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Online Marketing for Book and Publishing Web Sites: What should we be doing?

© 2000 Virginia Lawrence, Ph.D.

As soon as we establish a Web site, we register with the most important search engines and directories. Many publishers then move on to the next project, considering the site’s online marketing to be complete. But search engine registration is only the foundation of a good marketing plan. Successful publishers build a good foundation and use that foundation to establish their online marketing program. The following seven steps are crucial:

  1. Page preparation. We must prepare the Web site pages so that every viewer can understand the goal of the site. In addition, add non-visible Meta tags on each page to enhance the standing of the pages in search engines. See full discussion of this step.
  2. Site registration. We must register the site with the critical top ten search engines and directories, being careful to choose the most appropriate categories for the site. Register with at least another 150 general search engines and directories to obtain wider coverage. See full discussion of this step.
  3. Strategic linking. We must research specialized directories and complementary sites, then request the site owners to add a link to our site. The number of links inbound to a site has always been important. Now some of the most influential search engines are using the number of inbound links as a measure of the importance of a site. Strategic linking is a marketing activity which should be ongoing for the life of the site. We should spend time every week searching for appropriate sites, then asking each for a link to our site.
  4. Traffic measurement. We must monitor the site logs to determine whether the traffic is increasing, decreasing, or remaining stable. We want to keep the traffic increasing or stable at a reasonably high rate. If the site's host does not offer software for reviewing the site logs, we must install such software, because it's important to track the results of our marketing efforts.
  5. Site rank evaluation. We must audit the site’s standing in the most important search engines. The search engines change their selection algorithms frequently, and they are constantly receiving new registrations, so a site’s standing can change from day to day. If we find that our ranking is not high enough, we research the difference between our site and any competing sites which rank above ours. Then we find a legitimate way to improve our key words or description, then we register our site again to increase its ranking.
  6. Referrer logs. We must review the list of referring sites in the logs for our site. If we find that we never receive visitors who searched on one particular search engine in the top ten, we register with that search engine again to improve our ranking.
  7. Signature File. We must create a signature file in our e-mail software so that every e-mail we send gives our Web site address and a short summary of our business. In fact, every communication from our office, whether e-mail, letter, fax, brochure, or book, should carry the Web site address.

These are the first seven steps in site marketing, and future columns will introduce some of the more advanced techniques. Start devoting time and attention now to marketing your site.

~ Virginia Lawrence, Ph.D. is an Information Architect who publishes both in print and online. Contact her at or visit her Web site at



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