Effectively Marketing Your Internet Website.

© 1996 Counsel.Net Web Services. For reproduction permission, write Robert Reap.
A copy of this document is available at http://counsel.net/info/marketing.html

To: Subscribers to Web Authors Mailing List
Subject: Re: Marketing/Advertising Web sites?
Mime-Version: 1.0

>Hope this is appropriate for this list-
>What're the 'best' techniques for publicizing a newly created web site?
>(My background is in actual web dev, and not the 'marketing' side of

How much work and money do you want to put into it?  You could spend an
hour and get a fair return on your work, or you could spend a week and a
few hundred dollars, and drive it into the ground.  Here's what I mean,
from most basic to most time-consuming and expensive.

Start out by designing the site properly.  Make sure that *every* page on
the site utilizes meta keyword and description tags (see infoseek's submit
page for details).  Spend some time specifying exactly which keywords are
most likely to bring your intended clients to the site, and make sure you
vary the content of these words so they properly reflect the differing
content each page provides.  A good rule of thumb is to grab a set of
keywords that describe your clients and place these in every page, then
make sure you add, at the beginning of the keyword list, as extensive a
list as possible describing the content for that page.  Think divergently,
these words don't show in the web page, and take a minimal amount of extra
time to load.  But keep in mind that some search engine spiders stop after
the first x characters, so put all the best ones first.  It's probably bad
netiquette to repeat these words, and some spiders actually omit that word
from their indexing if you repeat it too many times.

Next, make sure each meta description tag adequately describes that
particular page's content.  This is the description that pops up in the
search results.  It does no good to have your page come up if nobody
follows your link.  You only have about the first dozen words to work with
here (do an infoseek for examples) so you better make your page sound

Next, one by one visit the search engines and submit your URL.  There are
about two dozen that yield fair returns, and each one wants different
information, so this will take a bit of time.  Have yourself a text
document with your keyword and description fields laid out so you can cut
and paste from this into the various search engine submission forms.  This
saves time and allows uniform marketing.  Again make sure that for the
sites asking for keywords and descriptions that you really do a good job
coming up with the best sequence of words to get visitors to your site.

Note that some search engines take weeks to get around to your site.  You
may want to submit your URL as soon as you start work on the web page.
Note that some search engines only want one page, they say they'll find the
rest.  Rule of thumb, if it's an important page, or if the content or
keywords etc. have changed significantly since you first submitted it, do
it again.  Don't depend on them to come back and recheck the page.

For a good starting point of places to submit your page to, go to
submit-it.com.  The service is free, covers the biggest search engine
submissions, and "automated," but you still will need your clipping file of
meta words, each engine requires different information.  Keep a grid of the
engines and pages you have submitted.

A better approach if you know you'll be submitting numerous similar pages
to search engines is to collect the bookmarks of the search engines
submission page for that type of URL.  For example, Yahoo requires you to
find the area you would like the site listed at, and go there, _then_ hit
the submit button.  Keep a bookmark file of all the search engine
submission pages, and you can just go through them in series.  If you do
this a lot, you may even want to create a checklist for submission

Ok, now we've covered the basics, and spent about an hour per page.  Here's
how you increase your traffic, with diminishing returns on your time.

If it's your site, you may consider placing the site URL and a short
description in your signature file.  You can't place commercial posts into
newsgroups or mail lists (you don't want to tick off a propeller head, they
have nothing better to do than devise mailbombs and otherwise make you
miserable), but if you regularly monitor and post to news groups and mail
lists related to the substance of your site, and your sig line has some
tantalizing marketing info, you will be able to see your site traffic bump
up significantly each time you post a knowledgeable post to that resource.

Now it starts to get tedious.  One by one track down the listservs,
listprocs, and majordomos related to your site topic.  You should note that
many of these allow you to post without actually being on the list
(this one does not).  Create a database of these addresses,
and subscribe in digest mode to the best ones which require membership to
post.  Now, using your marketing savvy AND EXTREME TACT create a series of
"press releases" to send to these mailing lists.  Do not send them all at
once.  Make sure that the information you send is not pure advertising.
For example, it is appropriate to announce to an attorney newsgroup that a
new site I have has a chat board specifically for toxic tort litigators.
It is not appropriate to tell them I design attorney websites for only x
dollars a site/hour.  Don't forget the power of a well-crafted sig line.

Do not saturate this mailing list.  What seems important to you may sound
like marketing tripe to other subscribers, especially when they see your
same announcement come down on five other lists they monitor!  The worst
thing you can do is start a hate thread after you post, you will do more
damage than good, and you may not know it even happened.  And getting that
genie back in the bottle is usually not possible.

Next, do the same thing for the usenet groups.  Use great tact here,
because thousands of people will read your post, and people are very
protective of bandwidth on these resources.  Many of them would also like
to post advertisements for their services, but if that happened, the usenet
would break down.  How many people would tune into a TV station that had
nothing but commercials?  You get the idea - do not post advertising to the
usenet.  You will get mail bombs and your ISP will dump you, and your
well-intentioned ad will create a dissonance you don't want.  people may
even boycott or badmouth your site.  You must be careful, but if you plan
properly, don't post advertising, and use a good sig, you can use the
newsgroups for marketing very effectively.

Don't forget to monitor the newsgroups occasionally and reply to posts
likely to be of interest to your target audience.  Regular posting and a
good sig line will keep traffic consistent at your site.

Ok, now it get's really difficult.  You can also create a third database
for webmaster addresses for sites that are likely to have the traffic you
want.  Many times even competitor sites may be able to list your site,
provided you return the favor.  You may want to create a database of sites
that specifically compete against you, then send them a request to list
your site on theirs, and ask them to post a note to you if they do list
your site, so you can provide them a reciprocal link.  I do this
automatically by telling them they can submit their resource automatically
by visiting my submit-a-resource page.  then when they get to my site, they
can check out my site for themselves.  Hopefully they'll provide a link to
some of my better resources, and not just steal my ideas.

To find these sites, start by doing a search on "X resources."  For
example, I'd search on "legal resources."  From the resulting list, look
for a web page that just lists dozens or hundreds of other legal web sites.
Then, create four field database - 1) URL, 2) site name, 3) description,
and 4) webmaster address.  You can make URL a unique field to avoid
duplicates.  Then, one by one, visit the most pertinent sites and create a
electronic mailing list database for these webmasters.  Limit your time and
DON'T SURF.  If you can't find the submission URL within 30 seconds, just
place "webmaster@domain.name" in the address for that field.  Since a good
many of these webmasters won't list your site anyway, don't waste your
precious time at perusing their site either.

Now that you have a nice (possibly saleable!) database of webmaster
addresses, you can pepper them with announcements about your website.  the
first mailer should be a request for them to link to it.  After that, you
can mail them every time you have something of interest for their site.  I
was an editor for a college paper, I grew quite used to press releases.  I
doubt that webmasters will mind nearly as much as mail listees or
newsgroupees about a few commercial advertisements.  But you should still
try to be tactful, and offer only information at least arguably
informative.  Be sure to begin each post with "Please forward this
information to the appropriate personnel."

When creating the webmasters database, think divergently.  Remember that
there is likely an interest in your site beyond just your direct/indirect
competitors.  For example, a colleague of mine designs educational sites.
While schools might have an interest in his sites, so too will sites like
Discovery Channel, maybe C|Net, anybody who designs educational products,
even many ISP's provide a series of helpful links for their members, like
"educational links," etc.  This database will grow eternally as you surf
yourself across sites that you can imagine have an interest in your
product, so keep your database handy wherever you go!

The same thing can be done for zines (electronic publications).

Now for the part where it starts to get expensive.  It is all very well and
good to publicize your site to on-line resources, but your target audience
is limited to those who are on-line, and happen to visit/read/subscribe to
the posted resource.  You will want to target at least the most helpful of
the non-computer media.

Create another database, this time for off-line resources.  You can spend a
huge amount of cash on press releases here, so you may want to a) limit to
only your most helpful, or b) find some wire service you can have the
information sent on.  First think specifically, just the top resources for
your site.  On TV it might be "Cyberlife," "The Next Step," "C|Net," CNN,
Discovery Channel, and others with a great interest in cyberactivity.
Then, don't forget your news media - local TV, the networks, the local
papers, and magazines targeted to your audience.  There are hundreds of
computer publications, including your local computer edge/computer
resource.  You can also target the publications for your specific audience.
Consider for trading cards - there are magazine specifically tailored for
your audience - hit them first.  Think divergently, your database is only
limited by your time and mailing budget.

Speaking of mailing budget, what's the best way to reach these folks?
Well, you could prepare a written press release and mail that.  This will
require the full mailing address for these resources.  Ask your post office
how to receive bulk rates.  You could also fax them, then you'd just need a
phone number.  Many fax systems have a "fax broadcast" whereby you just
feed in your fax number list, and the computer sends the fax to the entire
list.  Fax these at night for the lowest rates.  You could also send them
by e-mail to the editor at organization, assuming they are on-line (they
probably are).

As far as the content of the press release, if you haven't ever written
one, the format is pretty routine.  Go to a search engine and search on
"press release."  You will find thousands on the web.  Look at a dozen or
so, you will see they all follow a pattern.  Copy the pattern and make sure
you include all of the critical information the editor will want/need to
follow up on your release.

Last, make sure that you html-encode your press release itself.  Mention
the press release webpage in the printed press release - "a copy of this
press release is available at http...."  Then, have a link from your
homepage to your press releases.  Why?  Because this will allow the search
spiders another shot at your information.  It will also provide visitors to
your site a means to gather the information your most proud of, and that
you almost certainly want them to read.  Last, it will remind you to keep
your marketing effort going every time you see the press release link on
your homepage.  trust me, you will get pretty good at throwing these

But won't all this marketing cost a lot of money?  Answer - of course!  In
manhours alone it will cost thousands of dollars if you follow all of these
steps.  But think about it, how much have you spent on the site already?
What good is it if nobody visits it?  The difference between a good site
and a successful site is often the marketing campaign.

You can also recoup much if not all of your marketing cash by placing
banner ads on your pages.  These ads can result from a sophisticated
program, or just be stationary ads.  Vendors in your field, and those even
arguably related, will pay you per impression for their ads on your site.
When considering potential advertisers, think divergently.  Sure, trading
card stores want to advertise on your site, but so will monitor
manufacturers, national access providers, maybe even beach condos in the
North Carolina outer banks (if there are any left).  Leave a link up <a
href="sponsors.html">sponsored by:</a> that leads to your banner
advertising rates page, and when you reach critical mass, you will have
advertisers beating a path to your door.  Visit other similar pages with
banner advertisements to see what they are charging.  Banner ad CGI's and
JavaScript programs are available from various archives across the net,
check infoseek etc.

If you follow the above outline, it is very tedious at first, but after you
have all the templates and mailing/fax lists, the job becomes automatic.  A
lot of work?  Absolutely.  But I bet Andrew Carnegie never got much sleep
either.  Question your priorities, and you will determine how much time and
cash you can afford to spend on marketing of your site.

I hope you find the above information helpful.  If you have any questions
or comments, please feel free to pass them along to me.   :)


Bob Reap

Robert Reap, Esq.                                  reap@counsel.net
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Effectively Marketing Your Internet Website.

© 1996 Counsel.Net Web Services. For reproduction permission, write Robert Reap.

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