Web Site Promotion Tips & Tricks

The following are various tips and tricks you can use to help promote, get notice for, and increase traffic to your Web site. To send me queries or comments on this page, please e-mail me at promo@callihan.com.

Using Keywords or Key Phrases

You can increase the likelihood of your page showing up in an Internet search if your title, level-1 heading, and first paragraph contain keywords or key phrases that searchers are likely to use when searching for the kind of content included in your Web site.

Including Keywords in Your Title

The title of your page (the content of the TITLE element) is very important. Many search engines are much more likely to list your page in the first few pages of responses if the keyword or keywords being searched for are included in your title. Make your title both informative and descriptive, and don't be afraid to be a little verbose. A good way to do this is to first state the title of your site, and then follow it with a short description of your site, including as many relevant keywords or key phrases that you can think of.

You should always include an informative title in your Web page. Getting listed by a search engine won't do you any good, if Internet searchers pass by the link to your site because your title doesn't provide them any relevant information about your site.

The closer a keyword is to the front of your page's title, the more weight a search engine will give to it. For instance, a title like "Yo-Yo Kingdom" would probably get somewhat better search engine results than "John's Incredibly Wonderful Yo-Yo Page" when a search is done on the keyword "yo-yo."

Including Keywords in Your Level-1 Heading

It is a good idea to start your Web page with a level-1 heading (the H1 element). Many search engines give special weight to any level-1 heading that is included at the top of your page, so if you can sneak a few keywords into your level-1 heading, it will help to insure that Internet searchers will find your site. You should place your level-1 heading either at the very top of your Web page or immediately following any banner or logo graphic you've inserted at the top of your page.

Including Keywords in Your First Paragraph

Many search engines will index the text at the start of your Web page, but ignore the rest. Others will weigh the first 30, 40, or more words higher than other words in your page when indexing your site. The more keywords you can strategically include in the first paragraph of your Web page, the more likely that Internet searchers will be able to find your page. Many search engines and directories will also display your page's initial 30 to 40 words when listing your site in a search response. Put special thought into composing the first couple of sentences on your page--the more informative you are, right off the bat, the better.

Don't just include keywords in your introductory paragraph, but include key phrases, as well. Many people will use a key phrase, like "real estate," "science education," "nuclear energy," "movie stars," and so on, when doing an Internet search. Try to anticipate the kinds of phrases someone might use when searching for a Web page like yours. Try to include those key phrases in your introductory paragraph.

A trick that sneaky web authors used to use to get listed higher in Internet search response lists was to include one or more choice keywords repeated multiple times at the top of a Web page, neatly concealed from public view inside of comment tags. You should be aware, however, that search engines are aware of this trick. Now, if you try to do this, your page is liable to be demoted, rather than promoted, in a search engine's list of responses, if not eliminated all together.

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Using META Tag Descriptions and Keyword Lists

Some search engines will give special priority to META tag descriptions and keyword lists when indexing your site. Also, some search engines will display your META tag description when they list your site, rather than the first sentences of your page. Always include a META tag description and list of keywords in at least the front (index or default) Web page of your site.

Adding a META Tag Description

When creating a META tag description for your page, it is a good idea to include keywords or keyphrases that you think others will use when searching for a page like yours. I can be worthwhile to take the time to compose this description, so you can give it proper thought, before adding it to your page. Try to keep it to somewhere between 30 and 50 words. When ready, add it to the HEAD section of your page, like this:

<HEAD><TITLE>Your title...</TITLE>
<META NAME="description" CONTENT="Type a description
of your page here...">

Adding a META Tag List of Keywords and Key Phrases

It is also a very good idea to add a Meta tag list of keywords and key phrases to your Web page. Once again, you may want to compose your list of keywords and keyphrases separately, before adding them to your page. Try to place the most important keywords and key phrases at the start of your list. Here's an example of including a META tag keyword (and key phrase) list in your page:

<HEAD><TITLE>Your title...</TITLE>
<META NAME="description" CONTENT="Type a description
of your page here...">
<META NAME="keywords" CONTENT="grand canyon, grand canyon national park, 
grand canyon tours, grand canyon lodging, grand canyon hotels, grand canyon
hiking, grand canyon camping, grand canyon rafting, grand canyon flyovers, grand
canyon vacation, grand canyon trip, grand canyon arizona, grand canyon south rim,
grand canyon north rim, grand canyon reservations">

Tip: Define your targeted keyphrase for each page you are optimizing and make sure it is included in the TITLE element, META description, H1 element, and the first dozen or so words of your introductory paragraph. Then get reciprocal links to your page that also include the targeted keyphrase. Doing this should make ranking higher in Google much easier. Your targeted keyphrase should be a two- or three-word phrase you think the kind of surfers you want to attact would use when searching for a page like yours.

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Using the META Tag to Block Search Engines from Indexing Your Page

Sometimes you don't want your Web page to be indexed. It might be under construction, or you might want to encourage visitors to come in at your front page, rather than at pages deeper into your Web site. Many search engines use robots to index Web sites on the Internet. It would be nice if you could tell them which pages you want indexed, and which ones you don't. Well, you can, in a way. That is, you can tell some robots where to go or not to go (primarily the AltaVista and Infoseek Guide robots, but there may be more).

<HEAD><TITLE>Your title...</TITLE>
<META NAME="robots" CONTENT="insert value/values here">

Here are the CONTENT attribute values you can use:

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Announcing Your Web Site

Once you've put your Web site up, you're going to want to announce it to the world. One way to do this is to post an announcement to:

Announcing Your Site in comp.infosystems.www.announce

The newsgroup, comp.infosystems.www.announce, has been created specifically for posting announcements about what's new on the Internet. This newsgroup is limited to announcing non-commercial Web sites, so if you have a commercial Web site, you should not post to this newsgroup. It is considered poor etiquette to post new site announcements to other newsgroups, unless on topic announcements are allowed. Always check a newsgroup's FAQ or charter to see what kind of announcements are allowed, before posting any announcements. To post to the comp.infosystems.www.announce newsgroup, you will need to have a newsreader configured and installed. This can be Netscape Messenger, Outlook Express, Free Agent, etc. You will need to subscribe to comp.infosystems.www.announce, so you can download messages from it and post your own announcement message. Be sure to read the newsgroup charter first before posting any announcements.

Announcing Your Site in Net Surfer Digest

Net Surfer Digest is an e-mail newsletter that is a "guide to interesting news, places, and resources online." You can find out about it and how to subscribe to it at http://www.netsurf.com/nsd/index.html. Any announcement that you would like to have considered for inclusion should be e-mailed to pressroom@netsurf.com.

Announcing Your Site in the Internet Scout Project

The National Science Foundation sponsors the Internet Scout Project to "provide timely information to the education community about valuable Internet resources." It is composed of two services, Scout Report and Net-Happenings. Over 100,000 people receive the weekly Scout Report. Over 25,000 people receive Net-Happenings daily. Net-Happenings is also available as a newsgroup, comp.internet.net-happenings. To find out how to subscribe to Scout Report and Net-Happenings, as well as to find out what their criteria is for accepting announcements, go to http://www.scout.cs.wisc.edu/scout/.

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Submitting Your Web Site to Search Engines and Indexes

Some search engine robots and spiders roam freely around the Internet looking for new sites. However, the best way to get the most attention for your site in the shortest possible amount of time is to submit information about your Web site to the major search engines and index directories.

Getting Your Site Listed on Yahoo!

If you don't get your site listed anywhere else, you should try to get it listed at Yahoo! Getting listed at Yahoo! can make all the difference between whether you get a stream of new visitors each day, or just a trickle. Here are some pointers on getting your site listed at Yahoo!:

Using a Free Site Submission Service

This can be a good way to get started getting your site listed in search engines and directories. I recommend the following free site submission service:

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Manually Submitting Your Site to the Other Top Search Engines and Indexes

There are many places other than Yahoo! where you'll want to submit your site. I recommend that you individually and manually submit your Web site to each of these search engines and directory indexes, rather than try to use an automatic submission service. That's because you'll get better results if you can fine-tune your submission for each one. Then, later, you can use one of the automatic submission services to catch as many other submission sites as you can. If you have already composed a description of your site (seeded with relevant keywords), you may want to open or paste it into Windows Notepad so you'll have it handy if you're asked to submit a description when you submit your site. Here are the main search engines and index directories, along with their Web addresses to which you should submit your site:

Other Ways to Promote Your Web Site

There are many ways that you can promote your Web site. Here are just some of them:

Getting Reciprocal Links

A great way to boost your traffic over time is to trade reciprocal links. You should look for other sites that are related in some fashion to your own and offer to link to them if they will link to you. Someone else might also e-mail you that they want to link to you in return for your linking to them. Sometimes this takes a little negotiation, since where and how you link to someone else, or where and how they link to you, can make a difference. If someone just wants to link to you as one link among a hundred on their "links" page, then you probably wouldn't want to link back to them prominently on your front page, unless you think it represents a significant value to your visitors. On the other hand, you might want to create a "links" page of your own, so that whenever anyone asks for a reciprocal link, you can just say "sure." Another thing you can do is to put up a page of links that focuses on the general subject area of, or subject areas related to, your Web site. You may want to break your links up into different related areas. For instance, if your Web site is called "The Michigan Weather Page," you could put up a couple of link pages, "Michigan Resources" and "Weather Resources," then link to both prominently from your front page. That way, you won't just be sticking reciprocal links into a generic links page, and should be able to get a better link back in return. In other words, when you design your page, think of ways that you can work in opportunities for being able to offer quality reciprocal links. If you're using a navigation bar on your page, for instance, you might want to include links there to your "links" pages. Don't make it just an afterthought.

One key is to look for other sites with which you can form a relationship of synergy. The idea is that by prominently linking to each other, even swapping banner ads, for instance, both sites can generate more traffic by sharing traffic that is interested in both sites. Establish two or three of these synergic relationships, and you could see a significant boost to your traffic as a result.

Joining Banner Exchanges and Web Rings

Using Traditional Promotional Methods

Don't overlook using some of the traditional promotional methods. Not everything you do to promote your Web site needs to be Web-based. Here are just some of the traditional methods you can use to promote your Web site:

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