Promoting your website: crash course for beginners

Whether privately or professionally – many people run their own website or a small blog these days. But for many small and medium-sized businesses, their websites are only in their infancy. To extend the reach of a website, online marketing strategies are becoming more and more important. If you want to promote your website, you shouldn’t underestimate the effect of SEA, SEO, social media, and other online tools. We’ve compiled a compact guide.

Using marketing correctly: how to improve your web presence

If you want to sell a product, you need to advertise. But how does marketing work if you want to increase your online presence? That’s what online marketing is for, but classic marketing strategies can have their advantages too. Television or radio commercials, and advertisements in print media and on billboards, draw attention to a product. Online marketing is usually more targeted. Some of the most important advertising measures in online marketing are therefore comparatively inexpensive and are more likely to generate leads, i.e. customers. A lot of effort needs to be put in to avoid wasting resources. How does this work?

  • Search engine optimization (SEO) increases the probability of your website being found for a specific search term (the "keyword") in a search engine.
     
  • Search engine advertising (SEA) places advertisements as cheaply and accurately as possible at a highly visible position in a search engine’s search results. These advertisements resemble natural search results and also refer to what your online presence is offering.
     
  • In affiliate marketing, advertisers place their ads on relevant websites. In return, the website operator receives a commission, often based on lead generation.
     
  • Content marketing, also called inbound marketing, is intended to arouse the interest of the target group through editorial content, captivate them with know-how or humor, or win their trust and, in the best-case scenario, keep customers returning in the long-term.
     
  • Email marketing is a good way to address your customers individually. Those who willingly provide their contact details will probably be more interested in your offers and content.
     
  • Banner advertising, placed on thematically appropriate websites, attracts customers to your offers with meaningful images and a call to action.
     
  • Social media increases reach, opens up creative opportunities for customer participation, and is an inexpensive engagement platform for small businesses.
     
  • Multimedia content is on the rise. If you produce short videos or podcasts, you can also score points in the mobile sector.

Before using one of these marketing methods, analyze how visitors use your website: How long do users stay on which subpages? Which topics or products are of long-term interest? As long as it’s permitted by law – and with the consent of site visitors – you can analyze data that gives you indications of the interests and characteristics of your target audience. Only then does it make sense to work out a long-term marketing strategy. Use a mix of strong content, SEO, effective advertising with third-party providers, and an active social media presence. These measures take time, but you will most likely be rewarded with better customer relationships.

Classic marketing can be used to expand your reach even with less internet-savvy customers and can generally carry your branding out into the real world. With QR codes, website addresses, or social media hashtags you can link to your internet presence and promote your website. The right mix of online and offline marketing increases your website’s popularity.

SEO measures

Search engine optimization helps to rank a website higher in search results. This means that if a potential user searches for a certain keyword, the most helpful answer should be at the top of the results list. Ideally, this would be your website or a relevant subpage of it.

What’s interesting for local service providers and retail shops is that potential customers are increasingly using mobile devices to stay informed about local offers and prefer to make targeted purchases. Localization makes your website and the location of your company accessible to these people. Therefore, tailor the contents of your website to the relevant region.

Tip

Do you want to be found offline as well as online? Read all about localization in our article “Local SEO: How local search engine optimization works”.

Whether localization or general visibility, these SEO methods improve the ranking of your website:

  • Structure your website clearly according to subject areas with flat site hierarchies
     
  • Use short, meaningful URLs
     
  • Link subpages to each other in a meaningful way
     
  • Provide added value for your visitors through helpful content: texts, images, and multimedia content
     
  • Make sure that you do not copy any content from other sites ("duplicate content") – plagiarism will be punished with a bad ranking
     
  • Place relevant search terms, i.e. the keywords, to an appropriate degree in the text – ideally with the help of wellresearched texts
     
  • Structure your content with headings and loosen up texts with bullet points or tables
     
  • Machinereadable websites improve accessibility and ranking, so provide images with keyword optimized titles, alternative texts, and captions
     
  • Transcripts of podcasts, videos with subtitles, sign language, and audio descriptions are other optimization measures
     
  • Use metatitles and descriptions (often the first thing users see including the displayed search result, the snippet, and breadcrumbs, which facilitate navigation on the page)

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SEA is top of the list

Like SEO, Search engine advertising is a sub-area of search engine marketing (SEM), i.e. marketing that refers to search engines. With SEO, the aim is to rank your website as high as possible in the search results, but with SEA it’s all about investing in advertisements. Ads are usually placed above, between, or next to search results and are marked as advertisements. When a user clicks on an ad, it links to a page on a website, the so-called "landing page".

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Goals of SEA:

  • Attract more visitors through visibility
  • Increase brand reach and promote the website
  • Attract customers and find out what motivates the target group to make a purchase

Before you place an ad in a search engine, research relevant keywords for your offer. What’s important is what potential customers enter into the search field when they search for information, products, or services. You should also calculate a budget for these keywords. How much can an ad cost depending on the product price and a certain conversion rate from click to purchase without incurring losses? Then you bid – automatically and in real-time – for a place on the results list. Market leader Google provides the advertising platform "Ads" for this. Of course, Bing, Yahoo, and other search engines, and third-party websites, also offer SEA advertising.

The advertising platform Google Ads (formerly "AdWords") is still a primary target for many SEA marketers. Explore our guide to discover five tips for your first Google Ads campaign, to use this marketing tool as optimally as possible.

Display advertising: more than just banner advertising

Display advertising uses graphical elements to get users to click on an advertisement. A link directs users to your website (or landing page) after they click on it. In their simplest form, advertising banners like these are the online equivalent of billboards, but offer far more possibilities. The difference to SEA is mostly the content: SEA uses text, but display advertisements also include images and videos. In addition, SEA is usually limited to search engine result pages. Display ads promote your website in various ways:

  • Banner: fixed or moving image, also interactive shapes with audio
  • Popups: new window that appears in the foreground when users do something specific
  • Popunder: new window opens in the background
  • Layer ads: advertising content that overlays the website content
  • Content ads: embedded banner advertising
  • Native advertising: advertisements that are embedded as believably as possible in editorial content.
  • Video ads: shown before and between video streams

“There’s life in the old dog yet” could be said of banner advertising. Price slumps and the resulting wave of advertising banners ended up causing so-called banner blindness and led to ad blockers being developed. Meanwhile, more high-quality and more unobtrusive forms (like native advertising) have started to look more promising. With real-time advertising and programmatic advertising, banner advertising is becoming increasingly automated.

Tip

Do you want to create a banner, but don't know where to start? We'll show you how to design an effective banner ad yourself in our step-by-step guide.

Using social media to gain a wider reach and more customers

Social media marketing is a form of inbound marketing. This means that the customer approaches the company – hopefully, because of the appealing content that your website offers. Sometimes customers post negative statements on social media, initiating a dialog between the company and its customers. Direct contact is an opportunity to show customers that their concerns are taken seriously.

Another advantage of social media marketing is its potentially wide reach through viral content. Interested consumers can share or “like” the content and make others aware of your company. They act as brand ambassadors. In order to increase your web presence, influencers are of particular importance because of their large reach and fan bases.

Since this is also about content, similar rules apply to content marketing. Content with added value should pursue a consistent strategy. Because social media platforms are increasingly being used on mobile devices, snackable content is a good idea. Of course, you can also use your website to provide more detailed content whenever you want.

Social media also offers space for advertising. Either you refer to offers on your website or place ads. You can tailor them to specific target groups to avoid wasting resources.

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Newsletter marketing: maintaining customer contact with e-mails

Newsletter marketing is a traditional part of the online marketing mix. It belongs to direct marketing because it addresses individual customers directly. In contrast to other direct marketing means such as flyers, an email usually contains a call to action, i.e. the addressed customer should carry out a certain action. Therefore, this measure is a part of dialogue marketing. There are two types:

  • Newsletters reach the customers regularly (weekly or monthly)
  • Emails are sent on an event-driven basis (vacations, summer sales, or new product lines)

A challenge with email marketing is getting the recipient to open your email. Spam and advertising emails from competitors can make it hard to be noticed and stand out. In order to speak to a customer, the e-mail subject line must stand out, but the content is just as important. Analysis tools allow you to tailor your newsletter exactly to the needs and preferences of your audience. As always, the actual content is the most important. An exciting introduction and interesting visual content will encourage you to read on.

You can also place interactive offers for customers in the relevant content. This includes information about discount promotions, current topics, and high-quality content that you provide on your website.

Measure how the number of clicks and lead conversions change as a result of e-mail marketing and, if necessary, optimize the result. You can find even more useful tips on newsletter marketing in our article “Successful customer retention with newsletter marketing”.

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Offline marketing: not to be underestimated

Offline marketing can cover many areas. Basically, you use the classic ways to promote your company and apply them to your website. All advertising materials – from business cards and flyers to exhibition stands, and customer gifts to official invoices – usually carry the company name and your address and telephone number. Simply add your new domain to them.

Or you can connect online and offline. An increasing number of billboards now include QR codes that lead passing customers to a landing page on a brand’s website when they take a photo of it using their smartphones. Surveys, competitions, and discount promotions can be easily implemented here. Creative marketing is also possible. For example, you could encourage online users to create a flash mob. You can then use this offline campaign online to support your social media content.

Homepage builders: important marketing support

A custom marketing strategy to promote a web project can pay off in the long run, but requires a lot of time and dedication. Therefore, it’s all the more important that your website’s design and maintenance are simple processes. If you’re not already using a dedicated CMS solution to publish content online, a website builder is a great alternative to well-maintained website creation tools and hosting solutions.

Website builders are usually offered and maintained by hosting service providers which means that customers are not required to purchase additional software or hardware to launch a website. By using a dedicated builder tool, customers can create websites in just a few clicks and without any programming knowledge. Marketing options are often included in a package. This frees up clients to focus fully on the design and promotion of their websites. 

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Summary

Promoting a website takes time. Strategic marketing is just as important as a well-positioned website, since long loading times and cumbersome page navigation can easily deter first-time visitors. You can increase your reach more quickly with active advertising measures such as SEA and display advertising. However, you can only achieve long-term success by using a solid SEO strategy and creating relevant content for your target group. Due to the large number of websites on the web, it’s not easy to get a foot in the door. Patience, networking, and exciting content do help.


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