Those who wait for the world to surf in will eventually give up, or die waiting. Your internet efforts are only beginning with the launch of your perfect website. On the Net as in the traditional marketing 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. Strategies and techniques are different, but for both, it is an ongoing, evolving process. Here are some online promotion basics to get your web site noticed and keep it visible.
Build a Mailing List from guestbook entries, comments, and inquiries. Invite visitors to join the list. Setup an RSS feed for your updates. Newsletters are a good way to stay in touch and keep your site in mind. You can use them to announce new or updated content or features. Be sure though, to give readers the option to be removed from your list so it won't seem like spam. Remember, occasional mail can be fun, too much is annoying.
Email Signatures. Most email packages allow up to six lines of copy for an electronic signature. Include URLs, a short description, phone number and address, if relevant. Tag lines can be interesting, but skip the cute ascii art. Whatever your online activities, this is an excellent source of promotion. Click through rates can be astonishingly high. Let your contacts know what you do, and how they can see it.
Online Advertising. Even small web sites can advertise online, in a lot of cases at low, or no cost. There are several excellent advertising banner exchange programs. Your ad banner is shown on member sites, in exchange for displaying their banners on your site. If there are only a few member sites, the exchange may not be worth the effort. The better ones have content rating categories such as suitability for children. Find out who the other members are that you will be trading with. Is the group compatible with your online image? Determine the banner exchange click through ratio, and construct an eye-catching banner. Shop carefully, advertising is a valuable online commodity, you should expect a fair return whether you swap or buy.
Google Adwords. This offers pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, and site-targeted advertising for both text and banner ads. The AdWords program includes local, national, and international distribution. Google's text advertisements are short, consisting of one title line and two content text lines. Image ads can be one of several different standard sizes. Advertisers specify the keywords that should trigger their ads, such as "benchmark lending" or "adverse credit remortgage," and the maximum amount they are willing to pay per click. When someone uses Google's search engine, ads for relevant words are shown as "sponsored links" on the right side of the screen, and sometimes above the main search results. This is not free, but is highly effective advertising.
It takes time, effort, and persistence to build and keep online traffic. Establishing a reputation on the Internet requires as much sweat as it does in the physical world.
Even though virtual, the Internet is very much a community, and it has no boundaries. Remember that it has a global reach. Visit your neighbors, sign their guestbooks, be involved. There are online forums, email groups, Usenet newsgroups, and chat rooms. Participate knowledgeably in your field of expertise, share your experiences. It is poor netiquette to simply post a sales message though. Instead, contribute to discussions, and include your signature line directing readers to your site.
Include your URL and email address on business cards, stationary, brochures and any other print resources you use. Use your voice mail greeting to your advantage. Mention your URL, and other ways of contacting you. Remember to include online news in your press releases and organization announcements. Refer your online visitors to your real world services, and vice-versa.
It takes time, effort, and persistence to build and keep online traffic. Establishing a reputation on the Internet requires as much sweat as it does in the physical world. Those who put forth the effort and stay at it will be the ones who find their niche in this virtual frontier. As baseball Hall-of-Famer Satchell Paige noted, "Don't look behind you, they may be gaining."
Return to part 1 of the Web Site Promotion Basics tutorial.