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INTRODUCTION

Many entrepreneurs are looking to the Internet as their primary marketplace as opposed to traditional storefronts. The benefits seem overwhelming. Your audience expands into the hundreds of millions at any given time, and your overhead can be reduced drastically by not having to shell out money for additional office/warehouse space, payroll, inventory, etc.

However, many business owners find that as most of their expenses are reduced by selling online, their advertising costs skyrocket. This article will not only be of benefit to those who only sell tangible goods, but should aid anyone looking to advertise any type of website they may manage on the Internet. This article will highlight a few ways in which you can reduce your online advertising budget, sometimes eliminating it altogether.

DISCOVER YOUR AUDIENCE

The first step to take before any type of advertising is to discover your audience. Who are your potential customers? Do you want to appeal more to men or women? Children, adults, or the elderly? People who live only in a certain region, state or country? It wouldn’t make much sense to advertise snowmobiles on a popular Miami beach website would it? If you sell Xbox or Playstation games, would you want to spend money to have a banner on a website for a life insurance company? By discovering your target audience, you can eliminate wasted resources including time and money by only focusing on the demographic which will most likely bring you the most business.

CREATIVITY IS THE KEY

If everyone could easily advertise their website and never pay a cent, there would never be any programs trying to get you to pay for your advertising. Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising such as Overture and Google Adwords would not even exist. You have to be creative. Free advertising does not come that easily online. You probably already acknowledge that to be true, otherwise you wouldn’t be sitting here reading this article. In this article, I will outline six methods of free online advertising that I have found to be extremely effective. Again, based on your target audience, a few of these methods may work great for some while they may prove to be ineffective for others. Choose your target audience, and then see if any of these methods can help drive tons of traffic to your site.

ADVERTISING METHODS

  1. Forums and blogs

For every product, service or subject, there is most likely a forum or a blog about it somewhere on the Internet. Track these down and signup as a free member to these forums. If you are offering a service such as logo design, you can find a busy graphic design forum and put a link to your website in your signature. Now, post freely by starting new relevant topics and helping others with questions you may be able to assist them with. This way, you give freely to take freely. Give your time and knowledge to the forum or blog and take their visitors to your site. You could be browsing around a forum on photography. There you find someone complaining that their digital camera does not store as many photographs as they would like it to. Then, you reply to their post and conveniently tell them all about this great website that sells memory for digital cameras- yours! Sometimes, the site administrators will need assistance moderating their forums. Contact the administrator and let them know that you are an expert in the field pertaining to their forum and you would be happy to assist in moderating their forum free of charge in return for a nice sized ad somewhere on their site. Some forums generate 1,000,000 hits daily! Find a busy forum which would work well for you and get your name out there. Chances are, you will attract many new visitors to your website.

  1. Free online classified ads

There are a ton of websites that offer free classified ad postings, many of which are advertised more locally to a specific market and funded by a local radio or television station. A perfect example of this would be http://postaroo.com/. This website offers free classified ad postings in just about any category you could think of. The website is sponsored by local radio and television stations, and everyone who lives in these markets has heard of this website. That’s because you can’t go more than an hour without there being a radio or television commercial about postaroo.com. Other websites such as http://craigslist.com/ have become very popular as well. And again, based on your specific market, there may be many free classified ad websites which pertain more toward your desired audience. Post ads on these sites urging people to visit your website. This costs you nothing but time, yet your website will be reaching the masses.

  1. Virtual communities

Virtual community and networking websites such as http://myspace.com/ and http://xanga.com/ may be a great untapped market for you to use. Instead of posting a profile talking all about you, talk about your website and everything it has to offer. Millions of people go to these websites everyday, and there are bound to be a few that would be interested in your website. Make lots of friends using your profile and be sure to tell them about your website. Just be sure not to take it too far and get yourself banned for spamming. You can be subtle with it, yet still get your point across which is “I have the best website in the world, and I want everyone to see it”.

  1. Banner and link exchanges

There are website owners who would jump at the chance to trade links or banners with you- and you should be just as willing. In return for your having placed a banner or link on another website free of charge, they get to place a free banner or link on your site as well. This is a great way to advertise to every visitor on the other person’s website. While concentrating on your target audience, you want to be careful not to be working with your competition. Most likely they will not want you advertising on their website, and you sure don’t want to refer any of your loyal visitors to your competition either. Another reason for link exchanges was originally to increase your site’s ranking in the search engines. The way that worked was that the more people who have links to your website, the more popular it must be. And if your site is really popular, then the search engine wants to make sure it moves you to the top of the search results. The issue with this is that over the years, different search engine spiders have modified the way they index pages. Recently, this subject has been a hot topic for debate, because there are some search engines that may rely on links very heavily when deciding where to rank your site, while there are others which may not even take links into consideration. The bottom line is that overall, it won’t hurt. Trading banners and links are a fast, simple and free source of online advertising.

  1. Search engine submissions

Speaking of search engines, believe it or not, many website owners do not even apply to have their site indexed in the search engines. They either don’t think about it, or they think it just “happens”. The truth is, you want to submit your website to the search engines. Yes, your site may have gotten indexed without it, but by manually submitting your website to the major search engines, your website will be indexed properly and will appear in the proper search categories. Submitting your website to search engines is fast and free. It usually will take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks from the time you submit your website to the time the search engine actually visits and indexes your site. Keep in mind that you do not want to keep resubmitting your website over and over again in a relatively short period of time. The search engines consider this “spamming” and may remove your website from their records altogether. However, by resubmitting your website every 15-30 days, this will ensure the search engines continue to re-index your page while not labeling your site as “spam”.

  1. Search engine optimization

Search engine optimization (SEO) has become a pretty hot item over the past few years. If you sold paint sprayers, how much would you be willing to pay for your website to come up first in the search results every time somebody searched for the term “paint sprayers” in Google? Try it yourself. Go to http://google.com/. Type in the search term “paint sprayers”. Aside from the sponsored results, most likely you will find that the very first regularly indexed website listed is http://gleempaint.com/, the company owned by a friend of mine in Gulfport, Mississippi. Do you know how much it costs him to have his website listed there? Zero. Zilch. Nada. Zippo. Nothing. How does he do it? By employing some outstanding SEO techniques. He has a store with anywhere from 6-8 people spending all day filling up UPS trucks and shipping out paint sprayers all over the world. The bulk of his business comes from Google, and he pays nothing for it. A lot goes in to SEO, including your URL’s, META tags, keywords, descriptions, and the overall wording of your entire website. I can not teach you everything there is to know about SEO in this article, but I will tell you that it is a tremendous free resource that should be implemented by every single website owner. There are also companies out there which you can hire to do the SEO to your website for you, but then it’s not free anymore. Learn about all the techniques that go into search engine optimization and implement them on your website. It’s more than worth the time invested.

CONCLUSION

The only way to know for sure which methods are working for you is to keep track of where your visitors are coming from. Every host should have some sort of statistical information you can pull on your website which will tell you how many visitors you are receiving, and where they are coming from. Login to your Vdeck or Cpanel account for your domain and check it out. Also, remember that while implementing these free advertising techniques for your website may increase its traffic, it’s ultimately up to you to turn each visitor to your website into money. You must have a good product or service and a professional website to do so.

If you are looking for more specific information on any one aspect of advertising, interested further in online marketing, search engine optimization, or would like to learn more about some other aspects of managing and operating your business, please visit http://sitefever.com for more helpful articles, tips and information.

HELPFUL RESOURCES

Free online classified ads

 http://postaroo.com/

 http://craigslist.com/

 http://classifieds.yahoo.com/

Free virtual communities

 http://myspace.com/

 http://xanga.com/

Free banner and link exchange communities

 http://linkbuddies.com/

 http://click4click.com/

 http://linkmarket.net/

Free mass search engine submitters

 http://www.addme.com/submission/free-submission-start.php

 http://www.submitexpress.com/submit.html


Category: Internet Marketing
Article posted by: Neon on July 6th, 2007



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4 Comments to “How to Advertise Your Business or Website Online For Free” »

Aug 02 2007 at 10:52 am

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Sep 24 2007 at 7:15 pm

[…] got its start from my successful selling of many online advertising & marketing articles. Since this blog’s first post on July 6, I have not written any more PDF-style […]

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Oct 07 2007 at 2:45 pm

[…] was the first month that the SiteFever blog went live. The first post was made on July 6. For the past two years, I had been using HostGator for all of my hosting, but […]

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