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Site Promotion Tutorial
Part 6 - Writing For Promotion

Introduction

In part 5 I showed you how to exchange links with other webmasters to increase your site's popularity. In this part I will show you how to promote your site in more subtle ways. Basically, you can increase awareness of your site by including references to it in other ways.

E-Mail Signatures

E-mail is the main reason most people use the internet. Knowing this is very important as it provides a whole new way of promoting your site. Before explaining how to get visitors through e-mail I will make something very clear: NEVER SPAM! Sending spam (unsolicited e-mail) is a very bad idea. You will never have a popular website if you do it and you are more likely to create a bad impression than get extra visitors.

You can, though, benefit from e-mail by including an 'advert' for your site in every single e-mail you send. Think about that for a minute, most people send many, many e-mails every week and if every e-mail you send has an advert on it you are certainly going to get some extra visitors.

An example of this in action is Microsoft's Hotmail. It is the most popular free e-mail provider on the internet with tens of millions of users. How did they do it? Signatures. Every single e-mail sent from Hotmail has:

Get your own free e-mail at www.hotmail.com

at the bottom of it. This caused thousands of people who received these messages to sign up. With no extra expense or work, Hotmail gained thousands, if not millions, of users.

You can do your own version of this, too. It is called adding an e-mail signature. This is a few lines after your name to give information to the reader. You can include your e-mail address, website address, ICQ/AIM number, or anything you like (in fact a lot of people have amusing signatures). For example here is my signature file:

David Gowans
webmaster@gowansnet.com
ICQ# ICQ NUMBER HERE

http://www.gowansnet.com
Web Design, Free Webmaster Help
and much more - Gowansnet has
everything you need for the internet.

As you can see from this, I provide all my contact information and a quick summary of what my website is about. This is sent on every e-mail I write (although I have several variations of it) and, without any extra work, promotes my site.

You could just type all this out every time but there is an easier way. Most e-mail programs offer a signature option. This allows you to define one or more signatures which you can add to your messages with one click (or can even be added automatically).

A few things to remember about your signature file:

  • Keep it short. Write no more than 5 lines about your website.

  • DON'T USE ALL CAPITALS

  • Don't try to make pictures out of keyboard characters, they will not display properly on all programs

  • Include the http:// in front of your web address. This will make a clickable link in most e-mail software.


Newsgroups and Forums

There are two ways to promote your site through newsgroups and forums (message boards). Both only require a little bit of work and can be very effective.

Firstly, you can promote your website by contributing to the discussions and including your e-mail signature on the posting. This will have the same effect as sending an e-mail except there could be hundreds, if not thousands, of people reading each message. This is an effective way of promoting your site.

Another way you can get extra visitors by using a newsgroups or forum is by referring people to your website for more information. This only works with some websites (mainly ones providing information/tutorials etc.). You must be careful, though, not to make the mistake of spamming the newsgroup or forum. This is when you post a message just to promote your website (or an advert for a product
etc.) with no real purpose. This is nearly as bad as spamming by e-mail.

You should try to get well known in one or two forums or newsgroups. Don't only promote your site in postings but try to reply to some with information, not just giving a URL for your site. This will increase your credibility and make people more likely to visit your site.

One important thing to remember, though is that you should never just reply to a message with a URL. Include even a small bit of text. For example instead of just using a URL put a minimum of something like:

I think that you would find this page interesting:
SITE URL
I hope this is of some help to you.

Try to point users to the exact page for the information they are looking for. They will be much more likely to visit if they think that they can get the information they want without having to search through your site.

Writing Articles

A very good way of promoting your site, and one which is not widely used, is writing articles for other websites and newsletters. Newsletters are actually the best place to do this and it is a totally free way of promoting your site.

Firstly, you will need to find a newsletter which is about the same subject as your site and that you can write a short article for. Sign up to this newsletter and read it for a few issues to get an idea of what sort of information they publish.

Next you will need to write your article. You should try and write it in the same style as is used by the newsletter you are submitting to. To increase your chance of being included you should format your article correctly. Write it in plain text and place an enter at the end of each line. Lines should be shorter than 75 characters.

A good idea when writing articles is to try not to promote your site directly in the article. People will like and trust you more if it looks like you are writing the article to help them, not to promote your site.

So where do you get the free promotion from then? Well, if you provide an article to a newsletter (or website) for free then you will get a byline in return. This is a few lines after the article which credit it to you and advertise your site. For example, here is my byline:

Tutorial by David Gowans of http://www.freewebmasterhelp.com - Tutorials, articles and links to help you to build your own web site.

The next thing you have to do is send an e-mail to the newsletter editor (or the newsletter's contact address) with your article and byline attached (either in the e-mail or as a text file). Tell them that you are offering this article for them to use and that they can use it for free if they include your byline.

If you get an article placed in a major newsletter you will certainly get some extra visitors. Some newsletters are sent to tens of thousands of people and, if you have a good byline, you should get quite a few new visitors.

Part 7

In the final part I will show you how you can increase your site's popularity using banner and button exchanges.

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