Marketing your new Web site

With thousands of new Web sites launched on the Internet every day – how can you ensure your new site rises above the competition to be discovered by potential customers?

The following are some tips to consider when you are ready to launch your site.

A well-designed Web site is a

key first step to attracting visitors. In particular, pay special attention to the content on your site.

Domain Name – As your exclusive Web address, your domain name should reflect your business, be easy to remember and pronounce, and be unique enough so that it is not confused with other domain names. Consider purchasing multiple domains that link to your main site including those that are similar to yours – and buy names that contain key words for your Web site to gain a higher ranking in search engines.

Meta Tags – Since Meta tags are picked up by search engines and influence the way your site appears in search results, they should be well-written and encourage potential customers to visit your site. To identify what tags your competitors are using, go to your browser’s ‘source’ code, usually found under the ‘view’ button.

Page Titles – For top search engine positioning, each page of your Web site should have a page title that is short and informative. The titles should reflect the description of each page on your site and be unique to encourage viewers to choose your site over the competition.

Once you have considered the content on your site, it is time to extend your reach into the offline and online world.

The offline environment offers a variety of avenues through which to drive traffic to your site.

Communicate with Customers – Send your current customers an e-mail, or mail or fax a letter with a promotion or incentive that motivates them to visit your new site.

Distribute News Release – When you are ready to launch your site, e-mail or fax a concise news release to a targeted media list.

Expand Marketing – Include your Web address on every piece of promotional and collateral material including signage, brochures, flyers, business cards, and letterhead to give your business exposure and build your brand.

Since you are now a participant in the online world, it is necessary to engage in online marketing and promotion to attract visitors to your new site.

Search Engines and Directories – How search engines and directories display search results depends on the effectiveness of your site’s key word list, represented through Meta tags and titles. The criteria search engines and directories utilize to determine which sites rank highly can vary. Some use link popularity in their ranking mechanisms. Others measure click popularity or gauge the number of times key words are used throughout a site.

Link Program – The key to developing an effective link program is to identify sites that are not direct competitors but have a similar target market as you. Providing links that are useful to your visitors will increase your chances of customers returning to your site in the future.

News Groups – Joining a news group that targets your customer base will provide you with an opportunity to be in close contact with potential customers and evaluate their needs. The news group will also enable you to build your reputation and identify trends in your industry.

Newsletter – A newsletter is one of the most effective, low-cost ways to build rapport and strengthen your relationship with customers. Focus less on self-promotion and focus more on providing information that is newsworthy, valuable and entertaining.

Banner Ads and Sponsorships – Banner ads and sponsorship campaigns are effective advertising methods to increase your company’s brand awareness. Sponsorships are particularly beneficial for associating your business with others that have a similar target audience. Banner ads are an effective direct marketing tool that can increase site traffic if they are creative and include a call-to-action.

Rob Laidlaw is president and founder of VerticalScope Inc., a Toronto-based company that creates authoritative online industry portals, directories and content services covering a wide variety of vertical industries. With 11 Web sites in operation, VerticalScope recently launched Modified.com, the world’s largest information resource portal for the lucrative sport compact car industry.

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