You?ve Created a Business Website: So Now What?

Congratulations! You and your designer have just finished creating your business website. It's live on the Internet, waiting for all of those hot prospects to visit and hire you.

But, you hate just sitting around, waiting for things to happen. You feel like you should be working on convincing potential clients to visit your site, but you're not sure what to do. We've developed a the following 5 strategies to get the word out about your website in a big way:

1. Submit your site to the major search engines. If you tell them about you, they will come! Yahoo, Google and MSN are the most- used search engines, and submitting your site to these search engines is easy. You can even do a free, basic-level submission in many cases.

Visit the following pages to submit your site:

? Yahoo: Visit http://search.yahoo.com/info/submit.html

? Google: Follow the instructions at http://dmoz.org/add.html to suggest your site

? MSN: Visit http://search.msn.com/docs/submit.aspx?FORM=WSDD2

2. Exchange or establish links with other sites.

Establishing a larger presence in the online community is the next step toward growing your brand online. Submit your website to professional organizations to which you belong, directories of the area where your business is located, business directories, and other sites, as appropriate.

Links from outside sites to your own site are one of the elements that search engines look at when ranking your site. The general rule of thumb is that if high- quality, well ranked sites link to you, your site will be better ranked in return.

If you have control over the text that is highlighted in your link, keep in mind that the search engines give extra weight to this text when ranking your site.

So, embedding your keyword phrases into this part of the link would be to your advantage. Read more about this in our article about Search Engine Optimization.

And, no discussion of linking would be complete without a final note on avoiding "link farms," which are sites that just include large directories of links. Link farms are viewed as spam sites by the search engines. Potential clients will be more likely to click through to your site from high-quality, individual sites and legitimate directories than from a link farm.

3. Write articles about your area of expertise and post them to your website.

Content is king when it comes to websites. It's been shown that more people will repeatedly visit your website if you have fresh content available. Adding an "Articles" section to your website and writing an article every month or every other month is a great way to entice visitors to return regularly. It's also a great way to naturally raise the keyword phrase count on your site, which can improve your Search Engine ranking. ? if you write articles about your area of expertise, you're bound to naturally use keywords and keyword phrases that would be a good match for your services.

If you can't think of topics for your articles, a good way to start is to address some of your clients' most frequently asked questions. Create a list of those questions that your clients and potential clients always ask, and create articles that answer those questions. The added bonus in this is that you'll have ready-made answers to those questions, and you can just point clients to the article when those questions arise in the future.

One important aspect of the article-publishing strategy is to create a compelling, keyword-filled "About the Author" section to include with all of your article publications. I suggest that you vary the text of this section from article to article, to make it relate to the article's content. I also recommend that you create "About the Author" sections of varying lengths ? when you submit your articles to other websites (see strategy 4), you may be able to submit longer "About the Author" sections to some websites or publications. Be sure to include a link back to your website in this section as well.

Finally, be sure to have your articles proofread! Ensuring that your articles are grammatically correct is an incredibly important step towards extending a professional brand image online.

4. Submit your articles to other websites for additional promotion.

There are many sites online that specialize in listing directories of articles. If you include a link back to your website in your author's bio, publishing your articles on these sites is a great way to establish some links back to your website. And, other sites and eZines for publication may even publish your article!

Many article directories will allow free listings under a basic membership, but you may consider upgrading your membership once you have published several articles.

We recommend that you submit your articles to the following sites:

? http://www.ideamarketers.com
? http://www.ezinearticles.com
? http://www.goarticles.com/
? http://www.topica.com/
? http://www.impactarticles.com
? http://www.amazines.com
? http://www.articlecity.com/

If you don't have time to submit your articles to other websites, there are a few options to consider. To automatically submit to many article directories, you can use an Article Distribution Service, such as the one available at http:// www.virtualizeyourbiz.com. At $25 per article, it's quite affordable. The other option is to hire a helper or virtual assistant to do the submissions for you. Either way, submitting your article to several article directories will help to get the word out about your website.

5. Create an email newsletter.

Sending an email newsletter (or eZine) out to your database once a month or every other month is the best way to keep in touch with your potential clients and to keep your business brand at the top of their minds. It's best to send out is a newsletter that gives away a bit of free consulting ? some information about your area of expertise. This will earn you more respect than sending out a "fluffy" newsletter that is primarily trying to sell your prospects something. If you include information that your subscribers can implement by themselves, your subscribers will hold you in even higher regard.

A newsletter also is a great way to gather prospects' names and grow a loyal "fan" base. Put a newsletter subscription box on your website. It's great to add the subscription box to every page if possible! Also include a note about your eZine in your email signature file, and in the "About the Author" section with all of the articles you send out when using Strategy 4.

Many entrepreneurs insist that they don't have the time to write a newsletter. But, if you're already writing the articles we recommend in Strategy 3, then most of the work is done for you. Your newsletter is another great place for you to publish your articles ? with an article, and a bit of extra sidebar information and promotional copy, you've got yourself a complete newsletter.

These five steps will expand your business's reach exponentially. Consistently use them over a period of time, and they will increase your credibility, leads and sales generated online.

About the Author

Erin Ferree, Founder and Lead Designer of elf design, is a brand identity and graphic design expert. She has been helping small businesses grow with bold, clean and effective logo and marketing material designs for over a decade. elf design offers the comprehensive graphic and web design services of a large agency, with the one- on-one, personalized attention of an independent design specialist. Erin works closely in partnership with her clients to create designs that are visible, credible and memorable ? and that tell their unique business stories in a clear and consistent way. For more information about elf design, please visit: Logo design at http://www.elf-design.com

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