"Whew! Thank heavens THAT's finally done", you contentedly
think to yourself as you sit back in your chair after checking
the final link in the brand new website you've been laboring over
day and night for the past three months and have just uploaded
to your webhost's server. "Now I can relax."
That's just so CUTE! Actually ... I have a confession to
That's what I thought when I finished my first website too. I
naively assumed that all the search engines indexed every single
site on the web automatically and that all I had to do was upload
my site and ... voila! Instant traffic. I wish!
It doesn't work like that, sorry. "Build it and they will come",
you thought? Uh uh. No. They won't. You and
are the only ones who know your site exists and, let's face it,
your webhost doesn't really care so long as you pay your
hosting fees every month.
So, now that your website is officially "out there", the real
work of making its presence known can start. And, as you
will see, this is a never-ending process so you need a plan
and a strategy.
To begin with, you need to do your initial submission work.
Once that's done, you need to have a systematic, organized
method of ensuring your site continues to draw traffic. Here's
how to do it:
CREATE A PROMOTION TOOLKIT
Before you do anything else, create a text file and call it
"Promotion Toolkit" or something like that. Enter into this file
a list of all of your webpages and set up columns for: Engine/
Directory Submitted To, Date Last Submitted, Next Submission
Date. In the same file, create descriptions of varying lengths
for your site. I suggest word lengths of 10, 15, 25, 35, 50,
and 100. Do the same for the purpose of your site. Later,
when you start publishing your own ezine, create descriptions
for that too. Also write a website announcement and keep a
record of keywords that you think site visitors will enter into
the search engine when looking for sites similar to yours.
You will find your Promotion Toolkit to be invaluable when
submitting your site to search engines, directories,
announcement lists and all the various other places you will
be listing your site. By taking the time to create powerful,
effective descriptions and announcements, you will save an
enormous amount of time when actually submitting your site
because you can just copy and paste the information from
your Promotion Toolkit.
INITIAL SUBMISSION WORK
There are two major things you need to do initially: submit
your site to the major search engines and list it with all the
online directories you can find.
=> Submitting to the Search Engines
Your very first task after creating your Promotion Toolkit is to
submit your site to all the major search engines. Now, when
creating your website you did, of course, first learn about
principles of webdesign and the importance of meta tags and
the like for search engine positioning, right? If not, I suggest
you do this now BEFORE submitting your site. Perhaps the
best resource currently available is Ken Evoy's "Make Your
Site Sell". If you don't have it, get it.*
There are hundreds of so-called "search engines". In reality,
only a handful are worth the effort of securing a decent ranking.
Alta Vista - http://www.altavista.com
Excite - http://www.excite.com
Hotbot - http://www.hotbot.com
Infoseek - http://www.infoseek.go.com
Lycos - http://www.lycos.com
Northern Light - http://www.northernlight.com
Web Crawler - http://www.webcrawler.com
Yahoo - http://www.yahoo.com
There are a few other major players out there but these are
the "big 8".
=> Submitting to the Directories
In addition to search engines, there are hundreds of directories
where you should list your site. Space does not permit listing
them here so I recommend you visit Virtual Promote, a
brilliant site with links to virtually every promotion point on the
web today. It will take you a long time to submit to all the
directories listed there but just work at it and eventually you'll
get there. It's at http://www.virtualpromote.com
. It was this
site that advised setting up a Promotional Toolkit. One of the
best pieces of advice I ever took.
ONGOING PROMOTION AND MAINTENANCE
OK, so you've taken care of your initial submission work.
Let's turn now to what you need to do on an ongoing basis
to get and keep traffic flowing to your site. Again, space
doesn't permit a detailed treatment of all of these strategies.
They're intended just as thought starters.
The single most important thing you can do for the long-term
viability of your website is create an ezine. This keeps your
site uppermost in your readers' minds, reminds them it and you
exist, who you are and why they should do business with you.
You don't have to make your ezine the central plank of your
business as I do. You can, instead, just use it as an adjunct
to your website; a way of staying in touch with your site visitors.
For a really great site to help you get started, visit Kate Schultz'
EzineZ.com - http://www.e-zinez.com
=> Write Articles
This is an amazingly effective way of generating traffic to your
website and subscribers to your ezine. Every time you write
an article for your ezine, submit it to the various article
databases that exist for this purpose. Other ezine publishers
are always on the lookout for good content and if they
publish your article (complete with your byline and site details)
you will enjoy traffic and subscribers as a result.
Some good starting points for article submissions include:
Idea Marketers - http://www.ideamarketers.com
Ezine Articles - http://www.ezinearticles.com
from Kate Schultz)
Find Your Dream - http://www.findyourdream.com
Publish In Yours -
Free Content - mailto:email@example.com
=> Doorway Pages
These are webpages you create with a specific search engine's
algorithms in mind. Essentially, it's a webpage optimized for
particular search engine (configured to meet the search engine's
criteria for keyword density, title, description etc.) and submitted
to that search engine only. The webpage includes a link to your
What happens is that the doorway page, because it can be easily
optimized to be attractive to specific search engines, ranks well
and therefore the websurfer selects it from the search engine
results. The doorway page is called up but immediately diverts
the surfer to your main site.
Be aware, though, that the search engines are aware of this
practice and some are penalizing for it.
I recommend you bookmark Search Engine Watch to stay
abreast of this issue and also to stay current with various
search engines' general preferences which seem to change
on a daily basis: http://www.searchenginewatch.com
=> Ezine Advertising/Ad Swaps
Your promotional strategy should also include paid advertising
in ezines. If you also publish your own ezine, don't forget to
do some ad swapping with other ezine publishers.
For a directory of ezines that accept advertising, check out:
The Directory of Ezines - http://www.lifestylespub.com
The Free Directory of Ezines -
=> Free Classifieds and FFA Links
Opinion is divided on how effective placing ads at the free
classified sites really is. Personally, I've found that it's
worth the effort, particularly when you consider that by
submitting to these sites you become an immediate target
for spam. But, others claim to have success with it, so by
all means, give it a go.
Some of the most popular sites include:
Yahoo Classifieds - http://classifieds.yahoo.com
Adland Pro - http://www.web-source.net/adlandpro.htm
Web Sitings - http://www.websitings.com/classads/
Small Biz FFA - http://www.smallbizffa.net
FFA Network - http://www.ffanet.com
Submitting your site to the FFA (Free For All) sites won't do
much for you in direct terms. The reason to submit to these
sites is that they boost the number of sites the search engines
record as "linking" to yours and this can boost your ranking
with some engines. Be prepared for a DELUGE of mail back
from these sites. You'll need to set up email filters to handle
=> Invite Referrals
Give your site visitors and ezine subscribers a way to
recommend your site and ezine to others. Recommend It is
worth signing up for: http://www.recommend-it.com
=> Fresh Content
Update your website content frequently to give visitors
something to come back for. Invite site visitors to leave you
their email address so you can notify them when your site
=> Keyword Bidding
GoTo.com is one of a new breed of search engines that allows
you to bid on key words to improve your ranking. At present,
this is a ridiculously cheap way of ensuring a good ranking so
it's worth thinking about. Some keywords can be had for as
little as $0.01 per visitor. This means you pay GoTo.com
one cent for every visitor they send you: http://www.goto.com
=> Reciprocal Links
Contact webmasters of complementary but not competitive
sites and ask if they will swap links with you.
=> Discussion Boards, Newsgroups and Mailing Lists
Constructively participate in discussion boards, newsgroups
and mailing lists relevant to the subject matter of your site.
Include a link to your site and/or ezine in your sig file.
=> Joint Ventures
Enter into joint ventures with other websites and/or ezines.
This could be as simple as cross-promoting each others'
ezines on your "Thank You For Subscribing" page or
something grander such as getting together to promote a
new product or service you have both developed for the purpose.
=> Press Releases
There are several good press release services available.
Here's just two:
Canada One, a free interactive press release builder -
Gebbie Press - links to print and electronic media on the
See what I mean about your work just starting? Hopefully
you can also see why everyone keeps telling you that you
need to spend 80% of your time on marketing!
Running a business online is no different to running a
business offline when it comes to marketing and promotion.
Both require planning, diligence and application, day in, day
That's where the real work of running an online business
comes in. It's not the website -- that's necessary but not
sufficient. It's your website coupled with hours of work
promoting it that makes your business a success.
One without the other will relegate you to the scrapheap of
wannabes - all 95% of them. Don't let yourself be one of
the 95% who never make it. By getting the foundation (your
website) right and then constantly and effectively promoting it
using all of the methods outlined in this article (as well as your
own brilliant ideas, of course) you stand a very good chance
of securing your place among the 5% of online businesses that
actually do make it.