Web Site Promotions: New Tools For 2006
While fighting to get noticed on the Web is at least a full-time pursuit, there are a number of Web site promotion tools available that’ll give your company a tremendous edge in that battle -- and greatly automate the process. Following is a sampling of the latest advances in key Web site promotion strategies, and the tools that’ll help get you there.
¥ Leverage search engine submission software. Getting your company to a top position on search engines like Google and Yahoo can translate into substantially greater revenues, and search engine positioning software is one of the tools that can help. These tools automatically submit your site to all the major search engines, auto-track your company’s rankings on those search engines and identify which keywords are working best for your firm.
One of the pioneer packages in the realm, WebPosition 4 Pro from WebTrends, recently was updated and is worth a serious look. This latest edition submits and monitors your site on more than 200 global and regional search engines, offering reports of that performance in both text and graphics format. The program also will suggest ways to optimize your Web pages for the highest ranking on search engines. And companies using pay-per-click keywords also will be able to use the program to monitor performance of those keywords on all the search engines that WebPosition supports.
¥ Blog from your e-mail program. While most marketers realize that making regular posts to a company blog can lead to enhanced site traffic from higher placements on search engines, finding time to blog can be a challenge. Fortunately, you can now make blogging a breeze by e-mailing your posts directly from your e-mail program.
Major blog host sites (e.g., Blogger) enable you to turn on this option with a few keystrokes and mouse-clicks. Once you activate the option, youll be able to post to your company blog anytime and from anywhere, simply by sending an e-mail.
Online clothes retailer Bluefly promotes with a blog offering readers updates on the latest in fashion. And Gourmet Station, a prepared-foods retailer, uses a blog to offer site visitors a light-hearted look at the world of food.
¥ Promote with a podcast. Podcasts are audio and video feeds that can be downloaded from the Web to PCs, handheld computers, cell phones and similar devices. They have some way to go before becoming as influential as blogs, but the medium’s evangelists say it’s only a matter of time. In any event, there are several software packages available that enable you to quickly post your company’s audio or video pitch on your own Web site or on podcast directories like Podcast Alley.
If you’d rather not get involved in creating your own podcast, you can advertise on those created by others. Mega electronics retailer Best Buy, for example, helps sponsor the Engadget, the blog for all things electronically geek.
¥ Distribute your press release free online. During the past year, scores of sites have popped up on the Web that will distribute your company’s digital press release to thousands of journalists worldwide for free. A sampling of those sites include i-Newswire, PR9.net and PR Leap. For more sites, enter “free press release distribution” into any major search engine.
¥ Move up to Google’s Image Ads program. Google is redefining advertising with its sponsored links program, which enables paying companies to have their Web site URLs and descriptions appear in Google search engine returns -- and on Web sites running Google ads -- as highly prominent Google-sponsored links. The latest addition to this advertising model is images. Currently available on Web sites running Google ads -- but not on the search engine itself -- the new program enables companies to run photos, illustrations, animation or flash images along with their Google ads. The ad-triggering process remains the same: Google will place your illustrated ad automatically on content sites (e.g., magazines, newspapers) that are related to your company’s business.
¥ Automate your links domain. One of the easiest and most effective ways to build traffic and win higher search engine returns is to build a reciprocal-links program. With this promotional strategy, company Web sites form a mutually beneficial relationship by linking to one another. Search engines favor Web sites that have a directory of links. And search engines especially favor sites that have several linked to them.
Indeed, promotional linking has become so sophisticated that entire software programs are devoted to this one task. One that recently got an upgrade is AutoLinks Pro 3.8. As the name implies, the program is designed to fully automate every step of the linking process, including enabling visitors to add a link to their sites from a page on your Web site, and monitoring sites that have promised to link to your own.
AutoLinks also automates much of the e-mailing that goes on between sites exchanging reciprocal links, including notifying another site about a link exchange request, sending approvals or rejections to link exchange requestors and sending a request to reactivate your reciprocal link on a site where that link has gone dead. Plus, your linking partners will be able to use a page on your site to update their URLs on your links page or the description of their links. (For more options enter “auto-linking software” into any major search engine.)
¥ Send truly secure PDFs. Companies that offer varying price sheets to different customers often are reluctant to send those promotions via e-mail for fear such discounts could be e-mailed along and end up in the hands of other customers. Fortunately, there are several programs that make it all but impossible for a discount price sheet or other customer-specific promotion to end up in the wrong hands.
FileOpen Publisher3 from FileOpen enables you to send a secured PDF file to a specific customer that locks that PDF to the PC that receives it. Once the PDF is opened, the recipient cannot e-mail it to any other device, nor can the PDF be printed or changed in any way. FileOpen also offers another solution, WebPublisher, that controls access to a PDF via the Web. With this solution, recipients can open PDFs only if their PCs or other computerized devices can be identified as authorized by the FileOpen Web site. The recipients’ computers or similar devices must be connected to the Internet for such authorization.
Similar “authorization by remote Web site” solutions are offered by Lock Lizard and Adobe Lifecycle Policy Server.
¥ Automatically personalize your marketing e-mails. E-mail merge programs such as Broadc@ast from MailWorkz allow you to personalize each e-mail with a customer /company name and any other personalized variable. Plus, this latest version of the program allows you to auto manage subscribes, unsubscribes and bounced e-mails; send e-mails with HTML graphics; and send and manage unlimited campaigns. The program also integrates with MailWorkz’s optional exTrackZ online tracking system, which tracks and gives you reports on who opens your e-mails and what links they’re clicking on within that e-mail.
Joe Dysart is a speaker and business consultant specializing in Internet-related topics. He is based in Thousand Oaks, Calif. You can reach him at (805) 379-3673; by e-mail: email@example.com; or via his Web site: www.joedysart.com.