10 Free Ways To Market & Promote Your Website

by Silicon Valley Blogger on 2011-12-0911

Having a thriving home-based online business is a fabulous asset. But what’s even better, by being an online business owner, you won’t have to worry about having a boss to answer to or have to think about what to say if you happen to be a bit late when getting in to work. But of course, with all the upsides, you get some downsides as well. As with any business, you’ll have to get out there and promote yourself and your website in order to make your services or offerings known.

So how do we market our websites? Many people are able to create sites that attract lots of eyeballs which turn into ad clicks and finally, to cold hard cash. Somehow some are able to swing it. How do they do it? Through a nifty (read: useful, attention grabbing, content-rich) site with targeted advertising and a solid audience. First things first — you have to have a marketable site. One that is useful, of high quality and well-maintained. Once it’s built, you want it to be discovered and appreciated.

Free Ways To Promote Your Website

Once your product or service is taken care of (in the guise of your site), then you’ll have to market it. Luckily, there are ways to market online that won’t necessarily require a huge budget. There is a lot you can do without spending much cash at all. So let me share some of these money saving methods with you.

Online Marketing Tips

1. Promote your business in your email signature. This is a pretty simple tip. It literally takes minutes to set up, but once you have done so, a signature will help promote your business with every single email you send out. It’s also quick, efficient, changeable whenever you like, and best of all, free!

2. Start a free blog (or set up your own). If your site is not a blog, then you may want to think of creating one for it. Blogs are usually used as the communication arm of a website that is typically built for something specific (e.g. a particular service, product or other entity). Free blogs can be started within minutes, but you would be better off paying the small amount it takes to secure a domain and your own hosting.

3. Set up some social media memberships. We’re talking about Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn and so on. Once again, they are free to set up, they provide links to your blog and website and they can connect you to potential customers and partners as well.

4. Comment on relevant forums. Is there a forum where your customers or visitors are likely to go? Join it, become a valued member by giving good advice and place a link to your website in the signature line if you are allowed to.

5. Respond to relevant blog posts. Find blogs about the subject of your business and comment on some of those posts. Identify yourself in those comments and make sure that what you write is worthwhile. Believe me when I say that bloggers will delete your comments if they are deemed useless or spammy.

6. Try getting featured in other sites. Create connections with other site publishers and see if you can work with others to symbiotically share content on each others’ sites. You can do this via guest posts, for example. Note that you may or may not receive a response from other site owners as a lot of folks have limited bandwidth and take a while to reply. Also, these days, free content is scrutinized more carefully than in the past.

Tip: What you shouldn’t do — link exchanges. I think doing link exchanges is passe and will probably do more harm than good. Also, don’t buy into an SEO firm that will keep you in the dark about what it is they’ll be doing for you. If you hire a bad outfit, they can really do a lot of damage to your site’s reputation! Be very careful about outsourcing marketing and promotion to an agency or group since a lot about marketing is reputation management. If someone misrepresents you, you may end up losing more than just the money you’ve paid them.

Traditional or Standard Marketing Tips

1. Tell people what you do. It’s easy to underestimate the power of ordinary conversation and old-fashioned word-of-mouth methods. Everyone you meet could be a potential future customer but they’ll first have to know what it is you can actually do for them.

2. Invest in some business cards. This is vital, and well worth the investment. It makes you look professional, especially if you keep some with you at all times. Check out how I got my business cards for free!

3. Start talking to other business people. Making connections in the business world can help in many ways. You could receive leads or get business from those who already know who you are. And you can also help them out in return.

4. Learn to see opportunities for new business wherever you can. This might sound like an odd one to finish on, but the more opportunities you come across, the more doors you can potentially open. The same goes for new ideas for advertising and promoting yourself.

Tip: Traditional PR strategies may help you out, but they have a cost. Look into old-fashioned marketing methods and even basic advertising as possible ways to get the word out. These ways aren’t really free though, unless you do some creative bartering to make things work.

As you can see, there are ways to start promoting your online business without having to spend too much money in the process.

Use Both Internet Marketing & Traditional Marketing Methods

From the points above, you can see that internet marketing is different from traditional marketing. There’s a lot more to it than meets the eye. For example, internet marketing also involves networking via links (aka link building). You’ll also realize that the strange designation of “PR” that’s attributed to a site or blog does not refer to the traditional form of marketing called “Public Relations” or the use of “Press Releases”, but rather, to an SEO-related (or internet marketing) term called “Page Rank”.

On that note, allow me to share this little ditty: some years back, I was eager to learn more about site promotion when I chanced upon folks discussing how they were only interested in linking with anyone who was a PR4 or PR5. HUH??? I had no clue.

Well I subsequently discovered that “PR” was short for “Page Rank”. Back then, I chuckled at my ignorance. While it may not be the case today, there once was a time when a site with a high PR was considered manna (or more valuable) while those who didn’t have it were considered inconsequential. But the fact is, we have come full circle. Ultimately, page rank, link building and other SEO methods may no longer be as relevant as they once were. These days, promoting your website through quaint means like advertising, public relations channels and plain old-fashioned face-to-face networking are becoming as important as social media marketing and guest posting. So perhaps aiming for a high PR quotient is a reasonable tactic after all, if you consider “PR” to refer to “Public Relations”, “Press Release” or “Promotions”!

If you want to diversify your sources of traffic, then you should promote your site with an eye on both online and offline marketing methods.

Created August 7, 2006. Updated December 9, 2011. Copyright © 2011 The Digerati Life. All Rights Reserved.

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Silicon Valley Blogger August 8, 2006 at 1:46 am

From my own experiences, I now believe that “marketers are NOT born, but are made.” And they come in all shapes and sizes! Here’s a short account of how I transformed my views about marketing:

Coming from a purely engineering background, I used to scoff at marketing efforts at places I worked. To us techies, it meant fluff and the icing on top. Despite first hand exposure to online eyeball power — having had a couple of stints at dotcoms many moons ago — I didn’t quite fathom nor appreciate the significance of the relationship between marketing, advertising and revenue. I was from the camp “Build It and They will Come.” That is, if a product was good enough, it will sell itself.

All the ballyhoo that had to sell product somehow made me uncomfortable. In fact, all the hype that many erstwhile dotcom companies used for selling non-existent product (e.g. vaporware) made me cringe. My impressions were colored mostly by my personal relationships with the marketers and salespeople themselves, whom I found to be too slick or too attractive for my taste. But being in the business for some time now, I can see how it can all work. I realized that the “dark side” wasn’t so dark after all! :) Business 101 teaches us that we need a bit of everything to make a business work: great product + marketing + time to build a consumer base.

I guess I just had to try it out for myself and to step into a marketer’s shoes!

Manuel Viloria August 8, 2006 at 6:03 am

Hi SVB,

Sometimes, PR is overrated. I’m thinking of cases where a site doesn’t contain much info, yet has a pagerank of PR5 after only 3 weeks of existence.

There were no link exchanges done. It was just a case of directory submissions.

Also, the desire to link only to PR4 or PR5 sites is shortsighted. It makes the site look unnatural, from the point of view of search engines.

Try not to worry too much over PR. Build your site first with lots of useful and original content.

Robert Morgen May 14, 2008 at 6:39 pm

Don’t sweat the page rank. Just get good info on your blog, update it frequently and give it time.

James Money May 21, 2008 at 7:24 am

This is a bit late, but it’s anchor text that causes rankings not PR. But a higher PR link will be worth a bit more.

James

Alan P June 20, 2008 at 1:14 pm

Creating great content and web 2.0 techniques will ensure that you rule the popularity contest that is the internet today.

Albie March 8, 2010 at 6:22 am

I agree that PR is not as important as other factors such – article marketing is also a good way of driving traffic – do some keyword research, find some reasonably good traffic keywords with low competition and then write an article about a topic built around your keywords.

The next thing you will need to do is have a good resource box and it is here that you can create a link back to your site.

Silicon Valley Blogger December 9, 2011 at 3:11 pm

Ah, a lot of the suggestions here focus on SEO, but the web is always evolving. Online marketing will continue to evolve with changes and shifts in our online environment and user / consumer behavior. So let’s keep that in mind as we build sites and develop web properties.

catherine turley December 10, 2011 at 10:59 am

Treat your customers well, be charitable and helpful, and people like me will spread the word about your business. I recently started a blog called ‘hall of fame/blog of shame’ to promote good companies and blast the bad ones. I routinely share the good company websites on all of my social sites and with anyone who is looking for services. Just this past week, the Living Christmas Company donated a tree to the nursing home that I visit, even though they had already committed to donating many trees to sick kids at UCLA medical center. They were my first hall of famers.

Financial God December 10, 2011 at 6:35 pm

As a new blogger myself, tips like these are good at learning how to market and promote a website. I personally like the idea of commenting and networking with fellow bloggers. I also don’t want to worry too much about SEO; I’d rather just write (hopefully) good content that the readers will find useful and relevant.

Silicon Valley Blogger December 10, 2011 at 7:48 pm

SEO is more about pleasing robots than people. But the aim of bot creators is to eventually make their algorithms simulate and register human preferences and actions as accurately as possible. So if you are able to please humans, you should be able to please robots. Trying to do shortcuts by “gaming” robots, IMO, is a lost cause — as technology evolves, you’ll have to keep gaming a different version of the machine. Why not just do high quality work to begin with and spend your time doing so rather than prioritize on SEO? I’m not saying that SEO type marketing is a complete waste; I’m saying that it’s a supplementary effort to doing the best job you can with your site.

Thanks for your comments!

Yasir Sami December 13, 2011 at 9:04 pm

Thanks Silicon Valley Blogger. I found this very informative. Engaging web marketing and search engine promotion to reach concerned customers through the Internet has become vital to a successful online business. A website is fundamentally an online business address.

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