Advertising Your Website

Though it is impossible to get an exact number it is safe to say that there are billions of web pages available on the Internet. That leads an organization to wonder "how can we get people to our website"?

There are many different techniques that are used to make yourself known on the Internet but there are basically four key components to the process of creating your "web presence".

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Search Engines

The first are search engines. Search Engine Optomization (SEO) can involve visiting, using software or hiring someone to visit the individual search engines and listing or registering your website with each one. The search engines will find your website without registering it as they also keep track of new domain registrations. Without paying a fee there is no way to speed up the process of getting added to a search engine.

Though there are hundreds of different search engines out there, there are less than a dozen that the majority of people use. Many of the smaller or specialty search engines will use the major search engines to submit their own clients' searches.

Before publishing your website and submitting your site to a search engine it is very important to have some key components ready on your own website.

  1. Have your site ready. This may go without saying but I have come across many websites which have broken links or pages that say "under construction" which leaves a poor impression.
  2. Have your meta tags ready. Meta tags are used by the search engine to categorize and file your site as well as describe it. There are two main meta tags; description and keywords.
    1. The description tag is a short paragraph describing what the searcher will find when they click on the link to your website. This is often displayed below the link and if it is not explicitly defined the search engine will take the first 25 or so words on the page regardless of what they are. This can result in a misrepresentation of your organization.
    2. The second meta tag is the keywords tag. This is a collection of every keyword that you can think of which describes any aspect of your organization. Include geographic words, philosophical words, American, English or other versions and even misspelled versions if you are using commonly misspelled words.
    3. The content in the <title> tag becomes the label or "clickable area" when your site comes up in a search engine.

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Print Media

The second technique is printed media. Most organizations produce printed media including business cards, flyers, advertisements, information leaflets, posters, press releases and various other material. Don't forget to add your website address to all of these. The same way that you would add a phone number which allows interested people to contact you for more information, your web address must also be available. The website is not a replacement for the traditional phone number and mailing address but an additional item that is often initially forgotten by organizations new to the Internet. Remember that your website is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week; so people can browse your website to read the information at their leisure.

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Links Pages

The third and perhaps most interesting and certainly most exciting is sharing links or cross-links with other organizations and companies. The Internet has created a new form of information gathering called browsing. People will click on interesting links which they find on website in order to navigate through the Internet. If your website is one of the links available, people will be able to find you easily.

To begin this process you need to do two things. One is to create a links page or link section on your site. This links area of your website needs to be monitored as the Internet is constantly evolving and your links will need to be updated periodically. There are website and applications which will check your links saving you the time of clicking on each one yourself. Even with this type of service it is a good idea to visit your links periodically, perhaps once a year or so, to make sure that the direction of the organization you have linked to hasn't changed. I have found websites that have changed from information providers to full blown commercial sites which no longer reflect the ideals that caused me to add a link to their site originally.

This page or section can be as simple or elaborate as you wish. One way is a simple list with the name of the organization, another is a link with a description of the organization, a third could be categorizing your links by topic or service. There are many different ways of arranging a links area on your website.

Get links to your website added to other websites. If you are a member of an organinization or other coalition you may want to highlight other coalition members or even create a web-ring which is an Internet program/protocol which automates cross-links.

Ask other organizations to add your site to their links page. A good way of approaching them is to send a note to their webmaster or contact person telling them that you have added their site to your links page, inviting them to visit your site and add from their website.

If you are a member of a professional organization, business association, branch of a larger grouping, etc.. make sure that a link to your site is added to these websites. If you advertise with a media outlet check whether they will also provide a link on their website.

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Standard Code

If the HTML and styles on your web pages are written with standard code it is easier for search engines to add your site. Search engines use many techniques to categorize website, but all expect standard code structure. If a search engine program finds a web page with non-standard code they need to analyze the page to determine how to categorize it.

There are other ways of advertising or highlighting your website but these are an excellent place to start.

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