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Now That I Have a Website, How Do I Promote It?
By Beverly Miller

Getting your web site listed in search engines and indexes has become a highly specialized part of promoting your web site and your business. It is a constantly changing field and it requires continual work to maintain your ranking once you have been listed. However, you want to be extremely careful when submitting to search engines. It is not a good idea to use any software to submit as these "can" be useful but only if you are very experienced. The improper use of them, and in some cases the use of them at all, can get your site blacklisted by certain search engines. It takes a minimum of 4 to 6 weeks for your site to be considered for inclusion in most search engines when you use the free submission service some of them still offer. There are one or two where it is immediate, but that is unusual. There is no guarantee that your site will be added either - that is up to the individual search engine or index's discretion.

There is also no guarantee that your site will be found using the key words you would like. This is because each one uses their own individual method for categorizing and ranking sites. This is where it has become very specialized. Your ranking is determined by many factors which can be different for individual search engines, and those factors can change from month to month.

Many of the major search engines that existed a few years ago have now disappeared or merged with each other. And many now require payment to submit. Yahoo, which was once considered the most important index, now requires an annual payment of $299 to be considered for inclusion. However, Yahoo uses Google's results so once you are listed at Google, when someone searches at Yahoo using your key words your site should come up at Yahoo also.

One of the best values left for search engine submission is Inktomi, which has a pay-for-listing program for $39 a year for 1 URL. Your site will be listed very quickly - generally within 72 hours - to Altavista, HotBot, IWon, LookSmart, Overture, Slide, WhatUSeek, and other search engines. You can read more about it here:

The following two sites contain excellent resources for learning what you need to know about submitting your web site. If you intend to do this yourself, it's very important that you read and study resources like this, and be sure to check them every week or two just to keep abreast of changes and new opportunities. Even if you hire someone to do it for you, I would recommend that you read the basics so that you can judge for yourself if what the company you hire is doing is likely to help you or hurt you.

After your site has been submitted to search engines, you will want to work on increasing your ranking in the listings when key words you feel that people will use to find your site are searched on. This includes keeping an eye on your web stats to see where people are coming from and what key words they are using. You can then check and see what the results are for those words when you try them at various search engines.

Improving your listing can involve many things. Adjusting the text or title of certain pages of your web site in moderate ways may help. Increasing the number of high quality sites that link to you is another good way to increase your ranking. This is particularly helpful for Google. Another method that is helpful with some search engines is your number of visitors. You can help to boost this number by increasing your offline promotion of the site. Other techniques that can help include using good signatures in all of your emails, word of mouth, press releases, a newsletter, and other promotion.

Using a newsletter or any other form of email promotion can be helpful, but it must be done carefully. Being accused of spamming can have very serious implications for a web site and can get your site blacklisted. It can also result in your not being able to send email to certain ISP's. An opt in method where your subscribers must choose to receive your newsletter or emails, and are always given an immediate and easy way to unsubscribe, is vital. We use a newsletter program that offers this, plus it archives all issues of your newsletter on your web site automatically, so that vistors can read all of your previous issues. This not only adds new content to your web site, but offers helpful information for new visitors and can encourage new subscribers to sign up.

Another way to increase your search engine ranking is to develop reciprocal links with other high quality web sites with subjects relating to your site. This is something that you must develop one by one over time. But it can have a very positive effect on your ranking and on getting targeted traffic to your site. Here is a detailed article that explains reciprocal linking. It goes on to give a lot more information on other strategies. Start small and work at it over time.

Develop a good signature line that advertises your web site and grabs people's attention and use it whenever you email anyone. You never know when someone will use that to visit your site, or pass it on to someone else. This site gives some good ideas on developing effective signature lines in your email.

Creating a well designed web site is just the start. The only way that anyone but you is going to see it or use it is if you promote it - and that's a continual process - not a quick, one-shot deal!


Beverly Miller lives in Phoenix, AZ and is a mom and grandmother. She and her daughter Ruth began their web design business in 1996. Web site development and graphic design was something they both loved so it seemed natural to start a business together. Visit their web site Silverleaf Design at or email Beverly at

**Unedited by BPO staff


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