You’ve just spent several weeks working with a your web designer building your company’s websites. You spent a lot of time making revisions, writing and creating copy, making more revisions, but finally your project is complete and your website is live on the internet for the whole world to see. A few weeks later you get a call from a business colleague, they say they went to look for your company in a search engine but your company was no where to be found, and they thought you ought to know about it. You open up your web browser , head over to Google and your company is nowhere to be found. You go to Yahoo and MSN but the results are the same, it’s like your invisible to the online world.
Now clearly this isn’t the goal you had in mind when you built your website. You wanted your company to be seen by the whole world, not to be so well hidden, that people looking for you can’t find you. However this is a problem that affects many small to mid sized businesses who are just getting online or haven’t done any online promotions. To help the search engines and ultimately your customers find you you’ll to start working on promoting yourself online. Promoting yourself online is similar to promoting yourself in the real world you need to find ways to get your website noticed.
To help the search engines find your site you need a basic understanding of how they work. Search engines have programs that scan web pages, they read the contents of these pages and try to figure out what they think they are about. When they visit these pages they also look for links to other pages, note them down for future programs to visit and read. The early search engine developers had a bit of a sense of humor when they developed these programs to crawl across the web they named them “spiders”. The more often these spiders find links pointing to your pages the more frequently your website will be examined by the spiders, this process is known as “crawling”.
So to get the search engines to find your website you’re going to need links. There are lots of different ways you can get links, some are easy, some a hard, and some will even cost you money. Examples of places you can get links are chambers of commerce, business trade organization, networking groups, directories, press releases, syndicated articles, blogs, and link exchanges. There are pluses and minuses associated with each of these types of links. In a nutshell what you are looking for is a prominently placed link on a reputable website. Sometimes judging a websites reputation is a little tricky and is more of an art form than a science. As a rule of thumb don’t ask or pay for a link from a website you don’t want to be associated with. Sometimes you’ll receive link requests via email asking you to exchange or trade links, however when you visit the website, you get the feeling somethings not right. In some cases these people will have already put up a link to you. Don’t worry about it just delete the email, there’s usually no reason to worry about someone else linking to you. Another thing to note about links is they aren’t all valued equally. For example a link from your brother’s hobby website isn’t as “important” as link from The Washington Post, CNN, or Business Week Magazine. What you are really want is a link from another established, trusted, and quality website.
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