Getting Noticed on the Web – A Case for Good Content

Not only do your site visitors make value judgments when they first hit your site, but, for effective publicity to get off the ground, your site must first provide valuable content. What motivates your site visitors, other content producers, and search engines to refer to you in the first place?

I'll start our analysis by asking a very fundamental question.

How Do You Most Often Find Out About Web Sites?

Let’s mine our own web experiences to come up with some answers.

  1. You use a search engine (let’s face it, chances are you use Google).
  2. You get the web address from a web site or other source like a TV show or newspaper.
  3. You receive the web address in a message from a friend or coworker.

Before You See a Link, Someone Has Judged It for You

What motivates search engines to list you? What motivates another content producer or web master to provide a link? What motivates someone you know to send you a web address?

The core motivation in all three cases is valuable content. All three cases make a value judgment about that content – is it good or bad, is it valuable or not?

Example 1: Search Google for "tips on public speaking"

Suppose you are scheduled to give a presentation next week. You feel nervous so you search Google for “tips on public speaking”.

Here is a screen shot of the top two results:

Top Google search results for tips on public speaking.

Both of these web sites contain very useful information for someone who is looking for advice on public speaking. But, what is Google’s motivation for showing them to you?

Google relies on value judgments made by the web community at large.

Google orders the results by how popular they are on the web. The “how popular” part means that Google actually figured out how many other web pages point to these pages. The rationale seems to be that if the web passes judgment on a page as being worthwhile, then Google will place it above others.

This effectively passes the value judgment on to the web masters out there who place links to other web sites. So how do web masters make this judgment?

Example 2: The Content Producer Filter

Pretend for a moment that you are a web master for a retail news web site. Your audience is composed of managers and sales representatives in all kinds of retail settings.

Your job is to provide resources that will be beneficial to your audience, so you decide to make a web page with a list of web links. You hope that your audience members will find the links page useful, bookmark it, and return often.

You proceed to research existing web resources. You review many sites, but you only select the ones that you feel offer the most useful information. After all, the success of your links page relies on the quality of the pages you link to.

One of those pages happens to be Lenny Laskowski’s FREE monthly speaking tips web page because Lenny has a series of 30 detailed articles on things from “How to Overcome Speaking Anxiety” to “Hints for Eliminating Visual or Verbal Clutter”. You think this page offers information that can help people make better sales presentations.

Example 3: The Email Referral

As you are reading Laskowski’s article on “Your Telephone Speaking Voice”, you remember that a friend of yours runs a small business and her phone skills are critical to her success.

So, you copy the web address and paste it into an email message to her. You add a quick note:

Hi Linda, here are some tips on answering the phone and leaving messages. Thought you might be interested. How’s the biz?

And you send it.

Your motivation in sending it as that you think your friend will find it helpful. You wouldn’t send her a page that didn’t have anything useful on it, or, even worse, had dangerously misleading information.

Only the Fit Survive – Is Your Web Content Fit?

At the core of each of these examples is the idea that someone, somewhere has passed judgment on the content. Whether you like it or not, you web site is being judged by the value it offers to the people who visit it.

Do visitors to your site…

  • Take part in an online discussion?
  • Buy your product or service?
  • Bookmark your site and decide to come back?
  • Sign up for your newsletter?
  • Link to your site from their own site?
  • Email your web address to a friend?

Or do they take a quick look and hit the BACK button, never to return?

Web site publicity can generate visits to your web site, but how people react when they get to your site is the important thing.

Here are some things to keep in mind as you consider the value of your web content and how to get noticed online.

  • Find out what your audience wants to know about. What do they do each day? What interests them and what concerns them?
  • Getting noticed takes time and diligence. It may take months for search engines to index your site, even when you suggest your site to them. Even if you don't see immediate results, keep generating valuable content.
  • Once you have valuable content, seek out other web sites that share your audience members. Find ways to get listed on those sites.This might mean sharing some of your content in exchange for a link. It might mean providing a link back to their site. Post something useful to related online forums or email lists and leave your web address with your post.
  • Use email newsletters. Make them so good that people want to forward the email to other people. Suggest that they do so, and include links to your web site in each email.