Getting visitors and keeping them

Let’s assume for a moment, that you have a web site.  Now, you are asking yourself, how you get visitors to your site.

Believe me, that’s a question that people have been asking since the first web sites were built.  However, you’re not looking for thousands of visitors. You just want people who might give you work to find you
your web site.

The first step in making that happen, is to make sure you put your domain name on everything.
It should be on your resume. It should be on every cover letter you send.  It should be in your email signature.  And speaking of email: make sure that you are always sending mail from the email address at
your domain (you@yourname.com).   The reason for this is two-fold: 1) it looks more professional than actorguy8569@hawtmail.com and 2) it contains your domain name, which encourages people to visit your site.

As an actor, you’re probably thinking more about promoting yourself in the “professional” world: to agents, casting directors, artistic directors and the like.  And that is a big part of your web site.  You are promoting yourself to the people who can (and hopefully will) give you work.  By putting  your domain name on everything you send out, and by sending all your email with your you@yourname.com address, you’re increasing the chances that one of these people will come to look at your site.

But, if that’s all you want to do, you’re missing the chance for something else: some measure of fame.
I’m not talking about being photographed by paparazzi while you’re at the hairdresser kind of fame.  I’m just talking about having your name known outside of your circle of friends and family.  You can have “fans” or regular site visitors, from all over the world.  People who will come to see you in that small film role, watch you on that TV show you did an episode for, or even go a little out of their way to see you in that show that’s touring in Northen Manitoba (or wherever).  So, how do you get these loyal visitors?

Before you can get visitors, they have to be able to find you.  Which means that you have to get your site “out there” for them to find.  And that’s done with two words:  Goo.  Gle.

Back just a few years ago, there were many search engines on which to find web sites.  Everyone had their favourite, and if you wanted to reach the largest segment of people, you had to submit your site to all
of them.  Now, there’s pretty much one place that an internet user goes to search:  Google.  Yes, you can submit your site to Yahoo and MSN as well.  It can’t hurt.  But if you don’t submit to Google, you’re probably missing the largest opportunity for traffic.

Before you can submit your site to any search engine, you have to make sure that your site has the elements that it will need for the search to find them.  You need to make sure that your site has HTML tags for META KEYWORDS and META DESCRIPTION.  For the more technical minded, these tags look like this:

<meta name=”description” content=”A description on your site”>

<meta name=”keywords” content=”Keywords found in your site whereby each keyword is separated by a comma”>

If you are using Joomla or WordPress, don’t worry, I’ll teach you about how to get these in a future post.

A quick word about keywords:  don’t lie.  There are people who might suggest that you use words that don’t apply to your site in order to bring in more traffic.  There are two reasons why you shouldn’t listen to them: a) it doesn’t work and b) its dishonest.  If someone is looking for a web site about the new pokeman game, and you’re site comes up, they aren’t going to be happy about it.  Granted, this happens less and less these days, since most search engines have refined their search processes.  But its still a bad idea.  The
keywords are going to help the search engine to identify the search words that will return a result for your site.

Here’s how you submit your site to Google:

  1. Go to www.google.com/addurl
  2. Fill in the information requested.
  3. Click the Add URL button.

Once that’s done, Google will index your site.  Every so often, the search engine will return to see if you have added pages.  This keeps the listing updated.  The search engine will do this on its own.  You don’t need to do anything.

Both Yahoo and MSN have a similar process for adding your site.

Now that you’re getting some visitors, you want to make sure that they have a reason to keep coming back.  There are a few ways to do that:

  • Keep your web site up to date.  This may seem like a no brainer, but there are thousands of web sites that haven’t been updated in ages and are showing months old or even years old information.  This is an almost immediate turnoff for any visitor.
  • Keep a blog.  I’ve discussed blogging previously.  But it is a great way to keep people coming back to your site, as well as keeping them up to date on the latest news.
  • Have a photo gallery that you frequently update.  Make sure you get pictures from shows that you do, as well as any photo shoots you participate in.  And put them on your web site.
  • Multimedia.  Any chance you get, make sure that you have clips of any film or television you’ve done (you might want to ensure that you have permission to use them on the web, since there’s been a
    lot of to-do about that of late).  As well, you may also want to create audio clips.  Or you can go one step further and create a podcast (I’ll go into that more in another post).

All of the above are great ways to keep your visitors coming back to your site.

By submitting using your domain name at every opportunity, submitting your site to search engines, and giving your visitors a reason to come back to your site regularly, you will increase your chances for successful self-promotion, but may also find “fans” in places you never thought possible.

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