Practical, easily implemented ways to promote your website
Now that you have a webpage, what next? This article offers utile methods for promoting your website. Who to approach for backlinks, how to ask them, ways to email people without raising their blood pressure, what to offer at your website as a draw. In short, how to get noticed and respected at the same time!
If you think there are opportunities to market your product or services here on the web, rest assured you are not alone! I have similar thoughts. The name here is Mark Gebbie, Editor, Gebbie Press. We publish the All-In-One media directory, listing all USA TV, Radio stations, Daily and Weekly newspapers,Trade and Consumer magazines, Black and Hispanic media, news syndicates, networks, and much more. Available in print, on disks or mailing labels. www.gebbieinc.com
It\’s used by public relations executives, marketers, freelance writers, advertisers, corporate communications departments, reference libraries, universities, public affairs officers and the like. (Sorry for the ‘plug’, but you\’ll have to understand what it is I am marketing to make sense of my WWW promotion strategy, and how you can apply the same ideas to your unique concerns!)
Clever readers have already learned something-don\’t pass up a chance to promote what it is you have to offer! The more likely the reader is to actually need your offerings, the less you will have to worry about ‘sugar coating’ your message, be it your home page, E-Mail or whatever. More about sending unsolicited E-Mail and the fear of being excommunicated by your net peers further down.
Here\’s how it all began for me….sooner or later, you get the bright idea to bring yourself up to speed and get a page up on the Web. So you picked up a free software access kit and went on line. Remember how you felt the first time you searched for something or stumbled across a web page? Don\’t loose that feeling, whatever you do! Keep your eyes and ears open. I\’m going to assume for this discussion that you have a page in place and are ready to promote it.
If you cannot design a clean, simple and informative page yourself, pay the hundred bucks or so and have a nice one made. Register your URL with as many search engines as you can on your own, or pay someone to submit. If someone will register you with 200 search engines for a hundred bucks and you don\’t have the time or experience to do it yourself, let them do it. Just get that URL into the system, and be patient. Submit to ‘new site’ services as well. Pretty basic stuff so far. You have a page, and you\’ve registered it with many search engines, ‘what\’s new’ services, internet ‘yellow pages’ and whatever else you can find. Perhaps you have spent a couple hundred dollars for design and submission. From here on, your costs will only be in terms of the amount of time you can sit at the keyboard.
Now for the real magic! Let\’s start with getting your page cross linked. Take advantage of pages that are currently established and doing well. If you link to a page that has similar or complimentary material, some of the people will inevitably get around to clicking on your link. What pages are good prospects to swap links with depends on what it is that you do. I can only give generic advice here. If you sell bananas, you\’d want to link to pages like ‘Banana Importers Trade Assn.’, ‘1001 Banana pie recipes’,’Healthy Eating’.
The idea is not to hook up with others who sell bananas, but others who are in some way related to bananas. People who eat them, research them, cook with them, promote them (‘Banana Promotion Council’), paint them, whatever. You get the idea. Be clever here and use your imagination! When requesting cross links, be polite and friendly. Perhaps begin by saying, ‘Saw your site, and I\’m very impressed with the work you have put into it.’ Explain who you are, and why you would consider their link to be ‘a fine addition’ to your page. Suggest why your link may be of import to them, even if it is obvious. Sometimes it won\’t be, depending on the marketing strategy you cooked up. Send your URL and a few lines of text to go with it so they can link to you if they agree. As your page becomes more of a resource rather than an ad, it becomes a more attractive place for everyone concerned.
How do you find such pages to link to? Type ‘bananas’ into any search engines, and you\’ll be busy for hours going to home pages, evaluating their worth to you (and vice versa), finding the E-Mail address of the contact person and dashing letters off to them. Get the old cut and paste, click, click thing happening, and before you know it, you\’ve sent out a hundred requests. You\’ll get more than one link out of them!
Are you a known entity or respected among your peers? Start an award program! At our website, I had 50 state pages for radio and TV station hotlinks kicking around. So I cooked up a ‘Station of the Month’ gif/award/logo, emailed about 5of the stations, and got two dozen Gebbie award banners up at some pretty substantial radio websites. Remember-it\’s an award for you in disguise. GRIN.
To promote the Gebbie Press All-In-One Directory, I contacted public relations firms, advertising, marketing, promotion firms, freelance writers, photographers, journalists and the like. As it is media reference work, I\’ve approached hundreds of newspapers, magazines, radio and tv stations, etc. You\’ll have to come up with your own ideas as to who to cross link with, depending on your product or services offered.
You may have a valuable resource sitting right under your nose. Is your product or service something you can barter and bargain with? If it is, you have a big advantage as far as I\’m concerned. If your product is too expensive to trade (more on what you will want to be trading for in a minute), or your services require too much investment of your time, you are out of luck. But try and think of something you might be able to offer someone a gratis.
We\’re a nation of horse traders. I love to swap for things; I get a big kick out of it! As a rule, everybody wins when goods or services are traded. If your product sells for 100.00 but only costs you 10.00 to make, you can trade for 100.00 in goods….for ten bucks! Back to bananas. Let\’s assume that the ‘Betty Crocker Banana Recipes’ home page runs banner ads. You\’d like one, but the price is too high and you don\’t know if anything will arise from it. Offer them a nice case of bananas in return for a banner ad. You\’ll be pleasantly surprised, I hope. If you have something to swap, you might get one trade for every ten letters you send out. (Cut, paste, click, click…doesn\’t take too long to send a ‘bunch’ out!). I have traded for web page design, logos, the 200 search engines someone submitted us to, countless banner ads, on-line press releases announcing our page and so on.
Enough about trades. If you can swing them, do it! By the way, E-Mail letters asking for reciprocal links or offers to trade are not, in my opinion, the ‘unsolicited’ letters you may be trying to avoid sending out. Few people will take offense at such offers. If they do, don\’t worry, send a brief apology, and move on. Plenty of fish in the barrel. It\’s important to keep at the promotion end of things. I find the response rate of swaps to be pretty high-possibly as high as ten percent. Any direct marketer would be happy with that rate! So each chance you have, go searching, find some prospects and send out some E-Mail. Often you will have answers before you are finished with your session.
A digression. Get rich quick spam is unsolicited email. That\’s pretty clear. I think the net would come to a grinding halt if only solicited mail were sent. Sure, we all want email that reads ‘where may I send my check to?’ Or email that ‘should’ interest us. When I first went online, I didn\’t have a single email address for anyone who asked me to send them some solicited email. Yet I now have 200 or so folks ‘in the books’ that I speak with from time to time. All the result of me emailing them out of the blue. Use common sense, make sure they should have an interest in you, don\’t try to sell them anything, and if at all possible, come bearing gifts!
If you can fine tune your search to target firms or individuals who might actually need or want your goods, bingo! If you went to the ‘Banana Promotion Council’ home page and saw a list of 50 restaurants that create dishes with bananas, you\’d be wise to ‘gently point’ them to your home page. While this can be a slow, one-on-one type of sale, if you had a good prospect list to begin with, you may find it to be very quick and profitable. There is always ‘another’ list of prospects lurking in the distance. Alter your search criteria, try a new search, follow related links you may find, and so on.
Now, about newsgroup and email lists. As some of these can be quite specific, they are extremely important resources for both getting and sending information. You will likely find groups devoted to raising, canning, shipping, selling, cooking and promoting bananas! On a personal note, I didn\’t even know Netscape had a news window until I found it by accident. Nor do I know much about what my server offers, or how to find groups, subscribe or unsubscribe. I presently don\’t have the time to sift through what I understand can be a lot of mail, at times. Nor do I have time to engage in much discussion, so I have tried what I call ‘the next best thing’ approach.
By now, you should have many links in place and have met many people. Surely more than a few of them are newsgroup or list members. On a personal basis, ask if he or she would mind helping out by making an announcement on your behalf. As they are active participants, they carry more weight than you do, particularly if you just post to any old group you run across. If you join in, that\’s another story, and one I cannot tell you about, lacking any experience. While I cannot recall how I did it, I have in the past posted to what I felt were appropriate groups. Yes, the dreaded unsolicited e-mail delivered to perhaps hundreds of people. Of 200 recipients I mailed to, I got back about 10 ‘thanks-this is of use to me’ responses, one ‘please unsubscribe’, and two who asked if they could repost the letter, finding it ‘worth repeating’. Your results may vary!
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