29 January 2016

How to Use and Maintain Flow on Your Website or Blog

Lesson #13--FLOW

Welcome to lesson thirteen of our Internet Income course structured to help you start and run a profitable online business. In past lessons, course author, George Little, broke down important principles using simple English to explain how to succeed in today's unstable global market. In this course, he continues to present tips, real-world advice, and in-depth, step-by-step instructions on setting up your Internet-based business. Read the 12th lesson here.

Recall the five goals of Internet traffic building we stated in Lesson 3:
  1. Utilizing effective branding,
  2. Obtaining good publicity, including links to your site from popular pages,
  3. Obtaining an effective search engine presence,
  4. Utilizing and maintaining flow in the placement of your Internet ads, and
  5. Maintaining an effective social media presence.
Starting in Lesson 4, we are providing a brief overview of each of these five goals. (We will cover each in much detail later in the course.) We are now on goal number 4 in our overview, "utilizing and maintaining flow in the placement of your Internet ads."

What is "Flow"

The term "flow" has been used to describe what occurs when a user loses himself in a Website. Flow occurs when the user becomes so absorbed that time and task temporarily become unimportant. Whatever the user started out to do online gets temporarily forgotten while they enjoy your site. When flow occurs; direction, inhibitions, and caution give way to impulse; and the user is much more likely to join or buy something promoted on the site. The site must be both interesting and easy to navigate for this to occur.

Flow is also a concept that applies to movement from one Website to another. Banners or textual links must be in context and create a smooth transition from one site to another to be effective. Otherwise, the flow is broken and interest is lost.

Thus, any promotions or ads that you place on your site must "flow" from the content of your site. Otherwise, they are just noisy distractions that the reader works to ignore.

The concept of Flow goes beyond just the placement of ads, however. Reading between the lines in the suggestions that Google makes to Webmasters, it appears that Google has a vision of the entire Internet flowing from page to page, from site to site, and from subject to subject in an integrated Web of information. The experience of using the Web should be pleasant, informative, and inspiring. As that is a pretty good vision, I tend to agree whole-heartedly.

How To Make Your Website Flow

The Flow should begin with the links to your Website. It should continue through the content on your Website (including alternative paths provided for different audiences) and then continue beyond your Website due to the links and ads you have chosen to place on your Website.

Lesson 30 in the original Internet Income Course, written approximately 12 years ago, still holds true for making the content on your site flow in the readers' minds. I recommend that you review that lesson after this one. A few more concepts need to be added to make that lesson applicable to the needs of marketers today, however.

The Flow of Links

Lesson 30 of the original course did not discuss in detail the effect of links on flow. While that was discussed later in the course, it deserves a revisit here. Linking is really crucial to modern concept of Flow. As mentioned above, the vision of today's Internet is that the entire experience (from boot-up to shutdown) should be a smooth path of information, entertainment and expression. Social Media is now a huge factor in the Flow, as many people start out with a social media site such as Twitter or Facebook and proceed from there. Thus, linking to and from social media sites is very important to Flow.

The vision is that there should be paths of information that flow across Websites. An Internet user may not be interested in your entire Website--just the portion that is applicable to what they are currently trying to investigate. It is fair to make a grab for that user to pull them toward your promotions while they are on your site, but it is important that you not trap them. It is important to the concept of flow that you allow the user to pass on beyond your site to follow the thread of information they desire to follow. After you offer them the links to follow your promotions, you should also offer them links to continue with their investigation of the subject matter on other useful sites.

The Flow of your Ads

And, very importantly, the links to your promotions must flow from the content as well. If they do not flow, they will not be effective. You make the links to your promotions flow with the subject matter of your site by creating segues from the subject matter to the promotion. That is, you point out how the interest in the subject matter can be advanced by the promotion.

Sometimes this is obvious and results from the placement alone. In this situation no explanation or persuasion is necessary. For example, if your subject matter is determining the best paddles to use with certain kayaks and your ad link is to high quality paddles for sale, no effort is needed to make the segue. It exists naturally. However, if your promotional link or ad link is to courses on Internet Marketing, you will need a transition from your subject matter (paddles)--such as, "You can have more time to paddle by allowing our system to make money for you even while you're on the water." This one sentence segue at least gives lip service to appealing to the users' interest--the reason the user is on the site.

Understanding Your Market

When I was young, there was a popular phrase, "Different strokes for different folks." Different things flow for different people. Identifying and understanding your target market is as important to flow as it is to other aspects of Internet Marketing. As explained in Lesson 30 of the original course, you need to give some thought to how people approach and accept information when you are designing the flow of your site. Simply put, you want your site to work the way people want it to work. You want it to be so natural that the information from your site readily flows into and integrates with the mind of your viewers.

The fourth goal of Internet traffic building is to create Flow. "Flow" is what occurs when a user loses himself in a Website. Flow exists when the user becomes so absorbed in your Website that time and task temporarily become unimportant. The flow of your Website should integrate with the flow of the subject matter across the Internet as a whole. Thus, it is important to acquire links to your site from valuable sites covering the same subject. It is important to place links on your site to other valuable sites covering the same subject. It is fair to make an effort to hook the viewer with your promotions while on your site, but do not attempt to trap them. Provide them with links to continue their investigation across the Web. The ads that you do place should naturally flow with your content. If the flow to your ad is not naturally obvious, you must create a segue to the ad that creates the tie with your flow. To properly create flow, you must understand your target market.

Review Lesson 30 of the original Internet Income Course for more information on how to make your site flow.

In our next lesson, the last of our introductory overview lessons, we will introduce you to maintaining an effective social media presence. Read the next lesson here: Social Media Presence.

By George Little, Panhandle On-Line, Inc. For more information on the Internet Income Course and other works and courses by George Little, see http://www.profitpropulsion.com

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