Location! Location! Location!

In the traditional world of retail, location is everything. Online, INFORMATION is. Information serves the same role as location, which is to get traffic into your “store”.

That’s why it’s important to make publishing blog posts or articles that relate to your core business a priority. Put yourself in the mindset of someone who’s looking for products or services like yours.

How would YOU find you online?

What other interests might you have that are related? What websites or blogs appeal to you? If you did research in order to learn about your industry, where did you get your information?Content Marketing Image from upquarks.com by Rocky John Tayaban - License: Creative Commons

The sad fact of the matter is that almost nobody is going to type in the exact name of your business, and most potential customers aren’t even consciously looking.

You need to think about how your target market finds information, and what kinds of information they’re likely to search for. Think about showing up in places most businesses can’t, spots your customers frequent but your competition doesn’t. Imagine if you could set up shop wherever there’s a warm lead and be in multiple places at once. Imagine great free advertising that runs forever.

To do this you’ll need a clear idea of just who your customers are, or a decent hunch you can refine with hard data through trial and error. (Which is a topic for another article).

Then build a site that caters to that audience, and write targeted posts centered around keywords related to your topic. Write enough to cover each topic well and don’t worry too much about length, but don’t write a book in a post; break larger topics down into manageable chunks.

This will make your blog or site begin showing up in search engines in more than just the obvious places. It’s all about findability.

The quality of your content is what will keep them coming back

So write with warmth, humor, and authority. Once people are drawn to your site, you can direct them to posts that talk about the experience of providing your product or service, industry best practices, insider secrets, or other means of introducing your work in the course of talking about something else. This is called “pre-selling your audience” and it primes their interest.

By the time you even mention a product of your own, your customer should think of you as a trusted online friend and adviser, or at least an authority in your area of expertise.

Provide something valuable.

When you show people that your aim is to provide something useful and valuable to them, and that you know what you’re talking about, you’re in the sweet spot. They’ll learn to trust your motivations and possibly feel a sense of gratitude, as well as curiosity about what this obviously canny individual’s paid work is like. After all if the free stuff’s this good, the stuff you’re charging for must be excellent!

That’s when they’ll click on the “contact us” link that’s been hovering in a discreet yet prominent location throughout their browsing experience on your site.

That’s when they’ll subscribe to your mailing list, eagerly await your next article and tell their friends about you. That’s when they’ll like your Facebook page and actually pay attention to your posts on their feed.

That’s when you get a following.

Now when you supplement your efforts on your site with more traditional marketing tactics, they’ll actually work long-term instead of just providing a flash-in-the-pan boost in traffic or sales, because they’re a part of a larger vision instead of the whole show.

So when people click on those links or scan that code or type in the URL and go to your site they won’t be immediately turned off by an obnoxious in-your-face marketing message.

They’ll be drawn in by a wealth of free information that they can use.

You can also go to other people’s blogs and make relevant comments that include links to your own site without getting flagged as a spammer, participate in discussions on public sites and do the same, join Groups on Facebook and Google and comment with links to your site for more details. Put your URL in your forum and email signatures, and publish links on your social networking feeds to your own latest articles and other people’s work that may be of interest to your followers.

A consistent effort in this area will not only produce higher search engine rankings, more traffic, and more user engagement in your site, it will give you a wealth of data about your audience and its interests – data which you can use to further target and refine your pitch, and ultimately to convert browsers into buyers.

More on that later.