Three Ways to Market Your Web Site Effectively

1. Tell people you have a site

This might seem blindingly obvious, but it's remarkable the number of people that don't promote their Web site addresses. Every piece of your business literature that is put before customers and prospects should contain your site's address, from stationery (letterheads, business cards, compliments slips, faxes and invoices) to marketing collateral (brochures, price lists and packaging).

If you use email, set up a signature that will appear at the end of every message you send. This should contain your name, position, your company's name, phone number(s) and, of course, your Web address. Email me at [email protected] and you'll receive a signature example template in an automatic reply.

2. Encourage repeat visits

Research has shown that many customers decide if they wish to do business with a company after they have visited its Web site seven times. Here are simple ways to encourage repeat visits:

Keep it up-to-date. Nothing discourages visitors more than a site that is clearly not maintained regularly. Make sure that company information is current, including contact details, personnel listings and prices.

Make it easy to use. If your site is poorly designed and relevant content is difficult to find, then no-one will be bothered to waste time looking for it. Web users are notoriously impatient, so make sure pages are clearly laid out and links (including navigation) is simply worded. If you have a particularly large site, consider having your own search engine on it to make information easier to find.

Make it quick. More and more people are using high-speed broadband connections but a significant number are still using slower dial-ups to access the Internet. Consider this when you design and programme your site; people won't return if they know your pages take several minutes to load.

3. Register your Web site with search engines

More than half of site visits are via search engines, so don't underestimate their influence on how many visitors your site will get.

You may find companies that offer to submit your site to hundreds of search engines; there is even software that can do this for you. There are really only four or five major search engines that you need to consider (ask yourself how many search engines you can name and how many you actually use). Many of the others are just ways to surreptitiously get your email address, which you can pretty much guarantee will become inundated with spam (unsolicited email).

To increase your chances of a high ranking in search engines, make sure that pages contain plenty of relevant text-based information. Mostly, this is what they store in their indexes and base their results on. For example, if you search on Google for "web design brighton" my site appears on the first page. At the time of writing, my homepage is number five in the results, with my company ranked third highest on the list. "Brighton web design" ranks me at number one overall. Not bad for a one-man firm!

Email me at [email protected] and you'll receive a signature example template in an automatic reply.

Nigel Gordijk (http://www.commonsensewebdesign.com)is based in Brighton, England and is an accomplished, independent Web consultant with over 16 years' design industry experience. His Web site designs are noted for their ability to engage users and their ease of use. His client list includes BP International, Thomson Holidays, Honda, Ladbrokes and No 10 Downing Street.

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