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Targeting "Right" Visitors

By Amrit Hallan
Posted Friday, June 25, 2004

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"If you don't know where you are going, then it doesn't matter
which road you take, does it?"

-- Cheshire Cat in Alice in the Wonderland.
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A few days back a client was sitting with me when I connected to
the Internet and launched my browser. He was precariously
surprised to see that the default page of the browser was not my
web site, but a general purpose portal.

When I asked him why I should have my own web site as my default
page, he said, "In this way, at least you'll be generating hits
for your site if nobody else does so."

And then, after a philosophical cogitation, he raised an ominous
doubt rapt with alarm, "If you are not making an effort to
generate hits for your own site, how will you do it for mine?"

Luckily I was able to explain to him that a tsunami of hits on
the web site does not in anyway bespeaks of a flourishing online
business. Me visiting my own site 6-7 times a day does not make
sense because I'm not doing business with myself. What matters
is, those people should visit my web site who can make use of my
services - people who can be my prospective clients, and
subsequently, clients.

Generating hits is one of the major concerns of the newbie web
site owners. They want to see the numbers increasing
exponentially - 200 hits per day, 500 hits per day, ... 10,00,000
hits per day. And then they get depression attacks when these
hits do not generate a single sale.

Thousands of random hits, or in a refined manner, visits, are
important for those web sites who want to earn advertisement
revenue. Ok, even for those, just hits don't work out. They have
to be "Targeted Hits". Accidental arrivals have zero value, or if
you are very optimistic, a little more than zero value.

50 targeted hits are more precious than 5,000 untargeted hits,
because there is greater probability of them turning into
business. Targeted visitors visit your site because they are
actually looking for a site like yours, and once they are on your
site, it's up to the presentation of your site whether they do
business with you or not. Even if the targeted visitor doesn't do
business on the first visit, there is a big chance that she/he
would bookmark your page, and subscribe to your product
information publication or newsletter.

Untargeted visitors, on the other hand, needlessly consume the
precious bandwidth. They stumble upon your site through some
ill-conceived banner or wrongly defined keyword, or due to their
own state of confusion. They are not looking for your sort of
service or product. They are just giving you false notions and
hope by swelling up your counter.

The primordial step towards attracting a target audience is,
defining the goal of your web site. Is the web site a general
information source for your existing
clients/customers/employees/suppliers/relatives/friends/enemies..
. , or you plan to attract new people?. Once this is realized,
put yourself in the place of your prospective user. How would you
find your sort of service on the Net? How would you like to use a
web site similar to yours? Talk to your friends, accumulate and
analyze their feedback. Let your existing clients use a prototype
of your web site, and encourage them to give some constructive
feedback, in lieu of some incentive if necessary.

To make sure that you attract only those visitors who would like
to carry out transactions with you, you have to take into
consideration the following points prior to the design and
construction of your web site:

1. Do you know what segment of the population would find your
web content interesting? What economical, political and social
background are they going to come from? What's going to be the
gender, and the age range, and the educational qualification?

2. Are you aware of their surfing habits, their Internet
awareness level? Do you know what's the frequency of their
business transactions through the Internet? Are they first time
service buyers or seasoned buyers?

3. What's the hardware/software your audience is expected to use
while logging on to your site? What's their surfing speed and
connection speed? Do they have to pay a lot while surfing? Many
surfers don't surf with ease because they have to bear heavy
telephone connection cost in order to use the Net as in Europe
and Asia.

It's not sometimes technically and logically feasible to
accommodate all the points mentioned above, but as one evolves as
a webmaster, things can continuously be improved, according to
the feedback garnered from the users, day by day, week by week,
month by month.

After you've designed and planned out your web site, you can take
the following steps to get the traffic of your preference:

1. Define your keywords properly for the search engines. You
don't have to incorporate the entire thesaurus for your product.
The more you narrow down, the more target audience you'll get.
Limit yourself to 6-7 keywords if you want to target a highly
focussed group. You can also do keyword bidding at various pay
search engines like RealNetworks and GoTo.

2. Formulate a concise and to-the-point description of your
index page. Try to include words, in a manner that the sentence
makes sense, that might help search engines find your site.

3. In directories like yahoo!, always choose the right heading
to add your URL. Don't think that the more general heading you
choose, the more visitors you attract. Remember it's not the
quantity that matters, it's the quality. So go to the lowest
level before submitting your URL.

4. Try to include the major searchable words in the first
paragraph of your web site content. Many search engines read
first 250-300 words of a page to index it.

5. I've noticed search tools like Google use the title of the
page to give it recognition. But the recommendation by the gurus
of web development is that the title should be the name of your
company. Still, since Google spiders all the pages if your web
site even if you submit just the index page, you can play around
with the titles of the other pages. Just make sure that from
every page, there is a link to you main page, and the link should
be attractive enough.

6. A compelling signature that accompanies your e-mail messages
many times generates useful visits. It should constitute of a
two-line, pithy description of your business, and the link to
your URL.

7. Although this I wouldn't suggest to people who have to pay
for the online time according to the usage hours, you can look
for various message boards and bulletin boards to spread the word
around about your business. Don't outright start your media
blitzkrieg though. Introduce yourself first, participate in
various discussions and debates, and during on of the
interactions, you can tell about your business.

I hope these steps help you generate hits that in return generate
business for you. For any sort of design consulting, you can
write to me at mailto:amrit@bytesworth.com

About the Author
Amrit Hallan is a freelance web designer. For all web site
development and web promotion needs, you can get in touch with
him at amrit@bytesworth.com. For more such articles, visit
(http://www.bytesworth.com/articles) You can subscribe to his
newsletter [BYTESWORTH REACHOUT] on Web Designing Tips & Tricks by sending a
blank email at bytesworth-subscribe@topica.com