The Importance Of A Bridge Site
If you are like most Internet entrepreneurs, you start to collect different websites or web presences that are useful for generating traffic back to your site. Some of these places, like Digg, Facebook, or article archives can be a great resource in advertising your sales website on the Internet to specific demographics. However, many third-party sites have specific rules about the types of pages that people can use in their comments, their articles, and/or biographical information. Ezine articles, for instance, won’t allow you to link back to a sales page, and yet, this is at the heart of Internet marketing. You wouldn’t be out there, if you weren’t trying to get someone to buy something from you. So, what do you do?
That’s where you start to realize that there are ways to get around the rules that others put in place to limit your Internet marketing activities, and bridge sites are an important strategy to exploit. Even when a third-party doesn’t ban you for linking to a sales page, there are also other times when it’s just jarring to go from a link, say like in Facebook, to a sales page. In some ways, social networkers will judge such a move as “too commercial” and you can lose credibility in your authenticity that way. So, again, you want to implement a bridge site to smooth the way.
Why Blogs Are Ideal Bridge Sites
Web logs, a.k.a. “blogs,” are an excellent way to bridge from a site like a user-interactive social networking site to a commercial sales page. That’s because they tend to be a mix of both. You have your daily blogs that you post, that are typically informal, casual in tone, and friendly, and you have links that are put on a blog that are expected to link to more commercial endeavors. The casual style is much in keeping with the style of social networking, and so it is less jarring to people who can be harvested from these sites and do not realize that they have begun to be marketed.
This gives you an edge because there is less buyer’s resistance on this format. Also, as long as you own the blog, you can link to anything that you want to link to, so that makes it ideal as a bridge site. And, the major search engines love to crawl blogs frequently because of the way content is updated more regularly, so you get a wider audience.
In addition, you can put links in your blog posts that send people to different sales pages. You can set up a blog anonymously or with a pseudonym, and
thus, no one has to know that the links you promote are from your own website. Once someone visits your blog, they should have an easy to remember URL that is all yours.
Blogs can be addictive because the information should be updated once daily, if not more. As long as the information is informative and entertaining, you can get people to subscribe to your blog. This converts them from an anonymous viewer to someone who is now basically entering your sales funnel. You can then begin to offer them some deals or introduce them to the product lineups on other websites you own, that can convert them from subscriber to customer.
WordPress Is The Gold Standard
So, now you see the value in having a blog as an intermediary from third-party sites with massive traffic streams, to get potential customers into your sales pipeline. But, where do you start? WordPress is the gold standard of easy to implement blogs, and there are even some hosts that will put a site for you, which you end up customizing. However, there is a bit of confusion with WordPress that is important to clarify.
The WordPress.org is a shareware software package that anyone can use for free. Some commercial people took that software and built WordPress.com, the .com extension signifying it is a commercial endeavor. That’s a community of bloggers with WordPress blogs with limited features and heavy-handed guidelines.
Some of the guidelines on WordPress.com don’t allow you advertise the way you would want to do on a Internet marketing blog. In particular, you can’t make any money off Google ads from your blog using WordPress.com. So, you want to make sure that you are using WordPress.org hosted on a site where the rights to add Google ads to the blog is not banned. That way you can make money through advertising too and you get all the features that are important to develop your Internet marketing blog.
Some Plug Ins You Want To Use
WordPress features can be added through the installation of third-party software called “plug-ins.” There are many different plug-ins that are beneficial to the Internet marketer as there are numerous developers who are interested in pushing this market forward. The following list is far from comprehensive, but it gives you a good idea of some plug-ins you definitely want to get and install:
- Akismet This plug-in is a spam filter and can save you loads of time moderating comments. It follows a database that is regularly updated of known spammers, so you don’t have to read every single comment that comes to your blog. It will automatically filter the spam out and put it in a spam folder where you can look at it at your leisure.
- Adsense Deluxe This plug-in lets you even add Adsense code directly into your blog posts, not just the sidebar.
- DoFollow If you have a “do follow” blog you are more likely to attract visitors and blog commentators. That’s because no follow blogs do not give credit for a backlink, which is why many people post in the first place.
- Email Users If you are going to use your subscription list as an email contact list for your Internet marketing activities, you will need to add this plug-in. It lets you send email to your registered users.
- Gregarious This helps you to connect to other site by giving the option for social bookmarking posts to places like Digg, Reddit, Facebook, and more.
- WordPress e-commerce You can add a shopping cart to your blog with this particular plug-in.
- All In One SEO Pack A “must have” plug-in for Internet marketers as it optimizes your pages to get great search engine page results. It’s a great way to attract a lot of attention from search engines with minimal time investment.
- Subscribe To Comments This plug-in helps people to track a comment stream on a particular post and keeps them coming back to your blog.
Grabbing Traffic From Third Party Sites
Once you’ve set up the blog and understand how you will take people from there to your website pages, either via links in your blog posts or sidebar, you still need to get people to visit your blog from other third-party sites. And, which third-party sites should you try to get a web presence on? Let’s go over a few of the different places you can begin to cultivate a web presence for the purpose of grabbing traffic, and how to use each one with your blog to lead people from that area to your own.
Once you’ve set up a blog, the natural place to start looking for traffic is other more high profile blogs in your market niche. If you don’t know who these people are, you need to visit Technorati.com and put in a few keywords that are in your market niche to determine who the big players are. You should make it a point to build a list of blogs that you can add to your blog roll and see if by doing so, they add you to their blog roll. The blog roll is a list of blogs that other bloggers recommend and by getting added to a blog roll on a popular blog, you’ll automatically get more traffic from the target niche that you’ve selected.
Another way to get more traffic from blogs is to comment on the top profile blogs and leave a link to a blog post that addresses some aspect of the post. This way you play off on an already popular topic and you contribute to the conversation too. It’s not considered spam to put your URL in a comment if it points to something that contributes to the conversation, not just a sales page. Again, you are using the bridge of your website to grab eyeballs and then once they get to your blog, you can market them there.
Finally, you can also go to blog communities like WordPress.com and look on their featured stories and categories. Find one or two blog postings that you can reply to and contribute to the conversation. Once these blog posts are put on their featured page, you will get a lot of traffic if you post something interesting with a link back to your own blog. Since you’re dealing with people who already to subscribe to blogs, it’s a natural for increasing your blog subscribers too.
Pay Attention To The Audience
Since you are linking in from various places on the web, you don’t want to just have a standard page where everyone gets pushed to. That would be like having a sales page that just tries to cram a marketing offer down people’s throats without bothering to even find out what they’re there for. However, once you visit some third-party sites, you’ll start to get a good idea of the type of audience that they attract, and can write a blog post that will appeal to that audience specifically. That way, when you insert a link to go back to your blog, it will go to the permalink that has that particular post.
This will make setting up different links to different pages in your web log easier and customized to the particular audience you are trying to attract.
Categorize and Tag Your Posts
Once you do get a visitor, they should land on the post that appeals to them as part of a larger audience (if you did this right). But, after that, they will want to check out other posts in your blog that might be relevant to them. That’s why you want to categorize your posts as well as tag them. In addition, the tagging will set up indexes that search engines use to determine what your post is about and thus rank it.
The major categories that you choose can be displayed on your sidebar by going to the plug-in area and adding that in. You can even put the categories in a cloud format which is more visually appealing than a list. If you don’t have a search box, you will need to add one to make it easy for readers to find different topics too, that may not be categorized or indexed properly, for whatever reason.
Decide On A Layout Good For Advertising
Many people spend too much time trying to get just the right look for their blog without considering the fact that the layout may leave little room for advertising, the main reason you need a bridge. So, instead of focusing on clean, one-column, formats that are more like newspapers with stories, try to find at least a two or three column format that will let you put links to other pages, embed images or buttons for your referral and affiliate programs too. You want to optimize the layout for the best screen placement for your ads. That should be the top portion of the screen as well as the right and left edges at the top of the screen. If your ads end up at the bottom of your post or web log, people will easily miss them.
Decide What Marketing Programs You Promote
Some people want to do Google Adsense to try to bring in money, but it can also give the blog a cluttered look. Others find that they make more money and find customization easier with Adbrite programs. There are so many different advertising programs that you will have to decide which you are using, if any.
Next, you will have to decide which products and programs you have on other websites that will fit into the market niche you are promoting in your blog. You can have one blog per website as a bridge, or pick a wider niche and try to get two different website offers on the same blog. For instance, say you have two websites: one you sell clothing and in another you sell jewelry. Your blog can be about designer or luxury items and include posts on both. That way, it is easier to bridge from places like Facebook back to two websites, using one bridge web log. You don’t want to create multiple blogs that need to be updated daily each time you put up a new website. The ideal would be to combine what you can in existing blogs to offer these products and services where they make sense in a larger market niche.
Offer Incentives To Bridge To Website
People have become desensitized to advertising, so even sending them to your web log first, it won’t make them click the links there. If your ads look too commercial, they may block them out. Other readers are aware of what Google Adsense ads look like and skip over them mentally when they are reading. They may not even register. As for the links on the side of your sidebar, you will have to constantly bring your readers attention back to them to get them to click.
One way to do that is to offer people incentives for clicking on your blog links. Say, you are trying to get affiliates to join your program, you can offer the first 500 people some infoproducts for clicking on a signup link in your blog and joining your affiliate program. When you write your signature line in some of the postings you are doing across the web, you can even say,”Click this link to find out where you can get a free copy of “Best Affiliate Marketing Practices” or some other ebook you’ve written. They would click on the link, if they’re interested, land on your blog, on the post that relates to how a top-notch affiliate program works, with your link either in the sidebar, the post, or both.
Contests are a great form of incentive and can be a way to motivate people to go from third-party websites to your blog. You can tell people that you are having a contest to determine the most creative ways to make money online. All people have to do is click on the link that takes them to your web post where you’ve detailed your choices. Then, they can add their own or vote for one of yours, by subscribing to your blog and commenting. At the end, you choose the winner out of a random drawing of the one you think is the most creative, whether yours or someone else’s idea and you send them a prize, which can be money, a book, a product, or whatever. The prize description can be on your website where the contest is more fully detailed too. Another great way to bridge them to a commercial site!
Contests tend to draw tremendous attention to your site and can be a great way of introducing people to who you are. So, don’t forget to have an “About Me” section in your blog where people can get to know more about you, your business, your products and services, and your future plans. Also,
provide some way for them to contact you, besides through the blog, for those that want to email you in private. Any contact that you make as a subscriber, or someone that emails you, can eventually become a customer because once you have their email, they have started the slide into your sales funnel already.