So you’ve got your website up and running. Now you can sit back and watch new customers pouring in, right? Well, maybe. First your potential customers have to find your site. How do you ensure that this will happen? Of the millions of websites in existence today, how do your customers find yours? The answer is a combination of a good marketing campaign and good design and coding techniques which will result in increased search engine ratings. In this article, we’ll discuss marketing.
Put Your Address Everywhere
One of the most important steps to take in publicizing your website is the simplest one of all: put your website address everywhere. Put it on your business cards, print ads, newsletters, brochures, magnets, pens, even your company car. Set up a signature on your email so that your name, business name, contact information and website is automatically added to the bottom of every new email you send. (Look under “Tools > Options > Signatures” for Microsoft Outlook or some combination of the above for other email programs.) Drop your website name into every business conversation. For example, if someone calls for hours or directions, give the answer and add that the information is also available on your website.
Submit your website address to the top search engines, including Google, Yahoo, MSN, AltaVista, Ask, and Dogpile. Look for a link called “Add URL” and follow instructions for each search engine. Once your website has been added to a search engine’s database, you can work on pushing your site up in the rankings. Very few surfers will browse past the third results page so it’s important to be listed in the first few pages. (This is where good design and appropriate coding come into play.)
Don’t overlook the local search options on Google and Yahoo. Start with Google Maps and look for a link reading, “Add or Edit Your Business.” You can add not only your website address, but email, hours of operation, photos, and a short description of your business. You can even add a coupon. Yahoo Local has a choice of paid or free listings. Start with the free one. You’ll need a Yahoo account but that is also free to set up. Yellowpages.com permits free listings and has a section for reviews. Finally, submit your site to a local directory like delawareontheweb.com.
Collect Inbound Links
How do those search engine sites determine who shows up at the top of the ratings anyway? Nobody knows for sure! They use carefully guarded algorithms that are not shared with web designers or the general public. But we do know that the number of inbound links a site has helps to determine page rank. Inbound links are links on someone else’s page that point to your site. The more you have, the better. How do you get them?
- Contribute to an industry specific site like brandywinebuzz.com, a family activity site for the Brandywine Valley, or shoplocal.com for retail stores. ” Join the local tourist bureau for a listing on the web and in printed guidebooks. This is ideal for restaurants, hotels, museums, retail stores, and other tourist attractions.
- Add your business to a professional association website. National directory sites exist for many industries, including allpropertymanagement.com for real estate property managers; yoga.com for yoga studios; dojolocator.com for martial arts dojos; and asla.org for landscape architects. Chances are there is some kind of professional organization geared toward your industry. Find it and ask them to post a link to your website.
- Write an article for an online magazine. These can be industry specific (aikidojournal.com) or regional (thewomensjournal.com). Make sure there is a link back to your website.
- Leave a comment on someone’s blog. Usually there is a place to leave a website link after you enter your name and comments. Be sure to leave a pertinent comment or it may be blocked as spam. Pick a blog whose content is related to your business.
- Start a “friends” section on your website and have other business owners you are friendly with do the same. Everyone will benefit from increased links to each other’s sites. Increasing your site’s traffic may take some legwork, but the payoff in the long run is more customers coming to your website and more sales for your business.