I go to a networking group every fortnight. This week, as a group of small business owners went around and turn by turn, said the things that they found most difficult in their business - people kept mentioning this: "I spent thousands of dollars with an agency on my website, and I have no business from it". This is a statement I hear time and time again.
The reason this is happening is because people are not made to understand that having a fabulous website (although important) does not get traffic. Think of it this way, you can open the most amazing shop in the entire world, but if you have told no one about it, no one will know about it and no one will go to it. This shop you've opened up isn't even in a mall or a busy shopping district. It's down a side street that gets few people walking by. Now you wouldn't expect that shop to do amazing, would you? And the first thing you would say to the owner if they asked for advice, would be "why haven't you advertised?".
This is where the three most important things come in, that you MUST do if you want sales from your website. 1. SEO. 2. AdWords. 3. Social Media.
You must do all three of these, consistently, to get a solid amount of traffic. Because people seem to find SEO the hardest I'm going to give you 5 easy to do yourself tips to raise the SEO of your website.
1. First things first. You're on a budget, and you want to get people looking at your site. Go to networking sites like Neighbourly, Localist etc (do a Google search) and register your site, you and your business. Heaps are free and it's a fantastic way to network online, as well as get people over to your site. (As well as getting google to notice that your site link is popping up lots on respected sites).
2. Make sure you've got a blog on your site and you are adding to it!! This I cannot emphasise enough. from a pure SEO point of view, blogging keeps your website being contributed to, meaning Google will see that the site has been updated as recently as yesterday and rank you higher than a site that was updated a year ago. So say it with me: EVERY SITE NEEDS A BLOG.
3. Get a reputable site to link back to you. If you are, say, a Financial Advisor, and you hit up the Herald or another juggernaut website - if they publish you and link back to your site - that is worth its weight in gold! Offer to write something for free. The benefits it will do to your site ranking far outweighs the $150 you will get for the article.
4. Make sure your Meta Tags look good. You know when you search something in Google, and a list of sites come up and you read the snippet of writing underneath the headline to see if you're going to click on that link? Well, that's the Meta tag. You can always tell someone has polished SEO when their's is a snappy sentence that doesn't end in '.......' if you're a total newbie with websites, you might need to get someone to install it for you, but it will take them about 10 minutes. Make sure you write it yourself (you know your company best) and keep it under 140 characters (like twitter). Remember: snappy and informative.
5. Keywords are your FRIEND. keywords are like the theme of your website, again, a Financial Advisor might want the keyword phrase "Financial Advisor Auckland". MENTION this on your site but make sure it's organic. Google is clever and writing "Financial Advisor Auckland" 20 times will anger the best and they will possibly penalize you. Plus, reading that will make possible clients get the hell off your site and never come back. Try adding it near the top of the page (Google reads your site from top to bottom and stuff at the top is deemed more important) and just make sure it's on several pages of the site.
There! Try those and see how you go - remember SEO is organic, and doesn't change overnight. You need to keep at it - but do keep at it. It's worth it.