This article is intended for webmasters who already have a webpage set up on the internet. I have recently set up my own webpage, and this will be a conclusion of what I have learned from my own research on the web, and from taking part in several discussion forums.
You must be aware that advertising your site on a zero-budget will take up a lot of time, and you can expect a long going process.
Getting your first visitors
Here are a few pointers for getting your first visitors:
• Start off with looking up other sites with similar content to yours and writing a nice e-mail asking them to post your link on their site, or to link-exchange with them. This is a good one that for me, generate about 10-20 visitors/day from well-trafficked sites.
• Submit your site to the smaller search engines. The most important one is probably an open-source directory (www.dmoz.org). By doing this, you will not only get your link submitted, but it will also get you a higher ranking on the search engines.
• Join forums that cover similar topics of your site. Discuss your site – get ideas from other people, etc. (without spamming of course!).
Most people would probably tell you to start off with submitting your site to the search engines… To my knowledge, this is not at all necessary since most of the major search engines will spider (find) your page on a regular basis. I know for a fact that Google, which probably is the most important SE (search engine) to get added to, do this. But, if you have a lot of time on your hand you can do this yourself by going to the SE homepage. There you will find the instructions on how to move on.
If you have browsed the net on how to advertise your site, you have probably come across “banner exchange program”. I doubt I will ever find one that is worth my time. Most people join these to get a view of how many visitors they have (since these programs often show how many times you have shown someone else’s banner on your site). Do you get visitors from these kinds of programs? …If you’re lucky you get one or two per day.
Optimizing your page
Be sure to add meta-tags to your page. These are the keywords placed at the beginning of the Html code that tell the search engines what your site is about. Get some examples on how to do this by visiting other sites, and checking their source code. Be sure not to over-do this though!
By adding too many key words some search engines will consider this spamming, and if unlucky – you might even get banned. Pick a few words and phrases that describe the content of your site. Consider yourself a Google-user looking for content similar to yours – what words would he write? By the way – phrases often work better than single words.
I have been informed that Google does not even look at meta tags anymore (Neither do Alta Vista), but these should still be included since many other search engines do. (This comment added July 14, 2003)
Getting visitors to return
If you offer quality content on your page people will probably want to come back, but if your site is not that visible on the search engines many people might not find their way back even if they wanted to.
• It really can be as simple as adding a small text to your site asking people to bookmark your site (by pressing ctrl+d). For a change, almost no work can get you a significant number of visitors.
• Another way – which requires a bit more work, is starting your own newsletter. Inform visitors of recent changes to your site, updates, etc. There are plenty of free newsletter websites out there, find one that suits your needs.