“If you build it, they will come” is not necessarily true on the Web. Putting a website up is one thing, but getting visitors to come to your site is another. The process becomes even more difficult if you have limited resources to market your business.
Getting traffic is a combination of a lot of things. The key to success is to create great content that visitors want to use, search engines will love and other websites will naturally link to. Of course, it’s easier said than done.
Here are some ways you can promote your website and increase your traffic for free:
1. Create great content.
Everything starts with great content. Your website needs to add value because it is original and unique, informative, highly authoritative, witty and funny, and useful. A great start will be to read this Google guide on what is a high quality site.
Make sure that you update your content regularly. Make your visitors come back again and again to your blog by providing daily updates (even multiple posts per day!)
2. Think ‘Linkbait.”
Write about stuff that would be so great that people will want to link to you. Linkbait is a strategy that brings links to a website simply because of the unique and popular content on a website.
The goal of linkbait is to create the type of content that will go viral. It can be a news hook where you write about something that is contrary to what everyone else is saying; resource hook where you have the only information available or humor hook. It could also be a post that is controversial, or a top 100 list.
3. Optimize your website for the search engines.
Make sure your website is indexable by the search engines, and has enough text for Google to digest. Search engines can be a big source of traffic, and organic traffic is free. The key is to create the best content in your niche. If you have good content, other websites will gladly link to you and offer your site as a resource to their audience. Use keywords in your title tags that your target audience are most likely to use. Make sure that it doesn’t have any technical problems — e.g. canonical URLs, duplicate content. Check your on-page factors and be sure to get linked from authority sites in your topic area. Read the following:
- Google’s Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide (PDF format) http://www.google.com/webmasters/docs/search-engine-optimization-starter-guide.pdf
- Brett Tabke of WebmasterWorld.com’s “Successful Site in 12 Months with Google Alone: 26 steps to 15k a day.” http://www.webmasterworld.com/forum3/2010.htm
4. Use RSS Feeds.
RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feed is a free Internet technology that allows users to monitor their favorite websites and blog without actually having to take the time to visit them. It allows interested subscribers to immediately see your new content. RSS feeds are a powerful marketing tool that website owners and bloggers must use. Most blog platforms such as WordPress and Blogger have RSS feeds built into them. Submit your blog to RSS directories. Use Feedburner to burn your feed, which allows you to track your subscribers, usage of your feed, and even offers the option of sending out your blog as an email as well (without you having to lift any finger).
5. Use social media.
Social media has emerged as an important way to connect and communicate with your customers, industry peers and other stakeholders. Social networking and bookmarking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Stumbleupon, Digg, and others can generate significant amounts of traffic. Create a presence in these social networks while continually monitoring your results and their effectiveness in bringing traffic. Be sure to put social media tools in your site for easy sharing — Addthis, Facebook Like, Twitter, Google+, and others. Learn how to use social media to get more traffic for your website and know the steps to social media success.
6. Make it easy for users to recommend your site.
Viral marketing is very important — and easy to tap on the Web. But give your users the tools and make it easy for your visitors to share your pages to others. Put a Facebook Like, Twitter button, Google+ , Stumbleupon or use a tool such as AddThis http://www.addthis.com. Make it easy for your visitors to email your posts to their friends. Some even go as far as giving incentives to those who recommend the site to their friends. If only 10 people go to your site, but these 10 people invite 10 more – that’s additional traffic that you get for FREE!
7. Submit your site to directories.
Directories may seem like a relic from the 1990s, but targeted directories still has the potential to bring traffic to your website. The free and important ones include Technorati http://www.technorati.com/ping.html and the Open Directory Project http://www.dmoz.org If you do podcasts, find podcast directories. If you are a local business, make sure that your website is included in local directories.
8. Do article marketing.
Article marketing used to mean writing an article with your link in the About the Author section, submitting it to hundreds of article marketing websites, and hope that the article gets picked up and used by several websites. The effectiveness of that approach has significantly diminished in recent years. What works now if finding a few quality websites, offer to write a guest post (exclusive to them) — in exchange, they’ll keep your link in the About the Author section and making sure that the link is a dofollow. You get exposure for your business; establishes you as an authority in your field, and allows you to get backlinks for your website.
9. Network with other bloggers/website owners.
Email other bloggers; pitch your post to them and hope that they find your post interesting enough to link or mention it in one of their blog posts. You can also leave meaningful, on target comments on other blogs (no spamming!).
10. Send out press releases.
While outfits charge as much as $650 per release, there are free press release submission places on the Web. Press releases allow you to (a) attract media attention; (b) get more back links to your website without sending each website an email request; and (c) get more visibility especially if your press release gets in Google News or Yahoo News.