Publicizing Your Site
Getting people to come to your site can be very easy, or very difficult. The main thing that makes it seem hard to get traffic is your own set of expectations. If you expect huge numbers of visitors (a rarity, especially at first) or huge volumes of online sales (an even bigger rarity) without doing a lot of work, you're bound to be disappointed. But if you set your expectations at a reasonable level and use several different techniques to get people to come to your site, you're likely to meet your goals.
Playing the name game
One of the best ways to get people to remember your site is to get your own domain name. A domain name is the first part of a Web address, usually not including the www. at the start. For example, yahoo.com and whitehouse.gov are domain names. What people use to reach you is the Web address or URL (Uniform Resource Locator), which is just a standardized, or uniform, way of finding resources such as Web servers and files on the Internet.
An URL such as www.smithtires.com is much easier to remember — and much more impressive — than www.geocities.com/smithtires. In the first case, the domain name is smithtires.com; in the second case, it's geocities.com. Clearly, an individual may plausibly own the first domain name; the second is owned by Yahoo!.
You can get a domain name in one of several ways, but the most popular way is to go to the Network Solutions Web site at www.networksolutions.com. Network Solutions charges a small annual fee for a license for a name. The Network Solutions Web site makes it easy to try different domain names to see what's available. (It also gives you the ability to build a Web site hosted by Network Solutions for a reasonable, but not insignificant, fee.) You can also purchase your domain name, often for a higher fee, through a Web hosting company, or a site such as GeoCities.
Give yourself a day or so to think about your favorite domain names before finally purchasing a name. Getting a name is so easy that it's all too easy to end up buying several names before you finally end up with the one you really want.
Publicizing your site
After your site is up and tested, publicize it. The amount and type of publicity you need depends upon your goals for the site. If you are trying to impress the press and analysts, issue a press release. If you are publicizing a personal site, you may find that telling friends and family about it is sufficient. If you are trying to give customers another avenue for communicating with you, put your URL on stationery, business cards, and advertisements. If you are trying to sell on the Web, put ads on other Web sites that attract your prospective customers. Tailor your publicity strategy to your goals.
Don't expect to make money from your Web site unless you're willing to spend money — or enormous amounts of time, remembering that "time is money" — creating, marketing, and updating it.
The first and most important place to publicize your site is on the Web itself. Your basic goal is to get as many links as possible to your site from What's New lists, What's Cool lists, and especially directories or pages that are specific to the interests your site addresses. Find pages with a similar purpose and trade pointers from their site to yours and from your site to theirs.
The Web publicity picture changes all the time, so the best place to go for information is any of several Web sites with publicity info and pointers. Check out: www.cyberwave.com/ppoint2.html, Social Web, and Microsoft Small Business Central.
These sites give you information on how to get your pages publicized on sites such as the Yahoo! What's New page. You can find this page at dir.yahoo.com/new.
You should also use non-Web means of publicizing your site. Put out a press release — but be sure to wait until your site's really ready, not full of Under Construction signs. Many companies proudly include their Web site URLs on business cards, stationery, print ads, and even television ads. You've invested a lot in your Web site — now's the time to benefit from your efforts.