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INTRO

In this report I will teach you the best methods and techniques for promoting and marketing your web site. Whether it's via the use of press releases, newsletters, web forums etc. you should be able to get more recognition for your site. There is an absolutely huge amount of information on how to create more exposure that can be found on the internet; so in this report I will provide an overview of the most important factors that should be considered.

Search-engines

If you take into mind that 90% of web traffic is generated from the top ten search-engines - you can see that they are an incredibly powerful marketing tool. I recently wrote a report entitled "Search Engines - Tips and Advice for Submitting your Site". This is an in depth article on the use of search engines as a basis to boost your visitor counter. In the following, I shall only go through some of the basic points when using search-engines - for more detail please read the report. Also try this link http://online-biz.com/promote/, which offers free submissions for your website.

Submission - There are 2 ways in which you can submit your site. You can do it via the use of a mass submission program, which submits your site to the largest search-engines. This is the fastest and most time efficient way to submit but not very accurate. The other way you can submit your site is by hand, which allows you to optimise your site to get a better listing on a search-engine. This obviously takes longer but in the long run brings in more targeted traffic. Remember, the more search engines and directories you sign up to, the more visitors you will receive, and when it comes to affiliate marketing, that can only be a good thing.

Tags - Tags are fundamental in promoting your website as they are used by the search engines to source and rank your site from others - if you think that approximately 25 new web pages are added to the internet every second, you need to stand out from the rest. Examples of tags include image alt tags, header tags and Meta tags. Meta tags are one of the most important tags as they are used by search-engines, for example, Infoseek and Hotbot, to rank your site. They allow you to tell the search engines what keywords and descriptions you feel are relevant to the page that is being submitted.

Keywords - Keyword searching is the most common form of text search available and the majority of search engines do their text retrieval using keywords. Factors that affect your keywords include misspellings, phonetic representation, and pluralisation. Also try looking at what words your competitors are using and get used to naming your pages with key words.

Top '7' - If you manage to get a high listing on these search engines, you should be pretty well off traffic wise. These search engines include; Alta Vista, Excite, Hotbot, Infoseek, Lycos, Webcrawler and Yahoo. Each of these engines use different techniques to locate and rank your website. These range from concept-based searches (which try to determine what you mean, not just what you say), meta-tag searches and placing them into categories (Yahoo).

Recources for search engines - There are many different programs and companies that can submit your site to search engines for you and monitor its position (including your competitors). http://www.selfpromotion.com/offers an extremely cheap submission service, Site Promoter actually works to get your site placed higher in the search engines and Web Position Gold, consistently and comprehensively monitors your website's search engine position. 

Newsletters

A newsletter is a periodic mailing sent out by the website owner to those who have asked to join your mailing list (see the web design report). Newsletters are a great way for you to update your subscribers with important news and promote certain services and products that you offer; and once your mailing list starts to grow, you'll be able to employ all your technology and regularly send your company/ product news to the hard drives of hundreds, then thousands of surfers who have voluntarily taken interest in your website. One of the most advantageous aspects of newsletters are that they are an incredibly important tool in bringing back repeat sales and visitors to your site. It is no good just sending out a run-of-the-mill letters - they need to be something that a typical visitor to your site can enjoy and use. 
So you like the idea of a newsletter? Great. Let me now explain how you go about sending the letter and obtaining quality content. There are 2 main ways in which you can send out your newsletter - manually (via e-mail software) or let a company do it for you. To be brutally honest, sending thousands of e-mails out via your desktop is not the most convenient way of mailing your subscribers. Packages, for example, Eudora or Pegasus, offer you the chance to send out e-mails from your computers, but it still takes up a lot of your time. 
An easier way of sending out your newsletters is to get someone to do it for you; not only is it easy and fast, but most of the time it is free! Most of the time all you do is send a draft of the letter that you are going to use and the mailing company will send it out to all your subscribers. The catch, and yes there is one, is that these companies tend to put one of their adverts onto the mailing and, generally speaking, their technical support is non-existent. Some recommended services include http://www.listbot.com, http://www.onelist.com (free) and http://www.egroups.com (free). 
The content of your newsletter is extremely important. If you do not have any original, interesting material, you are on a quick ride to UNSUBSCRIPTION land. There are a number of different ways to choose your content. http://certificate.net/wwio/ offers a huge archive of material that you can include in your newsletter, as long as you attach a small advert of theirs onto the article. Joshua Reimer (webmaster) used the previous URL to gain material for his newsletter, this was until his subscriber base grew to around 5,000. From then on he was after more original material and ended up making deals with a couple of excellent writers, thus acquiring original and relevant material. Wherever you get your content from make sure its effect is to make your subscriber crave for the next newsletter. Through the content, try to build brand loyalty through familiarity (thus helping to convert subscribers into customers, an all important factor when it comes to pay-per-sale banners).
For a good example of a HTML style newsletter, either sign-up with http://www.ukaffiliates.com (and you will automatically be sent out one every week) or check the link - http://www.ukaffiliates.com/newsarchive/16-02-01.htm.

Newsgroups

In basic terms, a newsgroup is an electronic bulletin board where web surfers are able to share news and views on certain topics. At the moment there are well over 20,000 newsgroups worldwide with millions of willing participants - this means there is definite potential for you to get more exposure for your website.
You should aim to post announcements on all relevant newsgroups. If your site is oriented towards a specialist field (of around 18,000 subject areas), search the newsgroups for those where the readers would have an interest in your website - if necessary you should tailor your message for each specific newsgroup. If you do happen to own a commercial site then you should really limit your postings to newsgroups which are designated for commercial announcements. 
Your posting should provide useful and original material (not act as an advertisement for your product/service) and should be as short and relevant as possible. Remember to always add a signature to the posting (see below on signature files) so any interested parties can access your website. To gain extra visitors to your site, why not finish the posting by mentioning that your site has useful information on the topic you are posting.

Press releases

By sending out press releases you are able to reach prospective surfers via publications that cover your topic of interest. There are a number of points that need to be kept in mind when sending out a press release. First and foremost the release has to be coordinated with the launch of your site (otherwise it's not news). You should also strive to get newsworthy content, which needs to target 'interested' editors. Try to match the distribution method of the press release with the editor's preference; and properly format the release for each method of distribution. There are really two forms of media that you can send your news to, they are general interest media and special interest media. General interest media includes mediums like your local radio station/paper, television stations etc. Special interest media includes trade publications and media that focuses on some niche area of interest (the closer the fit of what your website covers and what the particular media covers the more likely you will get coverage).

Another way, in which you can obtain publicity for your site is through the media via e-mails a.k.a 'e-mail PR'. Paul Krupin (publisher of US All Media E-mail Directory) lists a number of rules that publicists must abide by when sending e-mails to the media. The most important of these include the ability to target narrowly and carefully (i.e. go for quality contacts and not quantity). You should pick out your target media carefully by studying the medium you are writing to (tailor the submittal to the media editorial style). Try to keep all e-mails as short and as relevant as possible - don't try to sell your product, instead try to gain their interest. When sending out an e-mail, address each one separately to an individual media target (multiple addresses look too impersonal). The last thing you should do is to follow-up any e-mails in a professional and appropriate manner. Remember that any success with the media depends on you being courteous and showing respect. If used sensibly the media can really help to promote your website; but you shouldn't rely on e-mail alone, there are a number of other alternatives to get promotion.

Awards

Achieving awards and virtual certificates for good web design, content, originality etc. takes a lot of effort and can be very beneficial in your websites promotion. In effect these small (sometimes animated) pictures are similar to sport trophies and are normally advantageous for both the distributor and the receiver. Web awards range from 'high class' awards like Starting Point Hot Site award or being selected by Point as a 'Top 5% of the Web' award to the 'everybody wins' awards that are given out by webmasters that are only interested in building traffic.
There are a number of ways in which your site can win an award. If you have a quick look at most of the highly awarded sites, you can see that they are, above all other factors, content-oriented. You need to have a site that is information rich and which will keep visitors coming back for more. Of course, content isn't the only issue that should be looked at; other things you should look out for when submitting your site include - dead links, accessibility of the site, easy navigation and the downloading time. There are sites on the internet that give out awards to near enough anybody with a web-address i.e. the 'let's trade awards' awards (all you have to do is give them an award, or buy advertising on their site and you get their award) but if you are after the 'high class' awards, your site needs to be completed (not under construction) and look and play the part. It is best to submit your website to those that offer a prominent link on their site for winners (smaller sites are really only good just to gain some extra links!). Two resources you can use for submitting your site are http://www.award-it.com, which offers a free submittal service to a large number of award givers and http://www.drwebster.com/, which allows you to submit your site to the 'website of the day' award. There are over 300 review sites that you can submit your website for an award. Some of them have special criteria for inclusion; for example, the review sites that only look at scientific websites. Don't submit your site unless it is appropriate.
Overall, awards can at first seem irrelevant but they do have beneficial effects. Firstly, if you belong in the media business and, for example, you are a web designer, then an award might impress potential customers. Would you rather go to a 5-star, 3-crowned, rosette hotel or a greasy B&B? There is also the chance that the award will generate your website a higher traffic rate; this depends on how popular the award giver's site is and how prominently your link is displayed on their site. One last thing - an award (in general) can give an aesthetically pleasing look to your site and make you, the Webmaster, feel proud about your site.

Exchange reciprocal links

Exchanging links between yourself and another website is a free and easy way to get your site extra promotion. You should always try to provide a reciprocal link to any and all websites that link to yours (provided it is the kind of website you want to be associated with). You should strive to find sites which will attract the type of visitors you're looking for on your own site - hopefully this will lead to an increase in your click-to-sale %. You should also look for sites that act as a resource for information that can be found on your site. Iin this way, the owner of the site will probably want to link to you. Negotiating a link from another site can sometimes do wonders for improving the QUALITY of the traffic to your site; and remember if you don't ask, you don't get!

Other promotional methods

1. Web-rings - Web rings are lists of sites, grouped by interest. To join a web ring, you need to first enrol, add the ring HTML code to your web page and then the ringmaster will add you into the web-ring. A web-ring is similar to reciprocal linking in that they are both free promotional methods that (hopefully) bring in targeted traffic. For a good example of a web-ring, check http://dir.webring.yahoo.com/rw

2. Signature file - Signature files are the descriptive tags you find at the bottom of e-mails, mailings etc. They normally provide contact info i.e. an e-mail address, a brief description of your website and your URL. What they do is allow you to promote your site indirectly, by simply going about your net business (in other words 'passive promoting'); and unlike 'SPAM', using signature files is a non-aggressive form of site promotion. Some people have a number of signature files, which are used depending on the situation. There are certain things you need to remember when creating a signature file - always proof read your information, any mistakes can be damaging when it comes to linking to your site. Try not to make your file too long (some places request signatures to be a certain length) and make sure you regularly update your signature file.

3. Announce on your ISP - Most internet service providers supply a list of their members' home page. This is free public relations and numerous web surfers browse these lists (if for no reason other than to see their own listing).

4. Cool page of the day - This is not an award as such; it is more of a recognition for good work. Unfortunately all the added publicity (bandwidth) you get from the exposure has been known to load down a server. Overall though it is deserved recognition from your peers it should make you feel good.

5. Getting published in books - There are a number of books that have been written, describing and rating websites. Getting a position in one of these books needs some work - but once there you should expect a great deal of exposure. The 'New riders official world wide web yellow pages', lists over 5,000 sites - to get into contact with them try writing to internet@newrider.mhs.compuserve.com. 'Walking the World Wide Web' is another publication which has over 300 pages, 200 of which have listings of websites.

Conclusion

Hopefully I have refreshed your mind on how to go about promoting your site. There are a lot of companies out there who offer you their marketing services, but if you put into practice what I have just told you, then you should be able to increase your exposure without spending any money; and when it comes to affiliate marketing, the more traffic you can generate, the more revenue you will bring in. So how do you find out which promotional methods are working and which ones aren't as effective? The first thing is to determine where your traffic originates. Once this is done, you should measure what individuals do once they get to your site i.e. to determine if traffic generated by one means is more valuable than others. When you have this information you should be able to fine-tune your marketing mediums.
Don't expect results straight away but with a little persistence and some hard work, you will soon have quality traffic coming to your website. Good luckJ

James Cooper

Acknowledgements

http://www.submit-it.com - Great resource site for search engines. http://www.deadlock.com - Provides tutorials on design and marketing.
http://www.promotionworld.com - Provides free information on promoting your website.
http://engines-secrets.hypermart.net - Resource for submission and web site promotion .
http://www.gocee.com - Contains a great article on searching and promoting your website.


James Cooper's

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