Building a WEB Ministry
-- the "Nuts n' Bolts"

By Total Love In Christ Ministries

This column will deal with creating
and maintaining an Online Ministry
.

Vol. One-6 --- "Be Fruitful and Multiply"
* Click for Volume Index *     July 1, 2006

1:20 God said, “Let the water swarm with swarms of living creatures and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the sky.” 1:21 God created the great sea creatures and every living and moving thing with which the water swarmed, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. God saw that it was good. 1:22 God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds multiply on the earth.” 1:23 There was evening, and there was morning, a fifth day. **** Genesis

Promoting Your Site:

Welcome back to Volume 6. Congratulations --- You are now the proud owner of a piece of  "Realestate on the World Wide WEB" !!! I wish you great success in your ministry efforts, and that multitudes will be impacted in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. In this and following columns we will begin looking at various tools, services and "add-ons" to further enhance the functionality and effectiveness of your site. We will also be exploring tools and techniques to drive visitors to your "fishing hole". After all, you can have the best designed and most beautiful site on the WEB, but without traffic, what good is it ????

In this column we are going to examine various ways to begin to bring visitors to your site. Later, we will see how to add various "enhancements" to it.

"If you build it, he will come." (Field of Dreams, 1989) Even if you've never seen "Field of Dreams," you probably know most of the storyline: A struggling Iowa farmer (Kevin Costner) hears a mystical, Godlike voice telling him to plow under his corn crops and build a regulation baseball diamond on the land that provided his family's source of income. As someone sardonically commented to the question, "Why did he come ??" --- the answer is, "Because it was written into the movie script !!"

Unfortunately, in REAL life as well as on the WEB, it IS NOT written into the script. There are MILLIONS upon MILLIONS of WEB Sites in existence. If you do not make people aware of your site and give them a GOOD reason to come, they WILL NOT !! It is a far greater job with my sites to bring quality traffic to them than it was to BUILD them.

There are at least four PRIMARY ways to advertise (there's that word, even in ministry) your site: (1.) - Search Engines, (2.) - FREE Link Exchange and Postings with other sites, Banner, and Popup(under) Advertising, (3.) - Automatic Page Rotators and (4.) - Paid Traffic Campaigns.

Probably first and foremost is getting your site listed on the various MAJOR search engines (Google, Yahoo, MSN, Lycos, AltaVista, etc.). Without traffic from search engines, your site is doomed to ultimate oblivion. There are plenty of sites that will charge you upwards to $99/month to provide this service for you. You can, however, find FREE tools that will enable YOU to do an even better job. One of these is WEB CEO, available [ HERE ]. This is a totally FREE, totally professional WEB Maintenance and Submission Software Package. There is even a complete training course to enable you to learn how to use it. Years ago, I saw similar software not nearly as good selling for over $100. I can only conclude that they are offering this software free as advertising for their other packages.

Speaking of Google, there is an excellent tool called the "G(Google)Site Crawler", whose purpose is to "crawl" your site and provide an XML document listing all of the pages in it. You then submit this document to Google [ HERE ], and it helps them list your site more efficiently. You may download it [ HERE ]. There is also a way to get better listings on Yahoo. I will cover that topic in a later column, so TUNE IN !!

The second method is going to require more work AND discretion on your part. I don't recommend Banner Exchanges - they are a GREAT deal of trouble with VERY little return. You have to first create the banners, then you have to put links on every page that you want the banner to appear on, and for this they return VERY little traffic. You end up with unsightly banners on your carefully designed pages, that most people simply ignore. There is even software that specifically filters banners off the page so that they do not display.

Similar to Banners is a newer technology called Popups(unders). These are the full screen or smaller windows that appear either OVER your selected page, or UNDER it, showing up when you close the selected page. One advantage of this form of advertising is that you don't have to create anything extra -- what is displayed is the actual WEB page that you specify. They are also MUCH more noticeable than Banners. For the FREE PopAds, you still have to place a line or two of code on pages you wish the ads to be linked to, and YES, people DO use PopKillers, but I still consider this a viable form of advertising -- I use it. One totally FREE service that I can recommend is [ HERE ]. Their information page that you can explore is [ HERE ]. A second site is [ HERE ]. Another site with an excellent array of FREE tools is [ HERE ].

Link exchanges and exchanging links with similar or complimentary sites is another traffic builder. You find a site that you believe would interest visitors that you would like to visit YOUR site. You contact the WEBMaster and offer to post their link on your site in exchange for them posting your link on their site. Simple !! There are also WEB Rings and services that do this automatically. One featuring, Christian Universalist Sites (supposedly), is [ HERE ]. One advantage of exchanging links is that the more cross-links that your site has, the better your ranking is in the search engines.

The third method I mention with trepidation. I discovered it recently, and am giving it a try. I found sellers on eBay offering mammoth quantities of hits (100,00 to 350,000) for under $10. I don't know as I recommend it. I offer it here MERELY for your information. Try it if you wish and have the time. Again, its MAJOR advantage is that its cheap to FREE. A site offering this service is [ HERE ].

Finally, if you have the money, there are PAID services. I will try not to dwell on these because this column is devoted to CHEAP and FREE. You can purchase what are known as "Ad Blasts". The company will send as many targeted or UNtargeted visitors to your site as you pay for. You do NOT need to add any extra code to your pages. The cost per 1,000 of these varies GREATLY, depending upon the quality of the traffic and the company providing the traffic !! The cheapest is UNtargeted (anybody from any country). The price increases as you narrow the scope: specify country, specify language, specify category of visitor interest, unique visitors?, time between visits, etc. You can do a WEB search for yourself and find MANY companies. As with everything on the WEB -- BEWARE. Some are honest and reputable -- some are CROOKS !!

At this point, I am going to offer some FREE, unsolicited financial advice. If you are going to make purchases (of anything) on the WEB, get and USE a credit card from MBNA or CitiBank (maybe others?). With one of their cards, you can use what are know as "Virtual Account Numbers". These are "One use" numbers generated against your card for a specific purchase. You can also specify amount and expiration date. After the specified transaction, the generated number is no longer valid, and can not be used again. GREAT security -- far better than giving some stranger UNlimited use of your credit card.

Back to paid advertising -- the last point that I want to consider is "PPC or Pay Per Click". Three of the major contenders in this field are Google and Yahoo (there ARE others).

Here is how this service works: You set up an account with Google, Yahoo, etc. You create a small ad, relevant to your site, and you select a series of appropriate keywords. You select a "PPC" price that you are willing to pay for a visitor clickthrough. On Google, this can run from .10 to MANY dollars PER CLICK, depending upon the popularity of the keyword. This ad is then run on numerous WEB Sites (Google ads on Google search). When someone clicks on your ad and visits your site, you pay the agreed upon price. No clicks -- NO pay !! There are excellent tools [ HERE ] and at Google, and 7Search to help you get the most from your ad campaign. I strongly recommend Google over Yahoo. I have used them, they are MUCH cheaper, and there is only a $5 upfront commitment. They will bill your credit card every month based upon actual clickthroughs.

An excellent reference site can be found [ HERE ]. Do a WEB search on "Pay Per Click" to find other services and references.

With God's Good Grace, this information and these tools (IF implemented), should begin to get traffic flowing to your site. Remember, WEB traffic is like planting -- you plant the seeds and then have to wait patiently for the crop. The additional seed then produces more plants, more seed, etc. In following columns, as promised, I will discuss and tell you where to find additional add-ons to make your site even MORE attractive to visitors, as well as tools to track and evaluate site traffic.

Just a brief word about my background. I am and have been a Computer Consultant for over 30 years -- 15 of them with IBM mainframes and 15 of them with PC hardware, software, and WEB design. I am also an ordained minister and hold a Ph.D. in Biblical Studies. I am the director of Total Love in Christ Ministries, located at:   [ www.tlchrist.info ].   My consulting site is at:   [ www.totlogcon.com ].

Yours in Christ till
our next meeting;

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