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Expert Answers to Biz Questions

Listen in! Pick up some expert advice to a reader's question that we selected from CyberSchmooz.

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The Biz Question

I have a new, patented product with a new web site. I would like to advertise and place my link on other web sites. What is the best way to do this without spamming people?

Ken

Answer from our Guest Expert Jim Chesky of Jim Chesky & Associates, Marketing Communications

Ken,

If your object is to serve up your web site to as many viewers as possible, then the recipe is fairly simple -- consider search engines, newsgroups, and link exchanges. But before we talk about those, let me just say, you're absolutely right to say you don't want to spam anyone in the process of building traffic. Idea Cafe prefers patrons who know their "netiquette"!

Now, without knowing what your product is, let's see what's on the menu for building site traffic, without spamming your potential customers.

First Course, Search Engines

You know most of them -- Yahoo, Excite, Infoseek, Lycos, snap.com -- but others are popping up all the time. Go to every one you can find and do a search under the key words that would direct someone to your site. See where you show up in the results. You may have to go through 250 or more listings at each site before you find yourself. But it's a necessary evil for getting to know how easy it is (or isn't) for your site to be found via web search engines.

If you haven't registered with these search engine sites, take the time to do so. Most have FAQs sections to help webmasters get their sites listed on each search engine. Some may even help you by suggesting better page titling and page organization. Search engine webmasters are willing to offer any help that'll eventually lead to their own visitors getting better searches.

Second Course, Internet Discussion and News Groups

News groups or discussion groups are where the Internet got its real start. With these Usenet postings, people who share a common interest, can exchange information through postings to a news group. (So you're not spamming people, Ken, you're just posting information they can use or leave!) So look for the groups whose readers would be interested in what you offer. If you're not sure where to start with news groups, do a little research at http://www.dejanews.com/.

Again, good table manners are appreciated at these sites. Observe, read, and contribute when you're ready. Make sure your web site address and tag line are on the bottom of every email you send (and I mean every one, not just the ones sent to news groups either). Invite people to your site with every email or posting you send out.

Third Course, Banner Ads and Link Exchanges

If you have a healthy marketing budget, you'll find some tasty options when it comes to banner ads and link exchanges. Exchanges are a great way to get traffic to your door. And getting your banner ad or logo on a related site will get others to click over to you as well.

One option you have is "no-cost link exchanges." Some companies find websites willing to place a banner ad of your site on their site for no charge -- the catch is, you're charged for each link they get for you. The cost comes from them doing all the work, such as finding the sites and arranging the links. To learn more about his, visit http://www.zdnet.com/zdprograms/zdclicks/. ZDNet is one company that promotes "no-charge link exchanges."

If you'd rather bus your own link exchange tables, no problem. Remember all those searches you did so diligently when trying to get a feel for your site's position on the search engines? Well, this can be the basis of your hit list for emailing related site webmasters with a link exchange request. It's not always easy to find the webmasters. So save yourself some time by preparing, in advance, several short, to-the-point, but friendly emails requesting the exchange. Effective request emails explain the benefit they'll receive from the link.

After your initial request -- and you see no links or response has been made -- follow up with "progressive" emails. For example, the second email could start off by reminding the webmaster you wrote requesting the exchange; the third could ask if they need further info; and the last could inquire if you're reaching the correct person for link exchange requests. Of course, this means some organization on your part. Keep a list of who you contact and which emails they've received. This way, you'll increase your chances for getting your link!

While this full meal takes a long time, you build some good relationships this way.

Good luck.

Jim Chesky

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