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Promoting your Website
I am sure you have heard by now the phrase "Content is King". Indeed good content is vitally important. That said, while I would love to agree with the people who say you only need good content in order to succeed, in fact the simple evidence of all the sites out there with great content but no readers demonstrates that there is another fundamental factor of success.
That factor is "promotion" and is the subject we will now investigate. While an obvious way to get more visibility to your content is to pay for advertising, in this article we will look only at "free" methods that involve more creativity than cash!
Let’s start with an element that many folks who begin their online journey often overlook …
The Power of Networking
Working online often leads people to think they can get by on their own. This is not surprising as much of the Internet world is seen as a solitary occupation, remote and anonymous. Then there are all the things that people can do without any help. It’s not at all uncommon for a person working seemingly alone to create and market a website and do very well.
Inevitably sooner or later you will need the help of other people, at least when it comes to promotion. Your traffic will come from other people, your links come from other site owners, and social media votes come from other social media users. Networking is key.
You need to make good contacts. This means getting out there, being social, and most of all being helpful. Nobody likes a "taker" so you must give first and give often. Use social networking sites such as Twitter and FaceBook. When you have a good following on these services they can actually send decent traffic through sharing your links also.
Talking of links, you need to get lots of them. Links are the currency of the web, and the more and better links you have, the stronger your site will become.
The obvious place to start is all the quality directories, but do not overestimate the value of such links as not only do they not particularly attract great audiences, the search engines have largely devalued them. Of course also all your competitors will have done the same thing.
Another source of links is to use the networking contacts you attracted to ask for links on popular sites. Depending on the relationships you have will largely determine the outcome, just don’t over do it otherwise you will gain a bad reputation.
The best source of links is to create content worth linking to!
Before you start running out there and getting all those links, you need to make sure you understand what words you need to be in those links. The words used in an actual link are called the anchor text. Its this anchor text that must be matched with the keywords you want to be found in search engines for.
You can check out our 30 minute video about Getting Traffic to Your Website in our Advanced Joomla Lessons.
Social bookmarking sites such as Digg, Reddit, StumbleUpon and Delicious are known to send torrents of traffic. The challenge is getting your content to go "popular", get on to the front page and you can receive tens of thousands of visitors in the space of hours, but without votes you will not be seen by anyone at all. This means you need lots of friends, and just a little luck.
In some services, most notably Digg, you will have a much better success rate if you either develop or befriend a "power user". That is an account with a great reputation for consistently getting to the front page. Digg is increasingly becoming a place where only the power accounts gain any traction, but Reddit and the others are far more newbie friendly, at least from a voting point of view.
Aim to create content that you know will do well. This means observing and participating in these communities. Also if you only ever submit and vote on your own content then you will soon be spotted as a social media spammer, and dealt with accordingly.
If you are using My Artisan Web, you can enable our comment feature. It has a handy button at the bottom of articles that allows users to submit the article to major social bookmarking websites.
For many search traffic is the magic bullet. It is free, plentiful, and largely "set and forget".
The main factor in search result ranking is the number and quality of links pointing at your article. But you also need to target the correct keywords. I can’t count the number of times someone has gone onto a forum bragging about how they scored a Google top result. This seems like a great victory until you realize that nobody on earth is ever going to type that ‘winning’ phrase into a search box!
As previously mentioned, as well as links you need to use your chosen keyword phrase in your title, heading tags, and the exact phrase and variations in the link anchor text. This tells the search engines that your content matches what is being searched for to a high degree.
Another way other people can help you grow your traffic is by getting in front of huge email audiences. Every niche will have newsletters and email lists that garner tens of thousands of eager subscribers. Get a good mention in these lists and you can count on a high percentage checking your content out.
My Artisan Web integrates with most 3rd party email systems such as Aweber and Constant Contact. We also have a more sphisticated integration with icontact as we are a iContact Small Business Partner. We also have a number of detailed tutorials such as How to Offer Free Downloads After an Email Signup.
While you could benefit from some kind list owner just loving your content so much they need to tell their audience about it, in most cases you need to do some kind of a deal. That might be a percentage of your profits, such as an affiliate relationship, or it might be a mutual "ad swap" where you promote their stuff in return for them doing the same for you.
There is another type of deal though, where you supply high quality content and get rewarded with referral traffic. This often comes under the syndication banner …
There is formal and informal syndication. The formal type is where you supply content intended to be shared, the informal type is where you place content at a well trafficked service in the hope that people will either pick up and use your content or just consume it.
YouTube is a good example of a service where people upload content and that content gets consumed, shared and re-used. Another example is Ezinearticles, which is a kind of YouTube for textual content. People upload their articles and newsletter and site owners are free to copy and paste that content providing they retain the author attribution which often links back to the authors own site.
In a similar way, bloggers often create articles for other sites, but normally in a direct relationship called "guest posting", where the blogger will send an article to a site owner in the hope that they will publish it with attribution and any in-content links maintained.
Another form of syndication is RSS. With My Artisan Web you can create an RSS feed of any category/page/blog of your site by just adding ?format=feed&type=rss to the url.
Download the Mind Map
There is no point in having the best content in the world if nobody but you and your hamster gets to see it. You need to get out there and promote.
Yes it is hard work to begin with, but it does get easier. Once you have enough momentum you start to get a loyal readership and the promotion almost becomes self-fulfilling, a topic we will look at in detail in the next part …