What to do to promote your site and where to go for free advertising on the Web
by Nicole Hanusek
Ok, you have your Web site set up, now how do you get people to start looking at it? Here are a few ideas…
Banner Exchange – This is where you put a banner on your site in exchange for having your banner displayed on other sites of similar nature. I use bCentral but there are others out there.
Trade Links – This is where you go to a search engine and look for Web sites that relate to yours. For example I searched for “art.” When I found good Web sites I added a link to their site on my links page. Then I sent an email to the owner of the site, explaining that I added their link and asked if they could do the same for me. In most cases people are happy to return the favor.
Search Engines – This is a given, but here are a few tips.
- Keywords – (found in meta tags) Typically search engines will look at 20 keywords, of which the first five listed should be the most important. A keyword is determined by comma separation, for example “design, web design, graphic design, graphics.”
- Description – (also found in meta tags) The description is what displays after the search engine gives you results. It should describe what you do in simplest terms so that someone unfamiliar to you will understand in just a sentence. The description should also use as many keywords as possible.
- Content – The content on the page that holds the above keywords and description should also use the keywords if possible. You can put the keywords and description on every page of your site. They shouldn’t be exactly the same, but they should reflect what’s on the page. Some search engines will veto you if a word appears too many times (a result of spammers and porn sites trying to get good exposure).
- Which sites? – Yahoo is obviously the most used search engine. But if you’re a company you have to pay the $299 annual listing fee. As an alternative you can submit to Google, which is used by Yahoo. Dmoz.org and Overture both cover a variety of search engines. Good resource – Builder.com
Word of Mouth – By this I mean literally “word of mouth” – started by an email blast. In most cases word of mouth has always been the best way to spread news of your business. If you’re lucky maybe your friends will pass the email along. You can also include a link to “forward this site to a friend.”
Postcards / Flyers – Purchase postcards and or flyers to pass out at events, leave at galleries or other locations and to do mass mailings. I haven’t tried this yet, but it’s in the works. I’m going to use ModernPostcards.com because they have the best pricing I’ve found so far.
Web Rings – A Web ring is code that you put on your page linking you to a circle of sites that are similar to yours. The ring usually has next, previous and random links that take you through the ring. To find a Web ring go to a search engine and search for one that is similar to your content. For example I would search for this “art web rings.” The rings usually have a link to “join” the ring.
Award Sites – Getting awards for your site is good exposure and let’s your viewers know that you’re good at what you do. When you get an award they usually catalog your site which may lead people to you. Website Awards Worksheet (contains long list of Web sites).
Is any of it working? Webstats – if you didn’t get ’em with your hosting, here’s some free Webstats. These will tell you which pages on your site are viewed the most, which can be very valuable.
Links that can help with free advertising, I’m not saying they work, but it’s worth checking them out: