Marketing: Distinguishing the Wood from the Trees

While it is true to say that once your web site is launched, anyone in the world can come and view it, you still have the problem of letting people know that it exists.

Free Advertising

In the first instance, search engines provide a 'free' form of advertising, as long as they can find the site in the first place. How do search engines find sites? They follow links from other sites that they know about, and that helps them discover where new sites exist. Just because you have registered a domain name, does not mean that search engines will come.

You can manually submit your site to most of the popular search engines, but you can expect it to take anything from a couple of weeks to several months before your site gets a visit from the search engine 'robots' to update their indexes. There are many search engines, and therefore, you site will need to be visited by each in turn.

Leveraging Your Contacts

If you have customers, suppliers, trade groups, discussion forums or even competitors that will provide links from their websites to yours, that is a good way of getting links to your site. This has the advantage that you are being linked from other established web sites which the search engines may already be visiting, and of course, there is human traffic to those sites that will see and hopefully follow the links. It's often advantageous to offer a reciprocal link back to the other sites from your own.

Those are effectively the free forms of marketing for your site. Anything you can do to get people talking about your site will help to promote its short term and possibly long term visibility, depending on the nature of your business. Emailing friends, colleages and the like to tell them about your site will help to drive some initial traffic to your site. Traditional press releases to trade journals is also a potential way of generating traffic.

You Have to be Seen to be Seen

Including your domain name and email addresses on any of your existing literature and correspondance will also help to make people aware of the existence of your site.

The Advertising Budget

Beyond those techniques, you are probably going to need to spend some time and money to get noticed. You can purchase banner adverts of one form or another on related trade sites and discussion forums, or perhaps consider a generic advertising solutions such as Google AdWords or Yahoo! Search Marketing. These sites allow you to place adverts alongside targetted web site searches so the people searching for terms related to your business will have the opportunity to discover your business.

These have the advantage over other advertising mediums in that you can specify exactly the terms to match, and to control the total amount of advertising spend and your position alongside competitors adverts. This can often be an effective way of driving traffic to your website in the period after launch and before the search engines have indexed your content.