Thursday, August 16, 2007

Create an Effective Web Site, Part 3 of 3: You have a site, now what?

This is part 3 of 3 in a series about creating effective Web sites. In part 1, we discussed planning that should take place before you even begin building your site. In part 2, we talked about drafting your content. Today in part 3, we tackle what to do when you have a site.

Just because you have a Web site doesn’t mean you’re done. This is no time to sit back and relax. Users will not find you just because you bought a URL and slapped up a few pages. You have to promote it and you have to think about the search engines.

Think local: There are many ways to promote your Web site. Start by including your URL on all of your marketing pieces, such as business cards, brochures, and mailers. Ask your customers if you can have their email address to notify them when your site goes live.

Think larger: Join online discussions about your area of expertise. Blogs and forums abound. Undoubtedly, someone has posted a question that you can answer.

Don’t forget those search engines: First, search engines will only find you if they know about you, so submit your site addresses to all major search engines. Most likely, the majority of your traffic will come from search engines, so you will want to make sure that you have the right keywords to help people find you. The search engines will regularly "crawl" your site to find out what is on it. They will look for the keywords and phrases you used to determine what your site is about. To make sure you come up in the listings, be sure to include terms that your customers and prospective clients will be looking for.

For more information about search engines, I highly recommend Search Engine Guide. That Jennifer Laycock is one smart woman.

If you did your planning, you should have a great site which will travel by word of mouth. Visit your own Web site frequently to make sure that your content is still relevant and to add new content where it makes sense.

Above all, enjoy it! The Web is a fascinating world.