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Promoting Your Website

Letting People Know

Okay, so now you've just uploaded your website to the World Wide Web and it is ready to be viewed. The problem is.. nobody knows it's there! You'd better start promoting it then?

There are many ways to promote your website, some cost money, and some are free. For a start, from now on you always include your web address (Domain Name) in all your correspondence. Create a default email template that automatically inserts your web address into every email you write. Redo your letterheads to include your web address. Redo business cards, etc, etc.

There are obviously all the traditional methods for promoting your website; newspapers, specialist magazines, even to good old 'card' in your local newsagent. But here we're going to concentrate on Web based promotion, and more specifically - Search Engines.

Search Engines

90% of people looking for a particular type of website will start by using a Search Engine.

Here's an typical scenario: A nurse is looking to volunteer their services with a organisation that provides medical assistance to communities that lack the resources to provide basic healthcare themselves.

They'll likely begin by going to a Search Engine homepage and typing in the search phrase "volunteers, healthcare" or "medical assistant, volunteering". The Search Engine will go off, search its database and, along with other criteria, return a long list of websites that 'relate' to that search phrase.

If you're an organisation that provides what the nurse is looking for, then you really need to be on that list, and preferably near the top.

So how do you get on that list, how do you make your website 'search engine friendly'? Here's a quick crash course.

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

The key to 'search engine friendly' or 'Search Engine Optimised' sites, is the need to consider what 'search phrases' (sometimes called 'key phrases') a web user might use (via a Search Engine) to find a site similar to yours.

Choose four or five phrases, then use these same phrases as the central 'identifiers' as to what your website is about. This may seem a bit vague, but after reading how Search Engines work, it should become clearer.

Search Engines try to ascertain what your website is about and generally look at six things in order to do that:

1. Site Content (Text) - All the text (HTML) on your website including links, 'Alt' attributes for images, etc. A Search Engine sort of reads your texts and tries to find common words or 'phrases' It will also try to ascertain what words appear to be important, such as those that appear in headers (large text, headlines), or in links, etc.

Words within images can not be read and have no value in SEO. Image 'Alt' attributes can however be used to describe images.

2. HTML 'Title' Tag - This is the tag that creates the text you see in the 'title-bar' of a Web Browser. For this page you should see the text "Get a Website - Promoting Your Website, SEO, Search Engines". The words in your 'Title' tag carry some weight with Google and are returned as the search header (see image below).

3. HTML 'Description' Meta-Tag - This tag is used to describe the nature/purpose of your website. Ideally, just a short paragraph. This paragraph will not appear on your webpage, but may appear in Search Engine returned synopsis' (see image below).

google SEO

4. HTML 'Keywords' Meta-Tag - This tag is used to describe the nature/purpose of your website using either short phrases or single words. These words will not appear on your webpage. This meta-tag is less important these days because people have, in the past, used it to 'spam' Search Engines.

5. Link Popularity (Inward Links) - This refers to the number of other websites that link directly to your website (inward links). With some exceptions (see Link Quality and Beware), the more links you have pointing to your site the higher up the search lists you'll be. These 'inward links' will themselves be 'ranked', so having 'quality' inward links is important. Search Engines see inward links as a sort of 'vote' for your site, after all, if someone bothers to link to your site, they must feel you've got something of value that is worth looking at?

6. Link Quality, 'Relevancy' - the quality of an inward link is defined first by the contextual relevancy of the website that links to yours. For example; your website is about 'the music of Beethoven'. A 'quality' link would be one that comes from a site about 'the history of Western Classical Music' or a site about 'J.S.Bach'. The second 'quality' criteria is the actual 'ranking' of that website that points to yours. That's self-explanatory really.

Beware - Some people suspect that inward links that don't meet the above 'relevancy' criteria may actually count against you. This is the Search Engine reaction against people creating 'link farms'.

Looking again at the idea of 'search phrases' or 'key phrases', you should now see how the six SE methods outlined above can (and should) relate to the phrases you choose. Just try to remain consistent, target the same limited phrases to all six of the above SE points.

Last couple of quick points in relation to inward links. If you have any influence with those who link to your website, ask them if they could specifically create a link that includes some of your keywords. Remember, some inexperienced web editors still put 'Click Here' for their links, which means nothing to a Search Engine. However, a link that reads - 'Here's a Great Beethoven resource website' - and links to a website about Beethoven, is going to be of far more value to you and to the Search Engine.

Also, you may recieve email from people offering to 'exchange' links with you. You need to be cautious in this situation, do your research before accepting, and remember the above point about 'link farms'. Only accept quality links.

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