The Web has grown into a real jungle, and finding cool new sites nowadays isn't always the easiest thing in the world. If you have a Website yourself, you're dealing with the other end of this issue. How do you get noticed online, and is there anything you can do to increase your popularity?
There certainly is! Here are the top five ways you can strengthen your site and increase your online visibility.
This first point is mostly important for those who don’t have their own Website yet but eagerly want to create one. After you have selected your domain name, the next step is to choose a hosting plan. There are many good, affordable alternatives, but what professionals usually recommend is specialized blog hosting. This form of Web hosting allows you to set up a professional-looking Website in no time at all. Why is this important to mention when it comes to making your site more popular? Well, without strong hosting, you won’t be able to handle a traffic to your new Website, which means you’ll have no chance at all of becoming well liked.
Of course, finding strong hosting is often easier said than done. The hosting industry has grown very popular in recent years, and this has lead to large numbers of companies offering various hosting services. But don’t be fooled by their tricky ways of making it sound as if they are the best in the industry. We would recommend you partner up with a company that has a strong reputation and experience in the business. You might start at Web Hosting Search for reviews and other information to help you find the right fit.
When it comes to hosting, you should compare the different features included with the plan. Make sure you are guaranteed at least 99.9% uptime and that customer support is easy to get hold of. You never know when you could need them. Likewise, it is also good to know exactly what kind of numbers in terms of disc space and bandwidth will you be allowed to use and manage. Some providers also forbid their clients to upload music or video files to their servers even if it is for personal use. It's important to ask customer support to resolve such issues before purchasing a plan. Some other things you might consider asking are whether your domain name registry information will be protected and how many different e-mail accounts will you be allowed to use as part of the hosting agreement.
In order to be truly successful online, you will have to get a high ranking in search engines. To succeed in this, you should learn as much as you possibly can about search engine optimization (SEO). The subject of SEO is vast and can be quite daunting at first, but once you get the hang of it, you'll be able to see the benefits immediately and will probably wonder why you didn’t get started with it earlier. A few things you can do to get started are to make sure you're using the proper keywords and to write for your visitors as well as for search engines. Writing for search engines is important, since you want to get high rankings, and writing for visitors is of the essence because you want them to stick around and return to your Website.
When you are satisfied with the keywords and content on your site, it is time to start working with link building. Search engines determine much of the value of a certain page/site by looking at the number of inbound links. Link exchange is one of the most popular and successful ways to get a good rank on search engines, and it’s really easy to do. Simply visit a Website that you like and ask the Webmaster if they are interested in a link exchange — it doesn’t have to be any more complicated than that.
Having something interesting and distinctive on your page is a great way to attract potential link partners. For example, if you are running a Website about domain names, why not add a domain name availability checker to your homepage? It will most likely attract links from other sites related to the niche, and people will tend to come back again if they want to know whether a domain is available or not. Try to be extra creative to set yourself apart from competitors.
Even though SEO should be a big part of your site optimization, it shouldn’t end there. Social Media Optimization is probably just as important, since it’s one of the strongest marketing tools available today. A social media optimization campaign should include a few different things. First, make sure the content on your site or blog is relevant to your topic and not out of date. Visit similar sites and join the discussion in leaving comments on posts/articles — don’t be afraid to say what's on your mind. Make yourself visible on Facebook and MySpace. Three other sites that can be useful for social media optimization are Twitter, Flickr, and YouTube. The two latter ones are not always applicable. Make sure you only take advantage of them when the time is right — you might do more harm than good if you don’t.
Obviously, don’t forget to include outbound links to your Website on any social media site you utilize. Even if your link has a "nofollow" attribute attached to it (e.g. like in Facebook), you will still attract new visitors and potential customers to the site. Lastly, your campaign should be built on friendly platforms, such as CoffeeCup Flash™ Blogger, which make it easy to create and edit content.
A crucial point to make your site grow in the number of visitors is by getting them involved. Try to write in a personal style, and don’t be afraid to leave an open question. If this shouldn’t do it, why not hold a contest? This will most likely get people talking about your site. The prize doesn’t have to cost a fortune, since people like to compete regardless of what the award is — it's human nature.
Other easy ways of getting your visitors involved is by including a forum on your site or the possibility to comment on your posts/articles. Everyone wants to express their own personal ideas and thoughts on topics, and by allowing them doing so, you also increase the chance of visitors returning to see how was their feedback appreciated. As an added bonus, if the topic is extra popular, the discussion could attract interest from other Websites as well!
Investing in a good design is more important than some people seem to think. With a beautiful design, you will grow in trust among your readers/visitors. An important fact to remember is not over-designing the Website. It doesn’t matter how many hours you’ve put into designing the site if no one understands how to use it. Let some non-Internet-savvy friends navigate through your Website before launching it at a full scale. If they find it easy, so will the rest of your visitors.
It is difficult to say exactly what makes a beautiful and functional design. What looks good to one person might seem terrible for another. However, there are basic trends in Web design, and if you follow these, you can be sure to please most of your visitors. A few popular Web design trends for 2009 are multi-column layouts, large illustrations, and lots of white space.
If you wish to stay on the safe side, then it is a good call to make the layout and design features on the page easily accessible and simple to understand. Try to use standard coding and avoid over-the-top Flash animations. Some people may have browser settings that prevent them from viewing Flash, which means you might lose valuable visitors. Try to think how the visitor thinks, and your Website will grow more popular and respected day after day.