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From the info here and at SEW and other related sites, I have started a reciprocal links page on my site. I have limited the links to web design and related sites. I am actively working in seeking and adding hopefully quality sites.
I have also joined Linkme. I got a bit of traffic (I assume from them) initially but then it stopped. I got word from them recently that they were redoing their code and ranking system and to be patient.
I know that things take time, but I just wanted to get some input to see if I was on the right track. I was thinking of putting some money in Link-o-matic, possibly joining LinkTopic, and then maybe putting a free ad or two in e-zines. I have modest goals and not a lot of money to spend.
I've spoken to friends who are seasoned, high-priced, high-end designers (which I'm not - I do plain vanilla) and the consensus is that web design businesses are built to a great extent on local clientele. I'm not sure I fully accept that altogether, but I seriously doubt that any one avenue of marketing will bring enough results. I think it takes doing a busines plan, and in particular, a marketing plan.
From what I've read, in my particular case I wouldn't pay for banner ads - but I would do reasonably priced ezine or newsletter advertising.
I'm currently getting inquiries because of participation in an email newsletter in which I've given no-strings free advice with zero solicitation. (Why would I solicit business in a market where there are some who do unlimited size web sites with shopping cart and all for $50 LOL). The business coming my way is because of word-of- mouth referrals based on results I've gotten for a couple of sites that they're not getting.
I've read a number of times that advertising in the right newsletters or ezines brings decent returns - I hear it's an inexpensive way to market, too. It's probably a matter of finding the proper niche market to target.
If I wanted to look for clients, I would do so on a local level. Realistically, it wouldn't be worth my while to advertise in the yellow pages at this time - I've assessed the competition, evaluated the pros and cons, etc. I was invited to join a local networking group (a FABULOUS idea, but not practical to get to a breakfast meeting at 7 AM when you work a job online til midnight and then you stay up for hours after on the computer - LOL).
Also, an organization like Toastmasters is specifically geared to networking, and helps build public speaking skills - another avenue for local exposure of your services. You can locate local chapters at www.toastmasters.org
Chambers of Commerce often have monthly mixer meetings - you don't have to be a member to go..call your local chamber, they can also possibly direct you to local networking groups - mine does.
Some people do small pro bono sites for local churches or non-profit organizations to gain exposure and build a portfolio. I had an offer from a local ISP based on a site I did for a local congregation (not a good deal, tho) I recently realized that this is not a bad idea, given the fact that it's an additional inbound link, and that bonafide non-profits get a LookSmart listing for free, which can indirectly help in the linkage scheme of things.
My first area of attack with local marketing would be by cold calling on the phone - I've done phone sales, raising venture capital investments in a pre-IPO startup, so it's very comfortable for me. I did a "sample session" one day, calling out of the Yellow Pages, and the ratio of positive responses for interest or follow-up was 2 out of 12.
Personally, I wouldn't dream of trying to compete, at this point in time, with "web design" as a keyword phrase, as competitive as it is. I'm #3 on AV, plus a few other listings, for web designers my-local-area which doesn't mean a blessed thing, except to display a decent ranking - there are still plenty of sites in that category. If I wanted to compete for a very highly competitive term, like web design, for my site, and felt it would have enough of a ROI, I'd turn to someone with a lot more savvy than I currently have - and certainly someone who does cloaking, which would be highly dangerous in my hands. Meantime, I don't waste my energy or time trying for this area when it's best used elsewhere.
You mentioned planning to do a doorway page. A doorway page is to generate *additional* traffic, and has to be optimized, just as your site does. Why not work on optimizing your current site, and make pages within your site into doorways.
Getting inbound links has merits in raising rank, but the pages have to be properly optimized, or it's placing the cart before the horse. Now, an inbound link for a listing in a local category at Yahoo..that's a different story!
Sorry to get on a roll and off topic. I'm not currently into link exchanges - yes, for other sites, not my own. I will, but not now. It's definitely a good thing, just not for me right now.
I'm sure someone else will answer your specific question,
which I can't do, but I just wanted to pass on a few things I've picked up here and there.
Don't miss this article, if you haven't already read it:
I appreciate your info and article reference-very good! I presently have an agreement a local web hosting company to do a number of their web site, so I am primarily building my business that way. All my on-line advertising efforts are done to help me "learn the system" so I can use that info for my present and future clients
I know that there are a lot of web designers out there and I am never going to be able to compete with them all. I am just looking to find ways to get people to click on my site, with the outsite chance they might see something they or a friend might want/need. I really would like to find some areas where small business resources are listed. I probably should go over my meta tags, keywords, etc. But as you know, a web site is never really finished....
There are a vast number of great business information sites out there that are geared to women, and they could easily be passed up by men. But most of the information certainly isn't gender-specific. Like the Online Women's Business Resource Center, linked to from the SBA site:
Here's the Small Business Administration, in case you haven't checked them out yet:
Don't know if these are the type of resources you're interested in, but I thought it wouldn't hurt to share them.
I think the best approach is to try to find relevant links. Of course, the most relevant sites may be competitors, which won't help much. However, you should be able to find non-competitive sites which relate to your area. If you want to do this manually, the search engines are a good place to look for such sites. To automate the process (essential if you want to get your links into the hundreds), a combination spider - database - contact manager program like Zeus is a big help. (You might enjoy the Zeus review [aim-pro.com] at the AIM-pro site.) In the long run, relevant links should have a double impact: they will help you with the SEs, plus, some of them will actually generate referral traffic.
The link itself may be a fairly highly structured text link (so their automated spider can check on you and to avoid same color text on background issues) or any of about a dozen graphics, most are quite handsome and well thought out (different background colors, etc.) Sizes range from 88 X 42 pixels to 134 X 47 pixels. I've had no difficulty incorporating them into a site.
You can customize the presentation of the directory to some degree by revising the included style sheets.
Also, the directory (the links and associated pages) itself is nicely presented and I welcome this eye appealing additional content to my site.
Check out the sites in my profile for examples.
I'm not familiar with Link-o-Matic and can offer no comments. I feel the programs I currently use give me about as much benefit as can be had from link exchange programs and have focused my energies elsewhere as a result.