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Does Anybody Know About My Web Site?
by Peggi Ridgway, Wordpix Solutions / Wordpix.com

Originally published in The Bloomin' News, official publication of the Los Angeles Flower Market of the American Florists Exchange, Ltd.

This article may be reprinted when including the title and appropriate author byline. (See suggested wording.)


Welcome to the world of the Web, where owning a web site requires a totally new and different approach to marketing in order to make your web site succeed.

In the early days of this wired world (less than ten years ago!), it was once true that everybody enjoyed an equal playing field. Having a web site meant instant success and early retirement. If you were one of the handful of online sellers who pushed flowers or floral supplies online, you were easily found by those searching for your products.

Well, things have changed, and web sites now proliferate at staggering numbers. In May 2001, more than 20 million web addresses had been registered, with 66 percent of them represented by "live" web sites. It's no wonder that searching for a florist in Van Nuys now results in 2,100 listings at Google.com and nearly 3,000 on Yahoo.com.

What's a Web Site Owner to Do?

Today's online marketing is a highly sophisticated, calculated process and one that's sometimes very pricey. A myriad of solutions and process exist to help the serious web site owner succeed. As a site owner, you can . . . 

  • buy your way to the top of a consumer search at any major search engine

  • purchase banner ads on other sites

  • list your business and web site in online directories

  • register your web site with search engines (expect to pay up to $300 anually at an engine such as Yahoo or LookSmart, although smaller engines offer this free)

  • hire a public relations/marketing professional experienced/trained in online marketing 

Less expensive and free marketing opportunities exist as well. For starters, here are three important suggestions for your consideration:

Get as many reciprocal links as possible. Make a list of all your friends and associates who have web sites and, where appropriate, request they include your web site address and business or product name on a "links" page. Better yet, if it does not conflict with their message, also ask for links from other pages on their site. In return, have your webmaster install link(s) to their site from your links pages or suitable areas of your site.

Why is the reciprocal links concept so important? Reciprocal links accomplish several important objectives in the web site marketing arena, all of which increase the volume of user traffic to your web site. Inbound linking has been shown to be the most effective method for increasing targeted traffic to a site! It serves you in two ways:

  1. The target market comes to you. Inbound links to your site bring you people who want what you sell. Before they came to your site, they saw from the link on your friend's referring site that you sell flowers (name your product). They came because they wanted to see your flowers.

  2. Having a large number of links pointing to your site, with your site including links back to the referring sites, makes your site appear more "popular" to search engine robots - the automated software used by many search engines to locate web sites. If your site has lots of reciprocal links, it's more likely to show up in the top group of search results when users search for flowers in your specific area - rather than on page 13 or 27 of your search.

Seek affiliations. Who can you partner with online? If you're a member of a trade organization or wire service, you probably already have some wonderful affiliations in the works and one of the benefits might be a free listing of your web site on theirs. There are also other ways to affiliate. For example, if you sell flowers and you happen across a web site that sells vases, get together and agree to share profits on referrals. If you arrange for order tracking in advance, both your webmasters can create order or inquiry forms to help you monitor where customers came from.

Use traditional methods. Include your web address on every piece of paper you send out, including invoices, purchase orders, statements, checks, letterhead, business cards, flyers, advertisements. Display it on your building or sign and company vehicles and on stuffers in the statements you mail. Get your site listed in the printed directories for your chamber of commerce, trade and professional groups, and in the Yellow Pages. Don't miss an opportunity to promote your products through your web site.

Caution: Don't let anyone (including search engine marketers) hoodwink you into thinking you must get hundreds or thousands of "hits" to your web site in order to be successful. That could be hundreds or thousands of people who have no interest in what you are selling! This not only is meaningless, it stresses the server hosting your web site and, depending upon the technology, could shut down the site and/or its related email services.

What's more important is targeted hits. Getting the types of visitors you want, the people who are seeking your products. That comes from careful planning and strategizing - which includes reciprocal links and affiliations.

This article was originally published in the September/October 2001 issue of The Bloomin' News, and is reprinted with permission of the Los Angeles Flower Market, its publisher. Peggi Ridgway is the editor of The Bloomin' News and the author of the Successful Website Marketing workbook. She can be contacted through the web site for the book at: mywebsavvy.com or directly by email: info@wordpix.com.

Suggested wording for credit line
for reprinting this article in other publications

Reprinted with permission of the Los Angeles Flower Market of the American Florists Exchange, Ltd., publisher of The Bloomin' News, and author Peggi Ridgway. 

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