Saturday, June 30, 2007

Free Ways to Promote Your New Web Site

Just because you build it, doesn’t mean that they will come. There are millions of web sites on the Internet; don’t expect flocks of visitors to yours when it first launches. Companies with budgets for web site promotion will explore sponsored search advertisements, banner ads, link exchange programs, print campaigns and extensive search engine optimization strategies to ensure that their web site gains heavy traffic.

So what’s a small business owner to do?

You don’t need to have a big budget to be found online. By making full use of free resources and directories, capitalizing on your current promotion activities, and getting creative with spreading the word, you can build momentum, traffic and repeat traffic. Once you start collecting “hits” (as visitors are called), your site will naturally begin to rank higher on search engine results.

Describe your web site carefully when you submit.
Usually, your web designer or web hosting company will offer to submit your new web site to the search engines (this is the way your site gets “crawled” by the likes of Yahoo!, Open Directory and Google). Take them up on that offer, but first, be sure to craft a submission listing that uses your keywords and tells your story well. I recommend following Robert Woodhead’s advice at

List in Free Directories.
I’ll include a more extensive list of free directories in a later blog entry. But for now, start with Yahoo! Local, a free listing with the Yellow Pages online, and any other directories you find related to your business (think neighborhood, city, or state business directories, trade directories, etc.). On a roll and want to do your own research? Check out these free web directories.

Add your URL to current promotional activities.
Do you place print ads now? If so, update them with your new web site address. If you manufacture products, add your new URL to your product labels and packaging. If your business has t-shirts (or other give-away items) or advertisements on TV or radio, be sure you’re including your new web site information on those as well.

Use the ways you already communicate with your customers.
Ready to print new business cards, letterhead and envelopes? Be sure to add the new URL to them. If you're not ready to reprint those, consider making stickers for use on your company's large envelopes, outgoing packages, brochures and catalogs. Don’t forget to make store signage, and be sure to update your after-hours phone recording with mention of your new site. Add a link to your new web site to your email signature.

Ask every business you know to add your site as a link.
Your business has natural partners: vendors, service professionals, membership organizations, and more. Contact the folks you know and ask them to add your web site link to their web site. If possible, offer to reciprocate.

None of the above options is time-consuming, costly, or difficult. With a little work and persistence, you’ll soon be reaping the benefits of your new web site with valuable traffic.

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