The 'Art' of Web Promotion
There was a time when there used to be the three L's of successful business. Those L's being location, location and location. It is more and more that the location is becoming the Internet. It seemed for me a good time to take part in this fast paced medium. From having spent several hundred hours working of the net here is what I learned. (read about the hype associated with the Internet)
First, start with the basics. What is it that you want to sell? Realize now that whatever you choose, it has already been done. This should not discourage you. In fact, if someone has had your idea before, it's even better, because you can see what they have done. What did you like about their site? What did you hate? How could you do it differently? Checking out the competition is a great way of coming up with new approaches, which will in the end make your business stand out against the rest.
Once you have decided upon a product then you should choose a good name for your site. Here was where I initially made a mistake. My site's name was UCanBuyArt.com. I figured this was a catchy name, but what I didn't realize was that some search engines list sites alphabetically making my site near the bottom of the list. A good name for a site usually begins with a number or the letter 'a'. However, there are ways around this problem. To solve this title your site with something that brings with 'a' for example I choose "A New Approach to Art Sales and Gallery Representation: UCanBuyArt.com" Make sure this title appears in your metatags and on the front page of your site. This will convience search engines that it is your real title.
Also, it is a good suggestion to put keywords into your name. The name I chose contains "art" and "buy", two important keywords words when searching for what I sell.
Once you have a product and a name, you have to build your site. Here is where people make their biggest mistakes. They build sites with thousands of pictures, video, special effects, and every conceivable gimmick. This creates many problems because most people are using early versions of browsers, which do not support most of these options. So most people can't even look at these sites. Keep it simple. Look at Amazon.com. It's simple. It's quick. It's successful. It may not be flashy, but it is easy to use and takes people where they want to be, shopping. It's important to realize that pictures should be kept small in size. Most people are viewing sites on slow modems. Also, most people are impatient and will go somewhere else if they are forced to wait, while a picture downloads.
Building the site is just the beginning. Promoting your site is what will get you the sales. Before doing anything further, make sure your site is ready. There are three important elements to a web page: (1) title, (2) description and (3) keywords. The later two are known as Meta tags. The Meta tags are written into the web page's code and are used by the search engines to find your site. The Meta tags are only seen by the search engines and do not appear on the screen. Put as many keywords as you and friends can think of into your keywords, description and title. Do this for every page on your site. Do not repeat words in the keyword section. Some search engines will refuse to list you if you do this.
Now, get listed. On each search engine there is a place, which allows you to add your URL, i.e. your site name. To get listed you must fill out a form for each search engine. You should have a text document available from which you can copy and paste the required information (i.e. your site description, title, your name, your address, e-mail, keywords). This saves time when filling out the same forms for several hundred search engines. You will probably have to repeat this process because most search engines donŐt even list you unless you try several times. Yahoo!, the largest directory, can take up to a year to list your site on even after several submissions. However, it is probably the most important place to be listed. The reason is just a matter of numbers. AltaVista, which is the number two search spot, has 50,000,000 plus sites listed. Yahoo!, which is the much more popular, has only 500,000 sites listed. It's actually smaller by one-hundredth. By listing on Yahoo!, you will face is less competition and will target a larger number of potential customers.
Even when your site is on the major search engines, but you will realize soon that you can't find your site unless you search very specifically for it. You need a high ranking. Typing a keyword into a search engine can find hundreds if not thousands of sites. If your site is not in the top 30 sites listed, no one will find you. Improving your ranking is crucial and requires determination. You must create links to as many web sites as possible. Links are connections that bring someone from another site to your site. Tell everyone you know to link to your site and find other sites and ask to trade links, reciprocal links. The more links you have to better your site will be ranked.
This is just a small sampling of some of the issues facing artists working online. If you any comments or questions write to firstname.lastname@example.org.