Imagine one day you flip on your PC, log on to the Internet and go to google.com. The browser alerts you and says that there is no website found at that address. No problem you think, as you head on over to Yahoo.com. Same thing. No website found at that url. Now something seems fishy, go to MSN.com because you know Microsoft will never run out of money, and their search engine will be up. Nope, instead you get another alert box telling you that there is no website found at that url.
Yes, imagine an Internet world where no search engines exist, and anyone trying to make a living online selling a product or service has to be found.
Where would you start? Where would you list your site(s)? How would you get your site found by your potential customers?
This is the mentality you should always take when promoting your website. Sure, it'd be great to have top rankings in the search engines, and get all of that free targeted traffic coming to your site. But just as easily as you achieve that ranking, you could lose it overnight - with a simple filter change in the algorithm.
I'm sure you've heard of the "Florida" update that caused many site owners panic attacks as their previously highly ranked sites fell off the face of the Internet. They lost sales, traffic and dreams of Internet riches.
As I heard someone famous once say: "Don't place all your eggs in one basket" - yet too many website owners do. They are obsessed with a top ranking in Google instead of building a brand name people will recognize and trust. Top rankings in the search engines should be part of your Internet marketing strategy, but dedicate only a portion of your efforts to that. You should equally spend your time pursuing partnerships with other non-competitive sectors of the Internet.
I'm sure you've seen a web-ring. To refresh, they are a group of related sites that link to each other. Internet marketing is the same concept, but on a much grander showcase. You can advertise your site in the costly Pay-Per-Click Arena, and if you have the budget to do so, by all means, that is the quickest way to get found. But keeping in mind that search engines don't exist, what would you do to get the word out?
1. Press Releases - While they should be reserved for newsworthy purposes (new product/service, acquisition, attending Trade Show or Convention, etc.), they are a great way to get people to visit your site when they are looking for information relating to your product or service. It's also a great way to build your brand name and to become known as an authority of information in your field.
2. Directory Listings - Quite simply, this is the easiest way to get your site indexed by search engines. There are many free directories that you can get your site listed in, and there are many fee-based directories that are worth the price of adding your site. The added value is that since your site is listed categorically, it helps to re-enforce what your site offers, since it will be found with similar sites.
3. Articles - Expose your expertise! While article writing is not easy, it is an extremely valuable asset to your site. By writing, you are creating unique content found nowhere else and we all know how much search engines love that! It also gives you another way of explaining a product or service without coming off as a sales pitch. Another added benefit of writing articles is that it's a great way to naturally grow the size of your site in an organic way, and will in turn, make your site become a "hub" of relevant information in regards to your industry.
4. Newlsetters - This should be your site's bread and butter. The people who have signed up for your newsletter already feel that your site was worth their time to give you their email address, so these people have already place some trust and value into what you have to say. The newsletter is where you can promote new products and services to interested users without risking any intrusiveness factors. This is the best place to make a sales pitch to your perspective readers!
5. Blogs/RSS Feeds - While to some people this is already old-hat, there are many users out there (think AOL users) who have no idea about how to customize the content they want to read. There are many areas to get your blog listed, and it gives an inside point-of-view into the inner workings of your company or personality, thus giving yet another way for a user to identify with you or your site.
I think it's safe to say that the search engines will always be around, but to focus entirely on them and ignoring the other resources could be a costly business mistake.
Just remember to keep your eye on the prize of online success, and customers coming from various outlets, not just the search engines.
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