What good is having a site if no one knows about it? When I first started creating websites a few years ago, I relied on word-of-mouth advertising as my main method of generating hits to my sites. Back then, Google wasn't as big as it is today, and getting listed on Yahoo! was the 'big' priority. Today though, you don't even need to submit your site to Google. As long as you have a good title and equally as good meta tags, their spider will find you eventually. Today on the other hand, Internet advertising and search engine optimization (SEO) is a must-know for any webmaster. I'm going to run down some of the most successful methods of e-marketing that have worked for me over the years and have generated thousands of hits to my sites, and in turn brought me more customers. Link Exchanges Exchanging links with related sites is a free and easy way to gain new visitors to your site. Set up a separate links page and place only those links to other sites displaying a path back to yours. This will increase your search engine rankings due to the fact that more sites are linking back to you. It will in turn make your site more popular among Google's index. Search Engine Optimization When users are looking for something, they generally search for it. With Google indexing millions of pages every month, shouldn't your site be one of them? It can be if you follow these simple steps to optimizing your site for inclusion into Google's directory (or any search engine for that matter). 1. Optimize your tags. The "title" and "meta" tags reflect what Google's spider looks for when crawling new sites. A title tag with the name 'index' for example tells no one about what your page is about and puts it at the bottom of the list. Meta tags serve as a means of describing what your site offers and listing some important keywords searchers may enter when looking for your site. Make sure you're descriptive as possible! 2. If possible, avoid an all-Flash-website. Websites created entirely in Flash are very hard for a search engine to find and index properly. Spiders rely on textual content to scan and therefore include. With a Flash movie embedded into your code, the spider cannot read it and will rely only on your tags for inclusion, not content. 3. Make your file names of sub-pages descriptive to what the visitor will find there. As you see on this site, photos are located at photos.html and links at links.html. I've seen a hand full of sites that have pages named page2, page3, page4 etc. That may be helpful to the webmaster to keep things organized, but it does not help your rankings in Google or any other search engine for that matter. Google is looking for related content within your website's structure. If it can find photos.html, when someone searches for your site in general, 'photos' will most likely appear in the results along with the index page of course. Opt-In E-mail List Generating an e-mail list is an excellent form of promotion and keeps visitors coming back. Having an e-mail list service on your site to notify visitors of any updates or improvements to your site will help them remember you even exist. When creating a list make sure you deal with a company or program that does not sell or trade e-mail addresses. Your visitors trust that you will provide them with the service they subscribed to, and are not generally expecting unwanted solicited mail. Message Forums and Online Communities Joining a message forum or online group related to what your website offers is a great (and free) way of increasing your traffic. Becoming a part of an online message group and gaining a reputation there can greatly help you bring visitors to your site. Include a link to your site in your signature, or slip it into a message you may be replying to. If your fellow board members begin to know you on a more personal level while exchanging messages with you, they may feel more inclined to turn to your services whenever they may need them - and that equals more business for you. Get Offline Just because your site is online doesn't mean you have to market strictly through the Internet. Get out and market yourself the old fashioned way. Word of mouth advertising is still major! Talk to a colleague or friend about your newest site and what you offer - they may go on and mention it to another person, and so on. Hand out business cards or flyers with your website's URL and describe what your product is. When I launched my first site I sent out numerous letters and offerings to local businesses of prospective clients I'd thought would be interested in my services. Out of the 50 letters I sent out, I ended up gaining 15 clients. That's an extraordinary number when you consider that some of these businesses already had what I was offering and were willing to discuss with me the process in switching over to my services. Newspaper advertising, especially in the classified section on a Saturday, can do wonders. I placed an ad in a local paper three weeks ago for two of my sites. Each ad brought in around 200 hits each and a few new customers. The lesson I learned was to drop Site A's placement for the following week and place another ad for Site B to see if my client-base from the previous week's newspaper referral would double - and it did. The reasoning behind this was Site A received hits, but minimal customers, therefore defeating the purpose. It's all about trying new things to see what will work. If you find something isn't working out, it's best not to waste time and money on that particular marketing strategy. Placing a classified ad is not expensive considering the hundreds of thousands of readers you will reach. Most newspapers also place your ad on their website free of charge if you advertise in their print edition. There are many more sources of where to advertise and how to do it. I've only touched the tip of what you can do to increase your presence online. If you're looking to get hits to your site fast and you don't have the patience to try any of my methods (although you should), I recommend purchasing "The Web Traffic Driver" by John Enderson. You've got nothing to lose with a full money back guarantee. Wishing you all the success online! Chris Jacobson About the Author:Chris Jacobson is an Internet entreprenuer and freelance author who writes on various topics. Tags:,,


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