To quote Kevin Costner from the movie Field of Dreams “Build it and they will come”. This is what people think. Great I have a website, it is done and now all I have to do is sit back and people will come to my site. While it might have been more true back in the 90’s, today this is probably the biggest myth there is.
The reality is that even though you have a website, the odds are people will not find it unless you do some marketing of your site. What kind of marketing you do partly depends on what the goal of your site is. For example if your site caters primarily to local users in your city doing an expensive Adwords campaign across the whole country is probably a waste of money. You might do better by doing a smaller Adwords campaign to target just your city. Add in with that a more traditional print campaign and your website will be off and running getting quality traffic that will be interested in your service or product.
Sometimes there are no easy answers to the best way to promote your website. I have tried Adwords and other forms of online advertising and some campaigns have meet with success, others were total failures. These are some of the things that I often tell clients that want to market their websites in no particular order.
- Email Signature
- Add your website at the bottom of your email signature. Every time you send out an email you are talking to a potential new client. Let that email lead them back to you.
- Similar to the email signature, add your website address to every single print item you have. Business cards, letterhead, posters etc. Every piece of paper that you send out should have your web address on it.
- Blog Comments
- Most blogs allow comments and allow you to add your website address either in the comment or will link your name. Take advantage of that. Find and take part in blogs that are related to your website and leave quality comments that will contribute to that discussion.
- Similar to the blog comments, find forums that interest you and take part. Most forums allow for signatures at the bottom of posts, a great place to add your website.
- Yahoo and DMOZ
- I still recommend that people submit their websites to the Yahoo Directory and DMOZ Open Directory Project. While your site may or may not get included it does not hurt. Unless you have a bunch of cash burning a whole in your pocket, don’t bother paying for the Yahoo Directory, just do the free one.
- Niche Directories
- Many people say that submitting to directories is not going to help build any traffic. While I agree to some extent, I still believe that adding your website to quality directories in the long term will have beneficial effects.
- Ask People
- Talk to people you know with websites and simply ask them to link to you. You of course can do the same. You can also ask your visitors to link to you by adding a little box on your site or a page giving visitors the link code. This kind of organic linking can do wonders.
- Article Submissions
- Some people absolutely love article submissions. For those of you who don’t know there are websites where you can submit articles for others to use on their websites. The benefit is that you can include links back to your website. This can build a great deal of links to your site and possibly some traffic. You need a well written article and I recommend that your article be different enough from your website text so they don’t get confused. Write on your topic but stay away from duplicating your website. While some claim it will work with all websites, I have only seen it work well with a few websites. You will have to try it out to see how well it works for you.
- News Releases
- News releases can boost your site a great deal if the news release is well written. There are sites on the internet like PRWeb that will distribute your news release. It costs a little bit of money, but if you truly have something news worthy to say give it a try. Send it to your local paper(s) as well, it never hurts.
- Social Bookmarking
- Social bookmarking is really nothing more than the latest version of word of mouth advertising. Give people ways of bookmarking your website with some social bookmarking services like del.icio.us, Simpy, StumbleUpon and others. Don’t go to far and list all of them though. Pick some of your favorites and add them.
- Lately video sites like YouTube and Google Video can help you with getting people interested in your site. If you have the ability to put together a good video that relates to your site, give it a try. It can help bring in interested people. This will probably only work for some websites. The reason I add this to the list is because of the success of “Will it Blend” videos. They create interesting videos and show off their product at the same time. It has probably boosted their traffic and interest considerably.
- Online Advertising
- Many people swear by online advertising such as Adwords, Overture etc. It can work for some sites, and not for others. It depends how competitive the keywords are that you are after. If you want to give it a try, look for a coupon to start off with. It can save you some money if things don’t work out.
- Word of Mouth
- One of the oldest forms of advertising. Talk to people about your website and let others spread the word. It still works.
This post has gotten much longer than I had intended, and I have not talked about the things to avoid doing. I will have to put that into another post. This is probably old hat to those of you who have been building and promoting websites for awhile, but I know I am always repeating many of these things to new clients.
I am sure that there are many other ways to help build links and traffic to your website. What are some that you use?
I wanted to make a quick post about a great blog that I read on a regular basis about contextual advertising like Google Adsense, and Yahoo Publisher Network. JenSense – Making Sense of Contextual Advertising does a great job of keeping an eye on the latest updates in the world of contextual advertising. Very often when Google changes its terms of service you can find easy to understand explanations on JenSense. If you are serious about making money with contextual advertising then make a note of reading JenSense, it is a great resource.
StumbleUpon, the latest incarnation of social bookmarking services, offers users a different web surfing experience. It might just be that StumbleUpon has brought back what had been lost, the joy of surfing with an added bonus, that the user will actually find websites that are of interest to them.
In a world where so many web services don’t deliver on the statements they make on their websites, the StumbleUpon website states:
Channel surf the internet with StumbleUpon! Discover great websites, videos, pictures and more — all according to your interests.
- Channel surf the internet for great websites, videos, pictures, games and more!
- Get personalized recommendations according to your interests
- Rate, review and share what you find
- Keep an online history of the things you’ve Stumbled
StumbleUpon actually delivers what it says, but it does require some work on the part of the user. You will need to install a toolbar for your web browser of choice. Once you sign up and subscribe to some channels you will start to stumble sites that are related to that interest. As you rate sites you like and don’t like, your stumbles will start to be more in tune to your interests.
This is just the beginning of a users experience with StumbleUpon. The ability to share the sites you like with your friends adds to the users experience of StumbleUpon. Unlike some other social websites where adding friends seems to be the only point, StumbleUpon focuses on sharing websites of interests with your friends.
I have been a StumbleUpon user for close to a year after one of my websites was submitted to StumbleUpon. I can honestly say that it has brought back the joy of simply surfing the internet. If you have not tried StumbleUpon, go and try it out. Soon you will once again enjoy web surfing again.
Are you a StumbleUpon user? Share your experience of the service.
Hanging out at web master forums I am amazed at the number of times I come across posts asking how to process .html files as PHP. Often the question is being asked because they want to start using php to include parts of their template instead of creating static .html files. Well here is a little piece of code that has saved me countless hours, especially when moving a static .html files site to a dynamic PHP site.
To setup a Linux server running Apache web server to process .html (.htm) files as PHP. create an .htaccess file in the root folder of your website and add these lines to the .htaccess file:
AddType application/x-httpd-php .htm
AddType application/x-httpd-php .html
As long as your server has been told to process .htaccess files this will tell the Apache web server to process all .htm and .html files now as php files. This now allows you to include other php files, use variables and all kinds of PHP programming on your old static .html files.
I had a potential new client contact me today to talk about some changes for their website. They had their site designed and created by a large and trusted web developer. Their website was a very nice looking with clean graphics and easy to use menu, that is what the average web user would see. I browsed through several pages and noticed something odd. The titles were all the same on all the pages I visited. I little surprised by this I took a look at the html code for four of five pages and sure enough the titles were identical for all the pages. Not only were the titles the same all the pages were missing the meta tags for description and keywords. I was a little surprised, this client had paid a rather large sum of money for a website from a large web developer that has done hundreds if not thousands of websites and they made the titles all the same and left out the meta descriptions and keywords.
Why is this important? Well the title tag not only tells the visitor what the title of the page is, but it is also used by search engines in the indexing of the page. The meta descriptions and keywords tags, while many agree are not that important anymore, are also used by the search engines to help index the page and hopefully rank it for certain keywords. So if the site was about persian cats one of the main keywords would probably be “persian cats” and hopefully the site would show up when there is a search for that keyword. I checked this sites indexing with Google and sure enough of the 25 pages indexed, 24 were in the supplemental index. While some would say it is not a big deal to be in the supplemental results, I still suspect that it is better to not be there and one of the easiest ways of trying to get out of “supplemental hell” is to make sure that each page has a unique title and meta tag descriptions.
What has been your experiences with “supplemental hell” and have unique title and meta descriptions and keywords helped to bring you out of the supplemental index?
Google has added a new way of discovering websites that link to yours in the webmaster tools that they offer. Google’s link: operator is famous for not showing all of the external links back to your website, something that often frustrated webmasters, but was done so webmasters could not manipulate rankings to easily. They have even offered the ability to download the data so you can look at it more closely using a spreadsheet.
The Google Webmaster blog has all the details on this new external link feature that they have added to the webmaster tools. If you don’t have it on your webmaster tools yet, expect it soon. This is a great new feature that they have added and I look forward to looking more closely at the sites that link to mine.
I am always being asked by people how they can make easy money on the internet. My response to them is that they can make money on the internet but like most things in life it is never easy. Making money on the internet is just as hard, if not harder, as it is in other lines of business. There is no easy money to be made, only money that comes from hard work and more hard work. People believe that making money on the internet is easy because they see the get rich quick schemes offered on Ebay or found by doing searches on Google for phrases such as “Easy Money” or they have heard about “The Rich Jerk” and how he made millions.
Well here is the scoop folks. If you want to make money on the internet you will need to work at it. Don’t be fooled by those flashy get rich quick schemes with lots of ad copy and testimonials. They are there to do one thing, make money for themselves, not teach you how to make money. So if you want to make money on the internet here is my advice in plain and simple language.
- Find Your Passion
- What interests you? What do you enjoy doing as a hobby? What do you love? Everyone has something that they like doing and enjoy. The best place to start making money on the internet is to find out what you like. As my father used to tell me, if you do what you love it is not work. For me it is computers and the internet. What is yours? Movies, books, cats, dogs, people, video games? Find your passion and let others know about it.
- Learn, Learn and Learn
- There is a lot of great communities out there that can help you learn how to turn your passion into a money making website. Look for forums and communities that are related to your passion, but also look for sound advice from web master forums. One of my favourite web master forums is Digital Point Forums. There are many great people there and some very good advice.
- Write, Write and Write
- Websites don’t create themselves. Blogs require regular writing. It used to be that you could create a website once and not update it for a year or two. Not anymore! Of course your writing might not be writing. If your passion is playing music, your writing might be adding new music tracks. Podcasters write by creating new audio broadcasts. Photographers add new photos. The key is to add new content on a regular basis.
- There are many ways to monetize websites. I have a post planned on all the different ways that you can monetize your website, so I will leave this point short because it deserves it own post.
- Most people have several things they are passionate about. There is no reason you can’t turn more than one of your passions into a money making hobby on the internet.
Enjoy yourself and your site will be a success, and the work you put into the site will not be work, but a joy!
Still tweaking with the design of the site. Lots of little things that are getting done. I have tried to keep this light on the graphics so not a lot of flashy stuff here. I used some css that only works with Mozilla based browsers, sorry for those folks using Internet Explorer, but I have banged my head against Internet Explorer design issue enough and personally just don’t care if you don’t see it perfectly. If you want to see this site more the way it was intended then you can get Firefox.
Welcome to the LGR search engine optimization, web design, web programming and internet marketing blog. I have been hesitant to start another personal web project since I have several of my own personal projects underway and just as many business web projects going on, but I thought I might as well jump right in and start writing about some of the things I have learned on my time on the web. I am not new to working on the web, since I designed my first website in 1994 and have been involved in some web project or another ever since. I am looking forward to sharing what I know and learning from you in your comments.