Engaging Website Visitors – It Takes A Community

As an affiliate marketing student and online entrepreneur, I have been taught that website visitor comments and engagement improve a website’s ranking within search engines (SEO). That rationale makes sense to me, but pulling input from site visitors can be challenging, especially in the initial launch of a website. Personally, I seldom take the time to give my comments — even on websites that have been very helpful to me.

How do ‘the best’ do it?

So if you look at the highest traffic websites in the world, you will find they have either mastered the art of website visitor engagement or had an authoritative presence before going online. Some examples are:

  • Google – It has now become a verb in our society, meaning to ‘search online.’ Google also offers a variety of products that link and support each other. Their strategy seems to be to ‘offer it all.’ This is not something that newcomers could easily mimic.
  • YouTube – ALL content is provided by users/visitors. You can’t have a much higher engagement level.
  • Facebook – Again, ALL content is provided by users/visitors.

  • Wikipedia – Again and again, ALL content is provided by users/visitors.
  • Yahoo – Diversity of product and they are a content aggregator.
  • Craigslist – Classified ad site where users provide ALL the content.
  • CNN – Already established brand as news provider through television.

  • Amazon – The great shopping aggregator.

Notice they all have icons that help identify them as community. The list goes on and on.

How does a beginner even get started?

So if one wanted to start a site about fly fishing and was fairly knowledgeable, but not well-known; how would they begin?

Of course, they would share the knowledge and expertise that they had and then seek out online marketing opportunities. Still, visitor engagement would be slow and not at a level to insure marketing success. They would probably attempt to chase traffic with even more of their own content. I think this is a fairly common approach to affiliate marketing and the reason huge successes are relatively rare.

So what is missing? Nothing had been done to create an online community and/or turn website visitors into content contributors.

Once a website becomes a community, traffic grows exponentially and marketing opportunities abound.

How is a community created?

  1. As you create your website, be thinking ‘community’ right out of the gate! Your own content has to be enough in the beginning, but it won’t be forever. Almost all people want to be part of something.
  2. Create incentives for visitors/users to provide thoughtful, valued content. Sharing the wealth almost always pays.
  3. Every marketing opportunity should point to your website; social media, email and personal interactions with others should scream “COMMUNITY!”
  4. Always look at least one step ahead as your community evolves — because it assuredly will. This anticipatory response will help insure that you don’t lose ground you have already worked so hard to gain.

I believe most affiliate marketers would say they had attained success when their websites or portals are finally viewed as a community.

Please share you comments and opinions below.

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