Non-Search Engine Promotion

    July 8, 2004

Last week in our WebProWorld forums, one of our moderators Bill Hartzer made what I thought was an interesting post about promoting your site without search engines. Bill’s post basically consisted of a question as to what methods existed -aside from search engines- for promoting your site.

View Bill’s post at WebProWorld, the WebProNews e-Business forum.

News Flash: Thinking Outside the Box -People Actually Marketing Online Without Search Engines
News Flash: Thinking Outside the Box -People Actually Marketing Online Without Search Engines.

A couple of free (or near-free) things you can do online…
You can write articles for online publications as Robert Warren points out in Bill’s thread. As Robert mentions however, that you should take a few precautions. First, make sure the publication you are submitting to is reputable and relevant to your site. Second, be sure your signature or resource box will be published with your article. Publishing an article in a publication relevant to your business accomplishes a couple of things. It establishes your credibility (providing of course it’s a good article) in your field and your resource box/signature line will contain a link back to your site. The importance of the link back to your site is key, as it will also help you with many of the key (read: Google) search engines.

You can look into starting a blog for your site. A blog, if well maintained, takes a bit more work and upkeep than the occasional article, but the rewards can be considerable. If the Nigritude Ultramarine thing taught us anything it was that blogs are incredibly powerful in Google. If you have a compelling, topical blog for your site going and get it listed in a couple of feed sites, you have a great tool for generating both traffic and the oh-so-valuable links back into your domain for the search engines. The best thing about the blogs (and the articles) is the price tag – just a little bit of your time.

Press releases can be a good source for getting your name out. Keep in mind a few things with your press releases though. When writing a press release you are going to want to stick to the facts -no hyperbole. Also, you will want to make sure your press release doesn’t come across as contrived – it should have an obvious point and get to it. Of course, you can put your link in, etc., but resist the urge to go over the top with any promotional language.

Viral marketing tactics like the basic ‘forward to a friend’ type programs can be an extremely effective means of getting your name spread around. I remember in early 2000 a site called got all kinds of press. Basically they had a setup where you could send a semi-customizable voodoo hex to the recipient of your choosing via email. They got lots of press from mainstream T.V. and magazines and generated quite a lot of buzz. Unfortunately, they’re no longer with us it seems, which reminds me of another aspect of viral marketing. Viral marketing too often lives and dies with its reliance on the gimmick. Viral programs typically work fairly well with humor related subject matter and the like, these types of programs can be tough to sustain however once they run their course.

Other online techniques like banner exchanges/ad swaps with other sites are also effective tools for getting some links pointing in. Typically however, it has been my experience that sites eager to exchange links/ads with you are probably hurting for traffic worse than you are. Still, if they are relevant to your subject and appear to be professional and on the up and up it isn’t going to hurt you if you have the space to accommodate them.

As for the offline (translated not-free) promotional tactics you have a great number of options and are limited only by your budget in most cases. Some of the less-expensive methods of offline promotion would be giveaways. People love to get something for nothing. Pens, notepads, key chains and other miscellaneous trinkets can be great tools for spreading your name. Every single pill, potion and elixir on the planet has an ink pen extolling its virtues. Point being that even pharmaceutical companies, with some of the biggest marketing budgets in the world, recognize the value of having their names/products splashed across novelty items to be passed around. Ask your doctor about that.

Depending on your market and your target, there are some good values in print publications as well. Trade publications offer a good bang for the buck generally as they tend to be much less expensive than their larger general-audience mainstream counterparts.

If you don’t already have a media kit, you can probably come up with one at a relatively modest expense. Even if your business doesn’t necessarily fit into a category where media kits are the norm, you could put together something similar outlining the products/services you provide along with some background and contact information for your company. A simple 2-pocket folder with a few info sheets (or maybe scale it down to a brochure) can be an effective tool particularly for service related businesses.

There are plenty of other means outside of search engines to bring traffic to your site/business. I’d love to hear about some of your own experiences in the world of non-search engine promotions and what worked/didn’t work for you.

Mike is a manager at iEntry. He has been with iEntry since 2000.