How to be an Online Marketer in 20 Minutes: Promote Your Site Like a Boss

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article was published in 2012.  Some of the marketing methods described in this article are already outdated.

So I’ve purchased your domain and hosting site, installed my content management system, and published articles and blogs on it. Where do I go from here?

Promote, promote, promote!

Why promote?

Unless a website is for personal or for non­-profitable usage, the rationale why someone would build a site is for them to leave their mark on the Internet or generate money in the process (especially if their site dabbles in the e-­commerce industry).

It is important that a website must build an audience. If you’re receiving hundreds and thousands of visitors every day on your site, then you’ve certainly developed your audience. If your website barely breaks double digits, however, you need to reassess your strategy in growing it.

Let it be known that, although “content is king,” it does not necessarily equate to traffic. Websites with unique and high ­quality content that fail to reach their target audience fail in general. The traffic line graph resembles that of a flat line, and the site owners are left with no choice but to abandon ship and drop the website altogether, all because they failed to promote their website.

This is where online marketing comes in. Its aim is to help drive traffic to your site and get it to the top of the search results (more on this later).

Enough talk. How do we do this promoting thing?

Glad you asked. However, I have to stress what I mentioned earlier – promotions takes patience and lots of hard work. It’s no different from your regular 9­5 job at a brick and mortar office, if not more difficult. But the rewards are no less satisfying.

Promoting your site starts and ends with search engine optimization (SEO), the dreaded three­letter acronym that strikes fear into the hearts of many website owners.

At one point, you may have wondered how a site ranks as the first search result for a particular keyword entered in the search engine bar such as Google or Bing. That is pretty much what SEO covers. It involves a variety of techniques and strategies, mainly the acquisition of high­ quality links, that aims to increase a targeted site’s ranking on the search result based on its target keyword.

SEO is the reason why Google is one of the top search engines in the world for a foreseeable future. The company has striven in constantly returning relevant and spam ­free website as results for users’ search queries, which has made Google the search engine of choice by most people. Therefore, if your site ranks on the first page of a search result at the very least and you can maintain this ranking for an extended period of time, expect thousands of views to come your site’s way.

The higher the position of the site for its keyword, the greater the chances that people will click on it. And the more people click on your site, the greater the chances you get to convert them into one of your audience.

To get you started with the concept of SEO, Vaughn’s Summaries condenses all alleged factors (since only the search engine’s developers know their search algorithms) that affect site ranking through its on­ and off­-page factors involving Google. On-­page optimization deals with your site architecture and design that contributes to user experience, while off-page optimization involves the quality and quantity of referral or inbound links coming from 3rd­ party sites. By following the information on this site (and bookmarking too, since it gets updated regularly), you at least got one part of your SEO efforts covered.

Okay, so you explained on­ and off­-page optimization. Where does the part about promoting my site come in?

The reason why both types of page optimization are discussed is to cover all bases before discussing the most important part of promotions – the acquisition and dispersion of inbound links.

Just like any other web marketer out there with the intention of receiving some compensation from getting their site’s traffic up, there are so many ways to promote your site, which has been covered by a lot of authority sites on the Web. However, below are five popular ways to driving traffic to your site and increase your ranking in Google’s search results.

Article Submission

To support the existing content on your main site, you can write a 400­-500 worded article about the same or relevant topic. It doesn’t have to be high quality, as you’d want to keep your best material on your site. Once you’re done writing a readable article, create a byline that contains a keyword linking back to your site. You can submit it on any one of the following article sites:

  • Ezine Articles
  • Article Alley
  • Bukisa
  • Buzzle
  • Go Articles

Unlike before when you can submit the same article on every article submission site out there, submit one article on only one site to avoid getting penalized by search engines for duplicate content.

Although this remains a choice of weapon by marketers regarding acquiring links, the value of article submission has decreased significantly throughout the years, as most submission sites have become sources of duplicate and low­ quality content. Nonetheless, you need to vary your linking strategies, so I would still suggest submitting articles on the sites above if you can.

Forum Posting and Blog Commenting

Search for blog or forums related to your site that allow you to post your comments or reply to threads. Since humans moderate most of these sites, you may have to wait for a couple of hours or day for them to review your post and publish it if they see that your comments are relevant to the topic being discussed by the article.

Therefore, take the time to craft your comments or replies. Incorporate the keyword linking to your site as natural as possible – place it as part of your name and indicate the URL of your site when commenting on the blog. In other words, place it on your signature, so it appears every time you post on forums.

Use the sites below when searching for blogs using the keywords relevant to the pages of your site:

  • Google Blog Search
  • BoardReader
  • Omgili
  • BoardTracker

Site Directories

Before search engines lorded over the Internet, there were sites like DMOZ, Best of the Web, and Yahoo Directories that served as the phonebook of the Internet. They indexed websites according to their category and niche to provide users with a convenient way to browse through web pages online.

Although their importance as part of the user experience has diminished tenfold, these site directories, as they have come to be known, have redirected their utility as a way to build your linking profile and increase your site ranking on search engines.

Enter the necessary information whenever you’re registering your site to be included in the directory. You can submit your site for free but, given the volume of requests from people to get their website approved, it would take at least three months to learn of your entry’s fate. However, if you have cash to shell out, you can hasten the approval process and get your site to appear on highly visible portions of the directory.

Social Media

Since the concept of promotion is driven by the need for social engagement, using social media to advertise your site extends your marketing efforts to connect with your community.  Social media is governed by a much different principle – it allows site owners to establish their brand through these online channels.

Below are ways in which you can use social media to the advantage of your website:

  • Facebook Fan Page
  • LinkedIn Company Page
  • Twitter
  • Google+ Business Page

Creating brand profiles on these sites brings you closer to your fan-base – you can post updates about your blog as it happens and allows you to converse with them directly without all the red tape of 1­-800 numbers or having them shoot you an e­mail and waiting in vain for the reply.

Social Bookmarking

This type of promotion is a branch of social media that allows users to organize the sites they’ve viewed on the Internet for future reference.

Just like how ideas spread like wildfire, a site with zero traffic can increase visitor hits exponentially with an endorsement from a social bookmarker. Once the user bookmarks an obscure site with great content to other users in their friends list, there’s a chance that these other users will stumble upon the site and spread it throughout their respective networks.

Before you know it, the site is gaining social traction with different bookmarkers liking or voting it up. Once it receives high enough votes, it may even appear on the front page of the social bookmarking site.

For starters, register on these sites and prepare to get your site bookmarked:

  • Stumbleupon
  • Reddit
  • Delicious
  • Pinterest

Great! So I’m good to go with promoting my site?

Yes and no.

Although it is ideal to implement all link building and social media strategies, you don’t have to do everything at once. Focus your energy on sustainable strategies that will benefit your site in the short and long term. Track the results of your marketing efforts so you can either refine or change your plans as you go along.

At the same time, all of the techniques implemented now are never set in stone. SEO is a transient industry that regularly changes its best practices to accommodate the upgrades occurring. You, as business owner and promoter, need to become aware of these changes so that you can immediately implement your marketing plan to keep your site ahead of the pack.

Therefore, I highly suggest you bookmark or subscribe to sites like SEOmoz, Search Engine Land, Search Engine Watch, SEO Book, and other sites that talk about SEO and online marketing to increase your knowledge in promoting your site.