Article Date: 8/1/2001

Marketing
Getting Noticed On The Web
A guide to online resources to make your practice Web site more attractive to visitors.
BY JOE DYSART

It's easy enough to spend money creating a cutting-edge Web site, but getting people to actually stop by is the real challenge to making it worthwhile. Without proper promotional efforts, optometric Web sites could just languish in cyberspace as little more than technological testimonials to their Web designers.

Get ready to get set

So how can you avoid this fate, and get your site noticed on the World Wide Web? Put together an arsenal of promotional tools that you can implement the moment your site goes live. This way, you're ready to go as soon as the site goes live. I'll talk about some basic strategies that you can implement to catch the eyes of any Web site passer by.

Getting started

Once your Web site is up and running, you'll want to stimulate some awareness among the current Web surfing population. Consider renting or buying a consumer e-mail list to promote your site to inquiring minds. This is probably one of the easiest‚ although maybe one of the most expensive‚ ways to promote a Web site and company services on the Web.

Essentially, you rent exposure in a Web-established company's e-mail customer distribution list. Often, that company recommends via e-mail that its customers visit your Web site, and will sometimes include a discount coupon for goods or services at your site.

Get the crowds running

You can pick and choose from many different services to provide to your site visitors. The following are just a few suggestions that will draw the direct interest of potential patients.

Rev up the engines

No promotional strategy is complete without search engine positioning‚ or listing your site with a popular search engine so it's among the first links returned in a keyword search. As I mentioned earlier, this form of promotion is similar to optometry-related Web directories.

Search engine positioning is considered an art form on the Web, so you may want to consider seeking the services of a Web positioning firm if you want to seriously enter the search engine listing wars. The following are the different routes you can take to position your Web site with a search engine.

Reward for your effort

When you have it all put together, one other way to draw interest to your site is to get it noticed with an award. Garner more exposure by entering Web site contests. Try to get judged by one or more of the many cool Web sites of the day or week. Sites deemed worthy of an award receive a graphic blue ribbon to post on the site.

Awarding services also usually provide a free link to the winning page from its own home page -- a perk that can generate thousands of visits to a Web site, says Charles Sayers, a U.S.-based Internet marketing consultant.

Jim Wilson, the Webmaster behind Virtual Promote says, "Keep in mind that most people who'll be surfing to your Web site don't realize the relative difficulty of earning different awards. All they see is that some people thought your site was good enough to win an award. Go ahead. Apply for everything."

Opportunity for improvement

As you can see, the resources for creating an attention-getting, world-class Web site are out there waiting for you. Check out the other optometrists' sites and other resources mentioned in this article for ideas to increase the number of visitors to your site.

Keep in mind, the more visitors your site gets, the greater the possibility of your accumulating new patients through their interest in what you have to offer, as well as their word-of-mouth referrals.


Optometric Management, Issue: August 2001