WordSmith website. As a recovering techno-geek who used to spend his days as a technical consultant for Hewlett-Packard, Sid now focuses his time and energy on helping service and technology companies leverage the Internet to get more leads and sell more stuff. With an added Masters in Depth Psychology, he also knows a thing or three about the human psyche.