Getting your website up and running, optimizing the website for SEO, so that it is most attractive to search engines, and providing high-value content your visitors will actually find useful is only the beginning to create a successful online business.
Once you have an effective website, the next step is “getting it out there” so that people can find it. This entails promoting your website on search engines, high DA directories and other resources that are devoted to your specific niche.
Here then are 12 steps you should take to get your website in front of high-value customers who are enthusiastic about the type of products and services you offer and who are ready to buy.
Promote Your Website to Search Engines with an XML Sitemap
Search engines use “spiders” to crawl through hundreds of thousands of websites per day in order to index them, understand what they are all about, and rank them in an order that the search engine’s users will find most valuable.
Your goal is to get search engines to:
- Understand what your web page is all about
- Make your website have a higher relevance and value than your competitors
The best way to do this is by creating a sitemap, which is an XML file that lists all the URLs for your website, as well as other metadata about each URL that search engine algorithms will find valuable and helpful.
Creating a sitemap for your website with high-value information about each URL –such as when each URL was last updated, how often it changes, its significance to the search engine’s users, and how it relates to other URLs on your website – makes the search engine’s job easier.
Sitemaps also can include optional tags that give search engines readily available data about each web page’s priority, which allows them to follow the sequence you want when indexing your website. There are two other helpful optional tags you should use:
- “lastmod” indicates when a page was last modified
- “changefreq” tells the search engine how frequently the page may have been changed.
Creating a sitemap manually requires you to create a file name called “sitemap.xml” and then uploading it to the root directory of your website. Keep in mind that sitemaps need to be smaller than 10MB and have no more than 50,000 URLs, which is more than enough for even the most comprehensive websites.
Sounds too technical? Don’t worry: Here’s a useful sitemap generator you can use that does much of the heavy lifting for you.
Submit Your XML sitemap to Google, Bing, and Yahoo
To get Google, Yahoo, and other popular search engines to follow your sitemap so that they index your website according to the sequence you want – and see only what you want them to see – you need to use a Submission Tool.
To submit your XML sitemap to Bing, log in using your Bing Webmaster Tools and manually upload it to their search engine.
Control How Search Engines Index Your Website
There’s a benefit to controlling what a search engine sees when indexing your website. For example, you don’t want search engines to see that you may have duplicate content that could hurt your search rankings. Instead, you want to guide search engine spiders such as Googlebot to your most important pages so that they can optimize the value and benefits of your website to their users, ranking it higher.
Controlling where and what search engines look at is done through the use of robots.txt files, which are little bits of code that direct search engines spiders as they crawl through your web pages – preventing them from seeing what you don’t want them to see and directing them to the places you do want them to see.
Although using robots.txt files is somewhat technical, it’s also essential to get your website ranked at or near the top of the SERPs for your keywords. Think of it this way: It’s something the sites ranked higher than yours are already doing, so you need to do it as well.
The first thing you want to do is to use robots.txt files to keep search engines from looking at low-value folders such as cgi-bin, pages that are restricted to registered users, and folders with scripts that take too long to load. You also want to prevent search engines from seeing that you may have duplicate content.
What does a robots.txt file look like? Here’s an example:
This little bit of code inserted into your website will keep all search engines – except Googlebot – from seeing cgi-bin and tmp directories, which are places where scripts and temporary files are typically kept.
It’s important to remember that your robots.txt files are placed in the root of your website hierarchy, where search engines can find them.
To create robots.txt files for your website, use this helpful Google Search Console. Simply click on the website you want, then under the heading “Site Configuration” click on “Crawler Access”, then click on “Generate robots.txt” tab and follow the directions.
Use Search Engines that Accept Automatic Submissions
Even if you don’t have an XML Sitemap, you can still submit your web pages to search engines that don’t automatically index your pages. These include local search engines that may not support XML sitemaps.
Before you submit your website to either types of search engines, it’s absolutely critical that it includes this minimal information:
- Your website’s page URLs
- The title of each web page
- Each page’s META description
- Your keywords
- Your valid email address (required for most submission forms)
It’s also a good idea to wait until your site has a number of backlinks which you can check using any of the free or paid online backlink checker tools before submitting it to search engines. This will improve your website’s relevance to the search engine when it indexes it, improving your ranking.
For many search engines, all you will need to do is submit the home page. The search engine will do the rest. Also, if your website is already showing up on a search engine’s SERPs, you don’t need to resubmit it.
A Submission Tool is all you need to submit your website to search engines that accept automatic submissions.
Use Search Engines that Accept Manual Submissions
To submit your website to search engines that don’t automatically index your pages – such as local search engines that may not support XML sitemaps, all you need to do is visit the submission page of each search engine and follow the instructions.
Using the Best High DA Directories
Directories are places that categorize websites and create links to make it easier for people looking for specific niches to find high-value websites. Some directories rank websites, while others are considered to be authoritative sites by Google and other search engines. So there’s a lot of value to getting your website posted on directories.
To find directories related to your niche, use these search parameters:
“add url” + “add your keyword”
“submit url” “your keyword”
Be prepared to provide your homepage URL, page title, META description, as well as your keywords. You also will need a valid email address to verify you own your website.
Once you have submitted your website to a directory, don’t try to submit it again. This is often a violation of terms of service and could get your site kicked off.
Promote Your Products on Search Engines for Shoppers
There are a lot of search engines devoted to shopping. So if your website offers products and services, it’s helpful to be listed on these because it’s where many people go to find the products and services they want.
You don’t need to provide much information, just your personal information or merchant data, product information, and billing information. Then all you need to do is confirm your registration and you’re ready to go.
Use Google Merchant Center
Google is by far the biggest and most popular search engine. So it makes sense to have your commercial website promoted on their Google Merchant Center, which is integrated with Google AdWords.
You can go to the Google Merchant Center and log in with your Gmail account. Upload your product data so it can be posted on Google Product Search, as well as other Google services.
The Google Merchant Center offers a number of convenient ways to upload your product information, including data feeds, direct uploads, or an API.
Promote Your Software Products on Software Download Websites
Are you promoting a software? Then you would want your products to be posted on the most popular software download sites. These typically require a Portable Application Description (PAD) file that simplifies the process of providing data about your product.
A PAD file lets you store all the descriptions and product specs in one place, including download URLs, file names, pricing, system requirements, and contact information.
Let Your Fingers Do the Walking
People used to use the enormous physical directory to “Let their fingers do the walking” to find the businesses they wanted. Now, most people use the digital yellow pages—the local listings directory of Bing and Google – to promote their local business.
When you create your profile, take it seriously. This is probably the first encounter many local customers will have with your business. So make sure your profile is strong and clear.
Benefits of Guest Blogging
Blogs are online articles that anybody can write and publish. The benefit of blogs for your website is that they tend to be highly specialized. So whatever type of product or service you are promoting, you can be sure there are at least several important blogs devoted to your niche.
The problem with writing a blog is continually providing fresh content for your readers. So people who run blogs are always looking for people willing to submit guest blogs – articles that are written by somebody else that is relevant to their blog’s subject matter and informational and helpful to their readers.
As a website owner, one of the easiest and best ways to drive new traffic to your web pages is by creating guest blogs on the most popular blogs devoted to your niche. A little online research should point you to which blogs these are for your particular area. Then all you need to do is approach the blog owners with an original idea and offer to write a guest blog on their popular blog.
While most bloggers won’t let you directly promote your website – although some will, so check their guidelines – you can include a link at the bottom of the blog with your digital signature or within the body of the content when relevant.
Another way to promote your website is through a press release. These are sent to editors of news websites, posted on press release aggregators, and distributed via email to influential people within your niche in order to promote the news value of your website.
Make sure you have something that could be considered news. Don’t simply send out a press release stating that your site exists without putting it into some type of context. Think of what you can “announce” that people might be interested in, rather than just providing a list of facts or benefits.
Once you have a news hook, create a press release using a pre-made template. The people you send your press release to need to recognize that it’s a press release. So it should look like the other press releases they receive.
Finally, once your press release is ready to distribute, use a sum=bmission tool to find a list of places where you can send it.
I hope you find this 12-step blueprint to promoting your website on search engines, directories and niche resources useful. Please let me know what you think about the article in the comments section below.