May 03, 2006
What Is Online Marketing? - Part 2 of 6: The Web Site By Richard Hoy
Last week, I wrote about the "core truths" of online marketing:
1.) The Internet is a collection of niches.
This week, I'm going to elaborate on the tactics that enable you to do these things.
The starting point of any online marketing campaign is the web site. You need to have a place around which your prospective buyers can congregate.
For an author, the web site really serves as a way to build a readership to which you can later pitch your book, and future books. Why is building a readership important? Because the person who has the relationship with the customer has the control. Amazon.com is not a powerhouse in the publishing industry because they sell books, but because they have millions of customers to which they can market and sell those books. In other words, Amazon.com has a direct relationship with millions of book buyers.
What you want to do is try to create a similar, though admittedly smaller scale, relationship with the potential book buyers who visit your site.
The first step is to understand the type of web site visitor you want to attract. You can do that by answering these questions:
1.) Who is my target audience?
2.) What makes my book (or product/service) unique?
Let's use a real example. Say your book is about bonsai trees - which for you that don't know is the "art of growing dwarfed, ornamentally shaped trees or shrubs in small shallow pots or trays." (Thanks, Dictionary.com).
So, the answer question number 1 - who is the target audience - are people interested in growing bonsai trees.
Let's say that, in answer to question number 2, your book has specific chapters on using unusual species to create bonsai trees - like maple or lemon trees. It's those chapters that make your book different than every other bonsai tree book on the market.
Take these answers and translate them into keyword phrases people might use if they were looking for information on those topics.
Now that we have an idea of what the site should be about, it's time to refine the type of information we're going to have on the site. That means we need to find out what phrases people are entering in search engines to find information about bonsai trees.
Here is a free way to find it. Go to:
UPDATE: the free tool above is no longer available. Use Google's tool instead:
It won't show you hard numbers, but it will show you estimated search volume as a bar graph.
Enter the phrase "bonsai tree", and you'll get the list
15460 bonsai tree
The number before each phrase means the number of times that phrase was searched on the previous month. The source of this information is Overture, which is a service that lets you buy advertising based on keywords people enter into search engines. Overture's coverage is approximately 60% of all the searches done online, so these phrases are fairly representative of what people are searching for regarding this topic.
Normally this data is used for making decisions on what keywords to buy on Overture's service. However, we can use it (for free) as the basis for deciding what information your web site's content should contain. And remember, niche is better. So instead of writing about "bonsai tree care" write about "olive bonsai trees" or some other niche in the bonsai category. There may be fewer people searching on that term, but that also means there is less competition from other web sites - increasing the chances that your article will be found first. Plus, remember, we identified above that what makes the book in our example unique is the fact that it has chapters on using unusual species to create bonsai trees. So, other phrases from the list like "bonsai grape tree", "bonsai orange tree", and "lemon bonsai tree" would also make great content for your site. The list above confirms people are looking for that type of information.
If you have some money to spend on this kind of research, I recommend using Wordtracker - which is a fee-based keyword research tool. It's more comprehensive that the free Overture tool. And while Wordtracker costs $257 per year, they sell passes allowing access for one day ($7.73), one week ($25.75), and one month ($51.51).
Now that you have an idea of what to write about to attract certain bonsai enthusiasts to your website, you need a way to actually create the web site. There are literally volumes on the nuts and bolts of building a web site. The subject is greater than can be encapsulated in this article. And, the technical minutia of putting together a web site overwhelms many people.
Frankly, how you do build the site isn't as important as the content you put into it. Good content usually trumps mediocre design.
But you still need some way to publish a site and my recommendation is to use blog software or a blog service. I've written about this before, and rather than elaborate here, I'll just give you the links to those past articles:
One potential drawback of having a blog on a free service is that you can't have it under your own domain (a web address you pick). Hosting services that make you pay for a blog usually have a provision that lets you use your own domain. But as I point out, Blogs Are Still Useful Even If They Aren't Under Their Own Domain.
An example of an author doing it right is our own Tim Leffel, author of The World's Cheapest Destinations. Tim's using the blog service my company, Booklocker, provides free to its POD authors. He's generating enough traffic to not only create sales for his book, but to make money from advertising (of which we let authors keep 100%). His blog can be found here: http://travel.booklocker.com/.
Next week, we'll tackle the subject of search engine and directory
Articles In The Series:
After years of making other people money in exchange for vague promises of Internet-based wealth, Richard Hoy struck out on his own in the Spring of 2000. Together with his wife, they formed BookLocker - a company that provides a low-cost, turn-key publishing and sales environment for independent authors. In addition, the company owns WritersWeekly.com, offering freelance job listings, new paying markets and more every Wednesday.
Feel free to direct any comments on this article to: richard-at-booklocker.com
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