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Ready to promote your website?

February 5th, 2009 by mdmcginnis

Too often webmasters try to promote their websites prematurely. In the long term, the best way to make your website more popular is to make it more usable, more comprehensive, more interesting. But when you’re convinced that you’re saying something that needs to be said, it’s time to start tooting your horn.

Tell people when you add new content or services. A blog post on your own site is a great way to get the word out, especially since other webmasters can follow your news through your RSS feed. Twitter is another good notification tool. Don’t forget to link to your own previous articles on the subject.

Practice unified marketing, including offline promotion. Put the URL of your website on your business cards, letterhead, posters, T-shirts, and newsletters. (Use a consistent URL for branding, though – make up your mind whether you want to be permanently known as cows.tamu.edu or cattle.tamu.edu or maybe something else.)

Get involved with social media sites. That is, go wherever your conversation is. Contribute without being pushy. For example, recently on Facebook, I saw a wall post from a prospective student wondering about her application to Texas A&M – followed by a non-intrusive response from someone from Texas A&M Admissions. That’s the right idea. On the other hand, people can be suspicious of comments. Spammers get paid money (not much, though) to post links on blogs and message boards: “Check out this hot information about watermelon!!” So does your passion and courtesy shine through your social media involvement? Can readers tell you from a spammer?

Don’t give in to the dark side. Some webmasters are willing to do anything to get more links. Google is particularly touchy about paying other sites to link to yours. An exception is any link containing a “non-follow” attribute, like this: <a href=”http://www.example.com/” rel=”nofollow”>Example</a>. That attribute is also standard in blog comments, because it says, “I’m linking to another site, but I’m not vouching for it.” If you ever decide to buy links, you might prevent Google from banning your site from their index by asking that your links include the no-follow attribute.

Reach out to sites that are related to yours. Find your niche, identify the expert niches of other sites, and link to them. Linking to them and talking with them will build their respect for you and make them more interested in referring visitors to you. Share resources; don’t duplicate the wheel. Is any niche going unserved? When webmasters work together to serve the needs of visitors, it increases the popularity of every site in their community.

Remember that you’re developing relationships with busy human beings. Don’t try to interest people in each new, small piece of content you create; promote the big, interesting items. Don’t send out spam to every similar or popular site asking them to link to your mediocre content. Why should they link to your website? Until you know the answer to that question, don’t even ask for links. If your content is the best of its kind, you may never have to ask.

Now might be a good time to review all the main points we’ve discussed from Google’s Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide, or download it yourself from Google.

Thursday, February 5th, 2009 Future Projects, Search
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