"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 make.
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 your webhost 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
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
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
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, 75
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
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
=> 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 (another gem from Kate Schultz)
Find Your Dream - http://www.findyourdream.com Media Peak -
Publish In Yours - mailto:email@example.com
Free Content - mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org
=> Doorway Pages
These are webpages you create with a specific search engine's
algorithms in mind. Essentially, it's a webpage optimized for a
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 site.
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:
=> 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 - http://www.netmastersolutions.com
=> 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 not
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 it.
=> 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
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 out.
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.
About the author:
Elena Fawkner is editor of the award-winning A Home-Based
Business Online ... practical home business ideas, resources and
strategies for the work-from-home entrepreneur. Subscribe at