Tons of small businesses spend $1,000's building the "perfect" website, but never generate much website traffic... why is that?
Mainly, because most website owners don't know they have to promote the site... they were "wowed" into building a beautiful site and told that they would get a ton of website traffic automatically from the search engines with little to no effort. Unfortunately, nothing could be farther from the truth!
Truth is, a website has to be promoted just like a regular business does in order for people to find it. This is especially true in the "online world", as no one accidentally finds your website, like people can stumble across a previously unknown store in a shopping plaza.
That being said... YES, search engines can bring you alot of free website traffic, but you need to give then a reason to do so.
Here's how the search engine game works:
1) Search engines can take up to 8 months to find your website... and even when they do, it's not guaranteed that they will add you to their listings. Even if they do list you, you may find yourself on page 5,000,000 or so.
2) Search engines are looking for websites that have quality content, basically anything that is highly relevant to us who use their search engine.
Imagine if you did a search on Google and the top 20 results were websites that looked like a 5 year old created them... They were sloppy, had broken links, tons of misspelled words, etc...
If your search engine only gave you links to crappy websites that didn't help you, you would switch to another search engine, wouldn't you? Of course you would!
So Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc... are going to list the best websites at the top of their rankings. The search engines make money from paying advertisers... so the engines have to provide the best quality websites at the top of their search pages in order to keep our attention and keep us coming back. Otherwise their advertisers will spend their money elsewhere!
So... What Criteria Is Google Looking For?
In a nutshell, search engines use a variety of factors to determine website placements, but the most important factor is how long a visitor stays at your website. If visitors come and then leave your site within 5 minutes or less, that tells the search engines that your site didn't help you find what you were looking for.
This effect is called the "bounce rate"... the higher of a bounce rate you have, the lower you get listed on the search pages. The lower you get listed, the less chances you have of being found by the majority of people searching for your type of business.
And because most people never search beyond the first 2-3 pages of listings for whatever keyword or phrase they looked up... most websites listed on page 4 and beyond never see any worthwhile website traffic from the search engines.
This is the problem with all the SEO hype you may have heard about... SEO or Search Engine Optimization is the online marketing practice whereby if your website contains the right words for your niche, then the search engines will list you higher. On the surface this may be true, however, there are hundreds of thousands of SEO folks all optimizing websites according to the same keywords and creating alot of garbage content to do so.
Thankfully the search-engines are cleaning up this problem and learning how to determine which sites offer truly helpful advice versus which sites are creating garbage that needs to get ranked way lower or unlisted altogether.
So for us smaller businesses who don't have huge advertising budgets, we MUST provide interesting original articles and / or videos that keep people on our website for at least 5 minutes, preferably 10-15 minutes or longer!