Today’s subject is rather irrelevant to electronics and programming however it plays a substantial role in the process of information delivery and virtually predetermines the fate of your project whether it is about electronics or software design or anything else. The importance of website promotion and optimisation is often underestimated by engineers especially by beginners and considered as ‘secondary’ after the primary goal – designing a great product. There is a common misconception that if you have a great tool/application then popularity and recognition will come without effort. Unfortunately, this world is far from perfectness and popularity does not necessarily come to the best and most deserved things. It means that promotion of an abstract project is no less important than its robustness/solidity/freshness/feasibility and so on. Another misconception is that many people are true believers in ‘magic formula’ that would allow to enter search engine’s top ratings by ‘giving your site proper settings’ and thus staying at the top virtually indefinitely long. Again, it is not about ‘magical settings’, it all is about content quality, its originality and update frequency, about non-standard approach, author’s proactive attitude and… yes, about luck. But let’s go through list of things that better take into consideration if you want to make more people to become aware of your new invention. Most of items seem to be obvious but surprisingly they are disregarded very often.
Let’s assume that you design a great electronic kit which is either so original and simple that there is no competitors yet or it is just cheaper than similar kits with the same functionality. Being carried away with your great invention you expect to see exponentially rising interest to your project. So you decide to create a web site which will back your kit with documentation, relevant discussions, software update and selling point. You buy a domain name and hosting, deploy content management system, customise it to fit your needs and at the same time to be original and catchy. You post carefully edited articles about your kit, tons of photos and design files and register it with google. And then you wait looking through Google Analytics every day, appending more articles, trying to find that ‘magic formula’. And what you see every single day? That is right, you’ve got 2-3 visitors on a daily basis. Or 5 as absolute max. And what you also discover, those visitors spend just 1-3 minutes (!) on your web site and them most of them never return again. What is daunting, posting new articles does not increase the amount of visitors – it is just enough to keep your site from stagnation. Sounds familiar? Let try to analyse what is actually happening.
First of all, people just don’t know about your website and project. Especially when it comes to electronics, people are crowding at popular and well-known hubs and the probability of stumbling upon your site is very low – you have to advertise your resource but because you just started your activities you just can’t afford it due to the lack of financial means. Secondly, if your project is too original people won’t be able to come across it just because they… don’t search for it! And the reason why most of the visitors never returns again is simple – they are not interested in your content because they are not in your target group.
In order to solve at least some of the abovementioned problems tactics needs a slight change. You still can have your own website but it is absolutely vital to build up links to your site from well-known and heavily visited respected resources. For example, let’s consider an example of a ‘do-it-yourself’ (DIY) project. You design a working prototype and thoroughly document it. Then you submit it to Instructables.com sparkling discussions and at the same time exposing it to a tremendous amount of people from your target group. Of course, in your description you provide links to your site and if a person finds the project interesting he/she would consider it worthwhile to visit your website. Some resources won’t allow to submit a project instead they might be notified about its existence then they scrutinise a project and publish it if it is considered interesting and original enough. Sometimes there is opportunity to submit your project to contests and get extra visitors and even prize if lucky enough. But at the end of they day all this can give a tremendous boot to your website and your own self esteem – just enough for you to keep doing good work.
Here is an example of how publishing our project at Hackaday.com and Instructables.com helped us to increase number of visitors.