Success with Informational Sites – Part 4

Posted by Heather Villa, CMA, MBA, MSM on October 22, 2010 in: Business - Plain & Simple, Business Marketing, Tips in 10

In the last three Tips In Ten article, I’ve talked about informational sites. Informational sites are sites that you set up where you don’t explicitly sell but rather you provide as a resource for your target audience. These sites can help to position your business as an expert, reaching a wider audience through higher potential search engine results than your regular (commercial) website can achieve.

I showed you how to select a keyword rich, search engine friendly domain name and how to select a content management system that you can use to add content. And, I showed you how to create a plan that you can use to add content to your site.

In this article, the last article on the topic of informational sites, I’m going to fill in some final gaps so you can create information sites that are successful and can help grow your business over the long term. This issue is very much a “pick up the pieces” type of issue where I tie up some loose ends so that you have everything you need.

Your niche

When you are creating your niche, work hard to narrow it down to a tightly defined group. Here’s the tricky part: You need to narrow it down so that the group is focused enough to be able to be targeted appropriately, but you need it to still be a large enough group that there will be a consistent supply of content about that topic.

I can’t give you an exact description of how narrowly to define your target market, but I’ve found this rule of thumb to be helpful: If there’s a magazine published for that group of people then it’s about the right size for you. Find a list of trade journals and publications for your niche to see if it has a group large enough to merit having a magazine. If it does, you’re on track. To give you an example, if you are creating an information site for people who knit with blue yarn, you’ve probably narrowed the field too much. But if you are creating an information site for people who knit, you’re good!

Building a following

The marketing you do drives people to your site but ultimately you want those people to come back again and again and to see you as an expert so that they will contact you to buy from you. So, once you have people on your site, you want to create a following of those people to entice them to take an interest in what you have to say. There are a few ways to do this:

  • Invite them to leave comments and then interact with those comments (in a positive way, of course!)
  • Invite them to have their name posted on the website in the blogroll to link back to their site. That will give them a sense of ownership over the site.
  • Invite them to submit guest articles to your blog. This eases the burden of writing off of your shoulders and broadens the “voice” of the blog. It also encourages more backlinking because they will likely link to your blog after that.
  • Make sure you offer RSS feeds. Many blogging platforms will do this automatically for you.
  • You might also want to offer a newsletter or ezine. This helps to create an audience of pre-qualified contacts (prospects!) but it also means a lot of extra work and expense for you so make sure it’s worth it before you put in all the effort.

Obviously, you will want to link back to your business’ website so that your newly generated traffic (who respects you!) can find you.

More search engine optimization

I mentioned that these sites are search engine friendly, partly because of their informational (non-commercial) nature and partly because of the keyword domain name. But there are other ways that you should optimize the site for search engines:

  • Make sure that you have at least one keyword in every title.
  • Throughout each blog include subheadings and make sure that each one contains a keyword.
  • Add tags and categories and make sure they are keywords.
  • Aim to write naturally and then go back after and add a couple more keywords throughout the content. A keyword density of 4% is an ideal density but it’s not very readable for humans so if you write first and add a couple keywords after, you’ll probably end up with 2% or 3% which will be good.
  • Link to previous blog posts you’ve written (this is called “internal linking”).
  • Make sure the links, alt-tags, and anchor text for other parts of your blog (such as graphics, outgoing links, etc.) contain the keywords you want to hit.

Writing content

The content you create needs to be helpful to your readers. That’s the only way they will come back again for more. That doesn’t mean it has to be long but it should be long enough to provide value. Aim for every article to be between 250 and 1000 words. It can vary in length, depending on the subject matter. If you have a choice, you may find it easier and more effective to write five 250 word articles – one every weekday. That will ensure rich content for your clients and can help you to stay motivated through the process without taking up too much of your time.

Some bloggers take the easy way out and just republish articles that were posted on other article distribution sites. Google may “punish” your site for doing that, though, because they are working hard at addressing issues of duplicate content.

If you start running out of ideas, ask your audience what they want to read about!

One trick that works really well

One trick that I’ve found can work well to create a consistent attraction to your site is to release regular reports. Make these brief, downloadable pdf files. They don’t have to be long and you don’t have to publish them really frequently. But a five page report every quarter should be sufficient. Choose a topic that is of interest to your audience and explore it in-depth, offering advice and some valuable ideas, and perhaps linking back to your blog. Not only are pdf’s indexable by search engines, they also help to contribute to your credibility.

Two success tips

Success Tip # 1: Start and don’t stop. Your information site can do really well if you work hard at it and don’t give up. And, the longer it remains online and the more valuable content that gets added, the more successful it becomes and each success grows upon the next. The secret, though, is not to give up!

Success Tip # 2: Once you have some momentum with your first site, start up a second one. Run that one in much the same way. Over time, that one will gain its own momentum and then you can start a third… and a fourth… and a fifth… etc. Eventually, you may not need to market anywhere else because of the volume of customers that you get from your information sites.

Wrap-up

Information sites can offer you very good business growth opportunities. By following what you’ve learned in this Tips In Ten issue and the three issues that came before, you will have all the pieces you need to be successful. The only other thing you’ll need to do is mixing in diligent consistency!

Heather Recommends:

If you are a coach, freelancer, or entrepreneur who wants to succeed like a pro, I can help.

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