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Looking at Free Ways to Market Your Website

Free. There's nothing like it. Free works when you market to others, and free can work for your marketing. Use these free techniques to bootstrap your Web marketing effort. As you make money from your Web investment, you'll have the funds for paid advertising and other techniques.

Put your URL on all stationery and packaging

There's no added cost to include your URL, YourDomain.com, on absolutely every public piece of paper that leaves your office: business cards, letterhead, invoices, packing slips, presentation folders, marketing collateral, spec sheets, and press releases.

Don't forget to include your URL on PowerPoint presentations and in the footer of white papers and proposals. Be sure your URL appears in all advertising, whether promotional items, print, radio, billboard, or TV. And of course, include it on all forms of packaging: cartons, labels, lids, bags, wrapping paper, ribbon, tissue, and any other containers.

Include your URL in your e-mail signature block

E-mail programs allow you to create a signature block that appears on every e-mail you send. In addition to your name, title, company name, address, phone number, and fax number, include your five-to-seven word marketing tag and a link to your Web site. If you use the format http://www.YourDomain.com, the text automatically becomes a link in outgoing mail.

Use calls to action in your text

Calls to action are imperative verbs (such as buy now, save, register to win) that encourage your visitors to take a specific action on your Web site. The word free, as well as a textual link, is an implicit call to action. Use links and calls to action to help visitors navigate your site and to let them know what you'd like them to do. If you don't tell them, they won't know.

Collect customer testimonials

Recommendations from customers are golden! Whenever customers spontaneously offer praise, ask for permission to include their recommendations on your site. You don't have to identify the individuals in detail, but you need something more than "anonymous" as a source. You can collect testimonials from letters you receive, notes in a guestbook, or comments on a blog. Scatter the testimonials throughout your site on pages with related content rather than place them all on one page.

Conduct a link campaign

Inbound links from other Web sites not only bring you targeted traffic from other sites but also can improve your ranking in Google's search results. This is a time-consuming but free method of bringing high-quality visitors to your site.

Start by running a report at Google to find your own inbound links (type link:http://www.yourdomain.com in the search box) or those of your competitors. To identify your competitors, enter one of your keywords into Google search and review the inbound links of the top three or four sites that appear. Also, look for directories for your industry, award sites, professional associations, and vendors. Brainstorm other, related sites that might link to yours.

For the greatest benefits in Google's search results, ask for links from other sites that have a Google page rank of 5 or higher. Some sites have a page for adding your site online; others require an e-mail request for a link. Some require that you link back to them. Review the status of your requests after several months and make a second request if necessary. If you make a practice of looking for ten links each week, this won't seem as difficult a task.

Tell a friend

The simplest of all viral marketing techniques, Tell a Friend, lets a Web visitor e-mail a friend or colleague a link to your site with a personal note of recommendation. Your developer can install free script to handle this function. Be sure to include a link to Tell a Friend in your navigation so that visitors can quickly recommend your site, your products, or your services to someone they know is likely to be in the market for them. There's nothing like word of mouth!

Take advantage of free Google and Yahoo! local services and coupons

Both Google and Yahoo! now offer free local listings tied to their map sites, allowing users to search for businesses within a specific geographical area. While hospitality, tourism, and entertainment sites are obvious beneficiaries of local search, local listings are valuable for every company. Many consumers like to buy locally because they think it will be easier to obtain post-purchase service or because they want to support local businesses.

Besides the listing (which is like a free ad), Google lets you offer a coupon and include your logo. Free is a great price for advertising, even if it brings in only a few customers.

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