When I first launched this website, I was really keen to increase traffic through as many sources as possible. It's incredibly difficult to get traffic organically within the first few months of launching a stand-alone site and it can feel very frustrating to see that the hours of hard work spent creating a site does not immeaditately pay off with a flurry of views and sales.
Well, first up, you need to be found by search engines, like Google and Bing. I didn't know at first, but your site is not immeadiately visible to the search engines and therefore, does not feature in search at all. You must notify the search engines that your site exists, and even then it might be a few weeks before they finally crawl the site for search terms. And then, to add insult to injury, you most likely didn't think much about ensuring the terms you wanted to be found with featured heavily in the text of your site, and therefore, though you do feature in search, you're not too chuffed with your prime location on page 15.
SO, HOW DO I ADVERTISE?
There are lots of different advertizing routes, and it can be really overwhelming at first to consider which are worthwhile and which aren't. I, (unfotunately) did fall for a couple of sales-pitches and lost plenty of money generating very VERY few views (seriously - you'll laugh at how few views £75 can get you). Here are a couple I would advise to STEAR CLEAR OF AT ALL COSTS - YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!
AVOID AT ALL COSTS: Paid advertizing with Yell.com
I registered my business with Yell shortly after launching my website, though I had been in buisness for 3 years at this point. They do a free listing, which is basically the same as having your business listed in the yellow pages of late. This is what I initially signed up for. HOWEVER... I received a call from one onf the sales reps a few days later. Normally, I would say "no thanks, not interested" and hang up, but as I was so keen to get views to the site increased, I niaively listened to the sales pitch. MISTAKE NUMBER ONE! Then, I agreed to pay for a advert, so I would feature first in Yell Search rather than my organic location of last in the list (choosing a buisness name beginning with the letter "V" was ill thought out). The sales rep gave stats which convinced me this would be well spent, and a signed up - assured that if I had any problems with the ad, I could call up and they would help improve it's appeal/success. MISTAKE NUMBER TWO! I was not informed of my right to cancel, or the time period that I had to cancel, or the fact that I was signed up for a year, like it or lump it. I genuinely thought - as I was not told otherwise - that I could cancel if the ad failed to deliver. MISTAKE NUMBER THREE!!!!
Long story short, the experience has left me with a v ery bitter taste in my mouth. I am £75 worse off, for a grand total of 8 views coming from the ad. To add insult to injury, Yell.com insist I am to pay for the full course of the advert over a 12 month period. I am absolutely NOT PAYING A PENNY MORE, which I have assured them several times of, but alas, I can see this turning into quite an ugly legal battle. None the less, I refuse to pay for a service which was miss-sold to me and I will continue to fight them tooth and nail. I am actually going to move for a full refund on the money already paid too - I refuse to be bullied by a big bad corporation and if i need to take a billboard to the streets telling people not to fall for paying for their terrible service. I will do. This blog post is the first vocal outburst I have had on the issue, but certainly won't be the last.
WIN SOME, LOSE SOME: Google Ad Words
I tried adwords for a small period of one month. It did generate many more views than Yell.com, but still nothing to rave about. I think the key with adwords is to pick your search terms carefully. Though, if you have an established site which has good SEO and you already rank highly in google search, it's not really necessary. What I felt ad words missed was a visual stimulant - a photo of thumbnail which could draw in clicks beyond just text. I think, as a visual product, words alone don't necessarily make a big impact. If a small image could be used, I think the success would be better. For me, the pro of this was the fact you're not contracted in for a long time and can cancel at any point, so if it's not working, you can simply pull the plug.
THE GOOD THE BAD AND THE UGLY: facebook
Something which generated the most interaction with my website was a "promote your website" ad with facebook. It works on a pay-per-view basis and runs for an alloted time, though you can pause/cancel as need be. The beauty of being able to have an image alonside the ad, and being able to target your audience much more than ad words was the biggest plus for me. Ad words is focused only on region, whereas the demographic of your average customer can be used much better on Facebook, with options to select gender, age range and interests for your target audience so it gets seen by those who matter.
However, I have not found all facebook ads a roaring success. Some "like" ad campaigns generate a great response, but more recently they have changed how facebook markets businesses as people found their feeds were overwhelmed with business page statuses/ads and not friends and understandably, didn't like it. Since this change, ad campaigns have suffered significantly and have become very expensive for the results they yeild. I think personally, I shall hold off doing any further ads with facebook until they change their attitude again.
. . .
So there you have it - my personal experiences laid out for you to discect as you need. I am continuously looking for more ways to promote the business so no doubt will do another post on the subject in the future. Though I know i don't have the funds to promote in the old fashion means of radio or TV, but I'd love to utilize youtube by creating a spoof parody of a hit song or something - a bit like how Abercrombie & Fitch did with Carly Rae Jefferson's "Call me Maybe" a few years ago. Not seen it? I highly recommend ;-)