Eran Lesser and Ziv Mandel, Joint Managers of John Bryce Training, the Training and Deployment Division of Matrix
In a conversation with one of the IT managers of a large organization, we asked what he was doing to promote his organization’s Internet site. We were surprised to receive a cool and indifferent reaction. The IT manager told us that his job was to build the best site he could, with a friendly design and excellent performance, but promoting it and increasing traffic to it, were not his area of responsibility but that of marketing. Later in the conversation, which touched on many topics, the IT manager told us that he was constantly seeking new ways of creating a contribution and business value for his department, but that unfortunately his organization tended to view IT only at the operational and technological levels, never beyond that.
There is no question that one area in which IT can provide a significant contribution to the organization at the business level, is that of Internet applications, and creating a site that generates business is one such application. To generate a business value for the site it is necessary to promote it and to drive traffic to it. Promoting a site on the Internet is no longer a question of luck but a profession and skill that must be acquired. This article discusses ways of increasing traffic to the organization’s Internet site.
The strategy of increasing traffic to the site is based on three components: increasing traffic from the search engines (especially from Google); increasing traffic from Internet surfers; and increasing traffic based on partner programs and external sources to the Internet.
Increasing traffic from the search engines is based on successful positioning of the site in searches of as many keywords as possible that are related to the services being offered. Naturally, it is possible to pay to appear in the linked ads (and based on our experience, we recommend it), but it is important to find out how the site appears “naturally” for the relevant keywords. Where the site appears in search engine results depends to a great extent on the manner in which the site is built and the way in which the content is presented.
For example, many organizations establish dynamic Internet sites, with dynamic content that the search engines do not cache and therefore do not link it to the relevant keywords. Moreover, the site must be build with the content and words that describe the services provided. Often businesses do not use all the relevant words in describing their services (synonyms and such), and as a result their site does not appear in search results based on those terms.
To increase the exposure of the site, its name should appear as high as possible in search results. There are many tips and suggestions on how to get the site to receive a high ranking and thereby enhance visitor traffic. It is important to note that site promotion theory is constantly changing and being updated, because of the ongoing struggle between developers of the search engines. Search engines are looking for objective methods for determining search results, whereas site builders seek to increase the ranking of their sites and pass other sites that perhaps should have appeared before them.
Site promotion through search engine optimization is a competition between organizations. Similarly to a contest, there can be only one champion. There is always only one site that reaches the very top and only a few sites that succeed in appearing among the first search results. A simple exercise that each one of you can do (and you should do it before your CEO does it) is to check weekly the place where you appear in the search engines. For example, if one searches for the keyword “bank” which bank does the search engine returns first? And if one search for TV monitor, which are the sites that appear first among TV vendors?
Increasing traffic based Internet surfers and partner programs is based on successfully creating a network of connections and links from other sites. You must create a connections and links program based on mutual links on one hand and on the other, on the creation of partner programs that encourages partners to drive traffic to your site. It is recommended to set aside a budget for creating an Internet campaign that can range from traditional methods of getting sites to link to your site and sending e-mail messages, to more innovative campaigns based on creating traffic from blogs, talkbacks, and more.
Increasing traffic based on external sources to the Internet, is an important step in your endeavor to create leadership and awareness of your site. Even Google has recently resorted to the general advertising media outside the Internet to promote its business objectives. We recommend that for every new project and new service promoted through the site, you should set aside a portion of the budget for an advertising campaign outside the Internet. You can use the advertising media that are relevant to your organization’s clients. It is also important to present your site and its capabilities everywhere it touches upon your clients (advertisements, customer care offices, RFQs, and such). The more you make clients aware of what your site can provide for them, the greater the value you generate for your organization.
It is important to invest also in advertising internally, within the organization, and to update routinely employees of the organization about the capabilities and services that the site offers. Sales and external marketing often begin with internal sales and marketing. In the final analysis, the organization’s best ambassadors are its employees.
In sum, the return on investment in IT and e-business that you build, depend a lot on the amount of traffic that you can generate to your site. The IT manager cannot ignore the most important aspect for the success of the site and to pass responsibility to vendors or to the marketing department of the organization. You must assume a leadership role in this matter as well. If you devise a successful a strategy for promoting your site and generating traffic to it, you will create a real value for your organization.