Promoting Your Web Site



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Promoting Your Web Site

This one really works! Or it wouldn't be here.

    The only way you are going to generate any traffic to your site is to vigorously promote it. By promote I mean to do everything you can to get it listed and ranked as high as possible by the major search engines and directories. You will also want as many links to your site as possible. I have done some research into what types of promotion tactics work and which ones are not worth your time.

Page Preparation
The main page of your site (usually the index.html) is the page that you will be submitting to the search engines and directories. Most search engines will spider this page to check it's relevance to the category that you submit it under and then follow the links on this page to index the rest of your site. It is imperative that this page be properly prepared. Let's start at the top.

The title of your page (between the <title> and </title> tags) should be descriptive of your site and may be up to 50 characters in length. Don't underestimate the importance of the title. Say your site is about Nintendo games for example. The title might read "Nintendo Game Cheats, Codes, Screenshots, and Links".

Meta Tags
The two meta tags you MUST include in the head section of your page are "Description" and "Keywords". You need to be careful about the keywords that you place here. If these words are not found in the page's content the search engines may not index the page at all.

This one will contain a short description of your page and site in general. Keeping with the Nintendo theme the description meta tag might look like this.

<meta name="description" content="Nintendo game cheats, codes, and screenshots. Links to the best Nintendo sites and information.">

Think of keywords as words or phrases that someone might use to search for a site like yours. Again, keep these words relative to the content of your site or the search engines may penalize you. The words and phrases should be separated by a comma. Do not repeat any one word more than three times. Your keyword meta tag might look like this.

<meta name="keywords" content="nintendo,game,game cheats,nintendo codes,nintendo cheats,screenshots,game links,cheat codes">

You get the idea. You might add the names of the games you are featuring in these keywords. A good idea is do a search on some of the major search engines using words that you would use to search for your site. Go to the sites that appear first in the searches and view the source code to see what keywords they used.

Page Content
The text content of your page is even more important than the meta tags. All spidering search engines scan your page for relative phrases and words. For this reason you should be sure to include as many relative keywords as possible here. Again with the Nintendo theme, the first paragraph might look like this.

Welcome to my Nintendo Game Site! Here you will find game cheats and codes for all your favorite Nintendo games. There are many screenshots of game levels with instructions on how to get through them. Check out the Links page to find the best sites for Nintendo information and products.

The search engine spiders are unable to read images. You should always include the ALT attribute in your image tags. This is especially important for images that are used as links. For example, if you use an image to link to the "Nintendo Cheat Codes List" page the tag would look something like this.

<a href="cheats.html"><img src="cheatcode.gif" alt="Nintendo Cheat Codes List"></a>

The bottom line is that the more relevant information that you provide on your main page the better your chances are of being indexed properly with the search engines. Any non-relevant information will be counterproductive.

Submitting To Search Engines
You may have noticed that there are dozens of sites that offer to submit your site to all the major search engines and directories for free. Most of these sites have you fill out a small form where you will enter your name, email address, and the url of your site. This is NOT good! Many engines and directories require more detailed information in order to index your site properly.

The absolutely best procedure is to go to each search engine and directory site, find the "Add a Site" or "Add a URL" link, and submit the required information. This can be very time consuming, not to mention frustrating. The second best procedure (and the one I recommend) is to use the free submission service. This service will have you fill out a detailed form that will contain all the information that most engines and directories require. It will then walk you through the process of submitting your site to each one individually.

There are two directories that I recommend you submit your site to directly. Mainly because you are better able to locate the proper category and subcategory to list under.

Open Directory
This is the fastest growing online directory with millions listings to date. It is also used by some of the major search engines (AOL and Google for example). All submissions are edited and placed by volunteer editors. Choose your category carefully, follow the instructions to the letter, and your site will most likely be listed within a few days. I have been one of the editors here (the Karaoke section) for a few years now and I believe this to be the most fair and impartial directory on the web.

Many people falsely believe Yahoo! to be a search engine. Sites submitted here are reviewed and placed by the Yahoo! staff. You should go here and submit your site to the proper category although the chances of it actually being listed are next to none. It appears that Yahoo! only wants to list business sites that have their own domain. Even then they are very selective.

Do not submit your site to the directories more than once unless you make major changes to your site. If they believe you are spamming them with submissions they may refuse to index you at all. You should submit your site to the major search engines about once a month or whenever you make major changes to your site. Most of the major engines provide instructions on how to find out wether or not you have indeed been indexed.

Links To Your Site
Link popularity is simply the number of sites that have links to yours. More and more search engines are using link popularity as a main criteria for ranking web sites. Besides, having a lot of sites that have links to your site has to be a good thing. There are many ways to accomplish this. Here are two.

Link Trading
Most web site owners are more than willing to exchange links with sites of the same basic theme. Do a search for sites that are similar to yours and send an email to each site individually asking if they would be interested in exchanging links. Do Not mass email these sites. This will be considered spamming and could get you into trouble. You can go HERE if you would like to exchange links with this site.

Web Rings
You can start your own web ring or join an existing one. To increase links to your site you are better off joining an existing ring with a large number of members. Each site in the ring will have a link that leads to the list of sites that belong to that ring. Your site will be in that list.

Not Worth Your Time
There are some promotion tactics that at one time may have provided satisfactory results but are no longer worth the effort. Here are a couple of them.

Banner or Button Exchanges
How often do you click on advertising banners or buttons? If you are like most people the answer is "rarely". This type of advertising has basically become just an annoyance. Recent statistics show that the click through ratio of banners has nearly dropped out of site. Also, the increasing popularity of advertisement filtering browser add-ons means that less and less web surfers are even seeing these banners. It's just not worth cluttering up your pages and slowing down the load time for the minute benefit that this type of promotion may provide.

FFA (Free For All) Link Pages
I know there are numerous sites and software programs that boast that they will submit your site to thousands of FFA link pages. So what! Try to think of the last time you clicked on a link in, or even visited, an FFA page. That's what I thought. About all you can expect to gain from this type of advertising is an inbox full of worthless spam mail. There is no chance of these increasing your link popularity because your link will only remain on the page for a few days at best. I actually put this system to the test by creating a page and submitting it to 10,000 FFA sites twice a week for a month. The page received 2 hits. Enough said?

Once you start getting people to visit your site you will want them to bookmark it and return often. The most successful sites rely heavily on return visitors. You need to update your site with fresh content often. Creating a "What's New" page is always a good idea. Add-ons such as message boards and polls can be helpful. There are countless millions of web pages out there with thousands being added daily. Those who put in the most time promoting will receive most of the traffic.

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