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Search engine and directory positions 84.8% of people find new sites through links on other sites, but in terms of sheer numbers, this is leading provider of traffic to most sites. Note that it says 'position'. A listing on a search engine or directory doesn't count for much, unless it is positioned well in eyes of search engine users. Otherwise a search engine listing just gets lost among millions of other pages on engines. Only top 10 to 30 links returned for any given search count - rest is almost always ignored. Positioning is easiest and most affordable yet most evasive and misunderstood method you can use. There is a lot to learn about this, especially if you want to do it manually. But lately there a few good software packages you can use to avoid hassle and get positioned well quickly and safely. Two popular packages include PositionWeaver (www.positionweaver.com) and WebPosition (www.webposition.com). For most sites, search engine traffic makes or breaks their success and it is very important to know how to work well with them. Using software tools, you should be spending some time every day tracking, improving and managing your positions.
Friends 64.7% of people find new web sites through friends. On your site, make it easy for people to recommend your site, product, page, special offer, or article to their friends. Add some scripts that make it a one-step process at any page for visitor to enter their friends email addresses and send a quick but effective recommendation. Make a nice letter that will go out with recommendation. If you want advanced features in your recommendation feature, use a customized CGI script. To get many more recommendations, offer person making recommendation a chance to win something for his or her effort. You can use www.recommend-it.com or find a script at www.cgi-resources.com. This is probably only method that doesn't require your daily or frequent review and attention.
Printed Media 62.6% of people find new sites commonly through print media - advertising, press clips, articles, whatever. Identify magazines, newsletters and journals around world that could have an appropriate audience. Then give them your articles, reports, blurbs, etc. build a database of journalists that you contribute these items to. Send out press releases to publications and writers. Use a press release firm for best effect. Again, this is a method you should be doing something about very frequently. If you have budget, you can also do display and classified ads where appropriate.
Newsletters and Mailing Lists These are really underrated, yet so effective. What you need to do is find as many lists and newsletters as possible that are related to your business. Yes, that will get you a lot of email every day but it is worth it. Read postings and respond to them when you can, preferably daily, using your blurbs, signatures, FAQs and articles. Many lists have thousands of subscribers and by becoming an active contributor to a number of them you will be getting exposure to thousands of focused prospects for free - very powerful yet underrated. Make sure you do not become overtly commercial in your postings - just let your signature do work of directing reader to you for business. Your actual posting should be a helpful bit of information, not advertising. You can find lists at www.listz.com and Yahoo.com's categories.
Newsgroups and Forums Newsgroups are under-estimated by most. Yet over 20% of Internet users use them at least once a week. Forums are like newsgroups, most popular being forums on AOL and CompuServe. Subscribe to all newsgroups and forums that are related to your industry. You can find them at www.deja.com, www.listz.com/news, and by joining AOL and CompuServe. Read new messages regularly, daily when possible, and reply to them using your arsenal of signatures, blurbs, reports and FAQs. Just don't be overtly commercial in your postings.
Other Things You Can Do There are obviously many other ways you can promote your online business. You can learn a lot of tricks by visiting successful sites and seeing what little gimmicks and techniques they are using and copying them. Depending on your budget, industry and audience, you can get into banner advertising, offline advertising, promotions and contests, coupons, selling through auction sites like eBay, classified ads on AOL and CompuServe, sponsorships, and much more. You might want to buy some good books at Amazon.com on online marketing for a thorough look at many of these techniques.
The Bottom Line The Internet is a complex place and concentrating on just one marketing idea will not get you any long term, huge gains. Your best bet is to follow time-proven strategies we have talked about in their totality, daily. And this marketing should consume 80% of your daily work time (or get someone to spend 80% of their time marketing for you). I guarantee you that if you spend this time daily enjoying yourself as you get into things we have talked about, your traffic and online success will grow to amazing proportions! It is a time-proven 'secret' success formula.
David Gikandi (email@example.com) is CEO at SearchPositioning.com (http://www.positionweaver.com).