Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Four Legs of the Table

Imagine for a moment that you have a kitchen table. Sturdy, useful, maybe even a little bit decorative. Imagine that the top of the table represents your website. It rests on four legs. These four legs are what hold it up and keep it level. If one of them is weak, then the table wobbles.

In the web world, these four legs represent the promotional strategies that keep traffic coming to your site. They change and adapt from time to time, but currently, the four legs that I see and use the most are:

1. Search Engine Optimization
2. Reciprocal Linking
3. Email List Management
4. Blogging

Let’s look at those one at a time.

1. Search Engine Optimization

Ranking well on the search engines is critical, as that’s going to be the strongest bringer of traffic for your website. The key is to include search terms into your text throughout the site.

The key to that is to discover which terms to use. You want 2-3 word combinations, that people are using in their searches. You also want terms that are being used by fewer websites.

Go to and test the search terms that you want to use. How many people are searching for these terms in a month? Go to and test the same terms. How many websites come up in those searches. The best search terms to include on your site are the ones that balance between a high number at the overture tool, and a lower number at google.

2. Reciprocal Linking

Reciprocal linking is the first promotional strategy I begin implementing after search engine registration when a site launches. Look for owners of sites that appeal to your audience. Invite them to visit your site and to exchange links back and forth. The more inbound links you have, the better.

Inbound links will boost your search engine ranking, and get your site spidered/indexed faster and more often.

Linking also brings in direct traffic, bypassing the search engines entirely. On any given week, my site ( gets up to 25% of it’s traffic as a result of people clicking through on a reciprocal link, regardless of search engine ranking.

3. Email List Management

If someone visits your site, what’s the best thing they could do? Buy something, of course! What’s the next best thing they could do? Leave their name and address so that you can continue to contact them and invite them back.

In the early commercial days of the web, purchases were primarily impulse. The customer bought quickly. Studies show that this is changing. Current statistics show that most purchases happen after between five and ten contacts with a company. Set yourself up to make those contacts happen. Invite your visitors to sign up for your mailing list. Offer a product as a prize drawing as an incentive.

In the world of email marketing, targeted, opt-in lists are the best. There’s no list more targeted than a list of people who’ve opted-in to YOUR list because they’ve shown interest in YOUR products directly. Build that list! Use that list!

4. Blogging

Both People and search engines love to see updating content. It gives them some substance to a site. It gives them a reason to come back. There’s no better way to keep a site fresh and current than a blog. Write some ideas, commentary, news, or just thoughts on a special page in your site once a week. Exchange links with other similar blogs (called “blogrolling”). As you build up an audience, you’ll build traffic to your site.

The search engines will start checking you out more often, too, and taking you more seriously. You’ll have some content-rich pages, and you can write them so they’re search-term-rich, too!

The more your web business relies on these four legs (all of which cost time, but none of which cost more money), the stronger your table will be, and the more you’ll enjoy eating the fruits of your labors off of it!

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