Website Promotion

There are many ways to promote your website, but to start - and this might seem obvious - always include your web address (Domain Name with link where possible) in all your correspondence. Create a default email template that automatically inserts your web address into every email you write. Redo your letterheads to include your web address. Redo business cards, vehicle livery etc, etc. If you have Social Media channels, they can also be used as free and effective promotional tools.

Of course, you also have all the 'traditional' ways for promoting your website at your disposal too; Advertising on the Web, newspapers, specialist magazines, even the good old 'card' in your local newsagent.

Website Promotion via Search Engines

As most people are now aware, Search Engines play a very large part in determining how many people visit your website. 95% of people, looking for a particular type of website or even just some information, will start by using a Search Engine.

Here's an typical 'search' scenario: A nurse is looking to volunteer their services with a organisation that provides medical assistance to communities that lack the resources to provide basic healthcare themselves.

They'll likely begin by going to a Search Engine (most likely Google) and type in a search phrase: "volunteers, healthcare" or "medical assistant, volunteering" perhaps. The Search Engine will search its database and, along with other algorithmic sorcery, return a long paged list of websites that 'relate' to that search phrase.
NB - SEO Jargon - this list is often referred to as "Search Engine Results Pages" (SERPs,) and will usually include targeted paid ads too

If you're an organisation that provides what the nurse is looking for, then you really need to be on that list, and preferably near the top.

So how do you get on that list; how do you make your website 'search engine friendly'?

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

To start, the key requirement for having a 'search engine friendly' or 'Search Engine Optimised' website, is determining what 'search phrases' a web user might use (via a Search Engine) to find a website similar to yours.

Depending on what your organisation/company does, it might be obvious and easy to ascertain what these key 'search phrases' might be, however it's probably a good idea to at least do some basic research. Use Search Engines yourself and experiment with phrases to see what the SERPs return. Google often includes 'related' searches people have used, at the bottom of the page. If you're wanting to take your research further, there are many SEO specialist (often paid) services on the web, that may be able to help you.

Once you've chosen your key phrases, you should then think of these as the primary 'identifiers' for your website, and integrate them into all your web-based content. How you might want to do this, will become clearer after looking at the basics of how Search Engines work.

How Search Engines Work

Firstly, Search Engines need to know what your website is about, before it can list it in relation to any particular search phrase (relevancy). A Search Engine will scan (crawl) the code of all your web pages and attempt to ascertain what the subject matter might be.

Secondly, in order to decide which website should be placed first, second, third ... on the search results list (jargon - Search Engine Ranking), Search Engines also need to calculate the level of 'authority' your website carries. 'Authority' in this context, means how other people (links from other websites) value your website, and in turn, the relative 'authority' (and relevance) of those people (websites). Put very simply, it is presumed that if lots of websites are linking to your website, your website must be of some value to others.

Optimising your website for the first 'relevancy' aspect of how Search Engines work, is largely under your control, and is where you can make good use of your 'key phrases' research. By adding content to your website in a well structured way, you will help Search Engines to better 'understand' what your website is about and improve its position in the SERPs listing (jargon - higher ranking website).

In SEO circles, this is referred to as 'on-page' optimisation.

On-Page Search Engine Optimisation

When adding text content to your website (and related social media) consider those key search phrases you think people will use to find your website, and include them in your texts.

Semantic Structure

Take advantage HTMLs semantic properties to structure your texts. For example HTML includes headline elements (H1, H2, H3 etc), semantically 'H1' is more important than 'H2', and Search Engines will consider the words within the 'H1' headline to be significant.

Cross-Links - Navigation

Cross-links and link labelling is helpful too. This is when you use links to allow people to navigate to different parts of your website. Example: This Website Performance link will take you to different page on this website, and the link label indicates what that page is about. Don't use 'Click Here'.

Images, Video, Audio

Search Engines only have limited 'understanding' of what images contain and what they might signify. Use captions and the HTML 'alt' attribute to describe your images. This will also help make your website more accessible, especially to those with disabilities. Treat video and audio the same.

HTML Meta-Tags (Elements)

HTML offers a variety of meta-tags to help describe and categorise your website. The text within these tags does not appear on your web pages, but can be read by Search Engines. Again, you should consider your 'key phrases' when deciding how to populate these tags.

1. HTML 'Title' Tag - This is the tag that creates the text you see in the 'title-bar' of a Web Browser. For this page you should see the text "Get a Website - Website Promotion. Publicising and SEO.". The words in your 'title' tag carry some weight with Google and are returned as the search header link in the SERPs.

2. HTML 'Description' Meta-Tag - This tag is used to describe the nature/purpose of your website. Ideally, just a short paragraph. This paragraph will not appear on your web page, but may appear in Search Engine returned synopsis.

3. HTML 'Keywords' Meta-Tag - This tag is used to describe the nature/purpose of your website using either short phrases or single words. This meta-tag is less important these days for SEO because people have in the past, used it to 'spam' Search Engines.

There are various other 'non-standard' meta-data options that you may wish to consider adding to your website. These include those designed for social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook.

BEWARE - 'Key Word Stuffing'

When doing any SEO work it's important to keep things natural and sensible. This is especially important with on-page SEO. Don't just 'stuff' your website with key words or phrases - use them intelligently. If Search Engines suspect you're actively 'key word stuffing' your website, they will certainly penalise you. Worse still, your website could get blacklisted.

Off-Page SEO

Optimising your website for what Search Engines call 'Authority' requires you producing content that other people consider valuable. Content valuable enough that they're prepared to link to your website from their website (jargon - inward links). Search Engines see these inward links as a sort of 'vote of confidence' for your website.

Link Quality, 'Relevancy'

The 'quality' of inward links is important too. The inward link's quality is based on two factors; its relevancy and its own 'authority'.

The relevance quality of an inward link is defined by the contextual relevancy of the website that links to yours. For example; your website is about 'the music of Beethoven'. A 'quality' link would be one that comes from a site about 'the history of Western Classical Music' or a site about 'J.S.Bach'. However, if the 'The music of Beethoven' website received a inward link from a site about 'Peruvian wild cats', it probably wouldn't be considered a quality inward link.

The second 'authority' factor is the value a Search Engine has already placed on the website that links to yours.

So, a best quality inward link is one that carries its own authority and covers content similar to yours.

If you have any influence with those who link to your website, ask them if they could specifically create a link that includes some of your keywords. Remember, some inexperienced web editors still put 'Click Here' for their links, which means nothing to a Search Engine. However, a link that reads - 'Here's a great Beethoven resource website' - and links to a website about Beethoven, is going to be of far more value to you and to Search Engines.

BEWARE - Link Farms

Some people suspect that inward links that don't meet the above 'relevancy' criteria may actually count against you. This is the Search Engines reaction against people creating 'link farms'.

Social Media and other Web-Based Channels

Social Media channels like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, can be helpful promotion tools in many ways. The most obvious being the ability to connect and engage with people in a more direct way. But these digital channels can also help with SEO. Because they are separate from your own website, they can help with your off-page inward links.