Everyone is wracking their brain these days, trying to find ways to entice customers to buy from our e-commerce websites so that we can keep our profits coming in and keep our businesses alive. I know I’ve tried so many different forms of advertising in my attempts to get people to visit my company’s website, but the majority of advertising options available either cost more than they generated in terms of revenue or simply brought visitors to my site that had no interest in buying the products my company sells.

My first foray into online advertising was to spend a lot of money setting up and creating a Google Adwords campaign. I researched how the ‘gurus’ apparently got a lot of their site’s visitors and apparently increased their sales and I carefully created my Adwords campaigns.

What I learned is that my return on investment (ROI) was dismal. Even though I got quite a lot of extra visitors to my site, my sales figures weren’t noticeably improved on the previous month when we just relied on people finding us by accident. Those extra visitors cost me my advertising budget for the month and made me no extra profits in return.

A slick sales page was responsible for my next advertising foray. The site pointed out that banner advertising on high page-ranking websites would increase visitor numbers and only cost a fraction of an Adwords campaign. I agreed, forked over more money and waited for my profits to begin rolling in. A month later I learned my lesson when I saw a huge advertising bill and only 20 extra visitors for my time and money. The ROI on this disaster didn’t even make it off the bottom line of my spreadsheet graph.

I was almost ready to give up on this online advertising thing but I decided to give it one last shot. I invested into blog advertising. I tried a specific company, based on a recommendation from a friend and I was told that professional bloggers would create blog posts about my company and my products to post on their own blogs. This way those bloggers were advertising my products to their readers for me directly.

Before that first month’s trial had ended, I noticed that my page rank had gone from a 2 up to a 4. At first I simply believed that this was a result of my previous month’s advertising activity and I didn’t take much notice. I was too busy watching my sales figures increasing steadily as each day passed.

By the end of that first month my sales revenue was more than 50% higher than our average monthly figure. I checked my stats and noticed that a large percentage of new customers who had not only visited for the first time, but bought products from me as well, were referred from a variety of blogs from around the world that I’d never heard of. I took the time to visit a few of these referral sites and I was pleasantly surprised to see the glowing blog posts about my products and my website, along with a link straight to my site.

Even though I had promised myself that I’d only give a one month trial, I continued the experiment into the second month and was amazed to see my sales had increased hugely yet again. Once more I checked my stats and saw referrals from amazingly well-written blogs, only this time I also noticed a large jump in visitor numbers from search engines. Google and Yahoo were the prominent referrers, also a few were starting to find me from MSN too.

Something in me snapped into place like a missing puzzle piece and I suddenly realized what was happening with my advertising campaign. All those blogs were telling new customers about my products and my website – but those same blogs were linking to me, which increased my page rank AND raised my search engine visibility to the point where my company’s site was now showing on the front page of search results. That had never happened for our company before, despite our best efforts at search engine optimization and back-linking.

After my initial trials, I decided I was going to continue my advertising campaign indefinitely. My profits doubled during my trial period. My page rank doubled and my site’s search engine listings went from non-existant to being in the top ten.

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