by Azam Corry
1. Search Engines
A controversial first choice perhaps. Nevertheless, more than 60% of surfers use search engines as their primary means of locating web sites. With approximately 180 million people online, that's an awful lot of free traffic.
Agreed, that may be of little use to you if your site covers a popular subject. There will be a lot of competition, and you'll need to spend a substantial amount of money - or time - to be ranked in a position that will bring you any visitors at all.
However, if you have a highly targeted niche or theme site, traffic from search engines can be substantial. Learn the basic search engine likes and dislikes, build some link popularity (directory listings are good for this) and you will get visitors.
2. Submitting Articles to eZines and Newsletters
Costs nothing and brings results. There are hundreds of thousands of ezines and newsletters published every month. They all need content, so most editors are interested in good articles.
Write informative pieces, and avoid self-promotion. Most email publications prefer articles in the 500 - 800 word range, which really isn't a lot once you get going (but avoid rambling). Don't use overly ornate or technical language, and be sure to double check for spelling mistakes and grammatical errors.
Gradually build up a list of publications that reach your target market, and submit frequently for best results. You can even offer to write special 'exclusive' or 'first run' pieces for publications that have a large circulation.
Add your details and contact information to the end of the article. Make it a low-key advertisement, and mention any special offers or 'freebies' you may have. Keep it brief, usually around five or six lines.
If you need more help on the effective use of articles as a promotional tool, "The Ezine Marketing Machine" by Rick Beneteau, is devoted to the subject: http://www.NowSell.com/emm.html
3. Pay-Per-Click Search Engines
The concept is simple: write your own title and description, select a keyword searchers must enter for your listing to appear, and bid against other site owners for its rank in search results.
The amount you bid is the amount you will pay for each click on your listing (sending a visitor to your site). The more you pay, the higher the listing will appear, and the more visitors you'll get. Good value for money unless you are concentrating on very popular keywords.
Although you might not get much traffic at 1 or 2 cents per click these days, cost compare favorably with ezine advertising. For example, $10 CPM (Cost Per Thousand) is a reasonable price to pay for an ezine sponsor ad (some cost less, many ask more). With a good response rate of 5% you are paying 20 cents per click.
However, that response is not guaranteed. With the wrong ad or location it could be almost nothing. Using a PPC search engine, there is no risk. You only pay for visitors, not eyeballs.
Most of these search engines also have agreements with other sites to display their results, and extensive affiliate networks, both of which significantly increase exposure.
For best results, bid on as many (relevant) keywords as you can. Hundreds, thousands even. Don't ignore a term because it is only searched for 100 times a month. The top position will only be a few cents, and listing under 200 keywords like this will give you prime positioning in 20,000 searches every month.
4. Advertisements in eZines and Newsletters
Identify publications that target the market you wish to reach. Whenever possible, test the suitability of a publication by running an ad with proven results in other locations (you MUST habitually track the effectiveness of any ad you create).
Go for classified ads (or even ad swaps) first. If you are getting a good response, consider moving your ad to a more prominent sponsor (stand-alone) position. The top slot pulls best, but that also means you might be able to get a bargain on middle to bottom positioning.
If you are buying more than a single insertion (remember: most people need to see ad an several times before responding), don't be afraid to negotiate the price. The vast majority of ezines would like more paying advertisers, and have what is termed "unsold inventory."
It's very difficult to directly sell something from a few lines of text. Aim to generate enquiries for further information - to a web site or autoresponder address - and do your selling from there.
5. Link Exchanges
Not to be confused with banner exchanges. Average banner click through rate is about 0.05% (1 click for every 2000 viewings!). Your home-made job will probably do even worse. Use text links. In context whenever possible. As strong headlines if not.
Target non-competitive sites with related themes. Choose the most popular, high traffic sites you can. Investigate sites that come near the top in relevant searches. Not only will these send you more traffic; they'll boost your link popularity ratings at the search engines, increasing visitors indirectly.
When requesting a link, send the complete html code for the site owner to copy and paste, as well as the URL to the page on your site containing their link. Use keywords in the link text you provide: Google considers these for relevancy and supplies the Yahoo web search results. Uniquely code each link so you can track and compare traffic from linked sites.
© 1999-2000 Azam Corry "Do it Better. Do it Faster. Do it Right!"
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