Building a Web Presence is Hard Work!
Now you’ve got your website up, you’ve had it designed well, information is placed in easy to find locations on the site and it’s compatible with the most popular browsers. You watch your web logs, waiting for all of that traffic to find your site and marvel at the wonderful things you’ve put up, in fact you were worried while testing it that people would find it incomplete and unready. Now, today is the day and you brace yourself for the onslaught of traffic that is going to come your way now that you’ve submitted to the search engines and you are appearing in the searches that are going to bring people to your site. Well, let me tell you something I once told a good friend of mine, when he was building his web site.
I’m sorry to be the one to break it to you and I know it’s hard to take the news, but unfortunately, it’s true. The World Wide Web isn’t a place where there are a few dozen, or hundreds or even thousands of sites. It’s a place where it’s estimated that their are several million sites, with all of their associated pages, in other words there are as many sites as there are in some of the most populated cities in the world. Okay, if you live in one of those big cities, of say, oh a few hundred thousand even, you know everyone in town, right? Oh, wait, you don’t, but you are working on meeting everyone in your town, right? Nope, huh, well, neither am I, because I’ve found a small group of people I know and like and while I don’t necessarily have anything against the other people in my town, I’m not necessarily into Opera, or high society dinners, or square dancing or any of the many other interests that people have. There is a community of people I like and occasionally new people will join my community or people will leave, but it’s a community I’m comfortable with and that I can relate to.
So, with the idea of community in mind, this is what you are going to need to do for your website, is to tap into other website communities that are similar to yours and to share your website with other communities. Remember learning how to share way back in kindegarten, when you learned everything you needed to know? Well, it’s a useful idea on the web and what follows are some ideas on how to build your community up. And I will make this disclaimer, I have done the following stuff,
1. Figure out what the theme for your website is. Is it humor, computer software, cloth dolls or something else? Figuring out the theme helps you to find out those other websites that are like you. And while you are figuring out the theme, come up with some description words that you can use to search for other sites with, because you can put those words into your site to help it be found.
2. Set up a links page. This is going to be your big help in getting other sites to link back to you. It’s called reciprocal linking and what happens is that you update a page with links to other sites and they update their link page to point to your site. To prepare for this, you should prepare some HTML code and possibly a graphic, a very small graphic, that can be used with the code. That way if someone requests to be included on your link page, you can send them back you code to include on their links page, which will make it a lot easier on you. Other pages that link to you are also helpful for boosting your ratings in search engines, so you will probably be finding other sites and making requests of them for help also. It’s part of building that community and finding out who else is doing something similar to your site.
3. Update your site regularly. This is probably one of the hardest things to do, is to figure out how to get new content on your site on a regular basis. You can get a lot of people coming to your site initially, but you need something to bring them back. Basically, some people are going to look at your site and decide it doesn’t help them out in some way and continue on, some people will like your site and think it’s great, but once they’ve read everything, well, why should they keep coming back. And you want to keep people coming back, because they will help out with the next part, which is word of mouth or should I say, word of email, which is what helps spread the word in your selected community about your site.
4. Support word of mouth advertising. There is a site, www.stinkymeat.net, which got a million web hits within one week, with no other advertising than word of mouth or by e-mail. So, include your website link in your e-mail signature tag and if you don’t have one, figure out how to add one. Get your friends to include your website in their signature, if you can and maybe put on of those e-mail your friends forms on your site.
5. Do a newsletter. Offer people a chance to find out when you have updated your site, when you’ve added new material or just to find out new information. And add a note in, that people can feel free to pass on your newsletter to others. An e-mail newsletter is a great and inexpensive way to build a community and to communicate with them about your site on a regular basis. Just make sure to make it easy for them to unsubscribe if they decided they don’t like it, just think about how much you like unwanted e-mail in your inbox and you’ll understand why.
6. Enjoy keeping your website up. If you enjoy keeping your site updated and keep your sense of humor about it, it will show. Some of the most popular websites out there are ones that have done something humorous that has attracted people to their site. The site Eric’s Emotions is a good example of how to do something originial and attract a web audience. Now that he has a community built up, he could do other things with his site about humor and already have a built in base to work with.
All of the above will be hard work depending on how much you are willing to put into your site. The more you put in, the more traffic you are likely to get. But remember, there is a lot of competition out there, so have patience and make sure it’s something you enjoy doing.