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Profiting from) Your Website!
In my usual desire to "over-respond", I thought I would create this tutorial about how to market your website, create traffic, and make money on the web. A website that no one sees, or that they visit and quickly forget, is a waste of time and money. Let's change that!
Between 450 and 1,000 different people visit my site every day. That's up to 25,000 people every month! Those visitors keep my practice full, create tons of opportunity for me, and make life interesting. They build my newsletter subscription base, and they help me make money! Would putting your full-color, multi-page brochure in front of thousands of people every month help your business? You bet it will!
The "information super-highway" can make you money, attract the customers you really want, and open doors you never thought possible. Let's make it happen. Here's how.
First: Get the distinction between creating a site, and marketing your site! This is critical! They are different functions, they require different skills, and you may have to hire different people to do each job for you or learn the skills to do it yourself.
Creating a website involves a sense of design, color, shape and knowledge of HTML (the code language of the Internet). You'll need to either create great "copy" or hire a copywriter to craft your message. You want words and images, colors and navigation tools that convey precisely the message you want. And, you want to encourage your visitors to take ACTION!
Every visitor to your site should KNOW, they should really "get" your call to action they should hire you, go away with a freebie of some sort, subscribe to your newsletter, laugh at your humor, or do something! A website that people visit, leave, and quickly forget is a waste of everyone's time.
To create your site (remember, we are not marketing it yet) you have a couple of options:
1. Hire someone to do it for you. There are professionals, students, even high school kids who can do a decent job. Plan to spend anywhere from a few hundred to several thousand dollars and for goodness sake! hire the BEST! Get it RIGHT! This is your chance to introduce yourself, explain what you do, and convince thousands (millions!) of people that working with you is a wonderful idea! Don't be cheap.
2. Do it yourself. I highly recommend this, but there is a learning curve, it takes time and work, and commitment. Don't "try" to do it yourself. Either get serious and do it right, or pay someone to do it for you.
You'll need some software. I recommend both PageMill by Adobe, and FrontPage by Microsoft. They are great programs, and they'll do most of the boring parts for you. FrontPage is the more "powerful" and can do amazing things, but requires more time to learn. It is simply a more elaborate, more sophisticated package and most people need time to master it.
Another great program was Claris HomePage. It was bought out a while back and I don't know if it's still available, but it was a wonderful, simple, easy-to-use and fairly powerful piece of software. Grab it if you can find it.
Let's assume you now have a few pages and your site is ready to launch. It may not be perfect, but it's ready for "show and tell". Let's attract a few thousand visitors and see what happens!
Here are the steps you'll need to take:
Hidden tags at the top of each page.
1. Be sure you have a title! This is not the headline that everyone sees at the top of your page, this is part of the code hidden at the very top of your page and almost no one sees it. But the search engines do! That's critical. Use 5-10 words that do two important things: 1) they describe your page accurately, and 2) they sound inviting. If you look in the extreme top left of your monitor you'll see the title of this page: "Website marketing: attract visitors, get hits, make money!"
2. Meta Tag: Keywords. This is another hidden code that helps search engines accurately understand your site and refer appropriate people to you. Your "keywords" are about 20 words or phrases you want search engines to list your site under. If you want your site to be found under the word "Consultant", be sure to include that word in your list. You might even repeat it, and include various forms, such as "consulting", "Internet Consulting" and the plural: "Consultants". My keywords for this page are:
"marketing, visitors, search engines, hits, advertising, listings, directories, web, Internet, website, success, sales, volume, how to, visibility, meta tags, website design, coaching, Humbert"
3. Meta Tag: Description. This is the last of the hidden codes we'll talk about for now. (There are other, less common ones.) This is a one or two sentence description of your site that often shows up in search engine listings. So, be aware that while people will not see this sentence on your site directly, they may see it when using search engines and directories to find you. It should be clear, inviting, accurate and powerful. Here is my description of this page:
Website Impact! Market your website for maximum visibility, attract visitors, make sales, and make money on the Internet. This page will show you how!
Design your pages for both people and search engines
This is where you need good advice or a good designer. Your pages should be "easy on the eyes", easy to navigate, easy to read. (This one has far too much text would you still be reading if you weren't really, really motivated?) You need some clear graphics, lots of white space, and effective use of color. And .
Your pages must be easy for the search engines to understand and catalog. Things like using frames and having too many graphics can confuse them. The details are too advanced for this page (ask your web designer to go through this with you), but here are a couple basic suggestions:
1. Use the words you want the search engines to list you under! This is not rocket science. If you are a coach, talk about coaching. Describe yourself as a coach, talk about your clients, mention your latest teleclass, describe your articles, books and tapes, and find ways to use words like: success, achievement, performance, motivation, persistence, money and accomplishment. Weave these into your paragraphs (see how I did that?).
2. When you use graphics (your picture, a cute button, etc), put an "Alt" tag behind the graphic. Your designer or web software will show you what this means and help you do it. They are words that flash on the screen briefly while the graphic is downloading, and search engines can use them to further classify your site.
3. Generally, it is better to break your site into several shorter pages, rather than have one long page. (You get to put those magic "Meta Tags" at the top of every page!) It makes your site easier to navigate, it looks more professional, and it's easier for the search engines to catalog each page if each page is dedicated to only one topic.
4. You will market each individual page! You can list your Homepage, then go back and list your Biography page, then go back and list your Services page, and so forth! This gives you many chances to set up meta tags. Think about that!
Finally, let's market this thing! Here are my Top Ten Marketing Tools!
You are now ready to actually start listing your site (your pages) with various directories, search engines and so forth. This is what you've been working toward!
1. Consider using a "service" to market for you. There are companies and software programs who claim to list your site with dozens, or even hundreds of directories. They usually charge less than $100, and they might be worth it. I use them from time to time and hope that they do what they claim attracting visitors is important to me and I'm willing to invest a couple hundred dollars a year. I think it helps. Just don't rely on them to do YOUR work for you!
2. Get in the habit of submitting your site (actually, the pages of your site) to search engines on a regular basis. I have a list of about 40 directories, and I spend a few minutes submitting my site to a handful of them each week. I usually do it on Friday when I'm doing other paperwork. By submitting to 5-6 directories per week, I cycle through my list every couple of months. I'm convinced this is essential!
3. DON'T submit your site, or the same page, to the same search engine over and over. They'll think you're spamming them, and they may drop you! You can reasonably submit your page to a search engine every few months, or every time you've made a significant change to it.
4. Have a system and use a notebook or calendar to market effectively. I work my way through my list of directories, then start over at the top. I market my homepage for a while, then some other pages, then come back to my homepage. Keep track!
5. Here are a
couple of websites that will help you get started and give you an easy way to list your
pages with search directories quickly:
6. Remember to market your website in EVERYTHING you do! One friend has her website on the license plate on her car. Another guy has his URL embroidered across the back of his golf shirts. Those may not be the best examples, but be SURE to put your site on your business cards, your stationery, as part of the signature block on every email you send, and so forth.
7. Always keep your eyes open for new places to list your site. New directories are created every day. Do you belong to the Chamber of Commerce? I bet they have a database of members. Belong to a professional organization? Get listed! There are literally thousands of databases where you might want to be included lists of writers, businesswomen, home-based businesses, members of certain religious organizations, and so forth. Keep your eyes open.
8. Exchange links with lots of people. Have a page where you give a link to other people's sites, in exchange for them recommending your site. This can be very effective, and easy to set up.
9. Keep your site evolving, expanding and fresh! This is perhaps the key reason you should invest the time to develop your site yourself. Heard a good joke? Put it on your site! Have a list of favorite quotes, a new recipe, or want to review a great movie? Maybe you can recommend your favorite books, or write one of your own! Give folks lots of reasons to keep coming back to your site.
10. Finally, there are other tools you might consider. "Banner Exchanges" are popular. I have not found them particularly helpful, but lots of people use them. For a while "web rings" were popular, although I haven't seen as many of them recently. There are lots of tools and great ideas out there. Find the ones that will work for you!
11. (I know, I only promised 10, but this is about over-responding, right?) Describe your page and recommend it in newsgroups, discussion sites and so forth. Find a chat room you enjoy, enter into the conversation, and recommend your own site. It works!
Final notes .
1. Make sure your page contains valuable, useful information. Make people glad they found you!
2. Give them a reason to visit again and recommend your site to friends. Give away free stuff, have it change fairly often and make it interesting.
3. Every year or so, plan to start over! The web is evolving so fast, and new things come along so often, that you'll want to up-grade your appearance and content regularly. My first site had a picture of a shack and a mansion and asked folks where they preferred to live! (Yeah, I know gross and ugly by today's standards, but I was pretty proud of it a couple years ago!) Then, for a year or so, my site was at www.newdreams.com, and recently I moved it to www.philiphumbert.com. Your site will evolve, too.
4. This page has taken about 3 hours to type, organize, and up-load. That's not trivial, but by knowing how to do it, by having FrontPage available, I can "over-respond" to a request from a couple of clients, share information with them, AND with the whole world, and keep my site growing. I think it's been worth the time, and more importantly, I think it was worth the learning curve to develop my site in the first place. It's not for everyone, but you can figure it out if you want to. Consider making the investment.
Thanks for reading all the way down here! This is a terrible example of a web page too long, far too much text but the fact you've made it this far suggests it was worth it. Now, the real test will be whether or not you USE IT! Go market some web pages!!!!!
And, let me know if this was helpful. I love feedback! Click Here to send me an email with any questions, or comments about marketing your website to build your business. I'd love to hear from you!
Philip E. Humbert, PhD
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