not enough to
put your business on the Web--you've got to promote your site
by Alan Zisman (c) 1996 First published
in Business in Vancouver
, Issue #362 October 1, 1996 High Tech Office column
worked in Bill Kinsella's novel, Shoeless Joe, but when
you build a Web page for your business, it may take a little more
direct action to make people come and check it out. With millions of
pages available on the Web and more being posted daily, it's highly
unlikely that your potential readers or customers will find your new
address without a little help.
step is to
get yourself listed by the popular search engines (Yahoo and the like)
and the various "What's New" lists. Several of the search engines
claim to use automated "spiders" which wander the Web, indexing what
they find, but who knows when their virtual arachnid will wander
your little piece of the Web? You can make sure that your site gets
listed, complete with a description that you've written.
site (http://www.yahoo.com), for example, wander through the
categories at the bottom of the initial search page, finding the
most appropriate to your site, then click the Add URL button near
the top of the page. You'll see a form asking for information about
your new site. This gets your site listed in the category of your
choice, as well as in Yahoo's daily and weekly "What's New" lists.
Similar processes are available from other popular site indexes: try http://www.altavista.digital.com/cgi-bin/query?pg=addur1
(whew!) for Alta Vista, or http://www.lycos.com/register.html
for Lycos, for example.
simpler is to
go first to the free Submit It! service. Here, you fill in a short
description, then select the search indexes where you'd like your
site listed (Submit It! lists a couple of dozen). Click a button for
each one, and your site listing is sent.
addition to the free
general-search indexes, there are Internet-based yellow pages (not
related to the various phone companies). These typically offer a
of short, free listings, along with paid ads that can contain logos,
graphics, or more complex ads. Check out your competition at the Worldwide
Yellow Pages (http://www.yellow.com), GTE SuperPages (http://www.superpages.com/)
or the WWW Business Yellow Pages (http://www.
cba.uh.edu/ylowpages/), for example. Locally, bcyellowpages.com
claims to be one of the most frequently accessed sites in B.C.
new Web address
to your promotional material, business cards, letterhead, brochures,
and print ads. How about your ad in the print Yellow Pages?
on the content
and focus of your pages, you may be able to attract visitors by
hot-links. Contact other pages that you think might be of interest
to your potential visitors and offer to include a link to them on
your pages in exchange for a link to your page in theirs.
know who's visited
your pages? Your server keeps log files which may be accessible to
you (ask your Webmaster). You probably won't get names, but you will
get numbers of visitors and the sites that they called from. A simple
count of visitors is probably more useful: you may have seen these
on popular Web pages--a counter that goes up with each access. Many
of these are simple programs included as part of your Web pages, but
even easier is to let another Web site keep count for you.
(http://www.digits.com/) is free for sites with less than 1,000
hits per day, but costs anywhere from $14 to $90 for more popular
sites, depending on just how popular they are. After signing up, you
simply include its Web address as an image tag on your home page.
provide quite inaccurate data: visitors who jump back and forth between
your home page and other pages will be counted multiple times, while
others who've added one of your later pages to their bookmarks list
won't be counted at all. You could require visitors to register before
accessing your site, but unless you're providing a unique or vital
service, you'll find this discourages casual visitors. Alternatively,
you might politely request that visitors fill out an information form.
the movie made from Kinsella's book, Kevin Costner built his
baseball field and the ghosts of Shoeless Joe and other baseball greats
showed up to play. Even though the Web also brings your site virtual
visitors, you'd like them to represent real, flesh-and-blood people,
and for that, you need to actively promote your site.