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by Kay and Ralph Hudson

If your Web site's goal is only to expand your message to existing customers and current prospects, simply include your site address in your newspaper ads and on all of your printed material.

However, you probably would like to extend your advertising reach to new prospects, people that do not know you and have not seen your print ads or brochures. That requires a little more effort but is necessary if sales growth and a return on your Web site investment is important.

How People Find Web Sites

There are only two ways people can find any Web site. One way is to type the known website address into the locator bar on the browser. The other way is to click on a link to your site from another Web site.

Here are the places people may find links to your site:

  • Search engines
  • Industry-related directories
  • Banner ads and paid links
  • Online articles about your company
  • E-mail solicitations
  • Discussion groups and blogs

For the purpose of this article, we're going to focus on links from search engines and directories since that's how most people find what they are looking for on the Web.


Search engine promotion can be divided into three parts. One, being indexed by the search engines, two, getting a position (relevancy ranking) near enough to the top so that your site will be found, and three, buying advertising on the search engine.

Most of the important search engines such as Google, Yahoo or MSN will index new sites when they find a link to the new site on a web site they have already indexed.

Search engines use a software program called a ‘spider’ or 'robot' to determine what a Web page is about. The spider 'crawls' the page that has been submitted or found via a link and uses the words and phrases in the title tag and text to determine what the site is about and how high on the list to put it.

A high ‘relevancy ranking’ is important because searchers often will not go beyond the first few listings delivered, especially if they feel their needs were met in those first few listings. This important job of having a good positioning in search engines actually begins at the design stage of creating your site.

Each search engine crawls the content of sites differently. Some in great depth, others just sample the content. Some ignore certain words. Some don’t recognize certain design techniques such as ‘frames’. None are able to recognize graphic images.

Although the major search engines are constantly improving their ability to decipher 'high-tech' design elements, special handling is generally required to make those techniques work well for the search engine robots.

The third means of getting exposure on the search engines is by purchasing ad space. For example Google Ads allows you to bid on certain key words and place an ad on their first page of search results when someone uses those key words in their search.

Although the ads can be expensive, if your website is not optimized to position well in the 'organic' (unpaid) listings, ads may be your only alternative to first page exposure.

Optimizing Your Web Site for the Search Engine

Unless you were fortunate enough to have a web site designer that also has an appreciation and understanding  how to rank well in search engines, chances are you will need some help.

A whole new industry has evolved around helping achieve good ranking in the major search engine. Although in-house optimizing is possible, there is a fairly steep learning curve, so unless someone in your company is web-savvy and has the time, it's probably best to out-source this important task.

A word of caution if you decide to hire outside help with your SEO (search engine optimizing) - there are lots of not-so-reputable companies is this field. It's best to get references and to avoid any company that tells you they can 'guarantee' a high ranking.

Here's an excellent source for reliable help - <www.seomoz.org/marketplace>.


These are the Web site resources that list other Web sites by industry or otherwise. Given proper attention, this aspect of your promotion strategy will bring traffic to your Web site that may have missed your search engine listing.

Because most directories are typically operated by Internet professionals who spend more time and effort to promote their sites, they are more likely to be well positioned on the search engines. Because of the specific nature of their content and the links to their site, they tend to congregate traffic that is looking for something specific.

There are many directories of home builder related Web sites on the Internet. Having your Web site listed on as many directories as possible increases your chances of being found by someone looking for a builder.

The downside to many of the directories is that it’s easy for your site to get lost in a long list of builders. That's especially true if you’re a late-comer to the Web or your company’s name is alphabetically challenged. It’s tough to keep someone’s attention long enough to get through more than a few Web sites.

Often Web site designers include some degree of promotion in their services, but not always. It’s a tricky task that requires on-going attention and effort. You can handle it internally or outsource the task, but without due attention your Web presence will be for naught.

Kay and Ralph Hudson are the owners of American Builders Network, a marketing program and directory for qualified home builders. They can be reached toll-free at 1-877-539-8588 or contact us via email.

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