Don’t make the mistake of ignoring website promotion. Every website is selling something, be it a product or a service, or maybe simply trust or a brand. This means you need visitors; the more targeted, the better. Simply creating a great site isn’t enough, although it’s an excellent first step. You need to be out there actively promoting it if you truly want to achieve revenue through your site.
1. Web Catalogs & Directories
Taking out annual subscriptions in one or more of the major web catalogs (e.g. Inktomi, FAST, AskJeeves, etc.) and business directories (e.g. YellowPages, Superpages) can help garner some immediate traffic for your website. Web Catalogs tend to work well for new sites, as they get you some all important links in the early stages. Business directories work for virtually any business as they put a listing (or ad) for your website right in front of people looking for exactly what you’re selling.
2. Link Exchanges
This is a fantastic way to increase the importance of your website in the eyes of the search engines. The rationale that the search engines use is that if other sites are linking to yours, then your site must be important. A link from another site to your site is considered a “vote” for your site. The more of these votes, the better; to an extent, of course. Steer clear of such black hat techniques as link farms and free for all (FFA) sites. I recommend starting by asking your vendors, suppliers and customers if they could link to your site in exchange for a link to theirs. You could then branch out into related businesses that service a different audience (e.g. a competitor in another city that you don’t service).
3. Search Engine Submission
This step is critical for any brand new website. You’ll want to let the major search engines know that your new site exists, and prompting them to visit it with a search engine submission campaign is a great start. Don’t bother buying a big 1500-engine submission package – there’s only about 7 to 10 major search engines worth worrying about, and once you’re listed on these, the other 1490 will pick you up (not that they’ll send you any measurable traffic…). The controversy here is whether or not to continue a submission campaign. Does it help an established site? Does it hurt it? Our research indicates that it doesn’t hurt. As to whether or not it helps – for some engines yes, for others no. A big tip to give you here is to be sure to work hard to get your site listed in the important directories like DMOZ and AltaVista.
4. Electronic Newsletter
An electronic newsletter is a fantastic method for staying in touch with not only existing customers, but potential customers as well. Provide useful, interesting information on a regular basis and be sure that people can subscribe and unsubscribe easily. Utilizing a good tool (e.g. Constant Contact) will make your life easier and allow people to forward the newsletter to their friends and colleagues (known as Viral Marketing). You can also use the newsletter as a vehicle for announcements or specials. Never charge anything to subscribers, and build your list by running contests or promotions.
I saved this one until last as I believe it is the single most important item in this list. If you remember nothing else from this article, remember pay-per-click (or PPC). By paying for visits from people who are searching on keywords related to your product or service, you are almost ensuring that your website will generate more revenue with a higher conversion rate of visitors to customers. The more popular programs include Google AdWords, Overture Content Match and Site Match, as well as smaller players like FindWhat, Kanoodle and Mamma.
Robin Eldred is the president of Apis Design, a Calgary Web Design and Promotion company specializing in building, managing and promoting quality, results-oriented websites for small businesses