Sunday, March 14, 2010

10 ways to promote your web site

Once you've built your masterpiece, you have to spread the word. Submitting your Web site to search engines, directories and related sites is critical to success. The real Web-savvy companies have whole teams of geeks who spend their days figuring out how to get better rankings in search engines.

Unfortunately, there's a lot of fools' gold, bad advice and even downright scams in the Web site promotion field. If you go about promoting your site the wrong way, you can actually hurt traffic instead of helping to build it. Here are 10 things you should definitely not do, no matter how tempting some spam message makes it sound:

1 - Spam Not!

This is the cardinal rule of Netiquette. Mass, unsolicited e-mail is not acceptable, anywhere, for any reason. There are hundreds of hustlers out there trying to sell you databases and software that you can use to spam, but don't believe their promises. Spamming will make enemies for you, not friends. It can also get you barred from large ISPs, crippling your traffic.

2 - Don't shell out big for submission services.

Submit your site to 500 search engines for $19.95! Bad deal. There aren't 500, or even 100, search engines worth submitting to. The 19.95ers simply run your URL through an auto-submitter (like or, which you can do yourself for free. If you want a professional to submit your site, plan on spending a few hundred bucks at most, which should buy you a careful and thorough job. I myself currently offer a basic submission service for $350, and I admit that I'm a little pricey. Insist on receiving documentation of everything that's been done, including all e-mail autoresponses from the search engines.

3 - Don't waste time on the flotsam and jetsam of the Web.

Submit your site to the major search engines and directories, perhaps using one of the auto-submitters for some, and doing others individually. There are about 30 that are worth submitting to. Then seek out specialized directories that are appropriate for your site (travel, investment, shopping, country-specific, etc.). Don't waste time with obscure search engines and kids' links pages. There are billions of pages like this, but they get zilcho traffic. Your time is better spent carefully crafting your submission to Yahoo.

4 - Don't rush through your Yahoo submission.

Yahoo is by far the most important directory, and the hardest to get into. Submissions are reviewed by real editors, so follow the instructions to the letter, and really try to convince them that your site is a useful resource. Some good tips are to be found on the rather obscure page called "My Site on Yahoo," and also has some good Yahoo tips.

5 - Never submit your site until it's open for business.

Test your site thoroughly, and make sure every section is complete before you begin submitting. Most surfers will never return to a URL where they found a dead link or an "under construction" sign.

6 - Don't forget to integrate your URL into your business.

It's amazing how many companies spend big bucks to build a Web site, then balk at the cost of printing new business cards to include the URL. Your Web site URL should be on every piece of company media from letterheads to coffee cups - anywhere that a phone number would be included.

7 - Don't mess with black magic.

There are a lot of sneaky tricks discussed in the various Web promotion newsgroups and mailing lists, that claim to improve your search engine rankings. Loading your page with invisible keywords, creating special "doorway" pages with magic dust on them, and secret programs (for $19.95) that "force-feed" your page to search engines. Don't fool with it. The search engines and directories wage an ongoing battle against those who would "beat the system," and they can and will bar you if they suspect you of "spamming" them. Do use META tags, keywords in titles and body text, and that sort of thing, but don't overdo it, and always follow the submission rules.

8 - Don't put anything in your Web site directory that you don't want the public to see.

Most of us have a few "test" pages, or perhaps pages of personal material, that we keep on our Web server, but that isn't meant to be seen by the public. Straight search engines like Excite and Altavista, however, will automatically "spider" and index every page on your site, unless you tell them not to. Create a text file called "robots.txt," and place it in your Web site's root directory (usually the "htdocs" directory). This file has a list of pages or directories that you want to keep the spiders out of, and it looks something like this:

User-agent: *
Disallow: /test/
Disallow: /temporary/
Disallow: /templates/

This tells all visiting spiders not to fool with any of the 3 named directories. Note that the directory names must end with a "/".

9 - Don't neglect to measure your traffic.

Some wise man said, "If you can't measure it, you can't manage it." Be sure to keep your server log files safe, and use the software tool of your choice to analyze them. Your ISP may offer one or more free tools for your use. Getstats is one popular free one. If you can shell out a few hundred bucks, high-powered traffic analysis packages like Hit List or Web Trends can really help you boost your traffic by telling you how many hits are coming from each search engine, and what keywords people are searching on to reach your site.

10 - When you're finished, don't stop!

Site promotion is an ongoing process. Once you've made your submissions, check back a month later, and you'll find that some of them didn't take. Resubmit as necessary, but don't overdo it. Always be on the lookout for new sites that might be willing to give you a link, and for new (but legitimate and preferably free) promotion opportunities.


Kenyan Web Host said...

I agree with point ten. The moment you decide that your business has grown and you stop marketing, that is when the decline starts.