That Website Ain't Gonna Visit Itself
That Website Ain’t Gonna Visit Itself
That Website Ain’t Gonna Visit Itself
by

If you build it, they will, well, probably go somewhere else.

Your target audience probably doesn’t share the same level of enthusiasm that you have toward your new website/redesign/mobile app/digital venture. More than likely, they won’t even notice. They’ll go about visiting their normal destinations online; checking Facebook, maybe Twitter, and dipping into their pool of RSS subscriptions.

But your target audience almost definitely won’t just come to your website because it happens to be there.

Launching your endeavor is a big first step. But it’s just the beginning of a long, long marathon.

Here are some things you can do to make sure more than tumbleweeds check out your new online offering.

1. Update early and often.

visitors
Image by chris_reed

There’s the launch party. The announcement to your friends and family. The Facebook status update. The press release. Maybe even an initial surge of praise (and a few visits). And then the radio silence.

We launch expecting a hit, and what normally happens is a thud. Your audience has too many distractions and conflicting priorities to make your website a part of their daily ritual just because it happens to be there.

You’ve got to earn your audience each and every day, and you do that by creating content – fresh content – that will give readers (and search engines) a reason to come back to your site.

About 55% of small businesses update their website only quarterly (or less frequently). If you’re not willing to frequent your own website, what makes you think your target audience will?

2. Leave comments on other blogs.

What used to be an SEO technique (i.e. get inbound links to your site via blog comments before the era of “nofollow” links) is now a networking technique.

More than Retweets and Facebook likes, bloggers love getting comments. It’s hard enough getting visitors, but getting them to fill out that little box at the bottom of your post is even more difficult. Bloggers know how busy their readers are, and there’s no doubt they notice the people who take time out of their schedule to leave a comment on their post.

You won’t get an SEO boost or much direct traffic from leaving a comment on another blogger’s post, but you will get something even more valuable: the attention of someone who clearly already has an audience. Besides, this is the easiest way to:

3. Write guest blogs for other bloggers.

Given the amount of work you’re cranking out on your own site (see #1) and the time you are spending reading and leaving thoughtful remarks on other people’s sites (a la #2), it may seem even more daunting to consider the prospect of creating content for somebody else.

But guest blogging  is one of the most effective ways to build your name, pique people’s curiosity, and tap into thriving, existing audiences. (It’s what I’m doing right now!)

Blogging mastermind Stanford Smith shares some ideas on how to get your pitch to write guest posts noticed by busy bloggers here.

3. Interview people you meet via social media.

It’s a great way to get more (than your own) knowledge on your blog and it also helps to firm up budding relationships. Besides, there’s a likelihood that the interviewee will share the interview with their own network.

A quick Q&A with a Twitter contact gets you an easy post and incentivizes someone else to market for you.

4. Link to other blogs.

Bloggers check their referring links. Many of them get alerts when a new site links to them. Aside from the ego stroke and the start of the reciprocity effect, it also puts your site on the radar of other bloggers in a very real way. You exist to them now.

5. Go to real life events and introduce yourself.

Social media is a microcosm of the real world. And in the real world, it’s not always what you know, it’s who you know.

Get to as many industry events as possible and socially network in real life. Be a good listener, be a nice person, and if it makes sense, mention your blog – as long as you keep it natural and non-salesy.

It’s also a great time to ask people if they’d like to be interviewed (see #3).

Building an audience will be a struggle and it’ll take some elbow grease, but if you want your growth charts to point in the right direction and your stakeholders to smile instead of grimace you’ll stop patting yourself on the back after launch, and start pounding the proverbial pavement.

Because remember, that website ain’t gonna visit itself.

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About the Author

Andrew Hanelly
Andrew is SVP, Strategy for McMurry/TMG and for one semester in college, was a sociology major. He writes at Brain on Digital, as @hanelly on Twitter and here on Google+.
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  • Rezanaghibi

    What a great article, Andrew. Though most of this is stuff that seems nearly common sense in nature, it’s easy to miss a few of these points when you’re trying to generate traffic to a fledgling website and these tips could be especially useful for bloggers and artists trying to attract traffic to their online portfolios.

    http://www.ctrlspc.cahttp://www.facebook.com/ctrlspc

  • Rezanaghibi

    What a great article, Andrew. Though most of this is stuff that seems nearly common sense in nature, it’s easy to miss a few of these points when you’re trying to generate traffic to a fledgling website and these tips could be especially useful for bloggers and artists trying to attract traffic to their online portfolios.

    http://www.ctrlspc.cahttp://www.facebook.com/ctrlspc

  • Rezanaghibi

    What a great article, Andrew. Though most of this is stuff that seems nearly common sense in nature, it’s easy to miss a few of these points when you’re trying to generate traffic to a fledgling website and these tips could be especially useful for bloggers and artists trying to attract traffic to their online portfolios.

    http://www.ctrlspc.cahttp://www.facebook.com/ctrlspc

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  • Tekjeton.com

    Well let’s start from here… I’m pretty sure that this article will be good for our web page. http:/www.tekjeton.com but the only problem that we use onlu Turkish…

  • Andrew – simple and very effective (and timely) advice. Thanks for the insight … lets hope it rekindles the creative and collaborative flame of many website owners.

    Well done

  • Andrew,
    This is a great article for those just getting started and those who are established and struggling to get traffic to their site. Sometimes all it takes is a little nudge to get people to come and visit the site. Some of these are commonsense but overlooked by website owners.

    Thanks for the tips.

  • Anonymous

    Hi Andrew, 

    I love the hilarious, striking title! Everyone with a website should read this article and I agree with the idea of leaving comments on other blogs and interaction to people you meet via social media. These are reminders that engaging with people (as much and as often as you can) will leverage your online presence to get noticed and a sure-fire way of building readership. 

    Thanks!

  • Thanks a lot, Andrew & true KUDOS to you for maintaining simplicity and real-life applicability as distinct tenets throughout your timely pointers and advice!

    Moving our mindsets from “*illusionary* automation” (i.e. they’ll come no matter what :-) ) and “*misconceived* effortless ease” (i.e. as in… my job’s done, now I’ll breeze *without* effort :-) ) to the real drivers of being AND acting organically RELATIONAL across the (Cyber)board is priceless in itself! Embarking on several partly parallel book and membership site rollouts this fall, we need your reminders, and we want to Walk the Relational Talk. Keep up your awesome work, and go get’ em with your eminent Flagship Content, Andrew!

    Warmest,

    Kristen L. Skogrand
    Author, Trainer, Cognitive-Emotional Therapist
    http://newmomentum.no/index.php/1450811 

  • Thanks Andrew, these advises are practical, build a royal readership really takes time, due to intense level of competition & different factors, it becomes harder and harder compare to year ago, for bloggers, writers, webmaster or etc, if you want to build your readership faster, the best way to go is link or connect yourself up with a certain group of people, it is kind like you give me this, I give you that, see, nothing is free in this world .. a good weekend to you and yours :-)  

  • Kathleen Cooley

    Some very good pointers on blogging thanks for sharing

  • Great reminder. It’s very important to get out there and interactive with real people. Internet marketing isn’t just about the internet, we tend to forget about the human factor behind it.

  • Thanks Andrew, You’ve made my wheels turn a bit! Gave me an idea to do blog interviews with peeps I meet on social media!

    Celene Harrelson

  • Great article! Will share with my fellow Realtors.

  • In direct response to point # 2 Leave comments on other blogs… Great article, I like it when things are listed out in point or numbered format to follow.  Helps me skip to the bits I want.

  • Such a great post and good tips on being realistic when it comes to blogs/post/ websites. You just gotta put the work into motion and engage!

  • Audrey Caldwell

    This is a great post.  I’ve been arguing this one to family (small business owners) for years.  Thanks for making the case so well.

  • JEGtravels

    Hi Andrew, 

    I enjoyed your article. Seems like common sense but I had not thought about some of it before now. ThanksJane-Ellen GreenwoodJEGTravels.com

  • Rodeena

    This is a great reminder. Thank you! 

  • What a great posting and you hit on some tips that I hadn’t thought about.

    Thanks for sharing.  I plan to try them very soon and often!

    Michael
    OutMaturity

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  • Thank you Andrew, great reminders…

  • Shirley Wilson

    This post is right on target. Great practical tips!

  • Completely agree with those tips. If you are getting your name known out there, whether in cyber space or the real world (whatever that place is!) you are getting your expertise and authority across, but probably more importantly, getting your personality across. 

    Showing you know exactly what you’re talking about and being someone that people want to listen to – and being known for both – its probably better than any sort of SEO trick in the world for driving quality traffic.

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  • Thank you for the tips, they’re great! I’m trying to be better about posting comments on other blogs. I know how much they are appreciated, but sadly I often forget. I’m sure I’m not the only one! It’s such a small, but important thing to do. Thanks for the time you put into creating this great post!

  • These are excellent tips! Still putting them to use; shows the importance of interaction!

  • Anonymous

    These are practical tips, similar to what I’ve from other major league bloggers. What’s more unique about this post is point five, which addresses the face-to-face reality of human beings. Thanks!

  • Need the tips, will use the tips…thanks!

  • Anonymous

    I will use this tips. Thanks for the guide.

  • Yes, I believe this is true. I have built websites before without doing any social interaction in the cyberspace and just let it sit there – and no visitors would come. When I tried doing social media stuff, I noticed an steady flow of visitors coming in wow!

    • Amen! Doing it right, Sydney.

    • Amen! Doing it right, Sydney.

  • Andrew,
    Do you have any suggestions, i.e. scripts, for getting across this concept to my clients, owners of these new blogs/websites? I could really use some selling technique here.

    • Selling the value of commenting on blogs/doing guest posts? I can’t think of anything off the top of my head, but you should check out @jasonfalls:disqus ‘s learning community ExploringSocialMedia.com I’m pretty sure you can get exactly what you need there. Worth checking out at least.

      If you want to clarify exactly what you’re looking for – send me an @mention on Twitter or drop it in the comments and I will see if I can be of more help.

    • Selling the value of commenting on blogs/doing guest posts? I can’t think of anything off the top of my head, but you should check out @jasonfalls:disqus ‘s learning community ExploringSocialMedia.com I’m pretty sure you can get exactly what you need there. Worth checking out at least.

      If you want to clarify exactly what you’re looking for – send me an @mention on Twitter or drop it in the comments and I will see if I can be of more help.

    • Selling the value of commenting on blogs/doing guest posts? I can’t think of anything off the top of my head, but you should check out @jasonfalls:disqus ‘s learning community ExploringSocialMedia.com I’m pretty sure you can get exactly what you need there. Worth checking out at least.

      If you want to clarify exactly what you’re looking for – send me an @mention on Twitter or drop it in the comments and I will see if I can be of more help.

  • I’ve done all of the above except Guest Post (sigh). But really, agree with all of your points. A great way to incite interactions. I think Mitch Joel even said it, “the best way to build your community is to play around in someone else’s.” You do that by connecting with people (genuinely) via comments on other blogs, through social interactions and IRL. 

    • I love that quote – I hadn’t heard that before.

      On the note of guest posting: I can’t advocate for this enough. It really has helped me connect with some great people on the web. Just go for it – drop an @mention or an email to a blogger you regularly read and say you have an idea, if they’re interested share the idea, and then see where it goes. The worst thing that happens is they say no and you either publish your idea on your own blog or you shop it to another place you respect. It’s worth it man.

      Thanks for dropping by with the comment.

  • You’re right. I find the more I interact on other’s blogs and social networks, the more traffic I get.

    • People get curious. People want to return the favor. People want to check out the competition. Whatever it is, people are more likely to check you out.

      Besides, commenting (for instance, like right now) gets you on the radar of every other commenter, too.

  • Anonymous

    I am at the “radio silence stage. Time to pound the pavement. Thanks for the reminder. Really helpful article.

    • Everyone who has ever published can relate to that. On that note, currently checking out http://www.samthatte.com/ Beautiful looking design. I’ll put you in my “TO Read” folder in Google Reader.

      I guess my point is that your comment lead to me checking out your site (and not just to prove a point). This happens all the time. Thanks for dropping by.

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  • Thanks,I will definitely use your tips,great post!!

  • Excellent advice and thanks for the shout out! I need to get out and meet more people like yourself in the real world. 

    • You deserve it man – I’ve been admiring your stuff from afar. Let me know if you ever make it to the DC area.

  • Great tips, thanks. That would explain why my
    blog, that’s over a year old, doesn’t get traffic. I recently started writing
    on it again. I bet it would be more fun with traffic.

    • Blogs, like parties, are always more fun when a bunch of people show up.

  • As a new blogger, I can definitely benefit from the pointers in this post.  Thanks for the insight, Andrew!

  • Great tips! And what a way to illustrate your point… over 40 retweets, but just 9 comments. My personal favourite point in this article is how you remind us (because we all need to hear this on a frequent basis) that “social media is a microcosm of the real world.” Unless if you’re a Kardashian or Bieber, you wouldn’t expect to walk into a crowded room and instantly have every eye turn your way as soon as you appeared and opened your mouth. Nice reiteration of the fact that, online or offline, we’re all people, still interacting the way people do. Puts the “social” back in “social media”.

    • Amen, my friend! When a celebrity says something, it’s news because they’ve said it. When the rest of us say something, well, it’s just another voice in a sea of voices. We need to put ourselves into the context of the larger web and make connections one at a time. Eventually, more roads lead people to your opinion, and it has more validation that way.

      It’s a long haul, but it pays off.

      Thanks for the comment!

  • Nick Murray

    Great post here Andrew!  This will definitely help with my new website!

    • Glad to be of service, Nick. Good luck!

  • These are great tips. i added this article to my Delicious bookmarks to use it in my online courses. Another issue is to write about many topics. If we handle different blogs, it is hard to update all of them. 

    • Definitely a challenge, Dr. Jose. I work on a bunch of different sites (many behind the scenes) and I try to use intel from one for the other. For instance, if a certain approach works on one, I’ll try to do a “version” of it for another. I guess the way to look at it is as having multiple experiments going on at once, therefore you’ll get more results. That doesn’t make the upkeep any easier, of course, but it can make you more efficient.

      Another thing you might want to try is tapping into the power of finding contributing writers. @jasonfalls:twitter was smart to do this as he recruited me and several other (better) bloggers to help with Social Media Explorer. He carefully vetted all of us (except me) and made sure his quality wouldn’t suffer. Then, he was able to focus on growing other areas of his business while his site plugged along.

  • Andrew, loved the post for its accuracy and your willingness to hold up a mirror, force a look-see. It’s easy to get absorbed in the development – the thinking, building, and tactical execution – of something, and never consider (or not give enough consideration to) the live environment it enters. 

    When a web site goes live, does a bell ring across the interwebs? Do we get an email in our inbox, a piece of direct mail bearing a starburst? There’s nothing institutionalized about launches (thank goodness) that triggers awareness or action by the masses (or at least, target audience). We marketing folk can get too close to our project and presume everyone else is anxiously awaiting the reveal with baited breath. And the reality is, their live environments aren’t contingent upon the introduction of our new whatever. And why should they care or slow down?

    Several times I’ve observed a “launch” followed by the internal discussions and quizzical looks ending with “…not sure why activity isn’t where we expected…”  

    • Amen, Heather. Have you ever seen the movie 8 Mile? Bear with me. There’s a scene at the end where Eminem is with his buddies right after he won a freestyle battle against some rivals. They wanted him to go celebrate now that he was “the man.” But the movie ends as he walks off and says he’s going back to work. That’s who we should emulate after we’ve made our big splash. It’s not time to celebrate, it’s time to go back to work.

      And you’re damn right I just dropped an 8 Mile reference in this thread. :)

      • We’re like *this* on this issue, my friend. I shared this post with my enormous 102-follower (liker?) Facebook page to bestow your brilliance (http://facebook.com/insightsandingenuity) with others.

        And I’m also by your side re: the movie, and the message. I have 101 reasons to dislike some of Em’s behaviors….but “Lose Yourself” is not one of them. It’s an anthem of mine (a lover of Tool and the Foos, no less). I admire the vulnerability we saw in that movie and think in many small ways others can relate to the risks and razor-thin line of choices.

  • The list goes on and on when it comes to creating a following. You must be able to connect with people so they will join your group of readers.

    “Black Seo Guy “Signing Off”

  • Cricky C.

    Thanks for this blog post! I read SME every day and my company is about to launch a new blog effort… I’m letting myself get very excited(!) but tempering my immediate expectations. I know that it’s a long and dedicated road before getting an engaged audience! 

    • It definitely is, Cricky. There will be good days and there will be bad days. Don’t obsess over either. Remain even-keeled and consistent and a year later things will be headed in the right direction. You’ve got to give it time, attention, and patience. It’s tough to do, but it pays off. Thanks for dropping by!

  • Great tips. These are things most of us know, but need to be reminded of so we can get out there, interact and be engaging marketers.

    • Exactly. I find that what I intuitively “know” is always different from what I actually “do.” There’s a gap between knowledge and action that exists for everyone. I try to do my best to bridge it, but I admit I often don’t. It’s a constant struggle, but the payoff is there. Thanks for the comment, Bellesouth!