8 January 2016

Publicizing Your Site for a Profitable Online Business


This is lesson seven of the Internet Income course by course author, George Little. The lesson aims to bring out the ins and outs of starting and running a profitable online business in today's ever-changing global market by breaking down important principles using simple English. This lesson is full of tips, real-world advice, and in-depth, step-by-step instructions on setting up your Internet-based business. Read the 6th lesson here.

This lesson will provide an overview of the many strategies available to publicize and promote your Website. We will also discuss relationships among the strategies. We will list a number of specific strategies, but will not cover any of them in-depth in this lesson. More strategies will be mentioned in the next lesson and all of the strategies will be covered in-depth in later lessons of this course. This lesson and the next are limited to the introduction of many of the common strategies available.

Publicizing and Promoting Your Site

The Two Components Of Promoting Your Website

In the English language, the words "publicize" and "promote" have similar, but slightly different meanings. To "publicize" something is "to make it known to the public," while to promote something is to "advance it in rank or standing." The difference in the two words has to do with quality. To "promote" your Website is to enhance it's quality in the minds of the public. Thus, the word "promote" is most often used in the context of making your Website successful. If you are searching for information to help you, searching for "promote your Website" will yield slightly better results than searching for "publicize your Website."

Recall from our previous lessons, however, that there are two components to promoting your Website:
  1. You have to have a quality site, and...
  2. Your site has to be seen by others. To "promote" your site is often discussed as a combination of the two goals--and that works fine. We separated the two initially so that you could recognize them as separate concepts, alerting you that we would be emphasizing one or the other at different times in this course. But, for the most part, it is all part of the same process. To have a successful Website, it must be a quality site...and it must be seen.

An Overview Of Promotion Strategies

It would be nice if we could provide in one list all the publicity and promotional strategies you would ever need to use. However, there is no finite list of all strategies. New strategies are devised every day. Techniques to promote your Website are limited only by your imagination. What we can do, however, is give you a list of the most often used successful strategies. This list will be a good starting place for your efforts.

There is also no set order to rank the strategies based on their usefulness. Although, I will say that, in my opinion, the most important strategy of them all is to obtain good organic search engine ranking. The different strategies work together and compliment each other. Most all of the strategies we will discuss will also improve your organic search engine ranking. So, in that sense, they are all equally important.

1). Organic search engine ranking

Other than to mention it here, we will say little about organic search engine ranking at this point. it deserves in-depth discussion over several lessons and will be a continuing subject in this course. As mentioned above, it is also tied in some way to almost every other strategy. Thus, we are setting it aside for now in order to cover the other factors in order to give you the big picture.

2). Other ways to promote your site

Success requires investment. Investment can come in different forms. You can invest money in promoting your Website through paid ads (ppc's) and other strategies. You can invest money by simply hiring someone to do it all for you. You can invest your own talent. You may have, or be able to acquire, talent in writing, photography, videography, graphics creation, music, or similar arts. You can invest knowledge. If you know how to do certain things better than average, people will be interested to hear how you do it. If you have studied certain things or had certain experiences that are out of the ordinary, people may enjoy learning about these things from you. You can invest time. Anything you create that is of value to others will take some amount of time--at least initially. Thus, there are many different ways you can invest in the promotion of your Website.

You can either spend money to promote your site or you can invest your time, talent, knowledge and experience into promoting your site--or some combination of all of the above. We will first look at investing your time, talent, knowledge and experience. For convenience, we will put these under the category of "free promotion", not because you are not making an investment, but because you are not paying others to do your promotion for you. Later, we will discuss "paid promotion."

Free Promotion Strategies

1). Social Media

The easiest and most natural way to promote your site in today's world is to use social media. As of January 2015, the most popular social media sites are (in order of popularity):
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Pinterest
  • Google Plus+
  • Tumbir
  • Instagram
  • VK
  • Flickr
  • Vine
  • Meetup
  • Tagged
  • AskFM
  • Meetme
  • Classmates
The most popular one, Facebook, has over a billion members, and over 900 million people log in and use it at least once a month. (Most members log in daily or at least weekly.) The least popular on this list, Classmates, still has over 15 million people using it per month. That's a lot of people out there available to connect with you.

Using social media is the easiest and most natural way to promote your Website. Social media provides both free and paid ways to promote your site. We will discuss both of these social media promotion strategies in detail throughout this course.

2). Guest Blogging

Ultimately, you want to draw people to your site by making your site rich with free, interesting, and original content. But, the problem at first is that no one knows where to find your site to see the great content you may have there. The solution? Find sites that already have traffic and offer to guest blog on those sites. Most sites will allow you to have a link back to your site in your short biography at the end of your article. People who like what you have contributed on the other sites can then link to your site for more of your interesting content. You have then successfully directed some Internet traffic to your site.

3). Creating Videos and Posting them on Youtube

Creating videos is a great way to drive traffic to your Website. The process of creating videos gets easier each year with the proliferation of devices that can capture good quality video and the abundance of inexpensive software that can be used to edit your videos. A certain amount of skill is necessary to capture good quality video from the environment, but a little reading and a little practice will have you making interesting videos in no time.

You can create a Youtube channel that links back to your Website. The videos can display your URL within the content of the videos and in the video descriptions found below the videos. Potential customers can easily find your videos (by searching on either Google or Youtube) and can then embed your videos on their Websites or in their social media posts. This is an easy way to spread your content and to publicize your Website as a source of more similar content.

Let me give you a good example of how this works. One of my oldest Websites is panhandleonline.com, which provides area content for the Florida Panhandle. Follow this exercise to see how Youtube can drive traffic directly to your Website:

Open another instance of your Web browser and go to Youtube.com. Search in Youtube for "pileated woodpecker call." Scroll down the first few videos that show up as a result of your search looking for "by Florida Panhandle OnLine" just under the name of the video. (At the time of this writing, my video shows up pretty quickly. That may change with time before you try this, however.)

If you are interested in woodpeckers, go ahead and click on the name of the video and watch it. Then click on the channel name just under the video. If you do not have time or are not interested in watching the video, then just click on the name of the channel (Florida Panhandle OnLine) right from the search results. When you arrive at the channel page, look to the bottom right of the header photo and you will see a link to the Website. Clicking that link takes you to my Website!

Thus, I have created an opportunity to drive Internet traffic to my Website by utilizing a Youtube video. People interested in seeing pileated woodpeckers will soon become aware of my site. They may be interested in the other content on my site or they may not. If they are interested, they may bookmark my site or maybe even post it to one of their social media accounts (such as Twitter or Facebook). If that happens, I will have a link to my site--and that is the ultimate goal of promotion--creating links to your site.

Also, anyone who embeds the video on their Website or post it to social media will be creating opportunities for other people to find and link to my site. Youtube can be a fantastic way to promote your Website!

4). E-mail Marketing

E-mail marketing to promote your Website is one of the oldest promotional strategies in Internet Marketing. It is fraught with many dangers due to spam issues and it is often made ineffective by overzealous spam blocking, but it remains a necessary part of promotion. It often takes several contacts with someone to evoke action on their part. E-mail, when used correctly, can be crucial to maintaining contact with an interested potential customer.

5). Provide Contact Information

This one may seem so simple as to not be worth mentioning, but I am amazed at the number of Websites that provide no clue who is actually responsible for the Website or where they may be located. Give your name, location and contact information on the Website. Show that you are proud to be the one responsible for it. While it can be dangerous to provide an email address on the Website as it will be farmed by spammers, it is easy to provide a contact form from which you can follow up by email. If you do not want to list your regular phone number for fear of getting too many unwanted marketing calls as a result, get an inexpensive Skype number to use instead. If you are reluctant to make your street address available, at least provide your general location (city, state, province, country) so viewers will have some idea where you are located. The more opportunity you provide and the easier you make it for follow up and feedback, the more successful your promotion will be.

6). Use Word of Mouth

Use word of mouth to promote your site among your existing friends and contacts. If they have Websites, ask them to link to yours. If they do not, ask them to mention your site on social media. You will be surprised how much your friends can help and how willing they may be to do so.

7). Issue Press Releases

Newspapers often use press releases to fill up small amounts of unused space. They use them when there are lacking in news content and needing some filler. Write press releases about your Website and send them to a number of newspapers.

8). Online Forums and Chat Boards

Often referred to as "old school social media" and technically a part of social media, the groups and chat boards that have existed for many years and still have much traffic are, if their posting rules allow, a good opportunity to mention your site. Like all of the other promotion strategies we have mentioned, a little knowledge and finesse is required to do it properly, but it can be productive.

9). Include Your URL on Stationary, Cards, and Literature

Almost a given these days, but worth mentioning so that it is not forgotten. Make sure your Website address is available on every piece of paper sent out by your office. Also, add a signature line to your emails that includes your URL.

10). Provide Something of Value for Free

We have stated over and over--and will do so again throughout the course--that a successful Website must have interesting, informative, and entertaining content. That is a baseline required for any of the promotional strategies to be successful. Taking that one step further, however, it can be considered a distinct promotion strategy to isolate and focus on one particular thing of value on your Website and design a promotional campaign around providing that specific thing for free.

There are many examples of promotional freebies that we all commonly see on the Web. Graphic artists offer free clip-art. Musicians offer free downloads of certain songs. Some photographers offer some of their images for your use royalty free. Some sites offer dedicated calculators (mortgage amortization, measurement conversion, child support calculators, etc.) for your use. Programmers offer certain programs as freeware. WordPress theme designers offer certain of their themes for certain uses without charge. SFI offers you this course and much other useful marketing instruction for free. The examples are endless and are only limited by imagination.

There are many Websites on the Internet now and all of their creators want people to come look at them. But, it would be impossible for any one person to look at every site to which they are invited. There is not enough time--even if they did nothing else for the rest of their life, there would still not be enough time to see them all. Thus, offering something needed, something for which people may be actively seeking, for free, is a great way to get visitors to actually come to your Website.

In this lesson we have provided an overview of Website promotion. We have emphasized that success requires investment. We have emphasized that you must have interesting, entertaining, valuable content and you must have that content available on a site that people actually see. We have mentioned a few of the common strategies available to promote Websites.

In our next lesson, we will mention a few more of the common strategies available to promote your Website. Read the next lesson here: Promoting Your Site.

By George Little, Panhandle On-Line, Inc. For more information on the Internet Income Course and other works and courses by George Little, see http://www.profitpropulsion.com

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