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Webmasters and the New Year

It's a time of year when people think about goals for the future. As webmasters of revenue-generating websites, we have these goals in common:

- Attract more visitors to our sites - Convert more visitors to customers - Keep those customers coming back

What worked last year or the year before might be less successful this year. The playing field changes, and the rules of the game can also change. What should we be looking at for 2006?

Attracting more visitors to our sites

First, take a look at how well your site is doing.

- Are you targeting keyword phrases that people are searching for these days? - Have you studied what your competitors are doing recently? - How many inbound links from quality, related sites do you currently have? - Has your SERP or Google PR changed?

With some do-it-yourself search optimization tools http://articles.websitesource.com/seo_do_it_yourself_8_16_2005.shtml, you can check your site's position in search engines, view its current Google PR, see what words your competitors' sites are optimized for, find out where your site is ranked for search terms, analyze inbound links to competitors' sites, and more. Your site may have been the "it" site for your product or service a couple of years ago, but if you haven't at least kept up with your competitors, potential customers might not make it to your site.

Acquiring inbound links is an ongoing job. If you haven't worked on this aspect of SEO recently, some newer sites are probably good candidates for a link exchange or one-way links to your site. Start by looking at who's linking to your competitors' sites, and look for other sites with related but not competing content.

Also consider the geographical areas you're targeting. To attract more local visitors, get your site listed in local directories and put the name of your city and country in the <title> tag, at least for the Contact page. To attract more international customers, look for listings in international directories, and offer pricing in more than one currency if possible.

Converting more visitors to customers

You've got people coming to your site. Are they buying from you? If not, why not?

Try to look at your site with fresh eyes. Better yet, get someone else to. Do the colors and design look dated? Does the page look good in newer, larger monitors as well as smaller ones? An updated design may be what your site needs to keep it looking like a quality contender in your field.

Analyze your traffic stats. If you have a lot of visitors who don't click beyond the landing page, either you aren't targeting the right visitors or they aren't drawn in once they arrive. On the other hand, if your visitors typically view a number of pages and then leave, perhaps the path of information and action isn't clear enough. Or there may be another problem with your site that's turning people off.

Of course, the above must be compared with the number of returning visitors. Consumers typically visit a site about three times before buying.

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Follow the path from arriving at the site — on any page — to reading about a product or service, finding more information, and placing an order. Is the path easy to follow? Do all the links work? If you have another person looking at your site, watch that person's eye movement, observe if any pauses suggest confusion, and listen to the commentary and questions.

Check that the content is current. If you still advertise a special that expired two months ago, for example, it looks like no one is attending to the business.

Do you offer as many payment options as possible? Perhaps you couldn't afford a merchant account to accept credit card payments when you were starting out, but you can now. If visitors often get to the point of sale and then leave, a lack of payment choices that suit them may be the reason.

Keeping customers coming back

Think about your successes over the past year. What products or services were the most popular? How did people find out about them? What positive feedback did you receive? Use all of that information to make your strengths even better.

If you received any negative feedback, look at it as an opportunity to improve your service or product line.

An opt-in mailing list or newsletter is a low-cost, effective way to keep your company name in your customers' minds. During the order process, provide a check box for customers to choose if they want to receive mailings from you. If they choose yes, you have their permission to send them information about specials, new products, and other news.

People online are becoming increasingly annoyed by spam and aware of privacy issues. Your website should include a privacy policy, and your mailings should include a link for recipients to unsubscribe if they want to. Don't send out regular mailings more than once a month, and provide information that's useful to the recipients.

Content 2006-style

Regular new, quality content attracts more visitors to your site and provides a reason to come back. Once thought of as a fad for personal sites, increasingly more businesses are adding blogs to their websites. Blogs provide a less formal medium to convey information, people can subscribe to them and be notified when they have new content, and they keep search engine spiders coming back whenever you add new content. With thousands of new blogs starting up every day, blogs are the wave of the future.

In this weblog , we'll be discussing what's new and useful for webmasters and for people who spend a lot of time online. We invite you to stay tuned.

About the Writer of this Article

About the Author:

Lois S. is a Technical Executive Writer for http://www.websitesource.com and http://www.lowpricedomains.com with experience in the website hosting industry.

Effective Communication for Webmasters

The primary aim of your website is to communicate. In order for webmasters to convey their thoughts effectively they must understand the meaning of what they are trying to communicate and be able to evaluate the effect that their website is having on their audience.

Your website should serve as a means to an end rather than as an end in itself. Lack of clarity of purpose, poor spelling, or sloppy layout will mar its effectiveness. On the other hand a website full of gaudy graphics, animations and rambling text may attract too much attention to itself, thereby interfering with the message that you are attempting to communicate.

The primary purpose of any website is communicating ideas and emotions that lead the visitor toward a specific goal or action. Your website will be appraised, by your visitor, on its ability to present your ideas concisely, clearly and effectively.

Communication Techniques

Your ideas may be conveyed not only by the context in which they are presented but by the type of graphics employed, (i.e. or not) colors used, and the layout of the web page through which you are expressing them. All of these things will have an emotional interpretation by your visitor and ultimately decide whether or not you reach them with your ideas. Emotional response depends heavily on presentation.

Effective presentation on the web depends upon three things.

1) Graphics

Keep your graphics under control! Unless you are presenting your graphics for sale use them only for emphasis. Use your graphics to clarify or to give visual clues for the message you are trying to convey. Never allow them to overpower your page but, let them help to tell a story, present an idea, or support a theme.

2) Colors

Color is very important if you wish to evoke an emotional response from your visitor. Pick colors that you respond to emotionally and then test them on your audience to see their response. Never use more than three(3) basic colors in your color scheme. This provides a continuity in the appearance of your website.

3) Webpage Layout

Above all else strive for simplicity in your webpage layout. The cleaner your layout the more likely it is that your message will be understood by your visitors. A simple and well organized webpage makes it easy for your audience to grasp your content and act on it. Its better to add extra pages to your website than to try and cram too much information onto one page.

Gene DeFazzio is the author and webmaster of the Rocketface(R) Workshop http://www.rocketface.com

How to Market Your Article to Thousands of Content Needy Webmasters

There are a number of different ways that you can effectively market your article.

The first way is to do it manually, which involves searching for websites such as http://www.goarticles.com that allow you to post your articles for webmasters to use, once you have registered with them.

Most free submission sites are now requiring users to register and create a user account before they can use their article submission service.

If you would like an additional list of websites and forums that will allow you to post your article on them, visit http://www.phase1.ws/articlesites.asp

Yes, marketing your article this way can be extremely tedious and time consuming, but it doesn't cost you any money upfront.

The second way is to go to www.automaticarticlemarketer.com and sign up for an account, where you can submit an unlimited number of articles to more than 30,000 people among different article announcement groups, targeted content sites and article directories.

This way does cost you a few dollars, but it will save you countless hours that could be better spent on things such as search engine optimization or writing more articles.

Another way to submit your article is to contact a webmaster who has an email list that may be interested in your article. You could offer him or her the chance to use your article as part of their regular newsletter, or you could break your article up into a few sections, giving a series of email messages instead.

This benefits the webmaster, as he or she doesn't have to come up with any content for the mail out, and it benefits you, as your website will be getting exposed to all of the people on the webmaster's email list.

You could also use the information in your article to answer a question in a forum, or post a link to your article on a forum telling the person with the question exactly how your article will answer their question. Just be sure to obey all forum posting rules.

Regardless of where you post your article, make sure that the site you submit your article to is related to what your article is on.

Don't submit your article on "How to Grow Sunflowers" to an internet marketing article forum.

Along that same idea, be sure to post your article under the proper topic and section that relates specifically to your article.

Posting your article to unrelated websites or under unrelated topics won't increase the number of webmasters who pick up and publish your article on their site.

Most often submitting your article to the wrong site or under the wrong topic will result in webmasters just skipping over it (as it isn't what they are looking for), but it may also result in your article getting dropped completely from the website.

However, if you submit your articles properly, and to the right websites, directories and forums, you will notice an amazing increase in the amount of sites linking back to your website, as well as an increase in the amount of traffic coming to your website.

And I'm sure you could always use a little more traffic or a few more backlinks to help your website move up in its search engine rankings.

If you found this article helpful, be sure to go to www.phase1.ws and get a copy of Tim's free ebook entitled "White Hat SEO Revealed", as what was shared here was only the tip of Tim's iceberg of SEO secrets.

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