The Tutorial: Marketing Your Web Site
You have spent the time and money to create a Web site that has good content, good navigation, and loads quickly. However, all your efforts in careful design and implementation will go unnoticed if you do not promote and market your Web site successful...
You have spent the time and money to create a Web site that has good content, good navigation, and loads quickly. However, all your efforts in careful design and implementation will go unnoticed if you do not promote and market your Web site successfully. Simply creating a great Web site will not guarantee viewership; you have to drive the viewers to your site.
Ever notice how all magazine ads now have www.company.com at the bottom? Your site address should appear on your business cards, letterheads, vehicle signage and especially job-site signage. Any standard form of advertising should include your Web site address to funnel potential clients to the valuable information the site provides. Your site can provide a great deal more information than standard forms of advertising, and the information can be modified quickly and for less cost than in the other mediums.
Linking one site to another is a great way to get viewership. Talk with your business partners and set up reciprocal links. Your bank or mortgage company should be happy to create a connection between its site and yours. The same holds true for the lumber company, real estate agent and chamber of commerce. Explore all avenues to get eyeballs to your site. These cross-links benefit all parties.
In addition to the standard media applications, there are specialized Web marketing sites. There are also big sites that serve as nationwide referral agents for the building industry. These megasites can serve as funnels to your site. Some are:
These sites usually charge a fee for referrals, but it can be worth it if it provides successful leads.
You cannot depend on viewers’ finding your site at random. There are millions of Web sites, and users depend on search engines to narrow the choices. A search engine is like a “card catalog” for the Web. A program searches the Web for certain characteristics in Web sites and then rates a sites appropriateness to a viewer’s inquiry. These software programs are called spiders or robots.
Some of the major search engines are AltaVista, Lycos, Excite and Hotbot. Each has unique characteristics for determining what is considered important. In their early days search engines used criteria such as the number of times a keyword appeared on the home page, but they have grown more sophisticated. It is important to understand how each search engine works so you can design your site to get a high rating.
One technique is the use of metatags. A metatag is a series of words hidden in the code that summarizes what your site is about. A site’s metatags can be viewed by clicking View and then Source on your browser’s toolbar. When creating your metatags, think of how a potential client will initiate a search. For instance, “historical custom homes” will yield more specific results than “custom homes.”
There are also Web sites that will submit your site to the search engines for you. These have their own criteria and costs. Two of the more popular sites are Submit It! and Did-it.com. Submitting your site is not a onetime endeavor. Search engines constantly revise their listings and criteria, and you should submit your site frequently and always after you modify it.
To learn more, visit www.searchengineguide.com. It has a complete list of search engines, both general and industry-specific, and information about search engine news and criteria to consider when designing your site.
If your site gets so big that information is hard to find, it may be time to get rid of some of that information or purchase your own site-specific search engine to search your site for the information a user specifies.
There are also directories that list sites depending on certain criteria. Yahoo! is the best-known directory. There are also industry directories such as HomeBuilder.com, BuildingOnline.com and BuilderNet.com. These directories get their listings from direct submissions, so you would have to submit your site to them.
In today’s — and tomorrow’s — competitive market, it is necessary to get your company’s message out in a simple, cost-efficient and meaningful manner. A company Web site is the first step to marketing success, but the key is to become not just another site in the crowd, and that takes careful planning and execution. In designing your site as a marketing tool, use the same care, resourcefulness and planning that you do in constructing homes.
Internet technology is constantly changing. It is important to understand what the Internet can do for you and then use the technology to its best advantage. Staying ahead of the curve takes a huge investment of time on your part and may not be the best course of action. Many trends on the Web have come and gone. The trend that has remained is that the Web is a great place to meet and greet clients and a great place to do business.