Avenues for promoting a web site should be examined from the moment your web site goes online. Even the most fantastic web site may go unseen unless you promote it. Although there are many ways to make a site draw a crowd, a good and permanent web address advertised in all your printed materials along with advertising are the best methods.
Ad Agency: If your business concern merits top notch promotion sparing no expense, an ad agency will be the ultimate step.
Business Cards and Printed Matter: Your first avenue of site promotion is to print your web address on all your business cards. You can begin by either getting a rubber stamp with your web address to stamp it on your existing business cards, your letterhead, your bags, labels and whatever. You can also have your web developer provide a small supply of temporary business cards or announcements telling of your new web site. Then you need to have your graphic designer create a professional full color business card highlighting your web address.
Domain Name: A domain name is an easy to remember web address consisting of your tradename or catch phrase. Examples of famous domain names include apple.com (Apple Computer) and IBM.com (IBM Corp.). But domain names are used at all levels including the smallest and least known individuals. Anyone can secure a domain name. Domain names are licensed for two year periods from assorted registrars for a nominal fee of about $20 per year or even less in some cases. A domain name will typically also cost you an extra $20 to $25. per month on your Internet Service Provider account and some small one-time setup fees. But the domain name normally entitles you to more versatile e-mail privileges. Best of all a good domain name is a mark of distinction that sets you apart from that longwinded hard to remember web address <www.service provider/~somebodyorother>. Wouldn't you rather have a domain name?
Communicate Your Web Address With Eloquence: There is a simple rule for telling people your web address: Say it short and sweet, just recite the domain name, not the whole web address. Let's say your web address is "http://www.MyFashionBoutique.com". When you tell people your web address, just say "My Fashion Boutique dot com" Amateurs have a tendency to spell out each letter starting with "http" or "www". That's not necessary. Likewise don't print the "http://www." prefix on your business card or letterhead. Just print the domain name "MyFashionBoutique.com" (without the quote marks). You will notice that I have capitalized the first letter of each word. This is not necessary but it is smart. It makes your domain name easier to read. Printing it all in lower case essentially says "ignore me". Always communicate your domain name with pride.
e-mail lists: The cultivation of e-mail addresses from customers who wish to be kept informed can be built into a large list for periodic mass e-mailing. This is called an "opt-in" list because the customer chooses the option to be on the list and is not placed on the list against his or her will. It's also called "direct e-mail" advertising, the electronic version of direct mail advertising, the most effective type of advertising because it speaks to an audience who has expressed interest in hearing from you.
Media Advertising: The high cost of print advertising repeats itself each time you insert a replay of your ad in a local paper. Therefore every ad should provide your web address in order to boost your audience presence. Web sites can be cheap or expensive to create. But once created at least they can remain online rather cheaply at any maintenance rate you choose, ie. meaning you can pay your web developer for one site revision every 6 months or every six minutes. Given that your web site is posted permanently, it is critical that your web address be posted in your newspaper, magazine, radio or TV spots each time you advertise. Media advertising is a good way to steer web surfers your way.
Search Engine Registration: Search engine registration is a skill and service available from your web designer or by doing it yourself. Most search engines are free and thus the only expense is the time it takes to register your site in the most beneficial and properly regimented manner on a select pick of search engine sites. Search engine registration typically involves a lag time of one week to a month or more before it brings any results.
Online Community Directories: There are myriad numbers of online local and worldwide interest groups, trade, associations and community directories that will typically accept your web site listing for free or at a nominal charge.
Meta Tags: Your web developer can plant invisible codes in your home page to increase the possibility of being found on search engines.
Press Releases: The old fashioned well planned press release is a good way to bring web surfers to your site. Typically the media may give you a write-up if your web site is pleasing or offers something unusual. This especially holds true if you have a domain name web address and are a long-standing or unusual new business.
Newsgroups: The Internet has many highly specialized newsgroups that can be a connecting point for you to make announcements.
Link Cultivation: Gradual experience will inform you of many acquaintances and trade peers who have web sites of related content. Over time you may want to build up an exquisite collection of links to other web sites and pray many of these sites will link to yours. Typically it is bad etiquette to ask for a link to your web site unless the web site is a directory but you should offer a link whenever a worthy site has given a link to your site. In most cases you should not provide links to competitors. But you may wish to link to organizations or experts. If you are an art gallery you might want to provide links to the web sites of your artists.
Keep E-mail Addresses Low Key: Never publish your e-mail address especially if it uses your domain name. Do not print your e-mail address on your letterhead. Do not give it to strangers or even to friends unless necessary. Do not post your email address in chat rooms. Do not use your email address to register for contests. Excessive exposure of your email address is a very risky mistake that will gradually open your privacy to spammers who will send you more and more junk email in the years to come. Some spammers will also gather and correlate data about you if they have a chance. Publicizing your email address is also amateur since nobody will use it unless thay have something to say. Just tell everyone your web address (your domain name) so they will memorize it and keep coming back to your web site. If they want to send you an email they can find your email address on the "contact" page. That's the only place it should be. Incidentally, if you receive spam, the genral advice is not to use the so-called "remove" option unless it is from a reputable company. Typically most spammers are said to ignore remove requests and simply regard them as confirmations that the targets are good for more spam. Your contact page should have a polite warning that you do not wish to receive commercial offers or solicitations or any bulk email announcements.
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