I am constantly amazed to see the large amount of money and effort being invested in the design of New Zealand company websites so often being accompanied by an almost total lack of thought or effort applied to promotion of the finished sites. Examples abound of major companies spending small fortunes on a sophisticated online presence, sometimes complete with E-commerce, only to find out at the end of the venture that they are getting very few visitors to their sites and even fewer sales to justify their initial investment. This despite the fact that, once properly promoted, even a small firm's comparatively modest Web Presence can generate literally thousands of 'hits' per month.
For example, our company's site at http://www.websites.co.nz achieved over 36,000 "hits" in only its second month. (Click here to view more detailed statistics.) This site is fairly modest in design, but very useful to anybody looking for New Zealand websites. It is also simple, loads quickly and is easy to navigate. A fair amount of work has obviously gone into the design of this site, but even more importantly we put a lot of thought and effort into its promotion.
First, the selection of the domain name was an important success factor. If you were an internet user looking for a listing of websites in the New Zealand companies domain (www.companyname.co.nz) what URL would you try typing in first before resorting to a search engine? According to our research a surprisingly high number of people 'surf the net' this way.
People in America may never have heard of a particular New Zealand company name-even if it is well known in our country. All they know is they are looking for 'New Zealand widget manufacturers.' Which are they more likely to try as their first educated guess? Will it be www.widgets.co.nz or "www.thenameofourbignewzealandwidgetcompany.co.nz"? So generic domain names are one good tip. They are also relatively inexpensive, so why not have two-a generic one and your company name-both linked to the one website? (If there isn't an available generic name for your industry, not to worry. Click here to inquire about listing in the generic site at websites.co.nz)
Second, (for now at least) money can not buy top search engine rankings. Automated "Submission wizards" notwithstanding, only human effort in choosing metatags and keywords and an understanding of how the different engines work can consistently achieve high placings. Last time we checked we found a relatively simple site we have been promoting listed in number 1 spots in several major search engines for relevant keywords and in the top 2 or 3 in many others. An Amazon.com affiliate website, expensive design features are few (Amazon.com handle the E-Commerce side of things very well.) Yet as far as users of "the #1 rated Search Engine" are concerned, this site stands out as the number one match, and the sites of most of the "major" New Zealand companies are either distant also-rans or can't be found at all.
This example highlights both an opportunity and a challenge for businesses seeking to set up an online presence. The opportunity is for smaller organizations to work smarter and to beat the bigger companies either by becoming experts in online promotion themselves or, if they don't have the time (and who does these days?) by finding out about employing reasonably priced specialists like ourselves who understand the online medium.
The challenge is for smaller companies to realise that they need to budget for the promotion of their site as well as for the design of it, and for bigger organizations to break the mentality that simply by paying large sums of money to an even larger marketing company, that this will ensure success online. It won't! A website is absolutely useless if nobody can find it.
In the "offline" world the largest marketing budget invariably has the biggest impact in terms of name recognition and sales. The relatively new online medium just doesn’t work that way; and it is not surprising that traditional marketers do not generally understand it-the world wide web does not fit the usual marketing paradigms of print and broadcast media, that are still the main focus of marketing courses at tertiary colleges and universities. One quality the offline and online world do share is that success is all about getting your message to as many of the right people as possible. One main difference is that on the web people tend to come looking for you, whereas in the offline world companies simply try to 'push' their message at people. Pull vs push is just one major difference between online promotion and offline promotion. Don't even think about trying to "push" your message at people on the net, either through bulk Email or inappropriate Newsgroup submissions (otherwise known as "Spamming".) All you will succeed in doing is upsetting people.
Investigating the availability of a generic domain name and applying extra effort to preparing search engine submissions are only two small elements of a successful online marketing strategy, but both can easily make the difference between a popular site and a complete disaster. Amazing as it seems, companies that have spent good money for professional web designers to construct their sites often cannot seem to see the value in the proper promotion of their finished masterpieces. There is no need to make the same mistake yourself. If you need any help just drop me a line.
Article by Steve Prentice of Web Sites Limited, a New Zealand website promotion and Construction company. You can fill in this online form to find out how little it would cost you to have Steve personally promote your own website.
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