10 tips for promoting your website or business

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If you want to successfully promote your site, you will need to apply a variety of different methods. SEO, social media marketing, link building, and many more.

Let’s start with SEO-based methods. In fact, we’ll start at the top, with your web page’s title tag. You want to create a descriptive title, 5 to 8 words long, that features keywords you expect people to use to find your site. Take out “filler” words such as “the” and “and,” as long as the title is still readable.

Remember, searchers will see this title as the hyper link to your listing on the search engine results page, so you want it to be brief and on target while making a good first impression.

The title goes in between the head tags on your web page, like so: . This is a truncated example, because you will probably include other items between the head tags, but you get the point.

For your second tip, we’ll stay on the topic of where to put the keywords. Search engines figure that words you include in a page’s headline and sub heads are important to the page. This means that you should use H1 header tags, at least, and make sure you include keywords in them. If you use Cascading Style Sheets, don’t expect Google (or any other search engine) to use them to figure out what your headlines are; they are not that sophisticated.

For that reason, you also shouldn’t use headline tags with other names. We try to limit our headlines to about 6 words here, keeping in mind Google’s constraints and character limits (it doesn’t seem to look past the 17th character in a headline).

A 3rd good place to include descriptive keywords is in the ALT attribute of image tags. In fact, including correct keywords in this attribute is good for a number of reasons. It makes your web site more accessible to visitors who use tools that read information to them as they roam the Internet; many blind and vision-impaired people depend on hardware and software that either stumbles over or ignores images without ALT attributes.

ALT attributes help to tell search engines what your internet site is about. Additionally, if you’d like your website to turn up when users do an image search, ALT attributes can help get your images to rank higher, making it easier for searchers to find your web site.

The 4th place you want to include keywords is in your website’s hyperlinks, and where you put those links matters. As an example, if you’re an online retailer writing an article about new digital cameras you just got in, you don’t want to simply link to the cameras at the end of the article; you want to include a link to each one in the body of the article, preferably using their actual name as the link.

If you’re a professional, offering a new service, when you first bring up that service on your blog, you should link to a page that talks about the service, with the name of the service as the link. Remember, by including the link in the body of your article, you’re telling Google that the link’s anchor text – the words that show up as the link – is important and relevant to your website.

You can do well with the 5th tip if you’re a good writer. Many sites are constantly looking for good content to publish, because the search engines love excellent, up-to-date, in-demand content. If you write articles in your area of expertise and distribute them to the editors of the right sites as free content, you could help build your brand. Better, by asking that a link to your website and a one-line bio be included with the article, you can build plenty of links back to your website as the time goes on.

Let’s switch from basic SEO approaches to social media. Social media lets you interact instantly with others online through blogs, social networking sites, forums, and more. The general subject of how to use social media to advertize your website is too big to cover in just a few tips, or even a single article. Nevertheless, here are a few pointers to help you get started.

The 6th tip is for you if you write well – and have a lot to say about your industry. Launch a business blog on your website. Don’t build a separate site for it; host it right on your own domain. Write consistently, and keep it lively and interesting. That isn’t easy. But if you’re really passionate about your industry, it’ll show in your writing. Visitors will read what you have to say, and link back to you. Such links can help raise your site’s visibility in Google and other engines as well.

Do you like hanging out on social sites? Then the 7th tip is for you. The places you go to relax can also be good places to promote your site. Consider using Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn for this. You might also want to look into social bookmarking sites such as StumbleUpon and Digg. You can put a backlink to your site in your profile, and some social sites allow you to build pages specifically for your business niche.

The key thing you must keep in mind when you use social media to promote your business is that nobody likes spammers. No one wants to read incessant talk about your business. If you want people to pay attention to what you talk about, you need to listen and make contributions to the discussion that are genuinely relevant. Also, nobody likes to be bored; the wise contributor spends more time listening than talking.

Let’s look at a simple old-school strategy for our 8th tip. For all the time you spend online, you – and everyone else – exist in the real world. So make sure that your company’s URL figures prominently on all of its literature: business cards, stationary, brochures, catalogs, and so forth. Some SEOs recommend leaving off the http:// and using just www.yourdomain.com in print. Whatever you do, be consistent, and make sure that someone typing your domain as printed on your literature will actually end up on your internet site.

If you’re generous, creative, and willing to put in some hard work, you could get excellent results with the 9th tip. I’ve seen it described as “give something away,” but that puts it way too simply. What you’re going to give away is a free service. Calculators are a great example of this. Banks tumbled to this early, with free mortgage calculators, but other businesses can benefit from this approach as well.

Building a free resource of this kind will cost you time and possibly money if you need to hire out the programming, but if you fill a legitimate need it will be well worth it. Visitors will not only use it, but they’ll link to it and tell all their friends about it. The key, of course, is to make sure that your free service is relevant to your business and what you’re actually selling. For example, an interior decorating service might create a fun little application or a widget, that helps the user determine his or her decorating style.

We’ll stick to the idea of giving something away for free for our 10th tip, which is to hold a contest or a competition. Be sure that the prize is something that will attract entries from the demographic you’re trying to reach, and that your contest rules are legal in all of the geographical regions you’re targeting. Think the contest through carefully, as a lot can go wrong.

But promoting a contest on your website is a great way to raise your site’s profile for a while, and some of that traffic might stay around to see what else you have to offer. If you planned the contest correctly, some of those interested browsers and visitors will turn into customers.

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