By Nowshade Kabir, Rusbiz.com
Currently, Google has indexed over 3.3 billion pages and that definitely does not cover the entire Internet. With so many competitors online, you need to use every conceivable method to promote your website.
Newsgroups can be a very powerful tool in your web promotion endeavor, if you use them effectively.....
What is a Newsgroup?
A newsgroup is a message board on the Internet where users come to discuss topics of mutual interest. Each newsgroup is dedicated to a particular subject of interest and consists of messages posted by participants. You can find several ongoing discussions on various topics within a single newsgroup. These topics are called threads. As a user, you can start a thread, post messages to a thread and respond to other postings.
Before the Internet era, the way you know it now, back in the eighties and early nineties, people used to connect to electronic bulletin boards (bbs) through modems and post text messages for others to read and answer. Usenet Newsgroups was started as a collection of these bulletin boards. Along with the Internet, Newsgroups have also grown rapidly. Thanks to the web interface introduced by Deja News in 1995, use of Newsgroups has become simple and convenient and has provided impetus for its growth.
Today, Usenet discussion forums or Newsgroups indexed by Google comprise over 800 million messages which is around a terabyte of information! It is calculated that over 10 million people have regular access to Newsgroups!
Each newsgroup is formed with a certain purpose. This is described in its charter at the time it is started. Normally every Newsgroup has its own single subject. However, there can be many Newsgroups dedicated to one subject.
There are tens of thousands of newsgroups on every subject you can possibly imagine. The subjects in Newsgroups are hierarchically structured. Some of them are moderated (somebody controls the postings), most aren't.
How to Use Newsgroups?
Since there are so many newsgroups, whatever your interest is, you will most likely find a newsgroup which will suit you. Although most email readers have built-in features to subscribe to Newsgroups, the most convenient way to read newsgroups today is to use "Google Search". Once you are on the search page of Google, click the Groups tab on the menu. This will take you to the Groups search page with a directory of Newsgroups under the headline 'Post and read comments in Usenet discussion forums'. The most common subdirectories for businesses are located in alt, biz and misc. For example: If you are in the import and export business, you might try alt.business.import-export, which has several groups within it.
Run a search using a keyword related to your online business that you would like to promote from the groups search page of Google. The results will appear chronologically, the most recent one being at the top. Check out the most relevant Newsgroups from the results. If your search produces a very big list of results, try the advanced search option. Try reducing the time frame of postings. By default, Google searches within all messages posted from 1981.
For really worthwhile information, I suggest using moderated groups. Most Newsgroups which are not moderated easily fill up with spam and you really have to wade through them to find something interesting.
Did you notice that Google has a new paid service under the name "Google Answers"? For a fee, Google nominated researchers will get answers to your hard-to-find questions. The service is located at http://answers.google.com. If you go through the questions that are already asked, you will be amazed to see that by searching newsgroups you will find answers to many of them without paying a dime. Newsgroups are indeed a gold mine of information!
Benefits of Using Newsgroups
As an online business you can reap a variety of benefits from effective use of Newsgroups.
Establish yourself as an expert in your chosen field. People prefer doing business with you if they know that you are an expert in your field. Post important and relevant information in your chosen Newsgroup and answer posted questions. People from the Newsgroup will soon begin to consider you an expert, and you'll be amazed at the number of new visitors checking out your site.
Conduct Market Surveys
Newsgroups can be a great source of marketing information. By asking questions in relevant Newsgroups you can find out what people think about your product, your website, etc.
Get New Clients
There are Newsgroups which are formed for the sole purpose of promotion and making various announcements. Prudent use of these Newsgroups, along with your relevant Newsgroups, will definitely increase your site traffic and get new clients.
Promote Your Site
In relevant groups, you can post announcements about your site launch, press releases, product information, etc. Participation in the discussions on your subject area (using your signature file which should include your website address) will help get new visitors and increase the number of backward links to your website.
Get Answers To Your Questions
You can't be an expert in every thing! Often, you will need answers to various questions. Ask them in relevant Newsgroups by posting messages with your signature file. Not only will you receive answers to your questions, but you will also promote your site.
Newsgroups can be a great place to find like-minded friends and partners.
Posting Do's And Don'ts
You have to be very careful when you post to a Newsgroup. Before making your first post, go through the FAQ and posting rules of the Newsgroup and read some of the postings. You want to position yourself as an expert, not an idiot! Some Newsgroup users are pretty aggressive. If they feel that you are spamming their precious Newsgroup, you will be flamed in no time.
Here are some basic rules:
- Don't post commercials, advertisements or press releases; unless the newsgroup specifically mentions that it endorses such posts.
- When posting a response, stick to the original topic.
- Quote only the portion of the message you are responding to, not the whole message.
- Don't cross post. This means, do not post the same messages in several relevant Newsgroups.
- Never post unrelated messages to Newsgroups. This is considered sp@mming!
- When posting a message, be specific and concise in the subject line.
- Post your signature file with each and every message. This is important for your web promotion!
- Check your spelling and grammar before posting a message.
The idea is to make a valuable contribution to the Newsgroups and by doing so, promote your online business at the same time. Ask questions that you perceive to be useful to you and others. Post responses to messages which are informative, thought-provoking and of high quality. You will soon build credibility among your fellow Newsgroup members and start receiving a flow of loyal customers