Build it and they will come. That might have worked in 1995
when the Web was new, but today that's a fallacy. With an
estimated 43 million Web sites competing against yours, if you
don't promote it, no one will come.
Outlined below are some tasks to add to your marketing
checklist. I will begin with the most obvious - you wouldn't
believe how many people don't think of these things! - and will
finish with some more advanced techniques that really work.
Designing search engine friendly web sites.
Getting listed in the major search engines is important, but do
not fool yourself - it is not the "be all." How many times have
you conducted a search and ended up with over a million results?
If your site is listed at 999,000, how many people do you think
will visit? If you rely only on the search engines for your
customers to find you, they probably won't.
That being said, there are some things you should do before you
submit your Web site to the search engines. To make your site
competitive, you need to "optimize" your Web pages. What does
that mean? It means making your pages "search engine friendly."
Although meta tags do not weigh that heavily anymore in search
engine rankings, they are still important. The two tags that
must be included in each of your Web pages are:
Description Meta Tag -- Summarize your Web page using lots of
keywords. This tag is very important, because many of the
engines will use it to summarize your site in search results.
(Note: The recommended number of characters for the description
meta tag is 150.)
Keywords Meta Tag -- Because of abuse by unscrupulous Webmasters,
the keyword tag doesn't play as big a role as it did in the
past. To avoid being penalized (e.g., banned), there are some
rules you must heed. For example, do not repeat keywords more
than three times and avoid using the refresh tag as most engines
view it as spam. (Note: The recommended number of characters for
keywords is 874 - of course, this number varies according to the
search engine in question.)
I highly recommend taking the time to research the meta tags of
your competition. Don't steal their tags; just look to see what
they're doing to get ranked where they are. It is best to use
phrases versus individual keywords. What phrases do you think
your visitors will use to find you? I think this is an excellent
activity for a brainstorming session with your peers, employees,
and friends--better yet, your customers. Once you start showing
up in the search engines, reexamine your tags to see if you can
tweak them to rank higher.
For an excellent overview on meta tags, visit: WebLecturer.com
For help choosing the right keywords, visit: Wordtracker
Title Tag -- More important than meta tags is your title. The
title tag displays your Web page's name. Be sure to include lots
of keywords in your title tag, because most search engines
consider these keywords in the title in their relevancy
calculations. (Note: The recommended number of characters for
your title is 60.)
Search engine submissions
Although there are automated services that promise to get you
listed on thousands of Web directories and free-for-all (FFA)
links pages, it is recommended that you manually submit your
site to the top search engines. Be forewarned that it takes
weeks (sometimes even months!) to get listed.
For a list of the top search engines and a link to their
submission page, request my article, "Site Promotion 101," by emailing email@example.com.
In addition to the search engines, you should get your site
listed in specialty directories -- this also helps in link
popularity. For a directory of thousands of specialty search
engines, visit: Search Engine Guide
Add your URL to your offline marketing materials
A couple of months ago, I met with a client who launched their
Web site in 1999. They were discouraged because their site was
generating poor traffic. When I asked them if they had added
their URL to their stationery and marketing materials, the
answer was no. To me, this should be a no-brainer, but it's not.
Don't forget to add your URL to the following business and
- Answering machine/voice mail greeting
- Office stationery (i.e., letterhead, envelopes, note cards,
business cards, invoices, receipts, reorder forms, etc.)
- Company marketing materials (i.e., brochures, leaflets,
flyers, post cards, etc.)
- Fax sheets
- Phone book listings
- Sales letters
- Web decals
- Uniforms and hats
- Christmas cards
- E-mail signature file
- Promotional items (e.g., mouse pads, coffee mugs, t-shirts,
pens and pencils, etc.)
Strategic link campaign
In my experience, the second most important online marketing
strategy (after search engine submissions) is establishing link
exchanges. A number of key search engines - Google being one of
them - rank sites according to the number of high-quality links
pointing to it. For this reason, links are becoming increasingly
Establishing reciprocal link partnerships with other Web site
owners is time-consuming but worth it. There are tools to
automate the process of finding and requesting links, but I
strongly advise against using them, because the links pages
often look generic, unprofessional and identical to all the
others generated by the same software - so much for originality!
Plus, I've read that some search engines ignore automatically-
generated links pages.
So, how do you find Web sites to swap links with? One technique
is to visit your favorite search engine and type "add URL" plus
your keyword phrase in the search box. Go ahead - try it! Before
you know it, you'll have thousands of linking prospects. Be
picky with whom you choose to link, though. Remember, one high
quality link weighs more heavily than dozens of poor quality
In my opinion, a good links page will add value to your Web
site. It also provides content. There are some people who will
argue that providing links to other sites is directing your hard-
earned traffic elsewhere. Although this is true, do you really
think people are never going to leave? Of course they will. And
if they leave your site to visit another site that you
recommend, that is certain to leave a positive impression on
them. I truly believe a good links page will bring traffic back
to your site.
If your goal is to rank well in the search engines, I recommend
that you put establishing linking partnerships high on your
marketing to do list.
For more information, visit:
Although you can advertise in some media for free, my
experience is that it's best to target your ads to the audience
you hope to attract. If you're selling horse shoes, for example,
promoting your wares to people who do not own horses is not a
good use of your time or money.
Online Classifieds -- In the early days of the Internet,
classified sites were very popular. I don't know how popular
they are today, but they still exist. Although you might not
sell a lot on classified sites, it doesn't hurt to use them -
especially if they're free.
I've used Yahoo! Classifieds in the past and was impressed with
their services. When you post an ad there, it will be posted for
21 days, at which time Yahoo! will send you an e-mail asking
whether you want to renew or delete your ad. Yahoo! also offers
an online payment option called Yahoo! PayDirect, which allows
you to send or receive money online.
For more information, visit:
- Classifieds For Free
- Yahoo! Classifieds
E-Zines Ads -- E-zines are another excellent media for
advertising your products and/or services. Advertising in E-
zines is relatively inexpensive. The hard part is locating
publications to advertise in. Some E-zines have huge, targeted
readerships, and obviously, those are the ones you want to be in.
For more information, visit: The Ezine Ad Auction
In addition to fee-based E-zine ads, there are others that will
publish your ad for free. For more information, download the
free e-book: The Ebook of Free Ezine Ads
Newspaper Ads -- Buying ad space in newspapers is more expensive
than e-zine ads, but on the plus side, some newspapers also post
classifieds on their Web site, so you get two for the price of
one. If your business is located in a neighborhood that
publishes a weekly newspaper, you may find their ad space very
affordable - it's also a highly targeted audience.
The click-through rate on banner ads is low, so you will need
to weigh the pros and cons before going this route. On the plus
side, Web sites that rely on advertisers to stay alive are
begging for people to buy ad space. You can probably get it for
a bargain - as compared to a couple of year's ago.
If, on the other hand, you're more interested in branding your
site versus attracting qualified prospects, you may want to
consider a banner exchange. The plus side is it's free. The
negative is that you have no control over the types of banners
displayed on your site. In addition, you will probably notice
added download time to your Web page.
For more information, visit: bCentral Banner Network
Depending on your market, a Web ring might be an excellent
traffic generator. The one negative, in my opinion, is the
"ugly" ring code you will need to include on your Web page. If
you can live with this, I think Web rings are a good way to
attract traffic from related sites.
For more information, visit: WebRing
Press Releases -- If you have something to say that is
newsworthy, you may want to consider promoting your news with a
press release. Dr. Kevin Nunley provides a service where he
will write your press release and submit it to 5,000 radio, TV,
talk shows, news programs, daily and weekly newspapers,
syndication services, and e-zines for under $300.
Radio Interviews -- If you are a specialist in your field, why
not call your local radio stations and give them your name as an
expert. The radio is a particularly good forum for social
workers, psychologists, politicians, professors, financial
analysts, nonprofit organizations, etc.
The following options - as compared to the ones above - are more
expensive, but if your company has the money to spend on
marketing, they are highly effective methods for branding. Even
companies like Coca Cola, General Motors and IBM - all household
names - spend millions of dollars a year on advertising.
- Radio ads
- Print ads
- Television ads
If you haven't already done so, you need to start an opt-in e-
mail campaign. This is an excellent way to get the names and e-
mail addresses of highly qualified prospects and leads.
Furthermore, these people are giving you permission to contact
them, so they want to hear from you. E-mail is a highly
effective way to communicate - it's fast and it's cheap. Use e-
mail to send your clients and prospects your newsletter;
friendly reminder notices; information about upcoming sales and
Managing a mail list is easy with automated listserve software.
I use Majordomo and love it. Once I started using Majordomo to
manage my e-mail lists, I noticed an increase in subscriptions.
Majordomo makes it easy for people to subscribe/unsubscribe and
makes my job easy, because it automates the management of my e-
There are free services that do the same thing as Majordomo,
but one word of caution: I used to use Listbot until a few
months ago when they went from free to fee-based. I think it's
only a matter of time before the other free services follow
Listbot's lead, so be careful, because it can be a pain to
transfer your list once it's been established.
For more information, visit:
- Yahoo! Groups
If you're new to E-zine publishing, request my article,
"Publishing Your First E-Mail Newsletter,"
Sharing information with your clients, peers, and prospects is
an excellent way to build relationships and credibility.
Articles -- One of my articles was recently featured in
WebProNews, and I was astounded by
the exposure. In two days, I had more than 100 new subscribers
to my newsletter, 20 qualified leads and more than 1,800
visitors to my Web site. Those numbers prove the power of words!
There are a number of excellent Web sites and E-zines that will
help you promote your articles to publishers looking for fresh
For more information, visit:
- Article Announce
White Papers -- Promote white papers and other special reports on
your Web site to encourage visitors to provide their e-mail
address (this ties in to your opt-in e-mail campaign).
News Groups -- News groups are great because you learn from the
expertise of others. They also provide an opportunity for you to
share your knowledge and expertise. I have noticed an increase
in traffic when I participate in online forums.
For a huge directory of Usenet groups, visit: Google Groups (formerly Deja.com)
If you are a Webmaster, I highly recommend: SitePoint Community Forums
Mail Lists -- Similar to news groups, mail list messages are
delivered directly to your in-box. Since some groups are pretty
active, I highly recommend subscribing to the digest version (if
Here are two mail lists that I have found invaluable:
(sadly, this list is moving to a fee-based subscription)
Speaking Engagements -- Offer to speak for free at conferences,
meetings, or seminars. If you distribute handouts, be sure to
add your URL.
As in traditional business, your online business will benefit
from networking. Some excellent venues to network include:
- Trade shows
- Chamber of Commerce and other commerce-related
- Membership associations
As you can see, promoting a Web site is hard work. The myth
"build it and they will come" is not true anymore. If you build
it and then promote it, you will see your traffic steadily
increase and that's good for business.
Copyright (c) 2001 by Joanne Glasspoole. Joanne is the
editor/publisher of CYBER QUEST. Each issue is jam packed with
original reports, news briefs, cool Webmaster tools, and more.
To subscribe, send e-mail to Majordomo@lists.kdv.com with
"subscribe cyberquest" in the body of your message.