Secrets and tips on promoting your website and blog
To promote something is to increase its public exposure, allowing new audiences to be notified of its existence. Promotion is a crucial step in building a business or sharing content on the Internet. Many methods of promotion exist, some effective, and others less so. Promotion must be conducted in a way that's effective for reaching audiences but also remains ethical and honest, preventing the spread of misinformation.
Unless your website is among the top of search engine results, no one will know your site exists. The Internet consists of BILLIONS of web pages, and millions more appear every day. Our tips help improve your search engine rankings and page quality using the secrets and tips we learned over the past twenty years. Computer Hope currently averages over 340,000 unique page views a day and over nine million unique page views a month (around 50 million hits).
Secrets and tips
Below are links to specific sections on this page. If you have not previously reviewed this page, we suggest reading through all sections, so you do not miss anything that might help your site.
- Domain, titles, and URL.
- Navigation and layout.
- Keep it simple, clean, and fast.
- Meta tags and robots.txt.
- Let others know about your site.
- Remind users of your site.
- Watch the traffic, logs, and keywords.
- Forum, bulletin board, or other user-generated community.
- Submit and promote your site to search engines.
- Analyze search engines.
- Watch for errors.
- Grade your website and let it age.
Create new and original content
By far, the most significant first step any site can do is create new and original content. Search engines use web robots (spider/crawler) designed to search a website and grab keywords and text from the website to be listed on their search engine. If your site does not have lots of quality content, your chances of being found are significantly decreased. For example, if your web page has ten pages and your competitor has 100 pages, it's more likely your competitor's website is found first.
Because of abuse from content farms, Google and other search engines are paying closer attention to the quality of your content. Make sure all of the content is quality content and that it helps your visitors. If you only create content to create content, it doesn't help you or your visitors. Always be asking yourself, "is this page good enough to be in a glossy magazine or newspaper article?"
Update content frequently
Update and add new content frequently. If your site contains frequently updated content, visitors have another reason to return and bookmark your site, and search engine crawlers will visit your site more often. We recommend creating at least 2-3 pages of new content weekly or, even better, a new page every day, if possible. Sites that have not been updated in over a month are considered abandoned pages by most visitors.
Scripts and other tools can also post new content as it happens, hourly or daily. For example, the Computer Hope homepage has a computer-related history event posted daily, a daily computer word, monthly computer tips, and new forum posts and pages posted as they occur. When visitors see these types of features, it gives them a reason to visit again.
Add content even if your site only sells products
Most users don't visit a website only to purchase a product. If your site sells anything, it should have complete product information, such as how to set up the product, how it's used, its capabilities, reviews, and user comments. Not only does this bring more visitors to your web pages, but someone who understands the product is more likely to purchase the product.
User-generated content, such as product reviews, is a must for any site that sells products. Most people expect at least a general review of a product, and good reviews from many users can often talk the visitor into purchasing the product.
Format the content
Format your web pages' content in an easy to read and scan format by creating easy to read, short, and catchy headings. Doing this makes your web page more enjoyable to scan, read, and helps reduce your site bounce rate. For the heading of each page, we also suggest surrounding it with HTML heading tags. The heading tags help match keywords and can improve your search engine rankings.
Keep in mind, that on average, 8 out of 10 people read headline copy, but only 2 out of 10 read the rest of the content on the page. If your headline is confusing, tricky, or awkward, they won't continue reading.
The importance of the first paragraph
The first paragraph of the page is the most important paragraph on the page. Search engines pay close attention to the first paragraph, and the first paragraph is what is going to catch the readers' eyes. Placing important keywords in this paragraph and making sure it's well-written helps improve your rank and decreases your bounce rate.
Make sure each page has enough content
Individual web pages that only contain a few dozen words do not help your page or your visitors. Make sure that every page has at least 200 words. However, adding even more quality and helpful content gives your page a better chance at ranking higher than competing pages.
Add a catchy picture
People are visual creatures. Adding one or more pictures to each web page helps grab the visitors' eyes, builds interest, and makes sure they don't leave the site immediately. When adding a picture, add an alt attribute that describes the picture and uses keywords someone would use in their search.
Most people on the Internet expect information to be free. If your site contains free information, mention it, for example, "free computer help" is much more catchy than "computer help." However, do not abuse the word "free." Visitors who visit a free link and find a non-free page, registration requirement, or another scheme will leave the page. Tricking a user may get them to visit a page or link, but anyone who feels tricked is going to leave fast and never return.
Domain, titles, and URL
If you plan on doing anything with your web page, a domain name is a must. When registering a domain name, make sure the name is short, simple, easy to spell, and easy to remember. For example, computerhope is an easier name to remember and type than computerhopesfreetechnicalhelp. Unfortunately, many of the common short domain names are already registered, so think of as many names and keywords as possible. Doing a whois lookup is an easy way to determine what domains are available. GoDaddy whois is one example of a domain name lookup service.
Most search engines use the title of your web page when displaying your site in their search results. Therefore, it's always a smart idea to focus on every web page title. For example, this page's title is "Secrets and tips of promoting your web page and blog." This title is not only descriptive but also uses keywords, including secrets, tips, web page, and promoting. Follow the tips below when creating a title.
- Be as specific as possible and include what is unique on the page.
- Always use the most important keywords at the start of your title.
- The maximum size of a title should be 70 characters.
- Use no more than 10 to 12 words in your title.
The title is contained in the title tag.
Add keywords to your URL by adding subdirectories that are your keywords. For example, the Computer Hope CD-ROM help page is https://www.computerhope.com/help/cdrom.htm. As you can see, this URL has three keywords: computer, help, and cdrom. Use this to your advantage; search engines today convert your URL to text and use it as a method of indexing your web page.
Do not get carried away with using keywords in your URL. Having a short URL is also a good method of making sure your link is shared. Nothing worse than trying to send someone a link to a web page in an e-mail or chat only to find the link is four-lines long.
When linking to your web page or folder on your web page, make sure to end the URL with a slash. For example, https://www.computerhope.com and https://www.computerhope.com/ both point to the same address. However, the link without the slash causes the server to redirect the request, which slightly decreases the load time and may decrease your page rank. However, only do this with directories and not for files. In the earlier example that pointed to the "cdrom.htm" page, it should not end with a slash. Finally, keep it consistent; don't have both versions of the same link on the same web page.
Domain 301 redirects
After you have registered your domain, make sure your domain is properly forwarding to the address you want. For example, Computer Hope should be https://www.computerhope.com/ and not https://computerhope.com. Both of these addresses are valid, but if you enter https://computerhope.com, it is forwarded to https://www.computerhope.com. If we did not forward the URL, Google and other search engines treat both domains as different domains and could cause a lower page rank because of duplicate content.
Navigation and layout
A visitor will leave if they cannot navigate your website. Studies have shown that the typical first view time is between two and four seconds. If a visitor cannot find what they want, finds your information hard to read, or cannot navigate the page, they'll leave because there are usually other options.
Link to all subpages from the main page
Your main page should link to all of your sub pages; if this is not possible, it should at least link to your main sections. When designing your website, make sure visitors can find what they are looking for in a few clicks. Creating a list of sub pages or categories, adding a search engine, or making a site map can all help your visitors.
Subpages should link back to the homepage
All your sub pages should link back to your homepage or other main sections of your main page. Many of your visitors don't visit your page through the homepage, make it easy for visitors to go there from all sub pages. For example, a company logo or name should link to the main page, or a navigation bar should have a link that says "home." It's also a good idea to have a way to get back to the homepage at the bottom of every page.
Get a search engine
If your page does not have a search engine and has several dozen pages, consider using a third-party search engine. These custom search engine scripts can be implemented on your site in less than a few minutes.
Keep it simple, clean, and fast
KISS (keep it simple stupid)
Follow the KISS principle; if your website is too busy or over-complicated, your visitors become frustrated and leave.
Do not make the visitor scroll
When first visiting a web page, most visitors do not scroll down. Keep the important and eye-catching information on the first viewable page. If your page has lots of information, create bookmark links in the first section for visitors to jump to what interests them on the page. Finally, never make a visitor scroll horizontal. A web page that scrolls left-to-right causes frustration, and most visitors will not even realize they need to scroll and leave.
Keep your headers small
The top headers of all your pages should be small, at most one to two inches in height. A large header makes the visitor scroll down on every page and is often distracting for users who visit the site frequently.
Test with other monitors and browser
Not all users have the same browser, monitor, or computer. Make sure your web pages look good on all computers and monitors. A page displayed on a 17" monitor looks different when that displayed on a smaller 15" monitor or laptop. Consider using online tests to see how your web page looks with different browsers.
Test with other devices
Avoid large images and Flash files
Avoid large images or flash animations that take a long time to load. Not everyone has a broadband connection. Visitors with a modem or slower Internet connections may become impatient with slow load times. As we mentioned earlier, the average view time on a website is a few seconds, so you need to grab the visitors attention immediately with a fast-loading page. If your page needs large images, consider loading those on a separate page.
Test your load times
Make sure the overall load time of a web page is no more than four seconds. Fast load times keep visitors on your site, and search engines, like Google, use a web page's load time as part of their algorithm for ranking your page in their search results. Run portions of your web page through online tests to help determine the slow portions of your web page and test your page from different parts of the world.
Meta tags and robots.txt
Description and keywords example
<meta name="description" content="Free web page promotion tips and secrets in getting to the top of search engines and increasing the traffic to your website.">
The description of a web page is by far the most important meta tag to have on every page. The description describes what your web page is about and is often used as the description displayed in search engine results.
<meta name="keywords" content="free, promotion secrets, promotion tips, promotion, secrets, SEO, banner exchange, search engines, increase page rank, pagerank, listing, keywords">
Today, the keywords meta tag is not as valuable as the description, but can still be used to list keywords that relate to your page. However, today, all major search engines ignore the keywords meta tag because of abuse.
General rules of meta tags
- Like all other HTML code, any website's meta tags are visible to everyone. View the source of some of your competitors' web pages to get ideas.
- Search engines use no more than the first four lines of the description and keywords meta tags. Do not enter more than four lines of text, as it is not used and could cause your site to be delisted.
- Post the description and keywords of information that is on the page. Visitors tricked into visiting your page will not stay, and this form of deceit can cause your entire site to be blocked by search engines.
- Because of abuse, search engines, like Google, no longer look at the keywords meta tags.
Today, most search engines no longer only rely on meta tags, and some search engines do not even look at them. Some people recommend skipping meta tags. However, there are still plenty of search engines that use these tags; we strongly recommend, at the very least, to have a description meta tag.
Search engines use robots (spider/crawler) to crawl and index your web page automatically. These robots often rely on the robots.txt to tell them what they can and cannot index on your website. If this file is missing from your website, your website may not be indexed or indexed properly. Make sure to at least have a basic robots.txt in your root directory.
Respond as quickly as possible
If your page accepts e-mail, reply to every e-mail as quickly as possible. If your page experiences large volumes of e-mail, make sure to let your visitors know that replies may take a while.
Mention your web address in your e-mails
When replying or sending out e-mail, always make sure to have a signature with your companies name, web address, and your e-mail address. A signature reminds users of your website's address and is an excellent method of free advertising. However, keep the signature small; it should be no more than three lines of text.
Do not send spam
Most people ignore spam. Sending out unsolicited e-mails can get your e-mail address or domain added to lists that prohibit you from e-mailing servers that check these lists.
Let others know about your site
Link to other related pages and see if they participate in link exchanges. One of the ways Google ranks pages is by who else links to your site and how popular their site is. The more inbound links to your page, the more likely visitors find your page because it's higher in search results.
Friends and family
Let your friends, family, and coworkers know about your website. Not only is this a good way of getting the word out, but it may also provide additional feedback about your website.
Participate in online forums, newsgroups, or other community-driven sites that relate to your website's topic, while letting others know about your website through a signature or a link. However, do not visit only to promote; provide constructive feedback and suggestions. Otherwise, the post are deleted, or you could be banned.
Remind users of your site
Keeping your past customers and visitors reminded of your web page is a crucial step in getting them to return. Below are some helpful tips for keeping recent visitors reminded of your web page.
Facebook fan pages and Twitter
Let users rate and share your page
With the increased popularity of social networking, the ability to rate and share your pages is another important feature. These sharing and rating links (like those shown to the left) can be added using services such as AddThis or Sharethis.
Creating RSS feeds is an easy way to keep more technical users up-to-date on all website updates and new content. For example, Computer Hope's RSS feeds use the free Feedburner service for easy control, the ability for visitors to subscribe over e-mail, and the ability of posting RSS posts to Twitter.
Today's browsers no longer have support for RSS in the browser. So, unless you know of people who're interested in using RSS to keep up-to-date on your website you can safely ignore this tip.
Newsletter and mailing list
E-mail newsletters and mailing lists can be another fantastic method of keeping users up-to-date. Sending monthly newsletters and your latest deals are both examples of how to remind past visitors and customers of your site.
If your company logs birthdays, send your visitors or customers happy birthday notices. Most users appreciate the personal touch, even if automated.
Watch the traffic, logs, and keywords
Analyze web page visitors
Today, many web hosts provide their users with charts to traffic information. Try to view this information and determine what pages are popular or where people are leaving.
Use Google Analytics
The basic web host statistics are a reasonable first start. However, nothing compares to the free Google Analytics service. Google Analytics reports provide a better idea of how users are using your website and is better than anything any web host could provide.
Act on the information
Examine how people are entering your site and where they are exiting and bouncing. If a page is popular, link that page to other related pages in your site. If a page has a high exiting or bouncing rating, improve the page and, if needed, add more information.
Examine the popular search keywords visitors are using to find your page. If a page has search keywords that do not relate to the information you have, add it to your page.
Examine and learn keywords
Use online tools to monitor and compare search keywords to help better judge what keywords to use on your site. A good tool we use and recommend is Google Trends, which allows you to enter and compare search keywords, and find trends.
Forum, bulletin board, or other user-generated community
Create a community
Create an online forum or comments section that allows visitors to make comments, questions, and posts. Creating a community is a great way not only to build a brand community, but also generate more content for your site. If you already have a forum, make sure you read through our tips for making your forum popular. See the Computer Hope forum for a working example of a forum.
Join other social networks
Register and become a member of popular online communities and social networks, such as Facebook, StumbleUpon, Pinterest, Twitter, and MySpace. If you have a company, product, or service, also consider creating a fan page on Facebook.
After joining StumbleUpon and getting the toolbar, make sure to visit your page and give it a thumbs up for other StumbleUpon users to see your page.
Submit and promote your site to search engines
Google - Today, Google is ranked as the most popular and well-known search engine on the Internet and often the only search engine used by many people. It is not necessary to submit every page in your site. However, to accelerate how quickly the Google bots find your site, submit your main page to the link below.
Yahoo - Another one of the most visited and known search engines on the Internet and now part of Microsoft Bing. To add to Yahoo, visit the link below, sign into your Yahoo account, and submit your URL.
Promoting your local business
Search optimization services and other paid services
There are several companies and people that claim they help improve your search engine rankings. While these services may improve your rankings, it's not likely going to happen for search queries you want. It's more beneficial to follow all the free recommendations on this page than any paid service.
Analyze search engines
Google has one of the largest (if not the largest) search engine indexes on the Internet. Use it to your advantage to view who's linking to you or your competitors and what they're saying about your site. Use each of the searches below to see how your page is indexed and who is linking to you.
In the example above, Google search displays any page they have indexed containing computerhope.com. Replacing computerhope with your domain is an easy way to determine how many entry points you have to your website. The more entry points a page has, the better chance a visitor is going to find your web page.
In this next example, Google displays all pages that link to computerhope.com, but are not computerhope.com. Replace computerhope with your domain to get your results.
Setup Google Alerts
Finally, set up a Google Alert to send you e-mails anytime your web page or company name is mentioned. Google Alerts is an easy method of finding new pages and articles linking to your site or mentioning your service.
Setup Google Webmaster Tools
The Google Search Console is yet another excellent free service Google provides to webmasters. With these tools, you can view search queries used to find your pages, crawl errors, links to your site, keywords, diagnostics, and much more.
Finally, Alexa is another excellent place to check and compare your pages statistics. If your site is popular enough, you can compare it with other sites on the Internet, view traffic details, rank, page views, and page visits per user. If your site doesn't rank on Alexa, it may still be possible to spy on your competition if they are popular enough to rank on Alexa.
Watch for errors
Bad links are a growing issue with web pages and an easy way to lose visitors. Never change any names or the location of your pages, even when redesigning a web page. It is likely that those pages are already indexed in search engines, linked on other web pages, or even bookmarked. Removing or moving your page is like starting all over, and could cause a significant reduction in new visitors.
If your server allows for custom error pages, always take advantage of this ability. A custom 404 error page that directs visitors to other pages on your site is much more useful than a blank 404 error page.
Use the Google Webmaster Tools to also quickly identify bad links.
Spelling and grammar
Your page is going to be seen by thousands or even millions of different people; watch your spelling and grammar. Make sure to run a spell check on your pages, and proofread before posting the page. A page with spelling and grammar errors might cause a more educated visitor to leave your site.
HTML, CSS, and other programming errors
HTML, CSS, or other programming errors can cause your website to not load properly or not work with older browsers. Make sure your web page works with all browsers and that anyone with disabilities can use your page. Use free online services to check your site or blog for errors.
Grade your website and let it age
Let it age — like a fine wine
Many search engines, including Google, also incorporate a website's age into the overall rank of a site. If a site went online in 1998, it might have a higher PageRank than a site created in 2018. So, when setting up your domain, make sure it is going to be something you are happy with for the long term.
It's also a good idea to register your domain for several years into the future. Google and other search engines use this metric to determine if the domain is a temporary domain to scam people.
Grade your website
Finally, after following all of the above recommendations and suggestions, rate and grade your website or blog using online tools.