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Promoting a website can take a lot of time and effort. Results are rarely immediate, and the process requires patience and consistency. To help spread the word, website owners usually turn to paid promotion via social media or search engines. But in the late ’90s and early 2000s, this type of advertising either did not exist or was significantly different than the resources available today. So, how was website promotion facilitated during the Web 1.0 era, and do the same methods still work? The following is a list of six strategies that worked.
1. Banner rotation networks
One of the earliest ways to promote a website was to embed a banner rotation script. It was a simple way to share web traffic among those participating within a banner rotation network or web ring. Once the script was installed, advertisements were displayed at specific intervals or upon certain actions, such as refreshing a browser. Some banner rotation networks were free, and some were paid. The fee-based networks typically had greater reach and higher-quality web traffic.
Do banner rotations still work? While not as popular as they once were, the technology still exists in various forms. The advent of retargeting makes banner advertising much more effective than ever before.
2. Reciprocal link pages
A reciprocal link page or link exchange was typical for promoting banners and text links. In the early days of the internet, website owners would agree to place each other’s banners or links on dedicated web pages for cross-promotion. A link page’s primary benefit was gaining exposure via new web traffic. A secondary use was to boost the popularity of a website. The more link associations, the higher the rank in search engine results.
Do reciprocal link pages still work? Most search engines discourage pages exclusively dedicated to reciprocal links because they can be built autonomously with bots. The general perception is that reciprocal link pages lower the quality of the user experience. However, variations of link pages can still exist as long as there is an obvious benefit to the user.
Related: From Link Builder to Email Marketer
3. Guest articles and posts
Guest posts and guest articles have been around for a while. There were many benefits to writing guest articles or posts. The aim was to build relationships and exposure to increase website traffic. The content provided by the guest created name-brand awareness. It also established expertise in a particular field or trade.
For website owners, allowing guests to submit content was also a great way to alleviate the burden of regularly coming up with fresh content ideas that kept visitors engaged. It also helped to boost domain prominence due to the caliber of guest authors interacting with the website.
Do guest articles and posts still work for website promotion? It is still effective for gaining exposure to new audiences and building relationships. A guest article or post usually includes a link to the original author’s website and a short bio. This helps to increase website traffic and search ranking.
4. Paid link placement
Websites with a high number of visitors could use paid link placement as a potential source of revenue. There were a few methods by which a website could incorporate paid ads. Prominent areas of a website were set aside to make way for text links or banners. Promoted content was featured either as part of a rotation or fixed display. Fees were charged based on the number of times the ad was shown or by flat rate. A website could also make money by charging a fee for link placement in an email newsletter.
Does paid link placement still work? Yes. It is still effective for website promotion. To maximize return on investment, the aim should be to target consumers most likely to want the product or service offered.
5. Cloned websites
In the internet’s early days, cloning was a way to get greater utility from an existing website. The strategy involved creating several instances of an already successful website. For best results, each duplicate website needed to appear slightly different to make a unique appearance. At the time, a network of websites could have precisely the same content. Cloning a website meant greater potential for viewership in search results. Additionally, each instance of the original website could be linked to a core product, such as an e-book, via strategic advertising.
Does website cloning still work? Search engines will now hide and penalize duplicate content because it has the appearance of being bot-generated. While the page content cannot be exact, there are still ways to create derivatives of an already successful website.
6. Platforms and databases
The Web 1.0 era ushered in a wide array of website styles. From web rings to auction sites, everything that is popular now had already existed back then. Platforms and database websites were ideal for website promotion due to their potential for high user engagement. What is now called a platform had no formal definition in those days. Bulletin boards, web-based email and shopping carts were among the most widely used platforms. Similarly, database websites were just as valuable for website promotion because they served as official sources of information.
Are platforms and databases still effective for website promotion? They are expensive to build and may take years to launch, but the right concept can attract worldwide attention. From gaming cheat codes to product reviews, platform and database websites were, and still are, highly effective for growth and residual website traffic.