Building Your Business on the Web (Part One): Generating Online Traffic

By Rick Sloboda

Q&A with Rick Sloboda, Senior Web Copywriter for Webcopyplus

Businesses large and small are tapping into the ever-expanding web, which can cost-effectively market products and services 365, 24/7. With more than 75% of North Americans using the Internet and online spending increasing annually, getting your business online just makes sense. To help explain how to grow a business on the web, Rick Sloboda, Senior Website Copywriter, at, a Vancouver-based web copywriting firm that helps businesses increase website traffic and conversions with search engine optimized web content, offers the answers. Rick speaks at web content conferences, and Webcopyplus conducts online studies with various organizations, including Yale University.

So a business wants to improve its performance online. Where do you suggest it starts?

It starts by looking at the business’s objectives and goals, the intended audience and the action you want the visitor to take. Once there’s an understanding of where the business is and where it needs to go, we can then look at aligning online strategies, resources and technologies. Business can tap into a many of opportunities, from social media like Facebook and Twitter, to blogs to press releases and email campaigns, to paid marketing and search engine optimization. Search engines can be a business’ best friend, as search websites can drive more than 80% of all new traffic to websites.


Which search engines should you target?

Google owns more than 70% of the search market, so if you’re doing well on Google, your business is likely doing very well. Yahoo still has a following, and MSN’s Bing is also gaining ground. Those are the top three search engines our website copywriters pay close attention to, since that’s where consumers and businesses tend to look for products and services.

How do you optimize your website so you appear in search results?

Two key elements are keywords and links. Selecting the right words to target on your website helps search engine robots — programs that search and index websites — determine what your website is about and where you should rank. Links are also critical. When other reputable sites in your industry link to you, it builds credibility with search engines. It’s like a democratic vote in cyberspace. So it’s definitely worthwhile to get vendors, suppliers and partners to link to your website.

Can you simply exchange links with others to mutually benefit?

Yes, but that’s an old and overused SEO tactic called reciprocal linking. Google and friends will actually discount the value of reciprocal links. One-way links carry more clout. It’s likely worth mentioning that some SEO types are trying to beat the system by carrying out three-way linking strategies, which would have business A link to business B, business B link to business C, and business C link to business A. But the search engines catch up to these types of search engine manipulations as well.

And these SEO tricks are frowned upon by the likes of Google, right?

Yes, when you get overly aggressive or break the rules, it’s commonly called Black Hat SEO, and it can get you penalized or knocked off a search engine’s index altogether. For instance, we recently brought on a new client who unknowingly had white text placed on white background. It’s called hidden text, a Black Hat SEO tactic that used to work a decade ago, but not today. In fact, it can really hurt your business.

How do you determine the best keywords to target?

We used to hold focus groups, but they weren’t overly effective because what people say and do can be very different. Fortunately, you can gather hard data from various software, like a program called Web CEO. Our website copywriters and SEO specialists now have the luxury of analyzing and cross referencing actual data that reveals keyword popularity, competition and trends, which often produce surprising results for organizations. For example, a national airline’s executives were using the term “reduced fares.” We were able to reveal that term was searched fewer than 10 times a day — and that’s globally. Meanwhile, “cheap flights” was searched by consumers more than 10,000 times a day. This type of insight can make a big difference to a company’s bottom line, regardless of the industry.

And once you know what keywords to target, what do you do?

Simply put, repeat them often in your web content. For optimal results, our website copywriters strive for keyword density of at least 3%, meaning three out of every 100 words on your website are your targeted keywords. There’s a free online tool website owners and writers can take advantage of at, which helps achieve the ideal keyword ratio.

Is it true fresh content helps achieve and maintain higher search engine rankings?

Yes, fresh content helps. That’s what makes blogs such a wonderful marketing tool. You can incorporate blogging software like WordPress to your website, and post a few items a month. You’re providing search engines additional content to index, and giving visitors a reason to keep coming back.

When a business achieves desired search engine rankings, what are the perks?

Greater, cost-effective reach and presence, increased leads and sales, and possibly some PR. A Vancouver HR client with dozens of write-ups in high-profile publications like Canadian Business, The Globe and Mail, and National Post, recently told us 100% of their PR opportunities came through reporters Googling terms like HR consulting Vancouver and HR experts Vancouver. Google can really be a goldmine.

Note: This is the first of a two-part series. Tune in tomorrow for Part Two: Turning Online Visitors into Customers.


Rick Sloboda is a Senior Web Copywriter at Webcopyplus, which helps designers and businesses boost online traffic, leads and sales with optimized web content. Clients range from independent retailers to some of the world’s largest service providers, including AT&T (formerly Cingular), Quest Diagnostics and Scotia Bank. Rick advocates clear, concise and objective website content that promotes readability and usability, and conducts web content studies with organizations in Europe and the U.S., including Yale University. He speaks frequently at web-related forums and seminars, including Small Business BC, Content Convergence & Integration, SUCCESS and HRMA. Rick also serves as a consultant to various organizations, such as the Web Development Advisory Committee at Vancouver, B.C.’s Langara College.

By Adam

June 01, 2010