Use other online resources to promote your site

To promote your Web site, you may want to try newsgroups and mailing lists. Here's how.

The more focused the interests of an audience, the more valuable they are to a Web site promoter trying to attract a particular clientele. In this respect, Usenet newsgroups—the worldwide discussion forums devoted to niche interests—and email discussion lists offer some of the most valuable audiences on the Internet.

But while many newsgroups are global, they often have a small-town flavor. And like many small towns, they don't always take kindly to strangers—especially strangers posting self-serving advertisements. Understanding the culture's cardinal rules will go a long way in keeping your in-box from filling with flames in response to a perceived spam.

Find the right newsgroup

With more than 15,000 newsgroups in the Usenet system, finding the most pertinent place to post a message can be a challenge. and Deja News—two search engines devoted to cataloging newsgroup information—make searching through the hierarchies of newsgroup categories relatively painless.

Different newsgroups have different standards for what posts are considered appropriate. Some welcome polite promotion of relevant sites. (The comp.infosystems.www.announce newsgroup, for instance, is devoted to introducing new, noncommercial Web sites.) Don't post to a newsgroup without reading a selection of previously posted messages. Look for a FAQ list to find out what is kosher for the group and what's not.

Be clear and concise

When posting your site's announcement message, use a descriptive subject field. Help people decide whether they're interested in the message without having to download it. A mysterious title will annoy more people than it draws.

Get to the point. Explain what your Web site is about in a sentence or two, list the URL, and be done with it. People read newsgroups for pithy information, not long-winded sales pitches.

Don't spam

Resist the temptation to post to multiple newsgroups. Nothing makes Usenet enemies faster than posting indiscriminately and to inappropriate forums (known as spamming). If you're certain more than one group needs to know about your site, save bandwidth by specifying all the pertinent newsgroups in the To field of a single message; "smart" newsreader applications won't download the file more than once.

Try a mailing list

Usenet newsgroups aren't the only game in town. Email listservs, or mailing lists, are widely used forums for discussions on a particular topic—and an excellent place for you to drop your URL. As with newsgroups, email your announcement to pertinent listservs only.

Net-Happenings is a popular mailing list for spreading the word about new sites and online events. Check Yahoo's list of mailing lists to see what else is out there. Can't find a list that fits your topic? Start your own.

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