When I finished my first site, I thought I had done the "hard part". In my mind, all that was left to do was submit the site to a few search engines and wait for the flood of traffic. After a few days when the "flood" was a mere trickle – or more like a few drips here and there – I came to the realization that the hard part wasn’t over; in fact, it had just begun!
Finishing a site may seem like hard work, but it’s nothing compared to trying to promote and improve the site…and these things are an ongoing process. We’ll discuss some areas relating to promotion first.
It would be nice if you had a step-by-step set of instructions when it came to site promotion. Finish Steps A, B, and C and presto! Tons of visitors! You never have to do another thing to promote your site! It would be nice, all right, but it just doesn’t work that way.
One of the first steps most webmasters take after completing their site is submitting to the search engines and directories. However, many times submitting isn’t enough. You’ve got to check your ranking on a continual basis to ensure that you don’t slip. If you do find your site slowly slipping in the rankings, you need to take action to correct that. There are other search engine optimization methods and tools, such as gateway pages, that require almost constant monitoring to be successful. In order to develop a search engine game plan, you must also keep tabs on which keywords are used to find your site, which search engine sends the most visitors your way, and more.
Banner ads should be viewed as more than a one shot promotional technique. You must monitor which of your banners are most successful in terms of their clickthrough and conversion ratios and constantly hone your banners to help boost those numbers. You must also constantly be on the lookout for new and/or better sites on which to place your banners.
Developing a reciprocal link program (or just a link program) is also very time consuming. You must search out sites and contact owners to request links. This is something that will more than likely be done for the life of your site. There will be a good deal of time devoted to "checking up" on your link partners’ sites to make sure your link is still active (this isn’t too hard to do with a good tracking program like WebTrends or a free service like HitBox.com).
One aspect I haven’t seen discussed much in regard to linking is the fact that there are going to be sites that link to you that you DON’T want linking to you. For example, I’ve discovered a few adult sites that had placed a link to my site on theirs. All it took was an email requesting the site remove the link and it was taken care of, but it still takes time to research and request the removal.
We’ve been discussing the ongoing aspects of site promotion, now it’s time to switch gears a bit and get into a few of the things involved in improving a site’s design over time.
There are certain aspects of your site design that you *can’t* polish until you’ve had quite a few visitors. Sure, there are companies that can afford to do extensive research and testing before they open their doors (so to speak) online, but for the average online entrepreneur, the research and testing information comes in the form of email from site visitors after the site has been launched.
Based on suggestions, complaints, and observations from those who’ve visited our sites, we learn what to keep, what to tweak, and what to lose. Email is valuable to a webmaster. Don’t ignore common problems expressed by many visitors. You can learn a lot from visitor feedback and improve your site much more than you can by trying to assess the strengths and weaknesses yourself. Needless to say, this is an ongoing process as well.
I hope I’ve shown you in this article a few of the ways that site design and promotion are an ongoing process. Don’t get discouraged at the prospect of all the work that lies ahead of you. It is hard work to develop and maintain a great site, but the rewards are definitely worth it! Good luck!