You’ve got your blog up and running and you’re ready to go. You have a steady amount of written content of all shapes and sizes, a network of contributors at your beck and call, even some video content and a podcast up to get your message out their to the world.
Now that the finish line is in sight, you’re at the point where it might be tempting to take a shortcut. The problem is, not only is overnight success elusive, but utilizing common internet shortcuts might actually backfire when trying to position your site for success in a crowded marketplace.
Here, I’ll go into a couple of all too common mistakes I’ve personally seen companies make when it comes to web development, and offer alternate suggestions to properly promote your website.
Mistake #1: By tagging my blog or video with unrelated but popular keywords, I’ll be catapulted to the top of a search engine’s results.
It might seem like a good idea at first. You’re running a fairly dry website about kitchen sink rust removal, and your site just isn’t getting the hits that it should be. Meanwhile, the top Youtube pages seem to be videos about Occupy Wall Street and Lady Gaga. Many entrepreneurs will have a lightbulb go off at this point. They’ll figure if they tag their post or video with the keywords ‘Occupy Wall Street’ and ‘Lady Gaga,’ they can sit back and watch the page view count increase exponentially as the hits roll in. It seems like a simple way to draw viewers to your site, right? What could possibly go wrong?
As it turns out, quite a lot. Not only is it just sort of wrong from an ethical standpoint, in that you’re purposely misleading potential customers or readers, but such a move could be detrimental to your business.
Did you know that it’s possible to be blacklisted from Google, as well as just about every other popular search engine? Google has a set of guidelines to follow for all those hoping to appear on that all important first page of search results. Follow that link if you’re curious, I’ll wait.
One of the big no-nos in internet marketing is the purposeful misleading of web surfers. In order for search engines to function properly, sites like Google and Bing rely on websites to offer the service that their metadata suggests. If a site doesn’t comply, there are a couple hundred other websites that will. A webpage will be tossed to the back of the line in favor of the sites that weren’t dishonest. Why take the chance?
Don’t fret so much about tricking people into visiting your website; most accidental visitors probably aren’t going to stick around anyway.
Instead, focus on adding content that’s relevant to your site, and the customers interested in your business will find it. The more headlines and tags you create that actually pertain to the service you’re offering, the faster your web page will inch up to the top of the search heap of its own accord. It might take time, but the people who do visit your site might very well be customers for life.
Mistake #2: Creating a Facebook and Twitter account will instantly bring me page views
Just like anything else, developing your brand through social media doesn’t happen overnight. I’ve been employed by far too many people who, when facing down the sometimes overwhelming behemoth that is the internet, will hear the words “social media” and think it’s some kind of cure-all that equates to automatic customers.
I once had a boss that wanted a larger social media presence, so a Facebook account was created for the company. At the end of the first day, he was absolutely enraged that the page only had nine fans, the majority of which were people who worked for the company and were required to like the page. This person then asked a question that will forever remain sketched in my mind: “How do we make this go viral?”
That’s the eternal question, isn’t it?
Unfortunately, there’s no “go viral” button on a computer (although I confess I haven’t tried all the F keys above my keyboard, so maybe one of them does the trick). “Going viral” requires a lot of time and a lot of effort.
Creating a large social media presence is a very noble idea, even essential in today’s crowded marketplace, but fostering this takes time, just like anything else.
Certainly, you should be linking everything you do through Twitter and Facebook, but don’t expect this to be a shortcut to instant success. At first, it’s probably going to be friends, family, and coworkers “liking” your page, and that’s perfectly fine.
Embrace social media more as a way to improve your brand and develop an honest-to-goodness community with your business at the center, and you’ll save yourself some sleep.
There’s no easy fix to get your website to be the number one page in its category. If there was, literally every website on the planet would be using it, and then it wouldn’t really be an easy fix anymore, would it?
Instead, keep your expectations reasonable, and set goals accordingly. Avoid shortcuts, and instead fall back on that most noble of values: good, old-fashioned hard work. With diligence and a little bit of creativity, you can gradually expand your customer base until you become that number one search result that everyone else is jealous of. It takes time, but so does anything worth doing.