There are a number of ways to promote your website that involve parting with hard earned dollars, but I’ll often tell clients that the best ways to market your site are actually free. Well, free might not actually be precise, since nothing is ever truly free. So instead of money, the following tips will cost you in time. Time well spent, though, and they will form the foundation to a solid website promotion plan.
1. Solid SEO
You may have heard that SEO (Search Engine Optimization) costs a fortune to implement, but that is just not the case. Yes, there are SEO professionals out there who can tweak your site for a fee, but the basics of SEO can be accomplished by any website owner. It boils down to:
- Writing good content
- Writing good keywords/keyword phrases
In a future article, I’ll go into further detail on SEO, but for now, check out What is Search Engine Optimiztion (SEO)? from about.com
2. Search Engine Submission
You may have heard about companies that will submit your site to over 1000 search engines per month. This is all fine and dandy except that the three biggest search engines handle over 93% of the traffic (Google – 72%, Yahoo – 18% and MSN – 4% as of Dec 2008), and each one spells out how easy it is to submit a site to their index. They have also agreed on uniform support for sitemap submission. Simply add the following code to a robots.txt file located in the root directory of your site:
And if you don’t already have a sitemap generated for your site, get one generated for free. This file will also be placed in the root directory of your site.
Creating a blog on your site is a powerful promotional tool because it hits on several web marketing strategies at once. Having something to say about your industry will keep your content fresh, and the content will be rich with keywords related to your site. By becoming an active member of the blogging community, you’ll have the opportunity to build strong relationships as well as reciprocal links.
Blogging Tip: When reading blogs that are relevant to your industry, take the time to comment and become part of the discussion. By leaving relevant remarks you’re getting another opportunity at free website marketing while becoming more well known within your own blogging community.
4. Social Networking
Social Networking isn’t just for the young. Sites like LinkedIn and MerchantCircle offer business related networking for free. Yes there are other networks such as Facebook and Twitter that are more for chatting or personal relationships, but even these can help promote your site. You never know if that long lost high school friend might be in need of your services. For a large organization or community group, Twitter in particular can be a quick and easy way to keep existing members updated on new content, as well as provide those members with a convenient way to spread the word about you.
5. Reciprocal Links
Perhaps reciprocal links should have been placed higher up on this list, as it’s been well know for some time that it’s an important part of how a search engine ranks your site. The problem is that while most advice you find on the subject mostly just mentions how important it is, but fails to mention how you go about doing it. Quality trumps quantity in this case, and it takes time and patience. Blogging and Social Networking are two great ways to begin your link lists, which is why I feel they are more important than more direct link sharing techniques (usually by contacting another site owner via email and asking to exchange links). These links are important for search engine rankings. Far more important to me however, is the quality relationships you get by building these links from the ground up. There are places where you can purchase reciprocal links, but I would very much avoid this, as Google has a long history of punishing techniques that are trying to game the system. And besides that, it isn’t a free technique.
Like with most endeavors, you’ll get out of these techniques what you put into them. If you select even just a couple and really concentrate on them, you’ll have a solid foundation for consistent and increasing site traffic.