Build a Web Hosting Brand that Sells - Advertise, Duh!
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If you already have a web page with personality and a demographic, you need to push that image outside just the webpage. Advertise. There are so many ways to do this, and only some are really effective for a host.
Not long ago, a web host proved that nothing sells anything quite like a video of a woman falling out of her shirt. Television commercials are a new territory that hosts have just begun stepping into. GoDaddy spent an incredible $2.4 million to air a 30 second commercial during the Superbowl this year. Their ad featured a bubbly girl with a shirt that just couldn’t quite stay on. GoDaddy shoved weird humor and a pretty girl into their ad, showing plenty of distiction from other web hosts. They also assumed right that printing their name and logo across the girl’s chest would help guys to remember them. You can see this effective Superbowl ad on GoDaddy's page of TV advertisements.
Unlike earlier websites that advertised during the Superbowl and quickly died afterwards (like Lifeminders.com who advertised in 2000), GoDaddy said the money for the ad was a savings that didn’t need to be recovered. People still criticized them for advertising so expensively when they could have put that money into many more ads that cost less, or even given away free hosting for a period of time.
Getting high rank in search engine result pages can draw a lot of traffic. Potential customers may search for broad terms like “web host,” but when you pick keywords to optimize for keep in mind those popular terms are hard to rank highly for. Pick keywords that speak about your location or demographic. Some might search “Miami web host” or “US web host” to know their host is not going to be on the other side of the word. And of course, “ecommerce web hosting” and “business hosting company” may be other good choices if that’s your specialty.
Do not be alarmed if after a few weeks you have made no progress on the search engines. Sometimes it can take months between the time search engine spiders find your site to the time they begin listing it in their search results. This is the sandbox effect. To facilitate being indexed, you can submit to the search engines that allow people to submit their pages freely. Google, for example, lets people submit whole sitemaps.
There’s much more to optimizing than picking these keywords and submitting to search engines. You may consider hiring a specialist to do the work, or try going to sites like SEO Chat and learning the search engine optimization trade yourself.
It also doesn’t hurt to get listed in host directories such as Find Web Hosts and HostDirs. An open directory such as DMOZ might not get you a lot of traffic on its own, but it may help you rank a little better on search engines.
A short-term solution that has become very popular is Pay-Per-Click (PPC) campaigns. This is best used in the sandbox period before you show up in the normal search results. For a long term solution, PPC is very expensive and does not bring the amount of visitors that simply ranking highly can do. It is also becoming less effective and more expensive because so many hosts choose to advertise this way. Common host searches on Google and Yahoo! bring up many sponsored links, and it can be a challenge standing out in the crowd.
For PPC, look at multiple advertising venues. Google has an two different options you can use. Yahoo also has sponsored search. Also, don’t discount trying a smaller company like Ask. If you do choose PPC, do not advertise on only one service. Any one PPC company reaches at a maximum 35% of the search market. Using Google and Yahoo! together will get the best exposure you can really expect. And remember that optimizing for search is a long term goal, while PPC is expensive by comparison.
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