Build It and They Will Come
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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 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.
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?