Promote Your Website, On and Off Line

  • The best website in the world is worthless unless you get visitors. Make sure you are promoting your website on line, off line, and via search engines.

    Off Line: Use Your URL

    Put your Web address (or URL) in front of people every chance you get. For instance, make sure your URL is on:

    • Brochures

    • Business cards

    • Letterhead

    • Syllabi, etc.

    If you are running an ad campaign, take a look at Coordinate Off-line Ad Campaigns with Your Website for information on putting URLs in advertisements. And don’t forget to post the URL in your office, too.

    Best Format for Your URL

    For convenience and readability, it’s best to write out your website’s URL as

    www.iup.edu/departmentname

    That is, if you are in the Geoscience Department, you don’t need to write it out as:

    http://www.iup.edu/geoscience/default.aspx

    This will suffice:

    www.iup.edu/geoscience

    The “www” is enough to let readers (and software) know that this is a Web address, so the http:// is optional, as is /default.aspx.

    (In fact, there’s no guarantee that default.aspx will always be part of your URL. Over the past fifteen years, your website’s URL may have changed from www.iup.edu/geoscience/index.html to www.iup.edu/geoscience/index.shtm to www.iup.edu/geoscience/default.aspx. Only www.iup.edu/geoscience is going to work consistently as we upgrade our Web technology.)

    One last note: never cite your URL without the “www.” Without the www, it becomes less clear that this is a URL. Additionally, for a URL without the “www” to work, it must be redirected to the correct “www” address, a process that can sometimes fail, stranding your potential visitor at an error page.

    On Line: Get Linked

    On line, your goal is to distribute your URL as widely as possible. Inbound links—that is, links from non-IUP sites to your website—are one of the best forms of on-line marketing. An inbound link not only encourages traffic from the site upon which the link appears, it also helps raise our search engine rankings.

    Why is that? Modern search engines, such as Google and Bing, rank websites in part on the number of inbound links they have. The more inbound links, the higher that site is likely to appear in search engine rankings.

    Here’s what you can do to get your URL out there:

    • Have members of your department put a link to your website in in their e-mail footer. This simple step will put your website in thousands of e-mail inboxes each day. (And while links from e-mails don’t count toward search engine rankings, links from archived listservs do.)

    • Have members of your department include the link in any social media profiles they may have (that is, include it in your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or MySpace profile).

    • Have faculty or staff share links to your content on Facebook, Twitter, or other social media sites. News items are great content for sharing this way. Having a conference? Post the announcement as a news item, then have members of your department share a link to the announcement via their social media networks. (All news items include a “ShareThis” button just for this purpose.)

    • Have members of your department with their own website include a link to your department or program.

    • If your department is a member of any national academic or professional societies, make sure the websites of those organizations include a link to your website.

    • If you have faculty members on the boards of journals or professional organizations, make sure that their profiles on those websites include links to your department’s website.

    You can probably come up with more ideas for your particular discipline.

    There is one kind of link to avoid: links from link farms. Link farms are websites created for the sole purpose of providing inbound links to websites in order to increase their search engine rankings. Search engines, quite rightly, see this kind of setup as damaging to their ranking systems and therefore their business. For that reason, if Google or another search engine discovers that you are using link farms to increase your search engine rankings, they may decide to un-list your website entirely. That would be damaging not only to you, but to the entire IUP website.

    If you have any questions about whether an opportunity to get your website linked to is legitimate or a link farm, please contact the Web Team at web-team@iup.edu.

    More on Search Engines

    Links may be the most important element of getting good search engine rankings, but there are other best practices to follow. There are a lot of little things to get right.

    Much of this work—for instance, the coding of our templates—is handled by the Web Team. Most of other things you need to do are best practices covered elsewhere in this guide: