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By P J Chandler
Posted Friday, October 15, 2004

Yesterday I was talking to the owner/editor of a local magazine that has just ceased publication. When I asked what caused her to pull the plug, she told me that advertising revenue had fallen off lately. The commonest excuse given by local businesses when she approached them for advertising space was, "We don't need to advertise because we have a web site!"

Setting up a web site is a lot like opening a shop in an unfashionable suburb of a small town in the middle of a desert. Unless you tell people about it and give them a good reason to call by, nobody is going to find you except by accident. If you operate a business that has anything less than a worldwide reach, one thing you almost certainly need to do it to advertise in appropriate paper media - if only to let people know where to find your web site.

How else will people find you? Search engine results are only as good as the search terms entered: typically, they return thousands of pages, many irrelevant and few surfers follow up on any beyond the first 20 or so. Despite the claims of some site promotion agencies, it is often impossible to position your site anywhere near the top of the list unless you are dealing in a product or service so obscure that you have little competition.

Small businesses are often persuaded by web design companies to put up a site that merely gives contact details and a rough idea of what the company does. This is fine if all you want is the equivalent of a Yellow Pages listing, but can you be sure that real live potential customers will find your site among the proliferation of others that inhabit the darker corners of the web?

So what can you do to carve out your niche on the web without expending huge amounts of time or money?

1. Focus your site on a tightly-defined subject area: don't try to be all things to all surfers (unless you run Yahoo!).

2. Use relevant keywords: you will not get more traffic by slipping words like 'sex' or 'money' into your keyword list unless the rest of your site really does deal with these subjects.

3. Provide worthwhile content: give your visitors something to read that will grab their attention and make them want to buy - or at least call back.

4. Do some homework: read up on how to promote your site creatively using free and low-cost methods.

5. Take action: allocate some time every week to publicising your web presence.

6. Don't stop advertising in paper media: if it worked before, chances are it will go on working. Seeing your URL on paper helps people remember it and adds to your business credibility - and it may be the only way they get to see your wonderful web site!

Much has been written about web site promotion, but how many site owners actually take the time to do even the basic search engine submissions, let alone any serious promotion? Unless you allocate some time to telling the world about your site, what it does and why people should visit, you can be sure of one thing:
they won't!

About the Author
P J Chandler writes about online marketing and other topics. His web site, with excellent web site promotion, submission and marketing resources is at (


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