Web Promotion for NewbiesBy Regina Garson
You launched a masterpiece, the site of all sites, the best of the net. Prepared for an onslaught of surfers, you fantasize about angry overloaded service providers. Patiently, you check your counter. In disbelief, you press reload to make sure it is working. Suppressing guilt, you reload a few more times to help it along.
Reality Check: Those who wait for the world to surf in will eventually give up, or die waiting. Your Internet efforts do not end with the perfect website. They begin. Online as in the physical world, if no one knows you exist; they will not come to visit. Establishing a reputation takes as much effort in cyberspace, as it does in real life. Techniques and strategies are different, but for both, it is an ongoing process. Here are some online basics to get your site noticed and keep it visible.
Organize Your Tools:Begin by making a promotional cut and paste file. Spend time writing copy and collecting resources. Put the following items in an easily accessible file. For accuracy, open this file, to cut and paste when you do site submissions. An incorrect URL can take longer to get changed, than submitting a new one. Plan to get it right the first time. You will need to include:
- Site title.
- A longer descriptive title for name only listings.
- Key words -- by order of importance.
- Site descriptions in various lengths:
- A paragraph, 50 words or less,
- A few sentences, 25 words or less,
- A one sentence description.
- Site URLs.
- Email address.
- Logos and banner URLs -- make note of image size by pixel and K.
There are two choices. Do it yourself, or hire a submission service. Most established webmasters agree this job is better done yourself. Making sure submission guidelines are followed, greatly enhances your chances of being listed. However, if you are new to the web, a submission service may be worth the "initial" boost it gives your site. Ask for recommendations, or referrals from satisfied customers. Otherwise, start your online publicity efforts by registering with these places:
For most surfers, this is the first place they look for anything on the net. Search engines funnel the traffic flow of the web. Most established sites are listed. If you want to be found, get listed. Some engines index your whole site from one URL. For others you need to submit each URL. Search engines are part of Internet life, check guidelines before submitting. They are all different. If you want to be found, you want to be listed.
Not to be confused with search engines, directories index and catalogue. Getting listed in the right places can make a difference. Start with major directories like Yahoo and Lycos. Then look for directories that catalogue sites in your field. For example, if you run a hotel, you might begin with regional travel guides.
Network With Links:
Good linked resources are a popular feature of many web sites. They are frequently book marked. Linked resources provide an excellent opportunity to network by trading links. The argument persists over whether or not to list competitive sites. For information providers such as libraries, linking competitive sources, may actually enhance your site because of the extended resources. In retail sales or service, most feel listing complimentary content a better tactic. If you bake and sell cakes, consider linking a gift shop or cyber cards, not another bakery.
Awards build recognition, reputation and traffic, so do "Cool" and "Hot" site listings. Apply only after all your "Under Construction" signs have been removed.
Build And Use Your Mailing List:Build your mailing list from guestbook entries, comments and inquiries. Invite visitors to join the list. Newsletters are a good way to stay in touch. In every issue, give readers the option to be removed from your list. Remember, occasional mail can be fun, too much is annoying.
Signatures:Most email packages allow up to six lines of copy for a signature line. Include URLs, a short description, phone number and address, if relevant. Whatever your online activities, this is an excellent source of advertising. Let your contacts know what you do.
Advertise:Even small web sites, can advertise online. There are several excellent banner exchange programs. Your ad banner is shown on member sites, in exchange for displaying their banners on your site. Link Exchange is the most popular, and has a large membership. If there are only a few member sites, the exchange may be more work than it is worth. The good ones have rating categories as to site content. Find out who you will be trading with. Is the group compatible with your online image? Shop carefully. Advertising is a valuable online commodity, you should expect a fair return whether you swap or buy.
Be Part Of The Community:Even though virtual, the Internet is very much a community. Visit your neighbors. Sign their guest books. Be involved. There are online forums, email groups, usenets, and chat rooms. Participate knowledgeably in your field. It is bad netiquette, to simply post a sales message. Instead, contribute to discussions, and include a signature line which directs readers to your message site.
There are also numerous opportunities to hone your skills and have fun with web competitions. Traffic wars can bring visitors and excitement for entertainment pages. Get involved. Be aware of what is happening in your field on the net. Look at who is sponsoring the activities. If your site is on Football Recruiting, it is probably not worth your time to participate with a Basket Weavers Group. However, if you sell baskets, this may be an excellent opportunity.
Integrate Your Real World And Online Resources:Include your URL and email address on business cards, stationary, brochures and any other print resources you use. Remember to include online news in your press releases and organization announcements. Refer your online visitors to your real world services, and your real world customers to your online resources.
It takes time, effort and persistence to build online traffic. Establishing a reputation on the web takes as much effort as it does in the physical world. Those who work and put forth the effort will be the ones who make their places in this new frontier.