PROMOTING YOUR WEBSITE

Vicky Vickers

An invisible website will not bring in business, promote your favourite cause or accomplish whatever it is that you wish to do with your website. A website without visitors may as well not exist. After all the hard work you put into designing it, you now want to show it off! So, how do you let the world know it exists?

Start with your Web Site
Use META tags in the head section of your home page. the two tags are:

The main reason for using META tags is to tell search engines that accept them, to index on your keywords. This is especially important if the web page is full of graphics, or the beginning of your page (the first 250 characters), would not make sense on a search engine. Not all search engines use META tags, and even the ones that do, won't give you preferential listing, but it can make a difference.

Put it on your business card
Adding your e-mail and website addresses to your business card, letterhead, invoices, etc. will greatly increase the traffic to your website. It also shows that you are an up-to-date organization, which should really impress your clients, etc.

Add it to your e-mail signature
While most listservs and newsgroups do not like their member's promoting their businesses directly, they don't usually complain about you mentioning it in your signature. Keep it short though, people are starting to get concerned about their "band width". Long signatures will cause more harm than good.

Promote it at your ISP
Most Internet Service Providers (ISPs) have a "Member's Mall" or at the very least, an Index of member's websites. However, you will not end up there automatically. You will need to visit the site and find out how you can be listed there. At the same time, see what others are writing about their sites and make up a short resumé of what your site is all about similar to what the others are doing.

List it with free search engines and on-line malls
This has the potential of bringing thousands of visitors to your site. While there are only a few really major search engines, there are hundreds of smaller ones, some of them very specific. And there are thousands of on-line malls. Searching them out can take a lot of time.

A lot of the search engines and on-line malls offer free pointers or links. Recently, I found a very comprehensive listing of sites which offer free links at www.mmgco.com/top100.html. "Submit-it Free" (http://www.siteowner.com/Free.cfm) has a form which allows you to list your website at several locations without having to re-enter the data. I also maintain a page at www.crunchers.bc.ca/~vicky/pointers.html which has about 100 sites listed. Unfortunately, I haven't updated it recently, so I can't guarantee that they all work.

Before you start visiting some of these sites to list your website, write up three different length descriptive resumés on it's purpose and focus - 10 words, 25 words and 50 words. The reason for this is that the places you will be registering with have different requirements. Also, make up a list of keywords - single descriptive words that a web browser may type into a search engine when looking for the type of subject matter your website includes.

I usually use a Macintosh feature, the "Sticky Note" to keep all the information I need when listing with search engines and malls. On the note, I have the company name, address, phone, fax, e-mail, URL, keywords, and resumés. I find copying and pasting them into each form I fill out, to be quicker and more accurate than typing it in each time. I then make sure that I can see a corner of the note so I can flip back and forth between Netscape and the note.

Tip
If you have a lot of old letterhead without your e-mail and website addresses it, don't throw it away. You can either have a commercial printer add these addresses to the bottom of the letterhead, or simply make up a template for your word-processing program with the addresses in the footer. This way, they will print on the bottom of the letterhead while your are printing the letter. Of course, this doesn't work too well with two page letters . . . You can also add these addresses to your old business cards by purchasing labels which come 80 to a sheet. These are very small and will fit on most business cards. You can print the addresses on them using your own printer and a label-making or data-base program.

Acknowledgements
This article was published in the April 1997 issue of the Victoria Macintosh Users Group's monthly newsletter "MACtalk" in Vicky's monthly article "VMUG On-Line" and in the Summer 1997 issue of the Web Enthusiasts Association of Victoria's quarterly on-line newsletter. Thanks to Murray Fallen, ABC to XYZ Mall, (www.cvcprod.ca/west/) for the tip on META tags and for proofreading this article.

Vicky Vickers is the owner of Word Crunchers, Etc. which specializes in website design and HTML training. She is a past-president (1994-6) and former webmaster (1995-8) of Victoria Macintosh Users Group (VMUG). She also founded and was the first president (1996) of the Web Enthusiasts Association of Victoria (WEAV).

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Call me today at 250-595-6593 to discuss your website design
or e-mail me at vicky@crunchers.bc.ca

Vicky Vickers, Word Crunchers, Etc.
3290 Shelley Street, Victoria, BC, V8P 4A5
Fax: 250-595-7384 (call first)


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