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Web Site Promotion for Beginners
by Bob Brooke

You’ve got a spiffy new Web site. But just because your new site is up on the Web, doesn’t mean anyone is going to visit it. It’s like the old conundrum, "If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it fall, does it make a sound?" Or, in your case, does a Web site exist if no one knows it’s there? It does, but only if you tell them.

The Internet, commonly known as the Web, is a vast and complicated communication medium filled with black holes and star sites. Your site can either be a star or a black hole into which you pour information. To get your site to become a star, you have to promote it. There are several ways to do this–E-mail signatures, publishing your own e-zine, placing classified ads, looking for link exchange partners, writing articles, etc. None are totally effective by themselves. You must use several methods to make your site a star in cyber space.

You’ll notice that among all these methods, registering on search engines isn’t listed. Sure, you need to register your site with the top search engines, but that alone won’t insure that visitors will come to your site. By promoting it widely and having it listed with search engines, visitors will come–and return often.

But you can’t employ all the above promotional methods at once. Choose up to two ways to promote your Web site and do it for at least one month to see if it's effective.

Set aside approximately three to four hours a week and stick to the plan.

(Don’t try to implement any other strategies at this time. If you get an idea, write it down and try it later. If nothing else, this plan will surely bring your site steady growing traffic.)

Here’s a plan that you can follow:

1. Make sure TITLE and META tags have been added to your Web pages and submit them to major Search Engines. Make sure these tags are short and mention only what's relevant. Ask yourself, what word or phrase would I type in the Search Engine if I was looking for my site?

Below is the list of search engines used by most consumers: 

Ask Jeeves

2. Create a signature for your E-mail that invites people to visit your new site. You can update this periodically to announce new features on your site.

3. Form various groups consisting of addresses of people in your address list in your E-mail program. (For Outlook Express, click on the ADDRESSES menu at the top of the screen, then click on NEW, then GROUP. Create groups composed of people with like interests–personal, church, work friends and colleagues. Make sure not to put more than 25 addresses in one group.

4. Compose an announcement of the official launching of your site–your "Grand Opening"–and send it to each group. You should do this several times a year as you add new features to your site.

5. Contribute articles about your product or service to Web sites and e-zines. Locate up to 20 Web sites and e-zines that target the same audience that you do. Ask if they accept articles (Those that do are desperate for good articles). Create a new E-mail group of their addresses, so that you can send the same article to all those in the group. Keep your articles short–under 500 words. Lastly, be sure to include a line at the end inviting the reader to visit your Web site: "For more information, please visit Your Name’s Web site at www.yourdomain.com."

6.. Periodically write one short (under 500 words) quality and informative article which offers a solution to a problem that your target visitors might be facing and do the following:

- Add a resource box to the article about you & your product
- Post your article on your Web site for content
- Add TITLE and META tags to it and submit to it Search Engines
- Submit it to the e-zine list you generated earlier
- Submit it to article directories and lists

Here is a list of the most popular article directories and lists:

Yahoo Article Announce
Yahoo Free Content
Internet Clinic
World Wide Information Outlet

7. Locate up to three popular online forums where your target audience hangs out. Post replies to their questions up to one hour a week. Leave your Web site link behind using your E-mail signature so people know who you are and why they should listen to your advice.

8. Exchange links with Web sites in your subject category by sending an E-mail to the contact on the site and asking if they would like to exchange links with you. Though not every site will come back positive, most will. Some of the major search engines rank a site higher when it has many links pointing to it. Links from high traffic sites work better than low ones.

9. Include your URL (Web site address) on your business cards, stationery, etc. Use only the www.domain.com portion of your address.

10. And don’t forget traditional advertising. Include your Web site address in all your paid ads, including those in the Yellow Pages. Perhaps take out ads in narrowly targeted trade journals and magazines.

11. Develop a "free" offering. This can be just about anything. People like to get things for free. Make sure whatever you create is directly related to your business (such as this Web Site Marketing Guide).

12. Create press releases about your product or service or even your Web site (if it’s unique) and send them to print and Web periodicals in your industry or area of specialization.

13. Consider publishing an E-mail newsletter–weekly, monthly, or quarterly. It’s one of the best ways to keep in touch with interested visitors. It’s best to distribute your newsletter through a listserver program where consumers can "opt" to receive it. Sending it out to all the contacts on your E-mail list would be considered spam.

14. Promote your Web site in Mailing Lists and Newsgroups. The Web has thousands of targeted E-mail discussion groups (such as Yahoo Groups) consisting of people with very special interests. Don’t discuss your site per se, but let your E-mail signature promote your site while you discuss matters more in keeping with the subject matter of the group.

15. Ask visitors to Bookmark (Netscape) your site or add it to their Favorites (Internet Explorer). It may be simple, but it works.

16. Lastly, talk up your site with friends, neighbors and colleagues at work. Nothing brings visitors to a site better than "viral" marketing–word of mouth.

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