Web Advertising Part 1.
This will be a multi-part project from me; this week, in part 1, I will discuss building up the base or basic infrastructure. There are some assumptions I will make; some familiarity with web browsing, links, basic navigation on the web, and an understanding that web pages represent one form of inexpensive advertising. Many of the tools or features I will discuss are available at no charge or you can choose to pay fees to enhance their impact; I mostly recommend the “at no charge” part of these tools. I will leave it up to the user of such tools to calculate whether or not paid advertising is of positive value for them.
Step one (perhaps already done by most) acquire a name (domain or domain name) for your primary website and arrange for a place to host it. For a commercial website, this might entail registering a catchy name (benediktson.com for me) and buying web hosting (maybe $8.00 / month – perhaps less or at no charge). I prefer web hosting that includes email service so I can set up equally catchy named email addresses (firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com) that help with company recognition and simplify the whole branding part of advertising. A quick word about these names; my example is a ‘.com’ (top-level-domain) but many others exist for improved identification and name recognition. For example ‘.biz’ for a business, ‘.net’ for networking providers, ‘.org’ for organizations, or the very common ‘.com’ for commercial. If you are looking to avoid annual fees, you may choose a sub-domain provided “under” someone else’s name (john.computer4u.com, or john.mt.gov).
Step two is to identify services that already are providing websites or web-presence’s for you, or would if they knew you existed, and claim or take control of these sites or presences. This can require some research and some luck; but, trust me, it is worth the effort on your part. Google provides a contact page or website for every business (sort of); find yours and take ownership of it so you control the content on it and can link it to your website from “step one” above. Facebook, Yahoo, Bing, and a host of special interest groups and service providers also provide similar services. Yellowbook provides a range of services, many at no charge (in the hopes you will also buy some of their advertising products); this is one way to get your business phone number (assuming you have one and want it to be easy to find) published so that it appears in web searches. As much as possible, you want to add references from all of these back to your website and to each other (remember to try and put consistent information on each of these).
Step three is to contact organizations that provide recommendations or assistance in the field you provide service or products for. If you are an attorney, for instance, there will be numerous professional groups that you could join and many of them will assist you in being easier to find for those interested in your specific offerings. There are also a few commercial groups who provide lists of specialists, referral services, etc.; you may wish to exchange links with some or all that you can find. In each case, you want to get accurate information about you and what you offer (including your website address and email address maybe) in their listings.
Step four is to go to each of the major search engines and register your webpage with them. There are services that will do this for you (usually for a fee) or you can spend an hour some evening and learn about all the other services these engines can provide to you while you describe your offerings to them. These are designed to be used by non-technical people and should represent no unusual challenges. Okay, there is one challenge involved, you will need to think about your offerings and how your would-be clients view those offerings so you can tell the search engines which kinds of queries they should recommend you (your webpage) as a response.
With these four steps initiated, you should have several “pages” displaying your name, desired contact information, and information about services, products, or whatever that you offer. There may be opportunities to improve these as time and feedback suggest or add new ones as you become aware of additional services. As much as possible, all should link to your website and you may choose to link your website back to some; particularly if they provide additional information or incentive regarding you and your offerings.
In part 2 of this series, I hope to explain how to make your web presence more attractive to the search engines and help you advance up the list the search engines provide.