Starting a web site is a bit like opening
a store (even if you're not actually selling on-line). You need to:
To maximize what your web site can do for your
business, plan to put some time - and money - into site promotion
Nov. 2006 update: Advice from top experts
Search engine algorithms are constantly changing. Here's some advice
from a panel of experts from Google, Yahoo and others at the 2007 PubCon
in Las Vegas (as reported by WebProNews):
- Each page of your site is a potential entry point for search engines
and users, and should be optimized for what it is about.
- Inbound links: Aim for quality rather than quantity. Don't even
bother with those large-scale, automated link exchanges that you get
requests for. In fact, getting links from a "bad neighbourhood" can
hurt rather than help.
- If you are targetting a local geographic area, get links from your
Chamber of Commerce, local directories and other entities.
- Use Google Local. If you can get into the top three there, it'll
put you on the front page of Google's standard search for geographically-based
inquiries. Google Local Business Center
- Having unique content is very important.
- If you're selling manufactured products, write your own descriptions
rather than using the manufacturer's copy.
- Blogging about your subject or product provides the kind of original,
unique content that search engines are looking for.
- A big buzzword right now is "link bait" - text that makes other people
want to link to you.
Getting people to visit your website
Getting your web address known is the first important task.
- Include your web address in your e-mail signature,
and on business cards, envelopes, invoices, letterhead, voicemail, and
all other advertising.
- Get any industry associations to link to your
site from theirs. It may be worth joining one! Check them out carefully.
- Exchange links with relevant businesses with
which you are not in direct competition.
Other promotional activities to consider
- It's hardly necessary anymore to "register"
with search engines such as Google. They will find you. The
more links pointing to your site from other sites, the better.
- While building the site, I incorporate keywords
that people would use if they wanted to find a site such as yours. You
should pay attention to how the site is performing in search engines
for various keywords, and make changes to improve it.
- Web sites that are updated frequently are visited more often by
search engines and rank higher in the results.
- The Internet is so new and growing so fast
that it's always changing. There are often new things in what search
engines will accept, and new ways to make your site rank higher on
them. Be prepared to deal with these changes from time to time.
- Blogging has become a common and effective way to promote websites.
- Issue a press release about your new site.
- Participate in forums and newsgroups related
to your business - with your web site included in your signature.
- Writing articles for others to publish in E-newsletters. You establish
yourself as an expert in your field, and have a link to your site in
- A pay-per-click
ad campaign such as Google AdWords may work for you.
- There are many "Web 2.0" websites (websites with user-generated
content) where you can create articles or pages about your
niche and link to your site.
Some of these promotional activities can be done by your web site designer
or another agent. Other activities, those that require your knowledge
and industry contacts, are best done by you. It's a good idea to plan
and budget (time and money!) accordingly.
Communicate with the customers you attract
Put a system in place for responding to e-mail.
Encourage customers to come back by changing your site often.
One way to demonstrate your expertise and attract customers is to
provide interesting information on related themes. For example, if you
sell light bulbs, you can have some articles about home decorating or
different kinds of light fixtures. Even though you don't sell fixtures,
it gives light bulb customers a reason to visit and revisit your site.
And they'll remember you.
Another way to establish yourself as an knowledgeable person is to
write a regular e-mail newsletter. On your website, a simple form can
give users the opportunity to sign up for it. If they want it, it's
A guestbook or other mechanism by which customers can give their feedback
will add interactivity to your site.
Keep your site up to date
Besides adding to or refreshing your web site, there are basic ongoing
maintenance activities which include:
- checking and fixing broken links to other sites
- keeping your information up to date
- re-registering with search engines regularly
For more information, see the articles on web
site promotion that I've indexed on my "Learn