Marketing your Web site

April 1, 2003 you have a technically-proficient Web site up and running. Where do people go to find you and your URL?

Jeffrey B. Dalin, DDS, FACD, FAGD you have a technically-proficient Web site up and running. Where do people go to find you and your URL?

Surveys have been conducted to find out how people find sites on the World Wide Web. A few years ago, a study from Georgia Tech found that 17.6 percent of Internet surfers get Web addresses from links from other pages, 16.5 percent use search engines, 12.6 percent get URLs from friends, 12.2 percent obtain them from print media, 7.0 percent from signatures at the end of e-mails, 6.2 percent from television, 5.9 percent from usenet areas, 5.4 percent from books, and 5.6 percent from other sources.

Here are a few ideas on how to promote your site:

1 Tell everyone you communicate with. Add your Web-site address to all of your stationary, business cards, appointment cards, information brochures, advertising, etc. Also, don't forget to add your URL to your email signature. Your web site address should be synonymous with your name.

2 Make use of reciprocal links. Reciprocal links are the word-of-mouth advertising of the Internet. Provide a reciprocal link to any and all Web sites that link to yours, as long as they are the kind of sites with which you want to be associated.

3 Utilize search engine listings. This can be a very difficult and time-consuming task. Commercial software products can help you do this, as well as many companies and other Web sites. However, it will cost you some money to go this route. But, this money may be well-spent if your site is listed in the top results of the search engines for your category.

A search-engine query often turns up hundreds or thousands of matching Web pages. Anyone who runs a Web site wants to be in the "Top 10 " results. This is because most people find what they want in the "Top 10" listings ... or never go further down the search string.

How do get into the "Top 10"? Strategic keywords are used. These are the words that are typed into the search-box area on a search-engine site. You must determine what the strategic keywords need to be for your site.Then, position them in good locations on your Web page. Determining all of this is what the commercial software companies and submission Web sites do for you.

They know how to establish these keywords, get them in the right place, and then send all of this information out to the various search engines.

4 Announce your site on your Internet Service Provider's "Member Site List." Most ISPs feature a list of their members' home Web pages. This is free public relations, and people do browse these lists. If the ISP allows you to add a description, then by all means do so!

5 Post to news groups. Post an announcement on all relevant news group forums. If you want to market your practice towards a special-interest area — such as hobbies, sports, travel, etc. — this is a very easy way to target just this type of audience.

6 Make submissions to "Cool Page of the Day" sites. If you can be listed as a "Cool Site of the Day" or a "Top 5 Percent" site, you will get plenty of traffic to your Web page. You cannot receive these accolades unless the reviewers learn about your site. You have to submit information about your site to them. A short paragraph is all they are looking for. There are over 300 sites where you can submit your Web site for review. Some of them have some very specific criteria for inclusion.

You have invested a lot of time and effort in the design and production of your Web site. Now, you need to put forth just as much effort in finding ways to expose your site to the world. Good luck with your marketing program — and I'll see you out there in cyberspace!

Jeffrey B. Dalin, DDS, FACD, FAGD, FICD, practices general dentistry in St. Louis. He also is the editor of St. Louis Dentistry Magazine and spokesman and critical-issue-response-team chairman for the Greater St. Louis Dental Society. His address on the Internet is Contact him by email at [email protected], by phone at (314) 567-5612, or by fax at (314) 567-9047.

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