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So You Have a Web Site - Now What?

By Mindie Burgoyne
Posted Thursday, September 30, 2004

Once your web site is done, it does you little good to have it sitting static on the net waiting for those visitor "clicks." High numbers of visits to your site from potential customers or clients rarely happen by accident. They are a result of a well designed internet marketing plan.

When our company pitches the benefits of having a web site, we emphasize that a web site is not a form of advertising. An advertisement is owned by the vendor who sells it to you. It runs for a specified amount of time and then is gone. It's a one time shot to make an impression. A web site is a marketing tool specifically used for communication. It is owned by you forever, and you use it to communicate with the outside world and through it, the outside world can communicate with you.

Other communication tools used by companies are telephones, fax machines, snail mail and personal contact. You can sell and advertise with these tools, but their benefits are far more versatile as are the benefits of your web site. And just as you have to pay your phone bill, though you own the phone and fax, you must pay the web hosting bill - but the phone, the fax machine and the web site are your property and part of your company's assets.

Once your web site is created and available on the Internet, it is crucial that you verify that the web designer has inserted title and description tags on each page and has submitted the index page, and other high level pages with the major search engines. These two steps - inserting tags and search engine submission - often go unchecked by the web site purchaser. You should ask for the email confirmations of search engine submissions, and a copy of the each html page for the site that has the tags listed. The web designer can point out the tags if you are unfamiliar with the html markup language.

Marketing the new web site

Most web designers will offer to do this marketing piece for you for a fee, but we encourage our clients to assign a person in house to do the marketing piece. Why? Because web marketing is an ongoing process. The Internet is constantly changing, and someone inside the company should be familiar with the status of the web site and its growth and how it's adapting to the changing cyber world. It takes less than one hour a week, and a person on the inside is naturally going to have more zeal for seeing that your page rank is climbing and your visitor traffic increasing.

Here are our company's Ten Suggestions to Marketing Your Web Site.

. Check your web stats daily if possible paying close attention to number of visits and referrers. This tells you how many people are visiting your site and where they came from. It will tell you which search engines brought visitors to your site. The company that hosts your web site often provides these web stats for free. There are also affordable software programs you can purchase that will help you analyze your web logs.

. Run a search using your company's name in the major search engines (Google, AOL, Yahoo, MSN, alltheweb). Wherever your company shows up, check with that website to see if they will include your URL where your name is listed. It is best to call personally, and then follow up with an email.

. Check your competitors in search engines to see where they are listed. See about getting your link listed on these sites or similar sites.

. 4. Consult with you local Chambers of Commerce. If they list the web site links of members, it may be worth your while to buy a membership - especially if that particular chamber's web site gets a lot of hits. A link on a Chamber's web site is good for the whole year that you are a member. When you break it down to a monthly cost, it's generally affordable. If your chamber has a high page rank, having your site listed there will boost your rank.

. Be sure to include your web address on ALL advertising materials (business cards, newspaper ads, web ads, flyers, billboards, brochures, stationary). A good rule of thumb is - "if you put your company name on it, put your web site address on it as well." Does your company make deliveries? If so, put the web address on the delivery vehicle. Even a small magnetic sign on a car can be affective.

. Look for web directories and web listing services that list businesses such as yours as a service to web visitors. (i.e. realtor.com, Hotel / Motel Restaurant Assoc., expedia.com ) They will more than likely be glad to include your link. If they charge a fee for listing your site, weigh out the cost against two factors … will the traffic they bring to your site be targeted towards your specific service? …. will your link on their site boost your page rank in the search engines?

. If your local Town Government, County Tourism Office, or State Business Association has a website, ask to be included on their site if it's appropriate to their content.

. Search the web for other businesses that have complimentary (not competitive) services to yours. Consider whether a reciprocal link on their website would be beneficial, and then ask if they would exchange links. For example, we have a marketing and promotion company that does web sites. When clients want brochures or business cards printed we deal with a particular local printer. We have a link to them on our site, and they have a link to us on their site. This is particularly effective for any business that you partner with for clients or services. NOTE: when considering reciprocal links, remember that you don't want a visitor to leave your site to view another. Be very cautious with this process. Be certain that the webmaster adding the links to the site assigns the link to open in a new window, and don't link to a site that could steal away any of your clients.

. Start an email list of potential customers and add to it as often as possible. Ask clients and customers for email their email addresses, and collect email addresses from potential clients any way you can. Once a month sent out a newsletter about happenings in your company. Include content (non-advertising) that will be interesting to your clients. For example, a real estate agency may include a short piece on home improvements; an antique store could include a piece on refinishing furniture. Always give them an "opt out" link at the bottom of the email in case they no longer want to be on your list. Be sure to include links throughout your email that will drive them to your web site.

. Remember to change the content of your web site frequently, even if it's a small change to only one page. We find that clients who have a "rotating page" - that is a page that is designed to be updated often - have more traffic and keep their ranking up in the search engines. A "monthly specials" page or "featured product or service page" are some ideas for pages that will keep your web site from become static and create an incentive for visitors to return.

Be sure to establish a good working relationship with your web developer, if they will be serving as your webmaster. Keep the lines of communication open, ask questions, and make them aware of your needs. Web developers are generally good people that want to make their clients happy. The success of the web site often hinges on the success of the developer / client relationship. When the relationship is good the synergy created between the two can do wonders for your company and your customers.

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