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Tips for Marketing and Promoting Your Website (2/21/1999)

After youíve published your web site, you need to start marketing and promoting it. While weíve listed the basic methods below, the return you get will depend upon the time, effort and persistence you use. Your efforts determine the outcome more than anything else.

Tip 1: Search engines and directories are one of the primary ways that Internet users look for the information they need. Having your site listed on the major search engines and directories can help direct traffic to you. Unfortunately, with over 100 million pages on the Internet today, search engines are getting so loaded, they have almost become useless. Some are now starting to limit the sites they accept to just those they feel worthy. So, while they are a necessary part of your promotion, they are not necessarily the best way to get noticed. Youíd rather have 20 customers come in your store looking for your product than 100 passing through because they thought it was something else altogether. But, like a listing in the phone book, you gotta be there...

So, here are the four major ways of getting listed in the search engines:

Search Engine Submissions-Part 1: DoItYourself one-by-one

The most tedious, but most reliable, method is to submit your web site to the major search engines yourself. Go to the search engine you want to add your web site to and follow their instructions. This is free, but youíll need to spend time connecting to each search engine and submitting your URL, one-by-one. Obviously not every site submitted can be listed in the first few listings, so you should read their submission instructions and tips carefully to see how they work. The bad news is they all look for different things and the major search engines change their rules on a regular basis. To keep your site listed in a relatively high position, youíll have to check back at least quarterly and resubmit.

There are hundreds of search engines and directories on the Internet today so that can be a daunting task. Concentrate on working for a good position in the well-known search engines rather than just being listed in hundreds of obscure sites.

These are the major search engines and directories: (all are .com sites)

Yahoo, AltaVista, Excite, Snap, AOL NetFind, HotBot, WebCrawler, Infoseek, LookSmart, Lycos, MSN (Microsoft)

Search Engine Submissions-Part 2: DIY Submission Services

Another method is to use web promotion services from the list below to help submitting to multiple search engines. Instead of going to each search engine and submitting your site yourself, these services will help you save time by automatically submitting your site to a large number of search engines and directories for you. Some of the major search sites will still require your personal involvement, so use these services to blast a bunch of search engines, and then do the majors by hand. Each web promotion site offers different services and prices. Most provide a free version which will submit your site to a limited number of search engines.

Search Engine Submissions-Part 3: Fee based Submission Services

Some services will regularly monitor your siteís position and resubmit to keep it fresh. These services can be quite expensive and, of course, youíll have to monitor their performance to make sure youíre getting your moneys worth.

These are examples of the sites providing web promotion services:


Search Engine Submissions-Part 4: Spiders, Worms and Robots

Some search engines do not accept submissions. These sites use automated processes to constantly search the Web for sites, indexing and ranking them by the content on the pages themselves. The most useful things you can do to please them and get a good position are:

1. Use descriptive titles on your pages. ("Jackís Cookies" is good; "Home" is not)

2. Use meta tags with appropriate keywords and descriptions (we do this for you)

3. Use descriptive words (in the text not graphics) on your pages.

4. Host your pages on a server that lets spiders, worms and robots root around and do their thing. (our servers do)

Tip 2: Advertising on the Web 101

Of course, youíll want to use the variety and breadth of the Internet itself to promote your site. Here are the most used methods.

Banner Exchanges-Part 1: On-Line Advertising

Buy banner advertising on sites you feel will reach your target customers. These banner positions can go for a few hundred dollars a month to thousands of dollars a day. Sometimes the lower cost sites are better than the highest cost sites. For example: For local hotels, restaurants and businesses, a banner ad on Heart of San Antonio for a couple of hundred dollars a month and several hundred thousand viewers interested in San Antonio is a much better buy than spending thousands of dollars a day on Yahoo to get in front of a million people who wonít even bother looking at your ad unless youíre a "Nike-" or "Compaq-" type company with universal appeal. Conversely, it makes more sense for Nike and Compaq to advertise on Yahoo than on Heart of San Antonio.

Banner Exchanges-Part 2: Banner Exchange Services

Use banner advertising exchange services. These are free but you must provide space on your site for other ads. Usually you get one "page view" of your ad on another site for each two page views your site provides the exchange. Other banner services will place your ad on sites for a per view fee. The good news is they are in the business of getting you as much exposure as possible; the bad news is you might get a bill much larger than you expected...

Banner Ad Exchange Resources:

Banner Exchanges-Part 3: WebRings

Exchange your banner or link with other sites which have similar content to your web site. WebRings are one way to do this and are free and available for just about any product or service. You put the Ringís link on your page and you are now part of an "affinity" group of sites. We have one on our HotSalsa site and on our 3D Universe site. Take a look:

Tip 3: Press Releases

Post announcements of your web site in all media such as radio and television ads, customer mailings, email signatures, newspaper press releases and on-line news web sites. Let people know you can now be reached anytime from anywhere. Invite everyone to visit your web site: current customers will want to see what it looks like; people who donít know you will want to see who you are and what you have to offer them.

Tip 4: Use Ink

The most obvious, cheapest and probably most overlooked method is to include your web address and email on your stationary, business cards, brochures, flyers and other traditional marketing materials. Put your web and email addresses on everything that goes out of your business! Ink is cheap.

Tip 5: Updates

While there is little reason to update your site just for the sake of changing it, if it gets your message across, you should keep it fresh, current and correct. When you do update your site, send out announcements by mail or email to your customers and other potential clients so they know you have something new for them. Make it easy, for you and your customers, by using a "list server" to let people sign up for announcements; and, it lets you send one message to everybody without having to send to each individually.

Tip 6: Incentives

Offering free coupons, contests and other give-away activities on your web site will also help increase your traffic. Everyone likes a "deal."

Tip 7: Product Pricing

Because selling on the Internet is less expensive than selling in person, everyone expects a deal. If youíre selling items that can be purchased anywhere, price rules. Conversely, if your product or service is unique, you donít have to cut your prices.