How to use this site

I've tried to make SelfPromotion.com as easy as possible to use, but the process of site promotion does have a bit of a learning curve. This tutorial will walk you through the process of the initial stages of promoting your site, and hopefully get you "over the hump." I strongly recommend that you print it out (or keep it up in a second window) and refer to it as you do your first promotion.

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Getting Started:
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Tutorials: (read in this order)
Preparing your Pages for the Search Engines
Using Tooter to submit your site
Getting listed in Yahoo (and the other big indexes)
Paying for Traffic
How to (not) win Awards

Articles:
Trends in Submission
Virtual Vexation
The 500 Sites Fallacy
Page 1 Paranoia
Clickthrough Conundrums
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The Gullibility Virus
A Marketing Course that Works?!
Accepting Credit Cards Online
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Random Nonsense
Woodhead's Law
Cool Domain Names
Why I let you decide how much to pay

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Believe it or not, 11.13% of the people who use SelfPromotion.com support the site!
The very first thing you should do before you start promoting your website is to make sure that your website is properly prepared for the search engines. It is a waste of time to tell all the search engines about your wonderful new site if, when they arrive to index it and add it to their database, it isn't search-engine friendly. If nobody can find you because your ranking sucks, being in the search engines won't help you!

This is why I have a special page devoted to search engine optimization. It will teach you not only how to properly choose keywords, "meta tags" and other page elements, but also helps you think about what keywords to target. Most people fail in web-promotion because they are not targeting the right keywords!.

The very next thing you should do after promoting your site to the search engines (which we'll get to in a minute) is properly submit to Yahoo! and the other major indexes (in particular, Open Directory). I do not autosubmit to these indexes because a properly done manual submission is essential to getting the best possible results. A proper optimized Yahoo listing will often generate 25-50% of your clickthroughs, so it's absolutely crucial to do it right. Furthermore, if you do do it right, you'll often get in in 2-3 weeks, whereas the major search engines often take months to add you. So if you want to get hits quick, you have to get into Yahoo. This is why I have (you guessed it), a special page devoted to the tricks and techniques of getting into Yahoo properly. Even if you are already in Yahoo, you should read this page, because most Yahoo listings are terribly sub-optimal, and you can often get a revision to your listing that will double your traffic from them.

So, assuming you've read the search engine optimization page, and that you promise (cross your heart!) to read the tips on getting into Yahoo page when you're done with the tutorial, sit back and enjoy as my oldest son, James (age 6 when this page was originally written, now he's in college!), promotes his first website...

The first thing James notices is the row of Navigation palettes down the right-hand side of every page on the site. At the top of the palettes are three tabs. The Help tab pops up a new window containing the main Help & FAQ page (which contains even more in-depth help on how to use the site), while the Map tab brings up a site map page with descriptions of all the pages.


Each palette is dedicated to a different function, as noted by the palette title bar. One of the more important ones is the Navigate palette, which has links to the various site areas, tutorials and so on.

Being in a hurry to get started, James moves to the Home Page or the Create New Account page, and scrolls down until he finds the Create New Account palette. This palette is on the right hand side of the page. (It might be a good idea to click on one of those two links and follow along, if you are using a browser that supports multiple windows)


Dad explains that account names and passwords can be anything you want, and that they don't have to be related to the website(s) you're promoting. At first, James wants to use the account name "Anakin Skywalker," but after Dad explains who Anakin grows up to be, James (unimaginatively) decides to use his name as his account name, and his nickname ("jkun" is Japanese for "jimmy") as his password. Dad will have to talk to him about choosing an unguessable password later!

James is particularly careful to make sure his email address is correct, because if it isn't, the site won't be able to email him to tell him how his promotions turned out. He also lets the site know how he found out about it (Dad is pleased that James considers him a friend), and clicks on the create button.

Fortunately, nobody is already using the account name "James Ueki," so in a few seconds a new page is displayed that tells him his account has been created.

After taking the time to actually read all the instructions on the page which give incredibly valuable tips on what to do next, which is particularly impressive behavior for a 6-year-old (at the time I wrote this tutorial; he's older and more annoying now), and more than 90% of the people who use this site manage to do (judging by the email Dad gets), James notices that the Log In To Existing Account palette has been thoughtfully filled in for him.

So he clicks on the LOGIN button to start using his account. This brings up the Main Options page. James immediately notices that the Log In To Existing account palette has changed into the Promote! palette, and that it's telling him he needs to create a record.

Dad explains that his account can contain up to 10 records (more if he's willing to give Dad some of his allowance money), and that each record stores the information needed to promote a different URL. So if James had 2 or 3 websites, he could create a record for each website and keep them conveniently in one account. But for now, he only needs one, so he scrolls down the page to find the Add Record palette, which is on the left hand side.

As with the names of accounts, the names of records are labels purely for your convenience; they have nothing to do with your URL. So James picks something he can remember.

After clicking on the Add button, the new record is created, and the Main Options page replots. Lo and behold, the Promote palette has changed; it's got some pulldown menus.

The Record pulldown lists all the records in the account (right now, only one). The Type of Promotion pulldown lists all the various types of places one can promote the record (such as Search Engines, Major Indexes, General Indexes, and so on; they are broken down into easily manageable chunks so you can do your promotion a bit at a time, as time permits, without becoming overwhelmed). It also has a bunch of utility options in it. Finally, the List Full Descriptions checkbox lets you decide if you want to get a lot of information about each target site so you can determine if you want to promote there. Since James knows that it's a no-brainer (for the benefit of the non-americans reading this, "no-brainer" means "such an easy decision that only an idiot would get it wrong") that you promote your URL to all of the Search Engines, he's deselected the checkbox.
Note: At SelfPromotion.com, we make a distinction between a Search Engine (a site like Altavista which has a robot that visits your page and looks at it) and an Index (a site like Yahoo that lists a description of your site that you provide to it when you submit). The rule of thumb is: you can submit your home page URL (and sub-URLs if you want) to the Search Engines as many times as you want, within reason (Dad's rule is "Once every month or two, whether they need it or not"), but you submit just your home page URL to the Indexes, and only once (unless it doesn't get in). You don't submit sub-pages to the Indexes. Oh, and by the way, one cute extra feature contributors get is an option to automatically resubmit their urls to the search engines every 45 days.
After being advised of this, James clicks on the PROMOTE button and proceeds to the Site Selection page.

The first thing the page advises is to read the instructions. James does. His father loves him even more. The instructions explain how to interpret the listing on the page, plus give some tips.

Scrolling down to the site listings (which in our illustration we've chopped up to save space), the first thing James sees is that despite the fact that he chose not to list full descriptions, the full description for Aeiwi is given. This is because Aeiwi has some unusual requirements that Dad wants him (and you) to know about so you won't send him email about it.

The name of each search engine is a link to the site, should you want to visit. To the left of the name is a checkbox, you check it to tell the site you want to promote there. On the right-hand side is the current status of the promotion (right now, Not Done) and an often misunderstood green checkmark called Mark as Completed. Dad asks James to listen carefully as he explains that for most sites SelfPromotion.com promotes to, you don't need to touch these checkmarks. They are only used when you want to record (for your convenience) that you have visited the site and promoted manually. (More info on this feature, and all the advanced features on the site, can be found on the main Help page and on the site selection page itself.



Since James knows that he wants to promote to all the search engines, he clicks all the checkboxes, then proceeds to the bottom of the page, where he finds two additional options. First, he can enable a bunch of Javascript enhancements during data entry, and second, he can have the data entry page give him a lot of helpful hints. Since he knows his Dad wants to show off the cool Javascript tricks, and since this is also his first time using the site, he leaves them checked, and clicks on the ENTER DATA button.

When the Data Entry page appears (be patient, as it often has to do a lot of computing to generate a custom page just for you), the first thing that James sees is more instructions. James starts to get a little upset about all this verbiage, but Dad explains that it is there so that (as much as possible) the answer to all the common questions one might have about the page is right there on the page. Dad points out that this reduces the amount of email he gets, which gives him more time to do far more important things, such as take James to Star Wars: The Phantom Menace yet again.

This explanation proves to be a tactical mistake, as James then notices that the name of the button that is used to finish data entry and start the promotion process is called ENERGIZE. He thinks this is hopelessly passé, and spends the next 10 minutes arguing that a USE THE FORCE button would be much cooler. His traditionalist father, however, stands firm, and asserts that once James has seen the original episodes (and not just that Voyager junk), he'll revise his opinion.

Quickly scrolling through all the instructions, James first comes across a big data field called the Category Autosetter. Dad explains this is a power-user feature that he might want to play with at a later date, but should ignore for now. It uses some seriously strange Javascript to help with data entry, but can cause problems on some computers (running older browsers or without much memory). Scrolling past it, James comes to the first data entry field. Not surprisingly, it asks for his URL.

James is morally offended by all the instructions about what a proper URL looks like. "I type in URLs all the time," he says, "and I know what my URL is." While James is busy typing in his URL, he does not notice his father smiling. Does Dad know something James does not?

When James scrolls down to the next field, he is both pleasantly surprised and confused. He likes the fact that the Javascript on the page has filled in the field for him. Dad explains that whenever possible, the page will fill in similar fields with data already entered, but that you have to check to make sure that this automatically entered data is correct. But James doesn't read carefully, so he leaves his URL in this field instead of blanking it out.
Note: The reason the site asks you if your URL is available in a "domain-only" format is that some search engines and indexes only list sites with their own domain name, while other sites and search engines require full URLs including filenames. By getting your URL in several formats, Tooter, the SelfPromotion.com robot, can give each site what it needs.


The next two fields are easy, and James has no problems filling them in. His middle name, by the way, is Japanese for "Bright History", and as to why he has his mother's last name instead of Dad's, the reason is simple: Dad remembers how many times he got beaten up as a kid for having a funny name. If James wants to become a Woodhead later in life, that's fine, but for now, Ueki ("Planted Tree") is close enough!

Finally, James has to answer a few questions about his site. If the list of possibilities is long, he gets a big scrolling list to choose from. If it's short, he gets a pulldown menu. Note that when a bit of information is needed for only one site, you get told which site needs it (so you can tailor your submission).

James wonders aloud why all this information is needed in order to submit to Search Engines. "Don't they just need your URL?" Dad explains it is more complicated than that; it turns out that in some cases, the proper method of submission depends on several factors. For example, Excite requires that submissions from free webhosting sites like Geocities be done via email. Tooter understands these subtleties and submits your URL in the correct manner.

After all the data entry is done, James arrives at the much-maligned ENERGIZE button. Just above it are two checkboxes. The first enables SelfPromotion.com's URL validity checking, which attempts to make sure that the URL(s) you have entered are indeed correct. James wants to disable this because he's absolutely positive that he's done it right, but Dad insists he leave it on "for the sake of the tutorial."

The other feature allows you to save all your data and error check it, but not start a promotion. This is useful if you want to save your work and come back later to finish the data entry. Usually, however, you'll leave it deselected, and simply click ENERGIZE.

After more impassioned arguments in favor of the Force, James does so. But he doesn't like what he sees!

That's right, "Mr. knows his url" has made a few mistakes. Fortunately, the site makes it easy to fix them. Each error is highlighted with a complete (some would say seriously over-complete) error message, and has a link to the offending field. Even better, if you just scroll down the page, each field that has an error will have a big ugly red banner just above it that contains a copy of the error message. So it's usually easy to just scroll down the page until you "see red".
Upon being told this awful pun, James gave out the obligatory groan, by the way...

Also note that, due to a bug in some browsers, you shouldn't click on these links until the page has completely loaded! Another reason to just ignore them!


To his great chagrin, James discovers that the site is complaining about his "perfect" URL. Fortunately, it also tells him what the correct URL probably is.

In this case, James made a common mistake; he not only didn't specify a complete url with a filename, but he also forgot to add the trailing slash to his directory name. He entered http://www.animeigo.com/james So what happened was this: when selfpromotion.com asked www.animeigo.com for the contents of webpage /james, the webserver at animeigo.com replied with a redirect response, which basically means "hey stupid, look over here instead." The reason was that /james isn't a webpage, it is a file directory on the server. In an attempt to be helpful, the www.animeigo.com server politely said "try http://www.animeigo.com/james/ instead.

Dad explained to James that the reason why getting the actual URL is so important is that sometimes it takes many redirections to get from what you type into a web browser to what the web browser finally displays, and if there are too many redirections, some search engines will give up on you. This is particularly a problem for sites like GeoCities, which use URLs that are case-sensitive. For example, if you type in a URL such as http://www.geocities.com/tokyo/springs/9162 into a browser, it will trigger a cascade of redirections as your browser and the GeoCities webserver attempt to figure out what URL you really want, as follows:
http://www.geocities.com/tokyo/springs/9162
http://www.geocities.com/Tokyo/springs/9162
http://www.geocities.com/Tokyo/Springs/9162
http://www.geocities.com/Tokyo/Springs/9162/
Bizarre, isn't it? And bad because around the 3rd redirect, many of the search engines will have given up on the URL.

Fortunately for James, Dad knew a cute trick for finding out what your URL really is. Simply type your URL into any modern browser, load the page completely, and then look at the browser URL line. It will have changed to the proper URL. Simply copy and paste it into the data entry form!

Awed by his father's wisdom, James scrolls down to the URL field and corrects it. And since the site also complained that he entered a non domain-only URL in the domain-only URL field, he blanks that out.

At this point, something occurs to James. "How come I haven't been asked for any keywords?" he inquires. "Simple," says Dad, "The sites you are promoting to don't require them. Every time it creates a data entry form for you, the site figures out the minimum amount of information needed to do the promotions you want to do, and only asks for that information. Smart, isn't it?"

James is not impressed by this obvious attempt to get approval from him, though he secretly agrees it's a pretty neat feature.

And finally, after clicking (without too much complaint this time) ENERGIZE, he is rewarded by being told that his record is queued for promotion. Depending on how busy the site is, it will get promoted in anywhere from a few minutes to a day or so.

Scrolling down the page, after skimming a ton of advice on what to do next, James finds the form that lets satisfied users send Dad money. Given that a certain percentage of this money is used to buy him new toys, James is greatly in favor of them doing this.

Next, wanting a bit more of a challenge, James decides to promote to the Major Indexes (the next segment after Search Engines). This time, he decides to select List Full Descriptions.

He immediately notices that many of the sites in the Major Indexes section are listed as Manual Promotions, with a M where the checkbox ought to be. Dad explains that most of the really big indexes have registration systems that are either complex or awkward, so automatic promotion isn't much easier than doing it manually. Furthermore, the sites are so important that hand-tailoring a submission for each site can increase your chances of getting in, and increase the effectiveness of your listing once you get it. So it's best for people to do these sites themselves.
Thus, unless SelfPromotion.com can do a submission for you better than you can, or faster than you can (or both!), it won't do it. Instead, the site contains lots of advice on how to properly submit to these sites, explanations of their quirks, and so on.

And remember, you promised you'd check out that page and submit to Yahoo properly. The guilt will gnaw at you until you do, so go do it now!

For the sake of the tutorial, James will skip that step, however...
James clicks on the sites that are appropriate for automatic submission, and proceeds to the Data Entry page once more. There he finds that some of the new fields he needs to enter (variants of his URL and name with limited lengths) have been automatically filled in for him. He also finds some advice on how to construct good site descriptions, which he finds helpful.


He also finds out that he is being asked for his site title and description in several different lengths. This is because different sites have different maximum length restrictions; by having several versions of some fields, SelfPromotion.com can provide a long description to those sites that permit them, and a short one to sites that prefer brevity. However, the Javascript makes things easy by copying stuff between fields as James tabs down the page.

Next, James finally gets asked for his keywords. He also has to enter his company name (he makes one up, the scamp) and where he lives. Then he discovers that he has to enter the appropriate category for his website. Since different websites have different category structures (some having only a few to choose from, and others hundreds, James had to do this several times.

After filling in the category questions appropriately, and answering a few other questions about his website, James, with the confidence that only youth has, (and no grumpiness this time), clicked on ENERGIZE to start promoting his site...

...only to realize that after the site had copied his long description to the other fields, he had forgotten to edit them to make them shorter. And that he'd apparently accidentally blanked out one of the URL fields! However, as James now knew how to find and fix these problems, they were dealt with in short order, and once again James saw that his site had been queued for submission:

At this point, James decided he'd rather play Nintendo. But you, now that you know as much as James, are ready to promote your own website.

Good Luck!

Next step on the site tour: Submitting to big indexes like Yahoo


About this site...
This site was developed on a Macintosh, programmed in WebSiphon, and served by WebStar. The author, on those exceedingly rare occasions when he does think, indeed thinks differently.

SelfPromotion.com ©1997-2014 Robert Woodhead, All Rights Reserved. SelfPromotion.com™, Tooter™, Secret Net Tools™, MultiSubmitter™, BaldSpotCam™, and ShareService™ are trademarks of Robert Woodhead. To get help, report bugs, or make suggestions, go here.