7 Tips to Affordably Promote Your Small Business Web Site

I don’t know about you, but when I put my first web site up, I was outright disappointed with the results.

My first site looked pretty bad in retrospect, but when I’d finished designing it and had a few pages put up, I was excited to see it live.

One of the first things I did was check out my pages in google. Imagine my surprise when I typed my url into the search box and it said there were no results. I had no idea why.

Turns out your site has to be “indexed” before it’ll come up in the search engines.

Well, that was awhile ago and my site eventually did get indexed. And so, I waited for the sales to come in. Nothing.

I was puzzled and more than a little frustrated. What could I be doing wrong?

I started to research, and to make a long story short, one of the things I found was that I needed to promote it. (You’d think I might have known that, being in marketing and all, but marketing a web site is very different from other marketing strategies.)

There’s tons of information about promoting web sites – books, magazine and online articles galore. And very little space in a short article, but here’s a little of what I’ve found:

1. Before promoting your site, you want to make sure it’s ready to promote. If you’re not able to design a professional looking site, hire someone to do it. Design strongly affects credibility, and studies show visitors have viewing patterns that are very helpful when thinking about what to put where.

2. Add optimized content to your site as often as possible. (Most search engines “spider” your site more often if there’s regular changes to content.) And while we’re on the subject of content and search engines, web site content is different than copywriting for print. If you don’t base web site content on keyword phrases, your site will never be found.

3. Work on building links to your site because some search engines base their page ranking heavily on link building. But be careful with your link building campaign. Get them from quality sites with related content if you can. Don’t simply exchange links with someone else. Reciprocal linking used to work well, but search engines have gotten a whole lot smarter.

4. A great way to add content to your site, get incoming links and increase credibility all at the same time is through article marketing. Articles soon make you an expert in a subject. If they’re good articles, others will publish them, giving inbound links. And, of course, you can add them to your own site, but if you do, either make sure they’re indexed first on your site, or reword the article because content that’s seen as duplicate may not get indexed.

5. There are several places that offer free press releases. Write one and publish it any time your company has news for more links.

6. Add your company information to any business directories you find. There’s lots of free ones. DMOZ is particularly important.

7. Offer a free newsletter on your website in exchange for email addresses. Your company is only as good as its client and potential client list, and emails are a very inexpensive marketing tool. Just make sure you have permission from everyone on your email list. Nobody likes spam.

Well that’s about it for today’s tips on promoting your web site. I guess, I’d add one more thing. Remember to promote your company offline too. Add your url to every piece of printed material your company has. Ask them to visit your site, and while they’re there, to sign up for your newsletter.

Promoting your web site can be fun, but it’s also a lot of hard work. And it takes time. This is one place where patience can be a definite virtue.