You’d be hard pressed to find someone who didn’t believe in the value of a website and the importance of having an online presence. However, many of those same individuals still believe that once a website is live, that site will promote itself. With increased competition online, it’s important that you market your website in the online realm much like you market your brick and mortar facility.

Before I go into simple ways to promote your new website, I should give you a quick word of advice. Make sure you budget for online marketing before you develop your site. Websites with a lot of cool amenities are great, but if no one can find the site, all those bells and whistles go unheard.

1. Offline Promotions

You don’t need a huge advertising budget to promote your new website, but you should work to get the word out to your existing customers, employees, friends and family.  Your new website address should be in your email signature, on your business cards and on any advertising you do send out.  Let your new website piggyback on outgoing communications and inform you existing audiences that you have given them a new tool to engage with your company.

2. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

SEO is a great example of why it’s important to budget for offline promotions before you build or renovate your website. For those unfamiliar with the term SEO, it refers to matching the keywords people search for with keywords on your website. True SEO is much more complicated than that little sentence, but if you have an understanding of how people search for the products or services you offer, you can incorporate those search terms within body copy, headlines or even menu navigation.  If your new site has a blog, be sure to add articles that correlate to what your customers search for.  Traffic analytics will also help guide you to the keywords most used by people visiting your site, so as your site ages, you can begin to write blogs that specifically address these keywords.

3. Social Media

Social media is a fairly broad term, but for the sake of this article, think about the social media networks you belong to. Are you on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn? Promote your website to your connections on those channels. If you add new content, share it.  Through the feedback you get on these platforms, you can gain insights as to what content is relevant and adjust your approach as needed. Never forget that the Web is a dynamic atmosphere where strategies, content and results can change on a whim. Use that flexibility to your advantage when you have to.

4. Online Ads

Facebook and Google are two of the most common outlets for online advertising. While they’ve gone up in price quite a bit over the last few years, they are still relatively inexpensive and highly effective ways of promoting online content. I recommend investing in Google or Facebook ads for the first few months after your site launch or, even better, making them mainstays in your annual budget. Google AdWords and Facebook Ads offer great analytics, which make them another great way to test your traffic and adjust your site. Best of all these ads are some of the most flexible around. Ads can be changed daily, and since they primarily feature text, edits are quick and inexpensive.

5. White Papers

Think about brand new brick and mortar establishments that enter your community. Some may have a soft launch right away, but nearly all new consumer businesses host some sort of grand opening event. And generally speaking, these events come with some sort of incentive for customers that stop by. White papers do the same thing online. A white paper is typically an online guidebook or reference material that deals with a specific topic. In other words, a white paper is a giveaway of information. It’s meant to increase website traffic and demonstrate a company’s expertise on a certain issue. Promoting an inexpensive giveaway item like a white paper through the methods above can add a little more bang to your initial site promotion.

If you take away one thing from this article, I hope its this. Your website should be promoted like a storefront. Give people the address, directions and have them take a look around.