Apr 3, 2009

Promote your web site with a little elbow grease

Regardless of what your business does, what services you provide or what you want to sell through E-commerce, all business web sites have at least one common need: They all need to attract visitors in order to succeed.

Obviously, volumes upon volumes of information have been produced on various tips, tricks and tactics for building both search engine rankings and site traffic. Often overlooked in the middle of that huge data dump, however, are three simple things you can do to help build your site’s search recognition and drive more visitors to your site.

(A caveat: Don’t conflate ‘simple’ with ‘easy’. Nothing below requires any sort of specialized technical knowledge, but they all require a bit of elbow grease on your part. Remember one of my main themes: For online business, there’s no such thing as an Easy Button.)

1. Links from directories. Most search engines place a fairly high value on links from directory sites, primarily because directories are generally edited and maintained by real, live humans. As a result, the categories and summary information concerning directory-listed sites are generally accurate and considered high-quality data.

Directory links, however, are frequently overlooked as a valuable component in search engine strategies – even by professional site developers. In a way, I suppose, that’s understandable. Generating directory listings can require either patience or money – sometimes both.

Submissions to directories like DMOZ.org are free, but they can take time because the directory listings are reviewed by volunteer editors who maintain the integrity of the category listings. Other popular directories like Yahoo! Directory and Business.com are paid directories, typically with an annual fee to maintain inclusion in the listings.

Are paid directories worth the expense? In moderation, probably. Some of the directories cater to specialized interests, which may be valuable to you if it’s a market your business targets. The better-known general directories are high page-ranks sites with heavy saturation in the search engines – both of which are elements that can help boost your site’s search score.

Directories are too numerous for me to list here, but a good place to start researching them can be found at Strongestlinks.com.

2. Online press releases. There are a number of sites that specialize in publishing press releases in various ‘feed’ formats. When you first take a close look at the process, it might not make much sense. How many people scroll through all of the posts on a press release site, looking for information about shopping sites or local businesses?

Fortunately, that’s not how they work. By publishing their press releases in easy-to-use web formats, these services help feed the press releases you write into the search engines. Some of them are picked up by so-called ‘content aggregators’, but the real point is to get press releases about their clients – you, in this case – stuffed into the search engines where they can be found.

You can find a number of press release ‘tutorials’ if you take the trouble to look. In a nutshell, in order to have maximum impact, your press releases need to be packed with text that uses the keyword phrases your potential customers will be searching for. And don’t forget to include links back to your website and your business’ contact information in each release.

3. The ‘blogsosphere’. This tip assumes that you have a blog somewhere on your web site. (You DO have a blog hosted on your domain, don’t you?) Your web site’s blog is just the starting point, though. A broader participation in the ‘blogosphere’ is what will start to boost your search rankings and bring more traffic to your site.

This involves finding other blogs that may reach your target market and actively partcipating on them by posting relevant comments, joining into discussions and linking to interesting posts on your own blog. This helps other bloggers – and other blog readers – find your blog (and the rest of your business web site that accompanies it). If you’re clever enough, or simply diligent enough, your blog can be a great tool for attracting qualified visitors to your web site.

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