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Three Ways You Can Promote Your Site

There are a number ways that you can promote your own web site, in addition to having it registered with search engines and offline advertising. They include online discussion groups and link exchanges. Another method involving the addition of informational content to your site will also be discussed.

Web Site Message Boards

Online discussion groups include web site message boards, usenet newsgroups, mailing lists, etc. This article will focus on message boards found on other web sites.

There are a couple of things that you should not do, I'll go over those first.

- Do not spam! Spam comes in various forms, one of which is posting messages on message boards or newsgroups solely for the purpose of advertising your business or web site. If you do this not only will you get flamed but you may also get reported to your ISP.

- Posting without having lurked first! This rule goes hand in hand with the first one. To lurk means to read the messages posted by other people before you post something yourself. It is important to get a feel for the group before opening your mouth. Hang out for a while and get to know the regulars. See what happens to other people when they post something that is inappropriate for that group. Think about it this way - if you walked up to a group of total strangers in the real world who all knew each other already and were having some deep discussions with each other, what would you do? You wouldn't just walk up and just start talking about anything. You would stand there for a while and listen to what they were saying first. A common faus paux in many groups is for someone new to join in and immediately ask a question that has been asked many, many times before. Sometimes several times each day. The regulars usually get really annoyed. Many online groups have a FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) document somewhere. Be patient and wait a while and someone may post it, many times they are posted on a regular basis. If you don't see one after a while, it is very appropriate to post a message asking if they have one or not.

So what can you do? You can find a site about a topic similar to yours with a discussion board. For example, if you have a sporting goods web site, you could find web sites about sports in general or one concentrated on a sport that you really enjoy and know something about. Get involved in the conversations taking place. Post comments or questions now and then. Get to know the regulars on the site. When you post, make sure that you always convey a professional image. While it isn't appropriate to make posts just to advertise your web site, it is appropriate to include a link to your web site in your signature. This may not seem like much, but many message boards are read by hundreds or even thousands of people. If people in the group like and respect you, many will likely visit your site.

An additional benefit from participating in message board discussions is the opportunity to get a better feel for your industry. Just by reading the posts from other people you will be able to get a feel for the types of products or services consumers are looking for.

Now and then a discussion may even come up in which it is appropriate to mention your business outright.

Link Exchanges

There are many formal link exchange programs around. This discussion will focus on informally exchanging links with other sites. While this may not be appropriate for all business sites, with a little ingenuity and patience you may find that this can work for you. To use the sporting goods example again, exchanging links with another sporting goods supplier would be silly. But there are other sites about sports, sites that are not your competition. Like before, a site about general sports issues, or about a specific sport may be interested in exchanging links with you. E-mail the site owner and ask them if they are interested in a link exchange with you. For your part find a section of your site that would be appropriate for placing a link to another site. Possibly a links page, or maybe on a page of your site where you list all of your skateboard products. For example, it may make sense to list web sites about skate parks in your area. If the link adds to the content of your site, and is useful to your site visitors go ahead and put the links on your page then e-mail the other site owner and tell them about the link you made and ask them politely if they would put a link to your site on their site. Don't be discouraged if they don't. Some site owners have policies that they just don't link to other sites, or they may just be too busy. It helps to look around their site first and see if they have a links section. Some sites even invite others to exchange links with them.

Adding Informational Content

Another way to bring more visitors to your site is to add a section with information related to the topic of your site. Using the sporting goods site, you could add a section to your site about sports safety. Write something up and put it on a separate page of your site. If the page is set up properly (see Search Engine and Directory Optimization), you may get visitors coming to your site through that page, from search engines queries. You could expand it and write a series of articles that could be added to your site. Afterall, whatever your business is, you are an expert on it and most likely could write a lot about it. There are many people on the web that have used this strategy, lawyers with legal information, bookstores with book reviews, etc.

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