How To Obtain Free Advertising For Your Online Business

The beauty of the Internet is that it allows you to run a business with very little money. The secret is knowing which of the available free resources are worth your time! Register with Search Engines Submitting your online business to search engines is one of the easiest, fastest, and least expensive ways to promote your site. Tens of millions of people use the major search engines every day to navigate around the Internet and quickly find what they are looking for. Statistics show that 85% of pages visited on the Internet come from people who have gotten there from a search engine. While you shouldn't rely on search engines alone to bring you qualified traffic, this is definitely a good way to kick off your marketing efforts.

There are no easy tricks or secret formulas for optimum search engine placement, but the following five tips should help make your job easier and increase your chances of getting high search engine rankings.

1. Do it Yourself. You should avoid using auto-submission services that promise to register your site at hundreds of major search engines for a small fee. There are only a handful of search engines that really count and a number of the majors use the same database. Thus, you can register on one and show up on several of them. The experts in the field agree that you are much better off taking the extra time to learn as much as you can about the major search engines and manually registering your site with each one to ensure you get the best listing possible.

2. Less is More. You may be tempted to think that it is to your advantage to try to get listed on as many sites as possible, but this is simply not the case. The major search engines will drive over 90% of your website traffic if you are listed within the top 3 pages of keyword results. Additionally, don't try to promote every page of your site. Almost every search engine will crawl through your entire site indexing all of its pages. If you have a large website and promote all of your pages, some engines will consider it spamming and reject your submissions.

3. Get your site linked from other sites. Identify other sites that offer complementary services, which are likely to be of interest to users of your site; link to them and invite them to reciprocate. In particular, do this with popular sites and do it with those sites that appear near the top of searches that use the keyword phrases that you are targeting.

4. Don't Get Too Comfortable. Granted, a good listing on a top search engine is a pretty exciting thing. But don't expect it to last forever. The good search engines are constantly re-evaluating their lists and crawling the web to ensure their rankings are as current and valid as possible. Also, hundreds of new sites are being submitted daily which could cause yours to get pushed down the list if a better one comes along. You need to keep a constant watch on your listing to make sure it stays at the top of the list.

5. Don't Expect Too Much Even if you do everything exactly right, there's still no guarantee that you'll get a good placement on search engines, or that your intended target audience will find you there. Few people truly understand how they work, and even if you're lucky enough to figure it out, they'll change the process on you as soon as you do. To make matters worse, many engines and directories are notoriously slow to add your listing, taking up to 4 weeks or longer to add your URLs to their database. Some directories limit the number of listings, so you may never get listed or you may get bumped after a short period of time. Many search engines prune their lists periodically as well.

The bottom line is that, while registering your site on search engines is a critical first step in promoting your site, the process is seldom enough to generate a significant number of quality visits to your home on the web.

Be sure to supplement your search engine marketing with other online and offline promotional efforts, such as those described in this article. Reciprocal Links and Web Rings. A reciprocal link is represented by two web sites who hyperlink to each other. The best reciprocal links are from sites that share content or interests similar to yours. The reason is that you want to draw as much traffic as possible from the linking site and, likewise, want to provide as much traffic as possible to the linking site. It's a win-win situation where both sites experience an increase in traffic. Here's how you go about arranging a link. Identify sites that have similar content or interests to yours. For each site, send an e-mail suggesting that both your sites could benefit from a reciprocal link.

Here's an example of an effective email:

Dear Webmaster,

I just visited your Web site at I have to say that I was very impressed by what I saw. Congratulations on developing an attractive, professional and informative site. I am the webmaster at We are currently looking to increase the number of links to our site via reciprocal arrangements with other quality sites, such as yours. At present we are getting around 300 hits per day and we are now seriously looking to expand on that. If you think that you might be interested in doing a link or banner exchange please look over our site. If you are interested, you could even go straight to our links page, where we have our own banner, plus some text about ourselves, which you could use if you decided to link to us. That's at: I feel this would be win-win situation for both of us and could potentially increase traffic significantly to both our sites. If you are interested, please reply to this email and include a graphic banner, of standard dimensions and/or some text that you like to have appear on our links page. Also, let us know which URL you would like us to link to. I very much look forward to hearing back from you and hopefully establishing a mutually rewarding link exchange. Thanks for your consideration, Your Name and contact information

You'll be pleasantly surprised how many people are anxious to increase their traffic and will agree to this type of parternship.

If you do manage to develop a marketing partnership with another site, it is very worthwhile trying to form a web ring. A web ring is really not much more than a group of like-minded and linked sites. Traffic can be hard to win, especially in the early days of your site, and by getting a web ring established you will find that is relatively easy to share what traffic you get amongst the other cooperating sites. It is really quite effective and is now a popular and established way of boosting traffic to your site. Ezines & Email Newsletters

1. Writing for Ezines: Right now there's a shortage of good e-zine (short for e-mail magazines or newsletters) articles. So, if you write well and you know how to do research on the Internet, there's a huge market waiting for you. Pick a topic that you know something about and then go to the Search Engines and find as many Web sites as you can that deal with that subject. Make a note of any URLs that offer resources dealing with the topic of your article. Include those URLs in your article. Keep your article short. One or two pages is fine. Tell readers how to do something that will interest many of them. Keep sentences short, informal, and talk directly to the reader. If you don't feel comfortable with your writing skills, have a local English teacher or journalism student look over your article for you. At the end of your article, attach a 5-6 line 'Resource Box' that includes your Web site URL and/or your email address. Because you won't get paid for your article, publishers don't mind allowing you a personal plug at the end. The article makes you look like an expert in your field. Your contact info at the end urges thousands of impressed readers to contact the expert.

2. Create Your Own E-Zines: Better yet, consider producing your own company e-zine or newsletter. Nothing creates sales like your own Internet community. E-mail newsletters are a great way to build your Internet community and allow you to position yourself as a knowledgeable and helpful expert in the field. Subscribers come to see you as someone they know and can trust. E-mail newsletters are easy to produce and cost almost nothing. People on the Internet are usually in a hurry, so keep your e-zine short. One or two articles coupled with two or three short ads may be all your e-zine needs. Keep lines short enough to fit into an e-mail browser and put a hard return at the end of each line (to keep them from breaking up when e-mailed). For starters, you can send your e-zine out with your favorite e-mail program. Later, when your subscriber list grows, you may want to upgrade to a majordomo provided, most likely, by the same company that provides your web site space. Get subscribers by placing free ads on classified sites, ads in appropriate newsgroups, and announcing your new e-zine to firms that specialize in keeping track of various lists of subscribers.

Be sure to mention your new e-mail newsletter in all your print and broadcast advertising and add a place for people to subscribe on your web site. Your subscriber list can easily grow to include a few thousand within a year. An audience that size will be a continuing source of sales, contacts, and insights. Developing a thriving subscriber base means promoting your newsletter prominently on your Web site and elsewhere. A simple, text-based link exhorting visitors to "Sign up for our newsletter" will attract only the bare minimum of attention. Instead, consider a graphic or side-bar that speaks to the benefits of the newsletter - for example: "Get the latest e-business news in your inbox FREE."

Forum Networking: There are many discussion forums on the Internet, on every topic you could possibly imagine. Most discussion boards allow posters to attach a "Signature" with their post containing additional information about themselves, such as their name, URL and sometimes even an advertisement. By visiting a few forums regularly and participating in the discussions, asking and answering questions, you can build up trust with other forum members, whilst at the same time getting free exposure for your website. Just try to make a useful contribution to the forum - be sure to read the forum rules and don't SPAM! Referral Marketing Encourage happy customers to tell their friends about your business.

This is a great way to build your customer base, year after year, through the power of the 'snowball' effect-a happy customer tells a friend, who tells a friend, etc. Referrals also tend to be easier to convert into paying customers because your product has been 'endorsed' by someone they know and trust. You can offer incentives such as discounts or a free gift to encourage referrals. Regardless of whether or not the referred party makes a purchase, be sure to thank your customer for the referral-reward his behavior and he'll be more inclined to repeat it. Banner Advertising: Recent statistics show that 80% of advertisers use banner advertising and 18 of every 25 online ads created by advertisers are banner ads (ISP Cyberstats). Knowing how and where to place banner ads is a key factor in an online advertising campaign. For small businesses that don't have a large budget to devote to online advertising, a focused and effective approach to getting the most exposure for the least amount of money is essential. A simple search on Google or similar search engine will turn up numerous places where you can purchase banner advertising space. However, if your goal is to uncover free advertising resources, you should consider the following two sources:

1. Banner Exchange Services Perhaps the easiest, and certainly the cheapest, way to utilize banner advertising is by participating in banner exchange networks. These networks, such as "" , allow smaller sites to leverage the power of the Web by displaying each others' ads in a cooperative fashion. In addition to providing a no-cost linking opportunity, these networks typically generate highly targeted traffic to your site and extend viewership to audiences you may not otherwise be able to reach.

2. Trading Banners with Other Sites: When you visit a site that you think could send you good, qualified traffic, just drop a note to the webmaster and see if he/she/it wants to swap banner advertising. Tell them where you propose to put their banner on your site, and suggest a page on their site that might make for good placement for you. Be very polite and offer a fair trade. Explain something about your site and why you think it would benefit both sites to swap. How to Design Effective Banner Advertising Designers face a number of challenges when creating Internet banner advertisements. You have a very small space - usually about 468 pixels wide by 60 pixels high - in which to convey your message. That message has to be legible, and it has to catch the reader's eyes on what is often a very busy page, all while keeping file size to a minimum. That's a lot to ask from such a small graphic! Fortunately, you can follow these five easy guidelines to create ads that are catchy, effective, and easy to make.

1. Use the words "Click Here" or "Enter" every time you design a banner. You may think that these two words are overused online, but tests have proven that these words are able to increase the effectiveness of a banner ad by 20-30% without changing anything else in the banner. They inspire the reader to click on the ad if the headline of the banner interests them.

2. Animate Your Banners. An animated banner will increase your banner ads effectiveness by 30-40%. The key in using animation in your banner is keeping it small. The reason that you don't want big pictures or images that look like live video in your banners is the fact that the banner will load too slowly on people's pages. The visitors just won't see it.

3. Use an awesome headline in your banner. Don't think that just having a good looking banner will make people click through. The key to effective banner advertising is having a good headline. A good technique to use is to keep the same headline on your banner ad that you have on your entry page. Then when they click through the banner, they will come to see the same headline that sparked an interest in them in the first place.

4. It is often a good idea to use your web site address or some type of company logo in the banner. Don't focus your banner on your logo or web site address, but do include it in many cases. Your main benefit headline should be the focus of your banner. Your use of a web address or company logo in a small section of the banner just helps to produce a branding effect on people's minds giving you a few extra hits.

5. Use banner text wisely. Use a simple font in the largest possible size and capitalize the first letter of every word. If your text takes more than two seconds to read, you've got too many words. Either edit the copy down or consider adding another frame. Too much text overwhelms viewers, and they'll be less likely to read it.

Traffic Exchanges: One method of getting targeted traffic to your site is through the traffic or hit exchanges. When used properly, they can be a great source of targeted visitors. Put simply, a traffic exchange is a facility that you can use to get hits to your site in exchange for viewing other people's sites. The way traffic exchanges work are very simple. When you first visit a traffic exchange website, you will be asked to register. Usually when you register you receive free credits just for signing up. When you login for the first time, you should add your sites into the exchange. Traffic exchanges work by crediting per the amount of traffic you bring to other sites on the network. This can be through your own surfing, referral traffic, or even by purchasing site visits. Most exchanges offer free and paid memberships, with paid members of course obtaining more perks and potentially more targeted traffic.

The thing with hit exchanges is that you've got to know how to use them, otherwise your results will be disappointing. But if you apply these four strategies, you may be pleasantly surprised. 1. Create a special page for the traffic exchanges. A common mistake made by many webmasters is to direct visitors to their main page. Instead of doing this, focus on creating a well-designed 'teaser' page that will create interest in your product without pushing visitors to purchase anything. The maximum amount of time that your site will be given to load is less than 30 seconds and the last thing you want is a slow loading page. It needs to: load quickly which will mean being very sparing with the graphics and animation. put across the greatest benefit for visiting you site very clearly. have a quick and easy way for surfers to bookmark your page. This is very important. When surfing for hits, you get into a kind of flow, one you don't really want to interrupt. Having a favorites button will ensure that people who are pushed for time can always come back and view your page later. If you have links to other sites on your special page, it's best if they open in new windows. That way your visitor doesn't have to leave the hit exchange. It's also a good idea to have some form of email capture facility on your page.

2. Develop a freebie and make visitors sign up to get it. Once you have your visitor's attention, offer something for free that has intrinsic value. Some common items used by many webmasters are free ebooks, or contests for your products. By providing a free and useful item to your prospect, you attract their attention without forcing them to purchase anything at that moment. You have also obtained that visitor's email address-after they sign up. Once this is done, send them an automatic response email that lets them know how to obtain their freebie. (One quick warning: On the entry form, let the person know that they are joining a mailing list. Don't hide this fact, because you could be accused of spamming.)

3. Find good traffic exchange services and start surfing. After designing your page and including the freebie, browse for a few quality traffic exchange services. When searching, take into account the following factors:

Find sites that have good ratios. Sign up for services, such as that give you a fair ratio of sites which you visit, to times that your URL is displayed. Any traffic exchange service should have at least a 2:1 ratio. Study their anti-cheating policies. Any good traffic exchange service will have strict policies that prevent people from earning credits without actually viewing your site, including the use of robot/auto surf software.

Additionally, a good traffic exchange service will limit or prohibit the use of pop-ups, pop-unders, pop-exit pages or fly-ins. It should also prohibit sites that promote immoral, illegal or illicit URLs. To review recommended program terms, visit

Referring others to the exchange should also benefit you, so be sure your exchange offers a referral program. Take advantage of your referral status. All it takes is one large site in your downline to create a stream of new visitors back to you.

4. Contact your visitors. Once you have collected a good database of visitors who are interested in your product, contact them. In the email, remind them of the freebie or contest that they joined. After that, create a sales message that discusses how your product or service can help fulfill their specific needs. Since this e-mail reaches them when they are not concerned with generating hits for their own site, you have a better chance of making a sale. If you follow these 4 steps and use the resources that are provided, you will see an increase in quality visitors and email subscriptions. Ultimately, you should generate more sales.

If you're ready to get started, we encourage you to visit to learn more about effective traffic exchange programs.

Author: M. Avedissian
Copyright 2005

M. Avedissian

In The News:

Gophers Fall to Michigan State at Home  News Talk 1340 KROC-AM
Welcome to the Promoconomy  The New York Times
Packs and Promotions  FC Barcelona
Lot 99 Is Site of Promotion for Drivers Who Commute  University of Arkansas Newswire
Where Can You Advertise for Free?  Small Business Trends

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