You have your Dolphin site up and running, niche selected, texts adapted, logos and maybe template customized, modules activated and hosting streamlined. Your precious self and your virtual pelagic mammal are primed and geared up to warmly welcome some visitants. Cool, eh!? The only thing is that you may end up waiting and waiting, maybe honing your site some more, and still no one seems to drop by. What the heck!
Ah yes, that's the point when preparations are done and the big play begins. It’s time to promote your site, bring it to market, advertise it, create some buzz, beat the drum and push some ballyhoo.
This next stage may feel like duck soup if your marketing budget is…, well let's say if there actually is a marketing budget. But what if your budget is comprised of itchy fingers, enthusiasm and a half-full piggy bank? Can you still get the ball rolling? Of course you can! You pretty much have all you need (plus the piggy bank).
BoonEx is a software company, but we have a unique community of people who have gathered ample experience in promoting community, dating and social networking sites. I am sure there are those who don't mind sharing their ideas, their success or failure stories, and maybe even giving specific tips and links that would help fellow members to market their Dolphin-based sites. We will be sharing our own experience as much as possible, but what WE actually know is an “eensy” crumb compared to the wonderful loaf that we can bake together. The proven experts are already “out there,” and pooling resources to learn what works (and just as important – what doesn’t!) is what we are after.
So, today we are starting the conversation. We will be posting periodic "Tips," and we welcome anyone to comment with their own experience or opinion regarding the specific topic of the week. Don't be too shy or secretive - once you start giving, you start getting. That's how community works!
Links, being "the veins of the Internet" is what many consider as a starting point of any new site promotion. They are tricky. They have become somewhat like a currency in the SEO and web-marketing world. You will need to learn how they work, what they're worth, where to get them and how to get them. The same as with money, you will have to learn that you shouldn't always believe everything you read about them and that you should always apply a great deal of critical thinking before investing your time or other resources into obtaining them.
Common knowledge is that proper links improve your site rankings in search engines.
To wit, you have a site about, say, seppuku (not an actual example, and not an endorsed niche). Members of your community are supposed to review various models of tango swords, discuss specifics of the ritual, share photos of disemboweled samurais and generally ponder codes of honor and the implications of not following them. An Internet populace intrigued about this subject will be searching Google, naturally, looking for sites just like yours. To make your site show up uppermost in the search results for their queries, you will need to get links from other sites with the words "seppuku", "hara-kiri" and "tango" in them.
- The first point is to look for "relevant" sites to get links from. Relevant, that is, in relation to the subject of your site, and not the text of the link. So, dance studios will not do any good for your "tango sword" positions. Yeah, search engines are that smart.
- Second, you want those links to stay there for a long time. We're talking years. Search engines have gotten so tired of organized attempts to fool them that they now only care about links after some time has passed. You would need to convince/lure/bribe/seduce a linking webmaster into a permanent link placement. One great way to achieve that is to offer free content with links as references. A “Ninja-fans community” would likely be very happy to publish your historical overview of how assassinations were often dressed up as seppuku by elusive ninjas. You would get a link from a very relevant page of a very relevant site. You would also establish a relationship for further exchanges!
- Third, you want links that bring traffic. Links that are only for search engines will get you into trouble. Just think of your positions as an added bonus, but root for links that actually entice real people to click through to your site.
- Fourth, people are sick and tired of "links exchange" beggars and spammers. Be smart, there're other ways. Dropping a link on a forum or within blog comments may also be a big no-no, unless you really, actually add to the discussion and your link is asked for. Don't be tempted by any "express" methods, black-hat techniques or other shortcuts.
- Fifth, link building takes a lot of time and it may not yield much more than a handful of daily eyeballs, but it's a good start. Good content will multiply the effect, and Dolphin's community-oriented functionality helps to “crowd-source” that content so you eventually feel the effects of word-of-mouth.
Now, paid links may be somewhat easier to get, but those will quickly drain your piggy-bank and may not be as effective as "organic" links (imagine that, they use the "organic" word to label good stuff here, too). We have tried some services that mediate and streamline the buying process. Some are quite good and convenient, but again, you don't have to pay to get good links.
Ok, so far, so good. Let me take a break here and let you add something. We will also be adding more in comments, updates to this note and in future notes, so let's call it a work in progress. A collaborative work in progress, guys and gals, so come on, start collaboratin'!