The best way to promote a website is to regard it as a product as any
other "offline" product. That means, lots of work in introducing it to
the market and maintaining/increasing its exposure levels.
Blogs, dierctories, forums - are all good tools to get you known. Each
of them functions differently.
Theoretically, SEO services are a great idea: they take care of
everything for you. However, there are many crooks in this business
and one must beware of these:
Google Information for Webmasters, Search Engine Optimizers
There are many SEO services out there, and I would choose, even if it
costs more, one that could present reputable results, or one that is
linked to an established PR/advertising agency (e.g.
http://www.tribalddb.com/), and actually does PR and advertising for
you as well. This is because, as important as it is to be listed in
search engines and to get good results, first of all people have to
look for you.
"Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization"
<http://www.sempo.org/home> - an organisation of SEOs, which try to
maintain industry stadards.
What to Avoid
This is as important as what to do. Don't:
- go to SEO before you're absolutely sure that it can do more good than harm.
- participate in link exchange scheme. I mean, if you want to do it,
feel free, but don't expect anything good, trafficwise. Most sites
participating in these schemes have poor traffic (otherwise they
wouldn't need it). They would consequently not enhance your search
engine ranking. In addition, the chances of your site being clicked
through from one of these sites is not very high. If you do choose to
participate in such schemes, be sure to use sites that cater the same
audience like yours.
- think carefully before using direct mailing, even to "Opt-In" lists.
These find their place in many people's spam boxes. However, if you
use your own site's database and do it wisely (you should have a very
good webmaster here, preventing your own list directed to the spam
section), it is an effective tool to keep the contact with
- consider how clever it is to use pop-up and other site based
advertising, in a day and age, where many use pop-up/ad blockers.
- avoid doing evil and illegal stuff, like spamming; keyword spamming
(we'll get to that, if you're not familiar with cloaking and
keyword-spam) and the like.
As I said before, promoting a website requires the same work that
you'd do if you opened a store in your local neighbourhood. Only with
a big difference: it is a neighbourhood where everybody's blind, and
cannot see your store unless you'd advertise it.
You can divide advertising into:
(1) PR releases: there are several places where you can post free news
releases. Write something newsworthy and/or interesting about your
site, and release it (naturally, with the link to the site, its name
mentioned and so on). If you're lucky, you'd get many mentioning. Less
lucky, you'd be still archived with these services. Do not give up on
the first time, and consult a professional writer if you're not sure
how to write a promotional press release.
PR Web Direct
You can also, for example, use letters to the editor
Letters to the Editor: A Great PR Tool
(2) AdWords (and similar services): These fee-based services place an
ad on websites (as well as - in the case of AdWords - in the Google
search results for certain words). This is very effective, because you
pay only if your ad is clicked through, and because you get targeted
results: if I'd advertise my Harley-parts site in a regular
automotives portal, only part of the visitors would be interested, and
less would actually click. If I advertise it on a content-based scheme
such as AdWords, I'd get better results: only people who already read
articles about repairing a Harley or searching for "Harley parts" on
Google would see my ad.
<http://www.content.overture.com/d/> - similar to AdWords, owned by Yahoo!
(3) Promotional actions: if you had a family-friendly restaurant in
your neighbourhood, you might have launched the age-old campaign: show
us an ID proving its your birthday, and the desert/meal/balloons are
on us. People love getting stuff for free, people love sweepstakes,
and although this could belong to (1) [it's a sort of PR], here you
can really see traffic. It is enough that you'd post your freebies
offer/sweepstakes in several of the largest "freebies" sites, write to
people running such blogs, write press release describing your
campaign - and you won't know what to do with the traffic. Not all of
it would be "quality" traffic (that is, people who'd actually buy
something that you sell; read your articles; etc.), but it would be
Several "freebies" sites are:
The Free Site
Totally Free Stuff
(4) If you're selling something, be sure to list your site in Froogle.
Froogle Information for sellers
If this is a website for a local business, be sure to register here:
Which brings me to directories. Directories are only partially
effective. One should choose the directories carefully, especially if
they require a fee. How many people do you know personally who ever go
to this directory? Who uses it? Is it your target audience? If you
search for a popular search term associated with the theme of your
website, how early does this directory show up?
Yahoo! Directory is pretty widely used, and I'd recommend it, even for
fee-based listing. AOL-related directories could be also helpful (in
the US), because many AOL users are less computer savvy and would use
AOL services; AOL uses the DMOZ, which is free submission, but very
slow in adding sites.
(5) Blogs and Forums: spamming blogs and forums is evil. However,
adding helpful comments, related to the subject, with a link to your
site, is something else. If you participate in a forum, don't forget
to add the URL to your signature (if it's not against their TOS).
Opening your own blog or forum to discuss issues related to the site
could be also effective. First of all, it means that you can get a lot
of rich content, which is something search engines love. You might
also get people to read your blog because of an issue that interest
them, and ending up in your site (naturally, don't forget to add
internal links to your site all over the place, tastefully of
You blog could be also the gate for another, highly effective,
listing, through Google News (if you update it regularly):
Contact them at:
Internal Site Issues
The structure, design and access to you site could also determine how
effective any promoting would be.
(1) Keywords and Metatags: the site should have good keywords that
would use the content of the site to improve its placement. You may
try to use a keyword density analyser:
Be sure to avoid misleading keywords, spamming with popular keywords
only to get traffic, or cloaking - presenting to the spider something
else that what the visitor actually sees
(2) Site's name: have a name that is catchy, easy to remember, easy to
spell, to the point.
(3) Design (graphic): friendly to the eyes, and also accessible to
people not using Internet Explorere, to people with visual aids (that
is - no frames, please); better simple and effective as something full
of flash that the search engine cannot see.
(4) Lots of internal links, all of them functional
(5) Lots of rich content that would bring visitors to stay in your
site, to link to the pages, etc.
Important Further Sources
Follow Search Engine Watch <http://searchenginewatch.com/> for news on
trends and changes in the business.
Web Masters World <http://www.webmasterworld.com/> - valuable
discussions on methods to enhance the ranking.
Search Engine Watch: Search Engine Submission Tips
* Search Engine Optimization: An Hour a Day/Jennifer Grappone and Gradiva Couzin
* Search Engine Optimization For Dummies/ Peter Kent
* Search Engine Marketing, Inc.: Driving Search Traffic to Your
Company's Web Site/ Mike Moran and Bill Hunt
* Successful Website Marketing: Worksheets, Forms & Easy Steps for Web
Success / Peggi Ridgway, Joan Friedlander, Carolyn Allen, and Craig
I hope this answered your question. Please contact me if you need any
clarifications on this answer before you rate it.