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Marketing Networks

How to tell the Internet that your site exists

I met with a friend that was helping his wife, a pediatrician, create a website. He asked me about the basics of making sure that it showed up in search engine results. I wrote this up as a quick and dirty tutorial on how to let the internet know your website exists.

Before you do this, your site should be running and ready for visitors. It doesn’t need to be perfect, or completed, but does need to be functional. Before getting started, you also should determine whether or not your site has a sitemap available for spiders and robots to crawl. If not, then you can go to http://www.sitemaps.org/ to find out about them.

The process will go more quickly if you have an easy way to add pages to your site, such as by FTP. It will also help to have some basic info about the site available.

This should take around a half an hour. It should establish a solid foundation, but is should only be the beginning of a regular process of making your site easy for people to find. This also doesn’t get into the area of optimizing for specific search terms, rather is just a starting point.

Search engines provide a substantial portion of traffic to most sites, something in the neighborhood of 25-35% of traffic for the sites that I’ve analyzed. Search engines need to know that a website exists before they can index it and make it available to their audience. If your site is new, it is very likely that they do not know that your site exists. One you have told them to crawl your site, they will build an index of your content, and periodically check back to see if things have changed. The process is very simple, simply enter the URL of your site and the location of your sitemap into their forms. Each is slightly different, but the idea is the same for all of them.
For the US, the top 4 (karmasnack.com as of March 2013) are:

Google 86.3% Google webmaster tools
Bing 7.3% Bing webmaster submit
Yahoo 3.1% Submit your website to Yahoo
Facebook 1.4% Add a page to Facebook
Total 98.1%

Facebook uses Bing as a search partner, so letting three search engines know that your site exists gets you pretty good coverage right off the bat. Adding a Facebook page is quick and easy enough.

Next, I think that you need to exercise a bit of judgement, based upon your needs. Social media, by nature, is about communities, so you should focus your social media efforts on where your customers are. There is no harm in investing time building your own network on Pinterest (if you have visual products) or on LinkedIn (if you are a business professional) but the point is that you have to do the work of building your own network. Twitter is pretty widely used, but is increasingly becoming a media new release kind of channel. If you have cool video content ready, then by all means establish a presence on YouTube.

Directories, Forums, etc.
Directories are great, and an important part of the internet infrastructure. I run a small one, but frankly none of them have enough juice to move the needle much. My own belief is to find the communities or forums that your customers already belong to and build a presence there. Start by learning the community norms, then offer useful help on the subject that you are expert in. Once you establish trust, you can add your website to your signature. My recommendation is to first establish your credibility.
Talk to your customers and ask them what communities they belong to online that are relevant to your business. If I were a plumber, I would expect that Angie’s List is widely used. The main thing is to start a dialog with your own customers about how they look for information and who they trust. Some of them will seem obvious, but I promise you that you will probably be surprised by some as well.

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