"If you build it, they will come." It worked in the movies, but just putting up a website is no guarantee that it will draw traffic. You could buy ads, but if you're unable or unwilling to "pay to play," you're likely facing the increasingly daunting challenge of attracting customers to your website on your own.
Millions of sites are competing for users' shrinking time and attention. The hard truth is that the top three unpaid positions on the first page of Google search results receive about 58% of all clicks, according to online marketing service Optify. Websites that appear on the second page? An average of 1.5%.
Your best bet for attracting potential customers without spending money on advertising is creating content of such value that audiences can't help but feel compelled to seek it out or pass it along -- on a site that makes sharing it easy.
But how? Here are ideas for getting started publishing content that can help you increase online traffic, improve search-engine optimization and possibly go viral in the process.
Original Articles -- Time investment aside, online articles cost little, can be easy to generate, and provide a way to brand company representatives as experts. Your articles could offer instructional learning, new methods for tackling problems or insight into best practices or industry leaders' views. Here are just a few article formats to consider:
Grab readers with arresting headlines, bold statements and an authoritative voice. Use humor and catchy hooks (for example, "5 Ways to Torture and Infuriate Your Employees" or "The Wrong Way to Do Downsizing").
For maximum impact, build content around popular search-engine keywords, dilemmas and industry memes. Avoid terms or references that might date your articles.
Keep in mind that less can be more. Be succinct and summarize wherever possible.
Videos and Podcasts -- Barriers to entering the online "broadcasting" business are lower than ever. Armed with a portable digital video camera ($100-$600), USB microphone ($20-$200) and a spare hour of time, nearly anyone can create compelling short or extended-length shows. Ideally, videos are best kept under three minutes and audio recordings to five to 15 minutes. You'd be amazed how quickly content can be built and distributed. Even a simple webcam can provide a ready vehicle for recording.
Here are a few ideas for videos or podcasts:
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