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Begin the new year by facing change

By Stacy Cornay
Special to the Times-Call

Long before Internet marketing hit its stride, my then infant ó and seemingly always soggy ó son taught me a lesson.

Change is good.

Whether itís rosy bottoms or bottom lines, timely change can brighten your outlook.

Change is the key to marketing your products and services in cyberspace.

Even as Al Gore was inventing it, the Internet was casting webs that forced us to take a new look at old ideas. When it comes to marketing, the basics are the same ó target your audience, know what youíre selling and why, be credible, be accessible and so on. But to apply those basics on the Internet mandates changes in traditional thinking.

A first step is to ask yourself, ďWhy?Ē

Why do you want or need a Web site on the Internet? What will a Web site do for your business? Are you considering a Web site for the sake of having a Web site, or do you have sales targets in mind?

If you canít come up with good answers to these questions, forget about making the Internet a tool in your marketing. Donít bother finishing this column; enjoy the comics, and have a great day.

Those of you still with me must have answers to the question of why. That gets us to ďHow?Ē

Answering that question is akin to dealing with a plate of spaghetti. My now-fifth-grade sonís approach to that is simple: Just pick out some strands and suck it up. These strands will get you started.

Register your site with the main Web search engines. Know how search engines work so you can prepare your Web page for optimal indexing.

Write Web page titles of five to eight words. Make it interesting to entice surfers to click on when your title pops up on the search engines.

Prepare keywords for your home page. Focus on words and phrases someone might use to find your products or services.

Write a succinct summary of what youíre selling. Some search engines include this description under your title.

Submit your Web page to search engines and specialized directories.

Look into search engine positioning. Registering your site is only the first step to getting your Web site high on the list of search engine responses.

Request links to allied Web sites and ask for reciprocal links.

These steps will get you started in Internet marketing, but the buck doesnít stop here.

Itís important to have strategies to drive traffic to your Web site on a regular basis. That might entail linking freebies or discounts to Web site visits or generating traffic through contests or drawings.

Itís equally important to publicize and promote your Web site through mailing lists and targeted e-mail discussion groups. Include your Web site address on your other promotional materials and in advertising. Make a habit of listing your Web site with your business address and phone number.

Never turn your back on your Web site. Keep it fresh. Be creative. Update it frequently. Donít let your message go stale. The Internet is fast-paced. If your site doesnít immediately grab surfers, youíll be left in the undertow.

Finally, nurture your Web site. Track its effectiveness just as you do with all of your other marketing endeavors. If your Web site isnít working out for you, look for the problems and come up with solutions. Donít hesitate to call on marketing professionals for a helping hand.

And keep in mind the words of Western writer Louis LíAmour: ďThere will come a time when you believe everything is finished. That will be the beginning.Ē

Stacy Cornay is owner of Communications Concepts, a public relations/advertising firm in Longmont.