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Regional Genealogy Website Promotion
Suggestions for publicizing your USGenWeb County Website or other regional genealogy website.

By Jennifer Godwin

Evelyn Sawyer
 Kent County MIGenWeb Coordinator

  1. Notify your county mailing list whenever you make a major addition or change to the site. People like to see what's new, and might not be checking your pages all the time to see if there are helpful links.
  2. Add a minder service to your main page and major sub-pages, so visitors can register to be notified when pages on your site have changed. Mind-It by Netmind is a popular way to do this:
  3. Write an introduction to your county site for the newsletter of the local historical or genealogical society.
  4. Keep the newsletter editor posted on changes and updates. They may start a little section just for your online initiatives.
  5. Post paper flyers with the site URL and description in the local library's history and genealogy room and at the local LDS family history center.
  6. Make sure all the local and state-wide reference librarians know about your site and how to contact you. You may want to maintain a distribution list with their contact information, either on e-mail or snail mail or fax. (Poke around. Who knows? Maybe the local librarians already have an e-mailing list you can use to contact them.)
  7. Send notices to the county clerk and local cemetery supervisor informing them that you have many kinds of records that may also be of interest to their patrons. When they send reply letters to queries they may include your URL in their message as an additional resource for local information.
  8. Contact the local newspapers and find out who covers local history or general community stories. Get their mailing address, fax number and e-mail and see if you can find out their preferred mode of delivery for public relations materials. Send them a general press release about your county page. I'm sure many local papers would love to have a blurb about your project for their family or community section. Keep helpful reporters and editors on a distribution list and notify them of major additions to your pages.
  9. Keep submitting your main URL to the major search engines. (Altavista, Google, Hotbot and whatever else you like are a good start.) There are also submit-it services that will submit your site to more than one search engine at a time can help make this an easier task. They should be free, don't pay for this service.
  10. Submit your site to the major genealogy search engines.
  11. While these engines claim they'll "index your entire site" from one URL, they probably won't. Use helpful meta tags to encourage further digging, including the important "robots" tag.  In your keywords tag, be sure to include the following words: "genealogy" and the very common mis-spellings "geneaology" and "geneology", "family history," GenWeb, USGenWeb, the name of your state GenWeb, the name of your county, the name of your state, and the names of the most important towns in your county. Other helpful words to include may be "cemetery" and the common mis-spelling "cemetary," "biographies," "vital records", "free data" and anything else you can think of that people might search for that describes the information available at your site. You may also want to include the plural or singular of relevant words, for example: "cemeteries" or "biography." Put the most important words first, as some search engines may have a cut-off, after which they will stop indexing your keywords.
  12. Submit the URL of every new page on your site as you create it to the search engines. Again, this can be time-consuming, so use a free submit-it service.
  13. Make sure your URL is correct on Cyndi's List. If not, submit a correction.
  14. Put a national or statewide resource up on your county page and let people know about it. Pam Rietsch gets a ton of traffic from the 1895 Atlas Project for her Livingston County Michigan pages, and having the 1830 census for Michigan Territory is a huge traffic driver for Kent County. In three months, we've had half the hits on that page that we've had on the main page in seven.
  15. If the American Local History Network site for your county is maintained by someone other than yourself, send the coordinator an e-mail with URLs of all the major pages on your site that relate most directly to history -- your cemetery listing, any book transcriptions, biographies, etc. The more individual pages she links to, the more likely traffic will be attracted to your site.
  16. As a general rule, be sure to include a link back to your homepage on all of the sub-pages of your site. That way, if someone comes in through a "back door" they can go quickly to your main page without having to guess the URL. From there, they can see all of the other pages you have to offer.
  17. Visit the Usenet newsgroups that might be related to your site and post a brief message about your site, explaining what it is and why it may be of interest to the readers of the newsgroup.
  18. Put the URL for your pages in your e-mail signature file. Give your most committed volunteers a title they would want to show off and encourage them to include it, and the URL of your county site, in their own e-mail signature file.
  19. Ask your state coordinator to encourage all county coordinators to provide links to nearby county pages, and participate in this "link exchange."
  20. Join a "web ring" related to the topic or location of your site. Or start your own webring specifically oriented toward your region. Consider expanding your focus from genealogy and family history to all sites that relate to the region.
  21. When you see queries or posts from newbies asking questions about your area on lists like Roots-L or your county list, reply to them and suggest that they search on your website for their surnames or review the more general materials offered in order to become more familiar with the area they are searching.
  22. Is your region known for having a large number of immigrants from a particular foreign county? Consider writing up an introduction page about your site and use a translation service to convert it into the appropriate foreign language and post it on your site. One popular translation services is:
  23. Many local cable systems have a "community access" channel that will post notices about projects like ours. See if you can find the contact information for that channel and submit some information about your project. (Publicity suggestion from Pat Hamp.)

URL: http://kent.migenweb.net/admin/publicity.html 
Created: 8 August 1999[an error occurred while processing this directive]