Promote Your New Website–Free!

Whether you are launching or revamping, going live with a new website is an exciting event for your business. The promotion should begin in advance of the launch and go beyond the date when the site goes live. In fact, you can get generate buzz and anticipation of the coming change and improvements as much as three months in advance and two months afterward.

Here are a few tips before you before you announce the site is up and running. 1) Test the website and ensure all the features are working, pages load properly, etc. 2) Get a fresh set of eyes to look and ensure visuals and copy are effective. 3) Set up Google Analytics to track visitors and find out what is being viewed and what visitors find valuable.

Website DesignOnce you have taken these steps, here are some free ways you can promote your website and drive up traffic.

  • Alert your internal team. Make sure the sales and customer service teams are notified ahead of time on the details of your plan and equip them with approved communications to ensure consistency.
  • Generate a press release. Distribute to your local outlets and/or any niche publications that might be interested in your company. Alert newspapers, magazines, websites, bloggers, business journals and other media. Some free press release sites are PRLog.org and PRWeb.com. These releases might get picked up by some media outlets and they can help your search engine optimization by providing links back to your site. Focus on your website’s unique selling points, why the content is relevant to visitors, the launch date and what makes it different from competitor sites.
  • Send to your email list. You can ask clients to forward your emails onto their colleagues, friends and family. Your opt-in email list should be notified as well.
  • List the website in online directories. Google, Bing, Yahoo, Yelp and others have online directories for businesses. When you list your company, you’ll show up in certain search results, especially if searchers are looking for local businesses. One recommendation is to keep the business details exactly the same in each directory to maximize visibility. This article has tips on ranking well in Google Plus Local and other directories.
  • Google Local VisualUse social media. According to a Nielsen study, internet users spend 21.3% of their time on social networking sites and the average U.S. internet user spends about 33 hours per month with eight of those hours on social media (PQ Media). You can use social media to promote your website to achieve high visibility at a low cost and all of your profiles should link to the website. Twitter is a good place to start and Pinterest is especially good if you have visual content that relates to your site’s target audience. Link social media back to valuable content such as articles and case studies. [Twitter visual]
  • Investigate social media catering to your industry. This will enable you to be specific and share useful information and tips to build word-of-mouth advertising. Some examples from Search Engine Watch include:

Trip Advisor Visual

  • Comment and offer help on blogs. Provide assistance and you will build authority on the subject matter. Always include a link to your website, especially if you have articles or pages dedicated to the topics.
  • Add the ability to forward to all electronic promotions. Make it easy for readers to share your information.
  • Submit directory listings and set up accounts.
    • Claim your Google Local Business listing. This SMB website resource will tell you how to manage the listing.
    • Set up and verify a Webmaster Central Account at Google.
    • Set up a Bing Webmaster Tools account and verify it.
    • Make sure Bing and Yahoo Local listings are up-to-date.
    • Update and optimize your description and URL at YP.com.
    • Update or create your XML sitemap and upload it to Google Webmaster Tools and Bing Webmaster Tools.
  • Request reviews. Let customers know you have listings on Google Plus Local, Yelp, YP.com, SuperPages.com, Merchant’s Circle, CitySearch and other third-party websites and encourage reviews. They are more effective and credible than testimonials because it is hard for businesses to fake them. Even if you have not created a listing yet, you might have been added by a client. Do a search and see if your company appears. If so, claim your listing. You can announce your new website and even offer a discount or incentive for customers who mention they found you on one of these sites.
  • Build a map at Google Maps. Add descriptions of your retail stores, other locations and points of interests nearby. Make the map public and embed it on your website. Add links to relevant content on your sites if possible.
  • Ask employees to promote the site. Beyond sharing with their colleagues, friends and family, suggest that your employees link to the company profile page from the employment section of their bios on their personal Facebook pages.
  • Leverage SEO. Improve the page rankings of website pages and drive more traffic to your site. Try a free keyword tool for researching website optimization and then add a page to your site to focus on the top phrase(s) you uncovered. The keywords should be used throughout your content but don’t overdo it. This will turn off your target audience and search engines. Optimize your pages with meta data, headings and subheadings, keywords, internal links, images, etc., so search engines can properly index your site and potential leads can find your content. If you are using elements such as photos, image maps or JavaScript on your website, include text in the alt tag so search engines have something readable.
  • Create valuable content. If you don’t have compelling and relevant content on your website, visitors will never come back and others will not share or promote it. Writing a blog can be an effective way to market your website because it illustrates your expertise and uses many keywords to improve SEO./li>
  • Offer something free. Provide special reports, white papers, case studies and similar interesting content in exchange for email addresses and build your email list.
  • Get reciprocal links. When you have links on other websites to your site, you increase the chances of visits and can improve your search engine ranking since Google and other search engines use inbound links when determining page ranks. However, the goal is for quality not quantity of links. You can search for and identify relevant sites you would like to link to your website and make requests in exchange for linking to them. Check a website’s ranking with SEO tools such as Page Rank Lookup, Link Popularity Tool and Google’s Toolbar.
  • Page Rank Lookup VisualUpload to YouTube. Make a slideshow of products or record a how-to video. Once you do this, you can write a new page and embed the video on your website. It is even better if you add a transcript of the video and you should optimize your title and descriptions.
  • Include the website address on all marketing materials. Everything from your business cards, brochures, sales sheets, coupons, email signature, fax headers/cover sheets, labels, packaging, invoices, catalogs and any other information that reaches potential customers and referral sources should prominently display the URL. If you have a monthly newsletter, be sure to mention the website and special features that will be of interest. If you exhibit at trade shows, feature the URL in a poster, on a tablecloth or on the display graphics.

Something else to consider if you already have a website before and are creating a new version, be sure you set up 301 redirects. They are snippets of code that forward search engines and visitors trying to reach URLs on your old site to the appropriate replacement pages on the new site. They are important to preserving the SEO ranking you achieved with the old site.

Lastly, it’s a good idea to request feedback from clients and prospects about the site. This can make people feel connected to the company and enable you to either confirm you are meeting their needs or get great ideas for enhancements.

Have you found any other free ways to promote a new website that you recommend?

About Kelly Glass
Kelly has been vice president of Marketing at Affinity Express for nine years now. She drives company strategy and all marketing activities.

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