Emerald Group Publishing Limited
This is one of a series of reasonably‐priced, relatively short, Know How Guides from Aslib. The series now extends to over thirty titles, including the recently published Promotional Strategies and Techniques for the Information Service, Managing Change in Libraries and Information Services, and Intranets and Push Technology: Creating an Information‐sharing Environment. It aims to provide practical guidance on topics of current interest to those working or teaching in the field of library and information services. One of the key words in the mission statement of the series is “practical”, and How to Promote your Web site Effectively provides a very good example of a guide to the practicalities involved in the online promotional process.
It is now relatively common for Internet services, especially the Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and online shopping services, but increasingly also search services such as Mirago and Lycos, to allocate five‐, six‐, or even seven‐figure sums towards the marketing of their products. Much of this money is directed towards advertising on television, billboards and magazines. Those of us in the library and information world can only dream of advertising budgets of such a size, and many of us have no cash at all to use in such ways. However, we often have, in theory at least, time and energy at our disposal, and Mark Kerr’s short book shows us how to make the most of such available resources for the purpose of letting our users and potential users know about our Web sites. The term often used to describe promotional methods which allow relatively small Web sites to achieve a level of visibility through an investment of energy instead of money is “guerilla marketing”. Mark Kerr refers to this technique specifically as it relates to methods which can be used to force a Web site to rank high up on lists of search engine results, but many of the other promotional techniques he outlines could be described by the same term. Organising reciprocal links with other similar Web sites, submitting a resource to directories, Webrings, and sending e‐mails to discussion lists are all cheap and labour‐intensive processes, but they are sometimes very effective ways in which to promote a resource. Kerr gives advice on each.
Promotion through good Web design, the use of metadata, which is information about a resource which is embedded in the meta‐tags, and the importance of the print media for promotional purposes, are all topics which are discussed in this book. Some advice is given on how to write a press release to announce a site, and the need to monitor and evaluate the entire process is emphasised.
In my experience, far too many producers of Web sites concentrate their energy on the creation of their resource rather than its promotion. Mark Kerr’s book gives many valuable hints on how to market online resources, and I would recommend it to any Webmaster. Its main failing, however, is that such an important and complicated process cannot be covered adequately in a work of less than 100 pages.