Have you recently launched your company website only to be disappointed when it proves difficult to find on Google?
It is not uncommon for new website owners to overestimate the volume of search engine-generated traffic their freshly launched site will experience. They anticipate flicking the “on switch” and immediately showing up in Google search, bringing with it a flood of visitors. In reality, it doesn’t work like this.
Launching a new website can be likened to opening a retail store. As a business owner, you know you can’t just open a store and expect that people will line up at the door, especially if you haven’t told anybody about it. Websites are the same way. While you can submit your new website to search engines to invite them to crawl—to process and evaluate—your website, the reality is, depending on your location and competition, you may be waiting up to three or even six months for your site to appear consistently in search engines.
Inside the mind of a search engine
The job of a search engine is to deliver quality search results—results that will best satisfy the query of the searcher. This is a search engine’s top priority and because of this, the loyalty of the search engine will always be to the searcher, first.
When a user enters a search, the search engine must decide: which web page, from what website, and in what order it will display the results. Search engines determine this by evaluating each website with over 200 factors, called signals. How your website meets these criteria will determine how well—and likely how quickly—your website will rank in the search results. It’s important to understand that the appearance of your website in a search engine’s results page is not always an entitlement and that your website has some obligations to meet to receive that ranking.
Search engines are wary of new domains and new websites. As this is your first website, search engines have no historical data from which they can draw to determine its quality and this is one of the reasons it can take some time for your website to appear in the search results.
The good news is that the fate of your website is not exclusively at the mercy of search engines. There are many alternative sources for website traffic and by leveraging those you can drive traffic to your website now. Here are seven quick ways to drive traffic to your website:
- Get sociable – Social media is a natural fit for many businesses and, if you haven’t already, you should consider whether a Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter and/or other popular social media sites are a fit for your business. Promote your website with catchy, engaging posts, pictures and videos of your store, products and happy customers. Content in this format is very shareable. As your content spreads across the social networks, so will awareness of your business and website.
- Search engine-specific profile pages and reviews – Both Google and Bing offer businesses the ability to create a free listing for your business. Here you can add basic business information, post pictures and collect reviews. The reviews are particularly powerful so be sure to encourage your customers to leave reviews.
- Targeted Advertising – A Google Adwords campaign will quickly land your website on Google as an advertiser, targeting users who are searching using keywords that match those you have specified in advance. Facebook also offers a myriad of advertising options allowing you to target a variety of desired outcomes from generating Likes to driving traffic to your website or selling a product. Both Google and Facebook allow you to focus only on your business’s target demographic, and best yet, you can set the limit for how much you want to spend.
- Leverage your personal networks – Send an email to family and friends and ask them to visit your website. You could do this for your business networks as well, but be mindful of CASL when sending.
- Write a guest blog – Is there a website looking for contributors who would appreciate your expertise? Not only will writing an article promote you, and by extension your business to a larger demographic of people, but it establishes you as an authority in your field.
- Give to receive – Create something of value that you can give away. For example, if you’re a bookkeeper, you could create an e-book with a catchy title like, “Five Ways Small Business Owners Can Save Money on Their Taxes” and offer it as a free download on your website. Promote this on social media and in your ads.
- Create a profile in relevant online directories – There many websites where you can create a free profile for your business. Some are generic: Yelp.ca, 411.ca, CanPages.ca, while some are industry-specific: Houzz.com TripAdvisor.com, or Spoons.com. For example, if you own a BnB, you will want to set up a profile on BnB association and travel/tourism websites, like TripAdvisor.com, etc. This provides more ways for searchers to find you so instead of coming up once in the search results, you may come up multiple times.
When search engines see traffic coming to your site and spending time there, it will prove that your website is offering something visitors find valuable. Building traffic this way is win-win. Not only are you demonstrating that you have a quality website, but the activities you’ll have undertaken will have created a diverse range of traffic sources that you can continue to leverage for years to come.