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Eagle River Partners
Online Communications News January 25, 2004  

Welcome

Online Communications News is an email newsletter focused on helping folks use the web and email to bolster their communications programs. It is put out by Eagle River Partners, a consulting firm hell-bent on helping non-profits, campaigns and progressive businesses build their constituencies with great communications. We know online tools can provide cost-effective ways to communicate with one person or a million.

Each week or two we will pass along information that we've published or found on the web. We want to boil down the complex and confusing stuff to help you make the most of your limited time and money.

This week, we're focusing on website marketing. Hope you find this useful. Please let us know what you think. And feel free to forward a copy of this newsletter to colleagues, friends, your boss, your dog, and so on.

Contents
Welcome

Site Marketing 101

Simple Steps to Market Your Site with Search Engines




Links and Stories and Generally Good News

Movable Type Update
Leading blog software releases new version to cut down on comment spam. Don't just react to the news. Use blogs to publish the news.

How to Tell the Difference Between HaidaBucks and Starbucks
Passion, humor and an online campaign help David beat Goliath.

Simple is Beautiful
Visit the CSS Zen Garden to get a glimpse of clean code and beautiful design on the web. Lean how and when to abandon tables in your web pages so your site downloads faster and is more accessible.



Site Marketing 101

So you have this great site - or plan to - and you want to get folks there. Like most anything else, you need to let folks know about the site. The web is busy. Everyone is busy. Well, how do you market a website on a budget?

You're probably better off on a budget, frankly. Paid advertising online is dicey and often little more than throwing good money after bad. It takes time and testing to get it right. Instead, look first at doing this:

Figure Out Your Goals
Well, why market the site in the first place? Who do you want to come? What do you want them to do? You need to be able to answer this sort of question before putting time and money into a site at all, much less into marketing a site. Most sites fail or languish because their main reason for existence is "well, we need a website." Ask why. Then ask why again. You need to be able to identify your target audience, know where to find them and how to talk to them.

Search Engine Optimization
We talk more about this in the next article. The key point is good content surrounded by clean code. Watch your log files and constantly tweak your site to improve your search ranking.

Free Advertising
The obvious is to make sure you mention the site in and on everything you do. Then get others writing about your site online: in newspapers, in blogs, in forums and chat rooms.

Measure and Evaluate

Set some goals and measure the performance of any marketing program. Look at those log files to get a sense of how people got to your site. Give people an incentive to tell you how they found you. Survey your users.



Simple Steps to Market Your Site with Search Engines

Perhaps the cheapest way to market a website is to make it search engine friendly. I was about to say 'easiest way' but it might be easier to spends gobs of money on ads and snazzy promotions. That would take less thought and have less benefit. So take a minute to understand the basics of 'search engine optimizaton.'

Log On
Your website's log files are your friends. These gobs of text tell you how folks got to your site and what they do there. They also tell you if someone came via a search engine link and what term or phrase they used to find you at the search engine.

Don't underestimate the value of understanding your log files. If you don't have access to them or software that will help you view them, get some. It's free or cheap.

Make Your Content Count
Google and others look at your page titles and content to gauge just how relevant your page is to search terms. Get key search terms and phrases into page titles, page headings and page content. Make it clear what your page is about.

More Content, More Links, Better Results
Publish more pages on your site. This not only gives folks a reason to come back but also adds to the range of words and phrases that search engines associate with your site. And get folks to link to and write about your site. Increasing the frequency of your organization's name across the Internet will raise your profile in the search world.