An Action Plan For Marketing Your Web SiteBy: Joanne Glasspoole
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.comFor help choosing the right keywords, visit:
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," firstname.lastname@example.orgIn 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 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 promotional pieces:
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 important.
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 ones.
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:
Classifieds For Free
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.
bCentral Banner Network,
If you're new to E-zine publishing, request
my article, "Publishing Your First E-Mail
White Papers--Promote white papers and other special
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 possible).
Speaking Engagements--Offer to speak for free at conferences,
meetings, or seminars. If you distribute
handouts, be sure to add your URL.
© Copyright 2001 by Joanne Glasspoole
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The author assumes full responsibility for the contents of this article and retains all of its property rights. MarcommWise publishes it here with the permission of the author. MarcomWise assumes no responsibility for the article's contents.