We all know the struggle of always producing great content to attract more and better visitors. No matter what our website is about, we want to become the site-to-go for our niche market. In our wildest dreams, we aim to generate a mental connection in people’s mind between the product and our brand. We want to become what Apple is for computers, Chanel for clothing, Facebook for social media, Google for search engine!
In order to be recognized as an authority, you need to show your audience that your brand can stand behind such claim. First, you must have:
- Great content that shows how knowledgeable your brand is in your niche of choice
- A well-organized site that follow the latest SEO guidelines
- Products that satisfy customers’ expectations
- An attentive customer service (from contact us to FAQs to social media integration)
However, all the above-mentioned steps despite being necessary, are not sufficient to guarantee adequate exposure to your brand.
To begin with, you need to reach out to people, interact with them, show your knowledge and build trust. Only at this point, you will be able to drive quality traffic to your site and turn potential leads into paying customers.
Here are few steps on how to start creating a potential audience:
1. Find the best sites in your niche
As we all know, every site discovery starts with a query. The best way to discover who is already recognized as a leader in your niche is to ask a search browser.
If you type in a search engine keywords related to your niche, which are the websites that come up in the first page result? Consider the first 10, or even the first 5 results. Open their homepage and start browsing. By doing this exercise, ask yourself questions like:
- Is the homepage reflecting the brand identity?
- Does the homepage contain a clear statement followed by a call-to-action?
- Does the style represent the brand’s identity?
- Does the site contain a blog, videos, a chat to help visitors convert?
- Does the site offer better value for money such as discounts or free shipping?
- Does the site show a knowledge that your site does not have yet?
Improve your site style to reflect your brand
If the competitors’ site shows a stronger design in terms of promoting their brand identity, try to get inspiration from their sites and from those you like. In specific, ask yourself what it is that makes you want to know more about their sites.
If you need ideas on how to improve your site design, check examples at the best-designs for inspiration. They have plenty of cool layouts to choose from!
After finding a style that visually represents your brand, think about adding:
- A logo that well reflects the brand identity
- Inspirational quotes on the homepage to communicate your vision
- A simple call to action that helps conversion
- A contact us page that shows the human behind the brand
- A search button to help users find the right content
- Stylistic buttons to help visitors navigate the site
Focus on offering value for money
Everybody loves freebies, discounts and special offers. A discount or a free gift are great strategies to attract new visitors, build relationships and generate loyal customers over time.
Consider the sites that rank high for your main keywords, are they offering discounts, running special offer campaigns, add free gifts to every order? Are people linking in to their sites from promotional campaigns? Are the brands building strong relationships with customers thanks to special offers?
If you are even a small company but with room for a one-time offer, think if you can come up with a promotional campaign that could attract more visitors. Free shipping is a very popular form of discount that can generate massive sales. If you do not have enough budget room for such a substantial reduce in price on an order, you could consider offering a small gift to people’s first purchase (for instance, a small sample of a complementary product…however, the possibilities are endless).
Even if you could not offer a discount to all your line range, try to encourage people to purchase the product that better represents your brand or better distinguishes your company from your main competitors. Whatever offers you a competitive advantage should be the main focus of your value-for-money campaign.
Be the big fish in a small pond
So far you have visited competitors’ sites based on your niche keywords and got inspiration on how to improve your site. However, despite the effort, you feel discouraged by your competitors’ knowledge, well crafted sites, massive traffic, high ranking and social media strategies.
Suddenly you feel you will never be that expert that you imagined one day you would be. You find your knowledge too basic, your design not stylish enough and your lack of visitors a big worry and your small budget a dream crusher.
The solution? Stop being the small fish in a big pond and start being the big fish in a small pond! Instead of competing with large sites and well established brands, find yourself a sub-niche (or smaller niche) in which you can be the expert.
You cannot compete against travelling sites? Become the blogger that knows everything about Prague! There are already too many cooking sites? Become the only channel that talks about Bolivian cuisine! You can even consider less popular niches such as stamp collection.
This strategy can even play at your advantage: by becoming the expert on a specific topic, you can easily be identified as the go-to-person (as the competition is less). In order to increasing the chances of your popularity consider guest-blogging on the competitor’s site or leaving comments that direct readers to your website.
And this brings me to the next point…
2. Add Value to existing sites
Adding value to existing authoritative sites in the form of comments or guest-posts is a great way to promote your profile, reach out to the right crowd, get exposure and finally traffic to your site.
You might be wondering how adding value to a competitor’s site in the form of a comment or a blog post when you are spending all your energies in promoting your own brand could eventually be beneficial to your own site.
First, because the competitors’ sites are the place where the right crowd hangs out, the type of crowd you are interested in engaging with. You want to connect with potential customers, show them you have the solution to their pain points in the form of product or services. Let’s assume you blog about places to visit. This is a main niche in which a new blogger could find difficult to emerge. By posting valuable content on competitors’ sites, you are already interacting with people interested in travelling.
Second, showing people that you have the solution to their pain points is a great opportunity for organically moving potential customers to your site. Let’s assume people are interested in visiting unusual places in NY city. By posting an article or a comment on sites that talk about NY city is a great opportunity to show your authority as blogger and as the expert in “unusual places to visit in NY city”.
Third, consider how commenting can bring traffic to your site. Let’s come back to the travelling example. You post a comment on a well established site about travelling. You visit the page about NY City and you notice the author missed to talk about the recently opened ice-cream museum that you just visited. Wouldn’t this a great opportunity to show your knowledge? Of course it would be!
Just a little word of advice…whatever you do, do not spam. Do not automatically add a link that sends back to your site. Read the post on your competitor’s site, consider if you have relevant information you can add, fill in the blog comment form with valuable content and at the end add a link to your site for people that want to know more. If not, your comment show be sufficient. Ah, and do not forget to add a little thank you line to the author! A kind word goes a long way…
Finally, do not consider competitors as enemies. The Internet is a place where professional can meet and create meaningful relationships.Every blog that you visit, any blog that you comment on has a person behind it. Try to reach out and be helpful to them.
Wouldn’t it be great if you could be creating a relationship with another blogger that can complement your site with their insights? Wouldn’t be free promotion if you could post on another platform? Wouldn’t it be great if a restaurant owner could offer a discount to people that signed up to your site?
Of course it would be!
3. Focus on Quality not Quantity
So far you have identified your main niche keywords, reached out to relevant sites and started to get some organic traffic. You might think that the main work is behind you and that you can finally relax. Of course not!
First, because even if you get some traffic today, it doesn’t automatically mean that those visitors are coming back tomorrow. Second, it is time to keep them engaged to make them stay. Indeed, you want visitors to browse your site, read articles, post comments, share your pages on social media and finally purchase your products or services.
How can you keep visitors on your site after they opened your landing page? As always by offering engaging content -in short- a reason to stay. There are several ways in which this can be accomplished. Some strategies include: well-crafted articles that include stylish images, explanatory free videos, downloadable PDFs and infographics.
If you want to have better visual content for your site, you can consider
- signing up to Canva to create better graphic
- get free images or free vectors from licensed sites
- learning how to use Photoshop to improve your images
- learning the art of design
Visual content is so essential for the success of a site, that videos and images are included in any SEO guidelines. First, because our brain is hard-wired for images and second because human’s attention span has reached such a low threshold, that images can help explain your content in few seconds. Let’s consider the case of infographics; they present two clear advantages: they help explain complex topics and are extremely shareable on social media platforms such as Pinterest.
As people love freebies, offering a free downloadable PDF or a free on-demand video is an easy way to engage and retain visitors. You can easily embed a video using YouTube and a downloadable PDF using Slideshare. You do not need to be a hard-core developer to add media to your site.
4. Be Creative in link building
As outlined in previous paragraphs, when you are starting out it is important to connect to to the right crowd and in specific to those sites that rank high for your niche keywords in the search engine results (SERPs).
However, at times people can find themselves a little limited by their own niche-related keywords. Let’s re-consider the traveling blogger case. They might reach out only to traveling sites as they find that other sites are not niche-relevant. This is totally false; you can reach out to as many sites as you like as long as you can find a meaningful connection.
A traveling blog could reach out to skin-care sites and come up with an article about the 10 best tips to keep your skin fresh during a 10 hours flight, it could reach out to a yoga site and describe how specific yoga positions can help recharge the body when it is suffering from jet-lag or it could reach out to a heavy-metal site and come up with a list of the 5 best underground bands to listen to in London, it could even describe the advantages of using specific apps to navigate Milan.
Try to be creative, possibilities are endless (as long as you are adding value)!
5. Add a human touch
So far you have reached out to other niche-sites with whom you have build meaningful relationships and added value to your site with relevant and useful content. Now, it is time to build meaningful relationships with your audience.
The first step is to add a page about you on your site; show who you are, what you look like, your passion, interests and the reason behind you building your site. It adds a level of trust and make people feel like they are connecting to a real person. Have you noticed that some of the major brands are also recognized by the face of their founders?
Finally, give people a platform where they can speak their mind, allow people to interact with your content in the form of feedback, comments, likes and social shares. Thank them for their nice comments, reply to their questions, value their insights, link back to their sites if they are valuable and address bad comments and complains rapidly. Do not forget to keep your site spam free by removing bad backlinks and spammy comments.
Listen to suggesting to generate more targeted topics and add internal links so that people can find additional content in case their are additional questions that you have already covered. It helps keeping users engaged, it helps SEO and your site’s navigation architecture.
As a proud website owner you want to make your site a success: be identified as the leader in the field and a constant flow of organic traffic that keeps coming in to consume the site content. In short, you want people to know you as the guy to-go-to in case a certain problem arises; your aim is to gain relevant and high quality traffic. To achieve ths goal you need to:
- Identify your main niche (fashion, cars, education, sports)
- Identify your specific niche using relevant keywords (fashion for businessman, city-cars for busy mums, online courses for the elderly, most popular sports for youngsters)
- Reach out to relevant and well established sites to create meaningful relationships and reach out to the right crowd.
- Add value to the relevant sites by posting comments and answering questions
- Add meaningful backlinks to your posts so that people can find additional information
- Create extra and well-presented content that keep people engage to your site
- Keep adding value on other sites and on your site
- Interact with your visitors by answering their questions
- Keep doing this till you can employ someone to do it for you or you retire!