Want to increase traffic, build credibility, improve your search engine rankings and get people talking about your business--at no cost? Then open up your word processor, and start writing. By determining your best search keywords, writing an article that includes those keywords and getting it distributed online, you'll be putting yourself on the radar of people looking for what you provide.
Step 1: Set up your site for maximum "searchability."
Your site has to feature the keywords your potential customers use to search for your product if you want them to find you. To determine your keywords, type a word or term you think people in your market might search for into Yahoo! Search Marketing's Keyword Selector Tool to find out how many people searched for that particular term over the past month. It'll also show you a list of related words and phrases and how often they were searched over the last month, too.
Once you've generated a list of useful keyword ideas, you can do some more serious research. Wordtracker goes into more depth to show you not only what people are searching for online but also how many other sites are competing for the same audience. You're looking for search terms that are popular but don't have too many sites competing for them. Wordtracker is a paid service, but you can sign up for a day for less than $8 and for a week for less than $27.
Now that you have some great keywords for your market, find as many places as you can to plug them into your site. Use them in your title tags, source code, page copy, headers and subheads, and your opt-in.
Step 2: Create a keyword-rich article.
Write a keyword-rich article that relates to what you sell, then give it away to other sites--for free. Believe it or not, this is one of the best ways to drive a steady stream of eager customers to your site.
Why does it work? Well, people basically come online for one of two reasons: to check their e-mail or to look for information. Sure, some of them end up making purchases, but this isn't generally the reason they log on. They want the answer to a question or the solution to a problem--and you can provide that in a short article.
Make sure that each article you write contains rare, valuable or hard-to-find information. Not only will this increase the chances that other site owners or managers will post your article, it'll also increase the number of visitors who click through to your site after reading it.
For example, if you have a site that sells used golf equipment, you could write an article about three things to look for in a good, pre-owned putter. Or if you sell an e-book about setting up your own home computer network, why not write an article about common problems people have in setting up a wireless router?
Look for article ideas in the questions people ask you all the time or in the things you often see people doing wrong. Share hot new tips on how to use the products you sell, or talk about trends you've spotted in your industry. Your quick piece should:
- Be no longer than 400 words (not even a whole page in Microsoft Word)
- Contain a relevant keyword in the first 90 characters
- Contain the keyword in the first and last paragraphs
- Have a short, credibility-building bio with a link to your site at the end. For instance, "Joe Smith is a recognized authority on the subject of widgets. His site, www.JoesWidgets.com, provides a wealth of informative articles and resources on everything you'll ever need to know about widgets."
Step 3: Get your content headed everywhere on the web.
Once you've taken the time to write one or two articles, head to one of these top online content distribution sites. Upload your keyword-rich content to:
These sites carry hundreds (some carry thousands) of articles on a range of topics. If someone's looking for content for their site, they can download or copy an article from the distribution site without paying a dime to use it. They can't change the text of the article, and they must publish it with the author's name and information intact.
Now people plugging your keywords into search engines will be directed to your content at these highly ranked sites, and site owners looking for fresh, search engine-attracting content will download your article--along with your bio and link--and put it up on their pages. And once visitors see that you know what you're talking about, they'll click on the link in your bio and head straight to your site.
Some content distribution sites also offer "send to a friend" links next to articles posted on their sites, so make sure you're uploading your articles to sites with this kind of capability. Every time someone enjoys your article enough to pass it on, your audience grows. And since people don't forward bad content to their friends, they're basically recommending you as a credible source just by passing it on.
The best thing about this strategy is these visitors are quality, targeted traffic--they actually want what you're selling because you're meeting a need or giving them help with the problem they came online to solve.
Derek Gehl is the CEO of the Internet Marketing Center, an internet marketing firm that has helped thousands of people learn to start and run their own online businesses.IMC hosts a new Search Marketing Lab Forum, where members have their strategy questions answered by search marketing specialists.