Many potential Search Engine Optimization (SEO) clients come to me stating they don’t have the financial resources to contract my firm for services yet they’d like to get started with the promotion of their site within the search engine sphere. Below I’ve attempted to outline the first steps I might take if I had a new website to promote from the ground up.
Submit Your Site to Directories
Directory submissions are an integral part of basic SEO, and directory listings help to form a foundation of links pointing to your site that generally won’t go anywhere unless the directory disappears or is shutdown for some reason. Many directories such as DMOZ or the Yahoo Directory feed search engine results and carry a lot of “weight” with major search engines such as Google, MSN/Live, and Yahoo!
There are hundreds of free directories out there, and my recommendation is to subcontract this service out to an inexpensive submission service (do a search for “directory submission service”). For as little as $30, you can have your website submitted to hundreds of directories in little time. Manually doing this could take countless hours, and it’s very tedious work. One note of caution: directories don’t get indexed overnight. It will take some time for your site to get “credit” for being listed in a lot of the online directories.
Write and Submit Articles about Your Business or Industry
Promoting your business via articles about your industry or the business itself are a great way to build awareness without being over the top or in someone’s face. The more articles you write and submit to online e-zines or article directories, the more your name circulates. Think about it, when you read an informative article that helps you solve a problem, perform a task better, or recaps an event, your guard isn’t as high as it is when you come across an all out advertisement is it?
Be sure to include a byline at the end containing a link to your site along with brief information about you and your company. This will not only generate awareness, it will also help your search engine optimization campaign by building “natural” links back to your website as the article circulates the online community.
Engage in a Free PR Campaign
While print media isn’t as popular as it once was, people still read newspapers, trade journals, and magazines. Local newspapers are always looking for interesting stories on local people to write about in order to increase their readership. Magazines are a bit different in that your story needs to be very compelling and unique in some fashion, but your website and business can get a big jolt if you can land a story in a print publication of some sort. One word of caution: don’t go shooting for the New York Times or Inc. Magazine right out of the chute unless you’re truly prepared to handle a huge influx of site visits, e-mails, phone calls, and unrelated requests about your business.
Involve Yourself in the Blogosphere
Blogs are a great way to show a more human side to a company, and their popularity continues to increase. My advice is to start a blog about your company, industry, or niche that is a sub-domain off of your main website. A sub-domain may look like this: subdomain.domain.com to where your blog may utilize a scheme similar to blog.yourdomain.com. This is a great way to build unique content for your domain while also helping your customers or clients get to know the human side of your business. There are several free blog generators out there that will even host your blog for free, and two of the more popular ones can be found at blogger.com or wordpress.com.
If starting your own blog is too tall a task, visit others’ blogs related to your industry and join in the conversation by posting comments and interacting with the blog owner. Many blog comments are indexed by the name you enter in the name field of the comment form so you can build links to your site this way. One note of caution: there is a lot of debate whether no-follow links such as the ones on most blogs provide any search optimization value, and I have found that they do provided the blog itself ranks well and has a large following.
Promote Your Site Everywhere
Offline optimization is just as important as it is online as you’re simply trying to generate interest in your business or website, right? Consider promoting your website offline just as you would your business. Nobody will know about your site unless you tell them, but you don’t want to be a hound about it either so be subtle. The traffic you generate may result in a huge sale that puts your business on the map.
Basic SEO isn’t that difficult if you think about it in a common sense manner. Promoting your site online is very similar to how you’d promote your business offline—it’s all about positive exposure. Being heavily involved online as well as off is a solid strategy to building awareness for your business and its website.