You Can Build it But They’ll Not Necessarily Come

by Martin Malden

10 years ago ‘build it and they’ll come’ worked on-line. Today it doesn’t.

Today there are so many web pages out there that any site that hopes to receive visitors has to be positioned well and promoted cleverly.

And the bar is getting higher all the time.

Someone with next to zero technical skills can sign up with Blogger or WordPress.com and have a well optimised site up and published within half an hour.

The barrier to entry is a fraction of what it was 10 years ago, but the bar to being found is a zillion times higher.

So how do you get found on-line quickly today?

Here are the steps I go through to get a new site established on-line:

Step 1: Make sure that each page on your site is structured properly (on-site SEO).

That means creating your META tags, using your H and image alt tags correctly and writing focused content.

Each page on your site should be focused on a specific subject.

There are lots articles that talk about optimising a page for certain keywords. When I first read things like that I felt intimidated. It all sounded too technical and complex.

But if you focus each page on your site on one specific subject it will automatically become optimised for its keywords.

For example, if your site is about web design services and one of the services you offer is WordPress installations and maintenance, then you need to use one page to talk about your WordPress services, and only your WordPress services.

As long as you do that, the fact that you’re only talking about WordPress on that page will automatically result in it being optimised for the keyword ‘WordPress’.

There are some steps you need to add manually:

Make sure ‘WordPress’ figures in your heading and sub headings.

And include ‘WordPress’ in your META title, description and keyword tags.

As long as you do that then, hey presto – your page will be optimised for the keyword ‘WordPress’.

So the message is: keep each page focused on one subject, and make sure your keyword figures in your title, description and keywords META tags.

Step 2: Create a Sitemap and submit it to the search engines.

There are lots of places on-line where you can create an XML sitemap (for the search engines) for free. It will take you no more than 10 minutes, unless you’ve created a huge site.

So create your sitemap, save the sitemap.xml file and upload it to the root directory of your new website

Then submit it to the search engines.

This does not mean using one of those submission services that ‘blasts’ your site to thousands of search engines. That’s a sure way to death on-line.

You only need to submit your site to 3, maximum 4 search engines: Google, Yahoo, Bing and Ask.

So be sure you do so manually – don’t use a submission service!

The easiest of all is Google. If you don’t have a Google Webmaster’s Tools account get one. It’s free and, as long as you have a Google account, all you have to do is add it to your services.

When you’ve got Google Webmaster’s Tools set up you need to add and verify your site. Unusually for Google, this is a reasonably intuitive process.

They’ll give you a verification code that you need to put on your site. You can do this in two ways:

  1. By adding a META tag (which Google will give you) to your index page
  2. By creating a blank HTML file using the code they give you as the filename (with the extension .html).

Once you’ve uploaded the file (either the index.html file with the extra META tag or the new HTML file) you select whichever method you’ve chosen from the drop down menu, click ‘Verify’ and, as long as Google finds the code, you’ll be verified in about 5 seconds.

Then you need to submit your site map – which is simply a case of adding the URL of your sitemap (for example http://www.yoursite.com/sitemap.xml) to a field on the sitemap page and clicking ‘submit’.

That entire process will take you around 10 – 15 minutes. It will then take Google anything up to 24 hours to download your sitemap.

Indexing your site (so that it appears in search results) will, though, take them a lot longer. This is the process of crawling your entire site (not just your sitemap) and adding what it finds to its cache.

But once you’ve gone through those steps all you need to do is wait – everything else will happen in Google’s time.

Step 3: Let the bookmarking and social sites know your new site is there.

Be careful here because some sites (like Digg and Newsvine) don’t like you promoting your own stuff exclusively. So this works well when you promote your new site on social sites where you’re active.

For example I’m active on Twitter, so promoting a new site there is effective for me. I’m not active on Digg, so promoting it there would not work.

One site that I find very useful is OnlyWire. This is a site where you can add your login details for up to around 30 bookmarking and social sites.

Once that’s set up you only need to bookmark a page on OnlyWire and OW will automatically add your page to all the social and bookmarking sites you’ve set up in your profile.

So when I’ve put up a new site, I’ll pick a page and bookmark it on OnlyWire. The OnlyWire bookmarking page gives you options to add tags and your own comments, and these are passed forward to the social sites you’ve set up.

On a side note, this works particularly well with Delicious because you can set up an automatic distribution from Delicious to your blog of the bookmarks you make.

So my process goes like this: I bookmark a page with OnlyWire and add my own comments in the comments section.

OnlyWire distributes that bookmark to Delicious (among others) and Delicious then distributes that bookmark (along with my additional comments) to one of my blogs.

That creates a new blog post.

This is the only way that I’ll use an ‘automated’ process to create blog posts. It’s not really automated because I am actually writing the post myself (by adding my own comments in the OnlyWire comments area). I’m just submitting it via OnlyWire and Delicious.

If you haven’t looked into OnlyWire you should.

Step 4: Consider a Pay Per Click (PPC) campaign

On some of my new sites I set up a small PPC campaign to kick start some traffic.

As soon as I’m getting as much traffic from the natural search results and other non-paid sources as I am from PPC, I cut the PPC campaign.

PPC is a very quick way of getting targetted visitors to your site quickly, but be careful: it can be hugely expensive if you set it up wrong.

Step 5: Create as many links to your site as you can.

If you have other sites (blogs, Squidoo lenses, HubPages or similar) link to your new site from them.

Write a blog article introducing your new site (as long as the content would be relevant to your readers).

If you don’t have other sites you should create some. The bigger the on-line footprint you can get the better, and adding a new site to an existing network of sites will get it noticed more quickly than setting one up in the middle of nowhere.

OK – so those are the steps I go through to get a new site noticed as quickly as possible.

What steps do you use?

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