10 Ways to Promote Your Website for FREE
There are a lot of free promotional opportunities for your website. Are you taking advantage of the ones you should be?
- Search Engines
- Free For All Links
- Classified Ads
- Solicited Links
- Newsgroups and Discussion Lists
- Direct Email
- Free Magazine Listings
With a little effort, anyone can get their website on the first page of a major search engineís results, but it takes a lot of effort to maintain a top listing with popular search terms.
Search engines are a great source of highly targeted traffic. Submit all the important pages of your website to all the major search engines, and any of the smaller ones which specialize in your business or locality, after you read my articles on search engine placement and keyword selection.
Directories are the low-maintenance version of search engines. They put your website into a category, usually in alphabetic order, and sometimes give an option of searching as well. They rely on the information you provide when you submit your website, rather than actually visiting it, so you don't have to design your website with them in mind.
For directories, it helps to have a website title starting with a letter or symbol at the top of the ASCII alphabet. Since the description is your only opportunity to sell your website to potential visitors, it had better sell your website and include as many keywords as possible.
Get your home page listed only in directories which are extremely popular (like Yahoo) and any which specialize in your business or locality. The others probably aren't worth the effort to find them.
Free For All (FFA) Links
Free For All links pages list any websites willing to submit to them by category. Often they delete their oldest links after they've gotten a certain number of submissions, so their pages don't get too long. These link pages are not searchable, so keywords aren't as important. Sometimes, they don't even offer a description of the pages in their list. Instead, they always put the most recently submitted website at the top of the list.
Free For All Links pages are not a very popular way to find websites, and your listing may be squeezed off the list within a few days, if not hours. Basically, they are created to boost traffic for the website hosting them by attracting people with websites they want to promote.
Don't get me wrong! You might be able to increase your traffic by submitting to popular Free For All Links pages. If you really want to try Free For All Links, I recommend a service or program to submit your website and description to hundreds of link pages in a few minutes, then submit all the pages where you submitted to search engines. Re-submit your website to this type of webpage at least once a week. If nothing else, major search engines will notice more sites linking to yours, and some might boost your rankings because of it (like HotBot). I think your promotional efforts would be better spent elsewhere.
Free Classified Ads websites are a lot like Free For All Links pages - they are created to boost traffic of their host website by offering free promotion of other peoples' websites. Classified ads do not always offer a link to your website, and you must submit an advertisement rather than a website description. (Remember - keywords don't matter here.)
If you have a product or service which should appeal to a mass audience and experience writing successful (short) ads, free classified ads may work for you. If you have a niche product and/or no experience writing short ads, you are probably wasting your time trying to find and submit to these websites. Remember to find places to advertise where your target audience hangs out. Most of the people visiting classified ad websites are those coming to submit their website's classified ad.
Are you asking websites with content related to yours to link to your website? Why not? This may be the best free source of targeted website traffic there is! Non-commercial links pages have an authority all other methods (other than testimonials) lack. Not to mention they improve your search engine rankings.
When visitors see a link on their favorite website, they tend to believe it is there because the company or webmaster liked that website more than all its competitors. They are more likely to visit it, and more likely to buy from it, than a visitor who found your website in another way.
When asking for links from other websites, always give the webmaster benefits of linking to your website (both to their visitors and to them). Offering to link back to their website is not only polite, it also increases the likelihood of them taking you up on the offer.
Newsgroups and Discussion Lists
Promoting your website in newsgroups and discussion lists can take a lot preparatory research, but itís often worth the time. Be sure to post only to groups with related content which are frequented by the sort of people you want to visit your website and who accept advertising.
Always include your full URL in your postings, without punctuation. Punctuation will add itself to your link, ensuring people who click on it will receive a "404 Page Not Found" error.
Send your URL with every email - itís free and takes no extra effort. If you aren't certain how, read my article on signature files.
Sending email with the express purpose of advertising your website may also be a wonderful idea. When sending promotional email, make certain the recipients will be interested in your message. If you are accused of spamming, your ISP and website host may discontinue your service. You can make sure by either using a list of email addresses culled from responses to your website or by buying a list of people who have expressed interest in your type of product.
If you don't already collect the addresses of your website visitors, start now so you can encourage them to return through email. You may even want to start your own newsletter.
Just remember, like newsgroup postings, most email programs will automatically link complete URLs (http://www.yourdomain.com). Punctuation, like periods and commas, will screw up your link. Even if your URL is at the end of a sentence, forget the punctuation.
Many websites offer awards to the best websites and list links to past winners. Winners get an implied testimonial, if not a real one. Winning an award can be even better than getting a link from another website, since they give you an icon to display on your site to show that Important People like your web design. (Of course, on award lists, you have more competition than on most favorite link lists.)
If you happen to find an award site, apply. Otherwise, save time by applying for awards with the Awards Worksheet whenever you make big changes to your website. Only apply for the most highly ranked awards, and awards that apply specifically to your industry.
Include a link on your website which allows visitors to recommend it to a friend. These email are the best source of traffic you could possibly get! They contain glowing testimonials by people potential visitors know urging them to visit your website, and you don't have to do anything (except have a really good website and set up a cgi program or a Tell-A-Friend script).
Free Magazine Listings
Don't forget that free advertising can be found offline. Send press releases about your website to local publications and magazines with content related to your website. Include something newsworthy about your website and a benefit to the publicationsí readers with contact information.
Look at free computer and internet publications. Occasionally, they offer free classified ad-style website lists or a website of the week feature. MicroTimes not only lists websites in their print publication for free, but keeps links on their website for months.
About the author: Dawn Gray can help you drive more traffic to your website. For other great articles on website promotion and a free email newsletter, visit her website at http://www.busymarketing.com.