Whether you’re an independent consultant, an owner of your own consulting firm, or any kind of freelancer, you’ll need a quality web site in order to best market your services in today’s digital age. But creating a business website is not enough. Just because you posted information about yourself and your services on the Internet doesn’t mean anyone is going to find it. You need to promote it! Here are ten tips to help you promote your website and gain exposure for your consulting firm or freelance business.
1. Register your site with the search engines. – While some search engines and directories may find your site on their own, especially if you have a lot of outside links to your site, it’s usually best to submit your site listing. A large percentage of your site visitors are likely to come from search engines, so you need to make sure they’ll find you there.
2. Use a Signature (sig) file. – A sig file will usually include your name, company name, contact information and your company slogan. Include a direct link to your web site. The sig file should be included at the bottom of every e-mail you send and at the bottom of every post you make to a forum or message board related to your field.
3. Post to forums! – Participate in forums that are related to your field or business. You should never use them just to advertise your business, but instead answer questions related to your expertise. You build your credibility and are looked at as an expert in your field. You shouldn’t advertise, but you should always include your sig file at the bottom of each post to link to your company web site.
4. Provide free resources. – People always love to get something for free. Give them something for coming to your site, and you’ll increase the number of visits much more easily than if you’re just trying to sell your services. For example, offer a free first consultation, free articles, downloadable forms, free software, or anything that’s valid to your target clients.
5. Optimize your site for search engines. – Submitting your sites to search engines and directories is a good start, but you should always optimize your site, because some search engines still rank their results based partly on your meta tags and keywords.
6. Send e-mail newsletters. – You can use e-mail newsletters to tell people about company news, web site updates or special promotions. Send them to all of your past clients, and create a mailing list sign-up box on your website so visitors can choose to receive the information. By letting people know what’s going on with the business, you can bring in more site hits and hopefully more paying projects.
7. Use reciprocal links. – In order to place high in most search engine ranks, you should have a lot of quality links to your site. What that means is that the sites linking to you should be valid to your subject and not just free-for-all link pages. By using reciprocal links (or exchanging links with another site), you’ll find more people willing to link to you. Remember, with links, quantity is important, but quality is key.
8. Run another web site. – Sometimes a business site just isn’t that interesting to the general public. So, why not start and run a more general web site about your topic? For example, a law firm specializing in small business law could also run a general site about business law, with articles, forms, links to legal cases or other relevant material. Then, they could list their firm as that site’s sponsor, using banner ads or other links throughout the site to bring people to the business web site. The most important thing is to provide a good amount of quality content.
9. Buy ad space. – If you’re still not drumming up enough hits, you can always purchase advertising online. Two of the most effective methods are to buy your placement within search results on the search engines, and buying advertising space on some of the most successful web sites related to your field.
10. Use offline promotion! – Online promotion shouldn’t be your only plan to promote your site. Even if you’re an e-consultant, completely working with your clients online, you should still use the most basic offline methods. Have professional letterhead, envelopes, and business cards printed for your company, and don’t forget to include your url (web site address) on absolutely everything!