U-C WEBS' founder Nardo KuitertBy Nardo Kuitert, U-C WEBS
[Published in Minding Our Business, May 2008 for the Centre Wellington Chamber of Commerce]

If you followed my advice from my past two articles, you now have a website πŸ™‚ or at least are in the process of developing one. Well done! But that is not all. A website is not a magic bullet. It is a communication tool, and not effective without visitors. How do people find your web pages? How to promote your website?

1. Offline – You can put your website address on business cards, brochures, letterhead, envelopes and all other marketing materials that you use. This obvious way to promote your website is sadly overlooked by many small business owners. So be warned: mentioning your new website in print ads all of a sudden may take some getting used to.

2. Email – I have said it before: do not use [email protected], but rather something like [email protected] as your email address. This way people can guess your domain name just by looking at your email address. And do not forget to create a signature file: a little footer at the end of each email with your contact information – including your web address.

3. Linking – The Internet is a web of interconnected websites. No website should be an island. So look for relevant directories and websites, preferably local ones if you try to reach a local audience. So: make sure you are being linked to from your Chamber website, BIA website, Township website and local directories like FergusPages.com or KnowAboutFergus.com.

4. Search Engines – By placing good content on your site and having quality links pointing to it, you may achieve high rankings in search engines like Google and Yahoo for some phrases on your website. Usually this does not happen automatically, though – it requires some work. There is plenty information to be found on the Internet about Search Engine Optimization, but you can always ask a professional if increasing your traffic is valuable to you. And if these so called β€œorganic” search engine rankings are too hard to get by, you can always opt for Pay-Per-Click listings in programs like Google Adwords or Yahoo Search Marketing.

5. Banner Ads – These are less effective than they used to be, as some Internet users are ignoring banner ads as much as they can. You can still reach a good audience, though, especially if your banner ad is well targeted. The same sites that I suggested for linking to your website can be contacted for banner ads as well. A well-designed banner ad, with a relevant message, can certainly work better than a text link.

And do not just promote the site for the sake of promotion either. Track the results, so you know whether you are getting a decent Return On Investment (ROI). You probably have a website to make money – not losing it.

Nardo Kuitert is an Internet Consultant with Fergus Website Development and Optimization firm U-C WEBS (www.u-cwebs.com). U-C WEBS also offers Internet advertising opportunities on www.ferguspages.com. (link opens in a new window)

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