Most search engines will find your website eventually. However, it doesn't harm to give it them a little helping hand. To let a search engine like Google know that your site exists you need to tell it the URL so that it can find you and visit the pages on your site to discover new and updated pages.
The best way to help Google, Bing and Yahoo find your site is to submit a sitemap.
Building a sitemap
Sitemaps are an easy way for webmasters to inform search engines about pages on their sites that are available for crawling. In its simplest form, a Sitemap is a file that lists URLs for a site along with additional metadata about each URL (eg when it was last updated, how often it usually changes, and how important it is, relative to other URLs in the site) so that search engines can more intelligently crawl the site.
Web crawlers usually discover pages from links within the site and from other sites. Sitemaps supplement this data to allow crawlers that support Sitemaps to pick up all URLs in the Sitemap and learn about those URLs using the associated metadata.
Using the Sitemap protocol does not guarantee that web pages are included in search engines, but provides hints for web crawlers to do a better job of crawling your site.
You can create a sitemap by hand, or you can create one using one of the many free services available such as Sitemaps.org, or Google's Sitemap Generator, or the XML Sitemap Generator (Google maintains a list of web sitemap generators http://code.google.com/p/sitemap-generators/wiki/SitemapGenerators).
To submit your sitemap to Google.
- 1. Upload your Sitemap to your site.
- 2. On the Webmaster Tools home page, click the site you want.
- 3. Under Site configuration, click Sitemaps.
- 4. Click the Add/Test Sitemap button.
- 5. In the text box, complete the path to your Sitemap (for example, if your Sitemap is at http://www.example.com/sitemap.xml, type sitemap.xml).
- 6. Click Submit Sitemap.
To submit your site to Bing and Yahoo
The best way to ensure your website is included in Bing and Yahoo's index is to sign up for a Bing Webmaster Tools account (https://ssl.bing.com/webmaster/WebmasterManageSitesPage.aspx) and you will need WindowsLiveID to do this. Once you have signed up you should then be able to access the Webmaster Tools "Submit URL" feature. If you don't want to sign up you can just submit the pages using the anonymous tool, on the same page, however by using this you won't get any of the Bing analytics.
Pay-per-click advertising with Google AdWords
Pay-per-click advertising like Google's AdWords, gives you instant exposure to a wide audience and is extremely effective. Some businesses say it's almost like a turning on a tap of customer: set up your AdWords and your audience starts to arrive.
The cost is from a few pence to a few pounds per visitor to your site, depending on the search phrase. Prices are determined by auction – the more you pay, the more likely it is they're ineffective. Instead, choose specific phrases e.g. 'Build your own home conveyance kit' and 'Guide to designing your own home'. These cost less, and are more likely to produce a click.
If you have something interesting to say about your business and its products and services then why not write a press release about it? There are many services that will take your release and publicise it to the news and media. Sites such as OpenPR (http://www.openpr.com/news/submit.html), ClickPress(http://www.clickpress.com), and PR.com (http://www.pr.com/promote-your-business) all accept free submissions.
Be aware many websites will charge to upload a press release and make huge claims on how effective they are, and while some are effective most aren't.
Many sites advertise changes to their site through RSS feeds, which are subscribed to by using an RSS reader like Google Reader (http://www.google.com/reader) and any changes to the site are brought to the reader rather than them having to visit all of the sites they're interested in individually.
Most ecommerce packages and blogging packages have the facility to produce an RSS feed as an option. If the facility is there, then you should make it available.
Twitter Facebook and social networking
Social networking is a good, effective way of creating a buzz around your business. However, just creating a Twitter address and a fan page on Facebook won't automatically mean hundreds of thousands of people will come to your site. You need to work at both and it can almost be a full-time job.
Using YouTube and vimeo
If you have video content then you should create a YouTube channel. It's quick and it gives you access to the hundreds of millions of users who access YouTube's videos every day. If you have products, then take a video of them. If there's a special feature of your service, or there's a part of your website that you think is interesting then film that and post it on YouTube. It all helps to get your brand name known.
If you don't have video then there's no reason why you can't create a video of a PowerPoint presentation and upload that. Additionally by using YouTube to store your videos, other people can then use and embed your videos and you don't have to pay for the bandwidth that they consume, which could – if the video goes viral – be expensive.
YouTube's Creators' Corner (http://www.youtube.com/t/creators_corner) has plenty of advice on creating and uploading your videos – Additionally you could also use Vimeo, which has free and paid options and its Vimeo Video School (http://vimeo.com/videoschool) has plenty of hints and tips on creating viral and watchable videos for your business.
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