Everything you need to know about successful website promotion
So, you’ve finally taken the plunge and decided to create your own website. Congrats! But the hard work doesn’t stop there, of course – once your site is up and running, you need to think about how to promote your website.
If you’re running a local business site or an ecommerce store, you’ll want to reach as many potential customers as possible. If you’re running a blog, you’ll want to attract the maximum number of dedicated readers. And if you’re curating a personal portfolio, you’ll want every potential client to be able to access your work.
So, what’s the secret to great website promotion? Well, in reality, there are six secrets – and they’re not actually secrets at all, because we’ve broken them down below.
How to promote a website
- Choose a web host
- Use SEO to your advantage
- Include a blog
- Put a face to your content
- Guest blog
- Use social media
Read on for an in-depth guide to each step.
First things first. To make sure your website can handle all of the traffic that your excellent promotion is going to generate, you have to choose a strong web hosting provider. Hosting providers are the behind-the-scenes players that keep websites running smoothly and loading quickly. The right web host will be able to supply your site with enough resources to accommodate large numbers of visitors at one time.
How do I choose the right web host?
The major players of web hosting – which we’ve ranked in our guide to the top 11 web hosting providers – are determined by factors like uptime, storage, bandwidth, and value for money.
Uptime is important, because it refers to the amount of time your website is up and running with no server issues. 100% uptime is impossible, but most providers guarantee an uptime of 99.90% and above. But even in the 99.90-99.99% range, every little bit makes a difference!
For example, 99.95% uptime amounts to about 4.5 hours of downtime per year, while 99.99% amounts to under an hour of downtime per year. If uptime is your most important factor, then we recommend HostGator for its 99.99% uptime guarantee.
Storage, or “disk space,” is important because the more files that your hosting server can accommodate, the faster your site will load for visitors. Storage should be a top priority in particular for anyone running a large blog, or a largely visual portfolio site, like artists or photographers.
Bandwidth is also important for every type of website, because it refers to the rate at which data can be transferred between a website and the computers connected to it. In other words, bandwidth has a huge impact on how quickly a website loads.
Hosting providers know the value of good storage and bandwidth, and most of them offer great packages accordingly. We’ve spent months testing and researching each provider ourselves, and Bluehost is one that scores a5/5 in our rankings for storage and bandwidth.
People want to get good value for money out of any purchase, and web hosting is no exception. While conducting our research into web hosting providers, we’ve kept in mind that the cheapest option doesn’t always equate to the best value. We’ve scored each hosting provider based on the highest quality of features, storage, and customer service you get for the least amount of money, and A2 Hosting offers a great mix.
Want a little more guidance? Check out our industry-specific guides:
Now that you’re in-the-know when it comes to setting up your site, let’s get into the rest of our website promotion tips.
SEO, or search engine optimization, covers all of the changes you can make to your website so that it ranks higher in search engine results pages (SERPS), like those of Google. Great SEO is important, because the higher your website sits in Google’s rankings, the more traffic it will get – the first five organic results alone account for 67.60% of all the clicks in a Google search!
Some large websites outsource to SEO specialists to boost their rankings, but there are a ton of SEO tips that you can implement on your own, for free. We’re going to cover the easiest and most effective ones:
- Image optimization
- Page titles and meta descriptions
- Simple URLs
By “image optimization,” we mean making the images on your site more attractive to search engines. You can do this by adding image alt tags, which you’ll have the option to include during the uploading process. Alt tags are descriptions that appear in place of an image in case of loading issues, but they also clearly tell search engine crawlers exactly what each image on your site depicts.
Aside from adding alt tags, you can also compress your images before you upload them. This reduces the file size, and makes it easier for your pages to load quickly. Don’t worry – you don’t need any technical expertise to compress images! Many online tools will let you compress images for free with just one click. We use ImageResizer.com for ours!
Page titles and meta descriptions
Page titles and meta descriptions are what form the “snippet.” This is the page preview you see in Google search results, such as here:
…In this example, “A” is the page title, and “B” is the description.
You want your titles and descriptions to be short and relevant – they’re the first impression many people will get of your page, and you’ll want them to draw in potential visitors! For example, that “…” you see in the example title should be avoided, if possible. The shorter and sweeter your title, the better!
You should also aim to include a keyword in your page titles. A keyword is the word or phrase people search on Google that you want your page to rank for. For example, if you want your page to rank for the keyword “workout tips,” then you’ll want to include that phrase in your page title, e.g. “Our Top 5 Workout Tips.”
Using targeted keywords can have a huge effect on your website’s rankings, which in turn will have a huge effect on traffic. Emma Kowalski, a marketing planner for the website Xtreme Events, explains how SEO has increased her company’s audience over time:
“Through pushing more efforts into SEO over the past year, we have seen our traffic increase by 103% year-on-year! This has largely been around an in-depth content strategy, sorting out cannibalization issues on the site, and expanding into new areas.”
Having a short and sweet page URL is great for SEO, because it makes it easier for search engines – and users – to understand what the page is about. Google also recommends separating the words of a URL with hyphens, because it creates a simpler reading experience.
Keyword research is also a great SEO tool to help with website promotion. We’ll cover it in the next section, because it can help you generate content for a blog.
Most website builders will allow you to add a blog page to your site at the click of a button, which you can update regularly with posts and photos. A blog is a great promotional tool for any kind of website, because it adds a human interest element to your brand, and shows that your site is constantly being refreshed with new information.
Ryan Jones, a digital marketing executive at web design agency Imaginaire, explains how his company uses its blog as a promotional tool:
“We keep our current audience engaged by regularly publishing new and interesting blog posts. Our blog generates a lot of traffic for our site and is read by a fair number of people, so we constantly want to ensure the content we are pushing out is fresh to keep people interested.”
So, blogging with exciting content will bring more visitors to your site, and keep existing visitors interested. But what should you blog about? You’ll want to stick to the general themes that your business/portfolio/website already has, but when it comes to specific ideas, SEO can help you decide!
This is where keyword research comes into play. What would a person who visits your site want to read about? For example, if you sell makeup online, then you could blog about the latest beauty trends. In that case, you’d want to use keywords like “popular makeup” or “new makeup.” But which keywords will drive the most traffic to your blog?
You can find out with free online tools, such as Google Trends and Answer the Public, which show you the search volume of different keywords over time. Then, you can use this information to decide which keywords to model your blog posts after! Check out this data from Google Trends about the search volume for the keyword “matte lipstick:”
We can see that search volume was lower in the spring and then peaked in late November, which tells us that it’s best to promote matte lipstick when people are looking for a warm, wintery look.
Once you’ve figured out your keywords, you should use them in the post title, and also include them (in a reasonable number) throughout the post. Note that you don’t need to stick to just one keyword per page, either – you can include multiple keywords throughout a blog post, and try to get it ranking in multiple search results!
This goes hand-in-hand with blog posting as a way to personify your website promotion efforts. There are tons of ways to make your website more approachable, and all of them are easy to implement yourself.
Create an “About Us” page
Adding an “About Us” page to your website is a great way to captivate an audience. In one recent study, 52% of respondents said that the “About Us” page is the first thing they want to see when they land on a website!
Why do people care so much about the face behind the website? Well, trust and likeability are underestimated factors in the online world. Just because you can’t build up these elements face-to-face, doesn’t mean you should forget about them!
So, what information should you include in your “About Us” page, and how should you tell your story? We’ve written an in-depth guide to writing an “About Us” page that you can consult, but in short: you want to strike a friendly but knowledgeable tone, prove yourself as a trustworthy source, and always include clear contact information!
Include videos and images
These can sit on your “About Us” page, your landing page, or anywhere else on your site! Showing pictures and videos of yourself and your team is the best way to build a connection with your audience. Just don’t forget to compress your images before uploading!
If you’re worried about videos slowing down your site speed, there’s an easy fix for that. You can upload the videos to platforms like YouTube or Wistia, and then embed them on your site. By uploading to a third party and embedding, rather than uploading directly to your site, the “weight” of the videos falls on the third party instead.
By now you might be thinking, what more could possibly be said about blogging? Well, a lot!
Guest blogging means authoring posts for other websites. The obvious benefit of this is that you get exposure to new audiences. But guest blogging is also a massive SEO benefit, because it generates backlinks from the guest site back to your site.
Backlinks are great for SEO because they indicate to search engines that other sites view your site as an authority on relevant topics. By linking back to you, other sites are verifying that you are a trusted source of information – and trustworthy sources end up at the top of the search engine results pages!
To get started with guest blogging, you need to send out pitches to relevant, quality websites. You’ll want to search for websites that you would read yourself. Here are some other criteria to keep in mind:
- Pitch to websites within your niche
- Pitch to websites with a similar readership to your own
- Pitch to websites that you would deem trustworthy
How to write a guest blog pitch
Once you’ve chosen a site that you’d like to write for, you’ll want to pitch the editor via email or social media. Before you begin writing your pitch, it’s best to research the website and its editors, and read as much of the website’s content as you can, to show that you understand the writing style they’ll be looking for.
Then, you’ll want to brainstorm around three topic ideas to send to the editor. Each topic idea should be presented with a title, and a summary blurb of about 100-200 words. You’ll want to give editors more than one option to choose from! Use high-volume keywords and gaps in the site’s existing content to inform your decisions. Once you have three top-notch headlines and summaries, you’re ready to pitch!
This last step may seem obvious to you, but there’s so much untapped potential for website promotion when it comes to social media. By building up a following on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, you can raise awareness of your site among the billions of people using those platforms.
But it can be overwhelming to try to gain visibility on platforms with so much competition. The best way to promote your website on social media is by finding and following other pages within your niche. If you’re running a portfolio for your artwork, then follow artists you’re a fan of, or who make similar projects to your own. Once you’ve followed these pages, make sure you interact with their posts – send an encouraging comment, repost what you like, and ask questions. This is a great way to gain exposure to other artists’ followers, and the odds are high that they’ll be interested in what you have to offer. The same goes for a website in any other niche!
Once you’ve started growing an audience, social media can also help you keep that audience engaged. Answer comments and messages, and ask questions or run polls on social platforms to make sure your viewers know that they have a say. An especially powerful social tool for keeping people engaged is email marketing, and it really works: one survey found that 80% of businesses rely on email marketing for customer retention.
Here’s how it works: once you’ve built up a following on social media, you can collect people’s email addresses (usually via a form on your website) and send out newsletters and promotions to keep followers in the loop. Popular email marketing platforms like Mailchimp and Constant Contact can help you organize large volumes of email addresses, and send tailored, scheduled messages to users on your list.
At this point, you have all of the advice you need to attract the attention that your website deserves. To recap, here are the top six steps for great website promotion:
- Choose a web host
- Use SEO to your advantage
- Include a blog
- Put a face to your content
- Guest blog
- Use social media
Some of these steps will prove more effective for you than others, but all of them will help take your site to the next level! For example, Emma recalls the different experiences that Xtreme Events has had with social media marketing versus SEO:
“Considering we have a number of celebrities who like to try our activities, from Messi to KSI, we have certainly seen some benefits from social media, with many of our videos going viral or being picked up by national publications. However, the ROI on social campaigns doesn’t yet seem to yield as great results as Google AdWords or SEO.”
Every website promotion strategy we’ve discussed will help you spread the word about your site, but we want to know which one works best for you. Let us know in a comment – and happy promoting!