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A Little Advice

Reprinted from News-To-Use, Vol.5, No.1.
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So you spent a fortune building a Web site, hiring a hot designer to throw in all the latest gizmos, but your counter still reads, "You Are the 000,000,014th Visitor Since This Site Opened"? It's time to get out there and build a little traffic.

You already know about registering with search engines, and presumably you already have your URL listed with Yahoo, Alta Vista, Lycos, Excite!, Webcrawler and many others. That's good, but the truth is, for the vast majority of businesses, being able to be found by search engines is a benefit of only limited value. Don't believe it? Go ahead. Use the same key words you used to register your site to do a search. If you're like most, your search will yield thousands of hits, and yours is darned unlikely to be in the coveted top 20. And if it is, it won't be there for long. Which means the chances of someone clicking on your site is roughly the same as winning the lottery. No, you can't count on people stumbling into your Web site. You'll have to go out and tell them you're here. Start by figuring out what your own goals and objectives are relative to your Internet presence. Is it to build awareness? Increase communications with customers? Collect leads? Sell product? Then ask yourself how many hits it will take to reach your goals and how narrowly can you define your target audience.

If you don't need bazillions of hits, it may be enough to establish some mutually beneficial (and therefore free) links to complementary sites. Check out those hits you got using your own key words. Some of them will be non-competitive and open to negotiating an exchange of links. Say, for example, you're a provider of gourmet spices, visit cooking and recipe sites to offer that reciprocal link. Look especially for places that might offer lists of recommended vendors.

Don't quit too soon. The Internet is vast and your purpose in establishing links is to create an infrastructure which is broad enough to feed you an adequate number of leads. You could profitably spend time every day contacting different Webmasters to establish reciprocal links.

If your goals are more ambitious, you should consider a banner advertising program which places your ad at sites which attract your particular demographic. If you're only planning on placing a small number of these on sites with which you are personally familiar, you can probably negotiate placement effectively on your own. If, on the other hand, you are planning a broadly-based Internet campaign, it's probably wise to contract with one of the burgeoning number of Internet media buying services.

And, of course, be sure to include your URL in your literature, on your stationery, in your ads and with all the PR you send out. Be patient. Be strategic. Be persistent. They will come.

Ripley-Woodbury Marketing Communications
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