Article: Marcia Yudkin

The Small Business Library

December 29, 1999


Building a Web site and not promoting it is like posting a billboard in your basement. You're just not going to get a lot of traffic. To get your Web site visited and appreciated, you need to let people know it exists. If your Web site is lonely for visitors, try these often-overlooked ideas.

  1. Use Web address stickers.
    Not ready yet to reprint your stationery? Print small, coordinating labels that feature your online address and copy inviting people to visit. Stick them on outgoing envelopes, on seminar folders, on the backs of your business cards and more.

  2. Put your URL in print ads.
    This extends the efficacy of a small print ad, since wired readers can get more details about your offerings instantly, 24 hours a day. But include your phone number and street address as well.

  3. Include your URL in answering machine or voice-mail messages.
    For those who call your office outside of office hours, why not spell out your Web address in your message, so that they can immediately help themselves to the information they need?

  4. Utilize your on-hold message as well.
    Similarly, instead of playing "Rhapsody in Blue" for customers while they wait on the line for a representative, you can tell them that if they're calling for directions, prices, return policies and such, they can surf on over to your Web site.

  5. Post notices of your site's content in newsgroups.
    Whenever you add useful non-promotional content to your Web site, such as a "Frequently Asked Questions" file, post notices to relevant newsgroups, forums and mailing lists. This usually not only increases traffic at your Web site, but also prompts people to add links to your site.

  6. Ask for links.
    Visit non-competing informational sites in your area of expertise and ask the owners to add links to your site. This works best when your site includes useful informational resources rather than strictly promotional material.

  7. Exchange links.
    Before requesting links, add a section to your site that contains links to related businesses. Then contact the Webmasters of those sites to request a return link. You'll find your initiative frequently reciprocated.

  8. Start an e-mail newsletter.
    Some say that showing up in your customers' mailboxes every week or month with updates, schedules, sale prices or industry news is even more valuable than the Web site itself. Somewhere in the newsletter, tell readers to check out your Web site for more information on related subjects.

  9. Publicize your content.
    Add something to your site no one else in your industry has, then send a news release to industry trade magazines about your unique feature -- a Y2K countdown clock, a top-ten list, a Scuba Diver's Joke of the Week.

  10. Host a giveaway.
    Announce a drawing for a free something-or-other once a month. Those who sign the guest book during that period -- and people can re-register every month -- are eligible to win.

  11. Create outdoor signage.
    Facing Route 128 in Massachusetts recently was this sign on a very traditional-looking restaurant: "" It let technically savvy commuters know they could make reservations and explore the menu through their computer.

  12. Invent alternate domain names.
    If you started off as "" and then discover that "" is available, grab it and have it open up your same site. That's what Coca-Cola did when it registered for both and The shorter and more memorable your domain names, the better.  (Domain Name Availability Check)

  13. Encourage people to bookmark your site.
    Obedient creatures that we humans are, making an explicit bookmark request either at the site or in advertising containing your URL increases the chances people file your address in their browser for a return visit.

  14. Append a signature file.
    At the end of every e-mail message you send, append a file containing your contact information and a line about what's new at your Web site. Change the "what's new" line frequently to tempt previous visitors to have another look.

  15. Offer free classifieds.
    A Yahoo! search turned up more than 600 Web sites offering free classified ads, some regional and others topic-specific -- for bicycle stuff, crafts, computers and more. Post ads for products or services related to your business.

  16. Print T-shirts.
    Order custom-made shirts and wear your Web address on your back. For even more visibility with this method, sponsor a softball team who will wear them, or use them as giveaways for a promotional mailing.

Copyright 1999 Marcia Yudkin.  All rights reserved.