Increase Traffic to Your Website or Blog
Content Updated December 28, 2007
The Secret of Getting Website Traffic
The secret to increasing website traffic is to plant little marketing seeds all over the place. Some will sprout into living, breathing sources of traffic. Some won't. Some will only grow into tiny blades of grass. (If you plant enough of them, though, they'll grow into a nice field of grass that will grow tall enough to hide your competitors.) Some will grow into giant trees that web surfers can see for miles and feel inexplicably drawn to. The important thing to remember is that if you don't plant any seeds anywhere, nothing will grow at all. Here's how to start planting.
Have a Site Worth Visiting
I'm always stunned by people who complain about not getting enough traffic to their site when their site has little or no content or doesn't have anything new to offer. Give visitors a good reason to come to your site. Then give them another good reason to stick around and maybe even bookmark it.
- In-depth product reviews
- Free services
- Tools that would help them in their lives or businesses
Make Your Site Pretty
Of course, this all depends on your definition of pretty, but lets face it, if you have an ugly site, nobody wants to look at it.
Too little effort usually results in one long, boring page of text without any subheadings. If you won't bother to take the time to make it look nice, then why should your visitors bother to take the time to look at it?
Amateurs often make the mistake of putting too much on a page. If you have little dancing smiley faces and animated bears and penguins running around all over the place, there's a good chance that it's going to annoy visitors, and they'll leave (and probably not come back).
Make it easy on the eye, intuitive, and with minimal annoyances (like pop up ads). Heck, you might even want to make it fun.
Create a Customer 404 File Not Found Page
If you don't have a custom 404 page, and a visitor clicks on a bad link (especially from an outside website), then they're likely to just stop trying.
If, on the other hand, you have a custom 404 page, you still have an opportunity to tell visitors that your site is worth visiting, even if they didn't find the exact page they were looking for.
Create a Site Map
Site maps contain links to every page on your website. This way, search engines can be sure to index every page on your site. Site maps that are also easy for visitors to navigate allow visitors to find exactly the page that they want without having to hunt through your site.
An important point to remember: USE SPELL CHECK! If you misspell words, anyone using a search engine to look for items with properly spelled keywords won't be stumbling onto your website, all because you didn't check your spelling.
Use Your Title Tags
Some search engines rely on title tags for listing content, so make sure you use them. I like to use the title of the web page (not the website) as the title of the page.
If you want to include the website title, put it at the end of the page title, so anyone looking through their bookmarks or through the result list of a search engine will quickly see the title of the page (which, for them, is more relevant than the title of your site).
For example: "Increase Traffic to Your Website or Blog (Kristen's Guide www.kristensguide.com)"
Use Your Meta Tags
Learn about meta tags and use them. Some search engines still use keyword meta tags while others rely on description tags. Make sure that yours are in place and updated.
Use Your Alt Tags and Captions
Use captions to describe photographs and important images. These captions wills show up on search engines.
Use "alt" tags on all of your images, videos, audio files, etc. Even though these tags won't appear to users looking at your page, they will appear to search engines and anyone looking at your source code.
Explain Your Tools
Write a paragraph or two explaining tools like calculators and online programs. It may be clear to somebody visiting your site that your calculator converts units of measurements, but a search engine can't figure that out unless you explain it using text.
Use Your H1, H2, H3, H4, H5, H6, Strong, and EM Tags
Search engines pay attention to the structure of your page, including the heading and emphasis tags. Text with these tags are often given a higher importance than text in other tags, so make sure you use lots of subheadings. (It also makes your site easier for visitors to read.)
Submit Your Site to Search Engines
If it's a search engine, then submit your site to it! The more search engines your in, the better chance there is of somebody finding your site when they're searching for something.
I personally don't submit to any search engine that requires a fee to get listed because most Internet users don't use those search engines anyhow.
Put Your Website / Blog URL on Your Business Cards, Brochures, Signs, Print Ads, TV / Radio Ads, and Swag
I'll admit that I'm a sucker for URLs. If I see a URL on the back window of a car in my neighborhood, I'll look it up just to see what it is. If I'm interested in using a company for a service, I'll check out their website, even if I'm already certain that I'm going to use their service. (In fact, if a company doesn't have a website, I may consider not doing business with them.) If somebody puts a URL on their business card, I almost always look it up.
The best way to get people to visit your site after seeing your URL in the real world (not just online) is to make it easy to remember. If your URL is xyzcleaningservice123.com, I'm probably going to forget the numbers. If it's please-be-our-customer.com, I'm probably going to forget to put the dashes in. If it's wereallylikecheesesoeatcheese.com, then I'm just going to forget it because it's so darn long. Now, eatcheese.com I can probably remember, but I have to look at it for awhile for my brain to figure out that eatcheese.com is actually "eat cheese dot com." To make the human brain process this faster, such as by only glancing at it, it would be better to write it as EatCheese.com or eatCHEESE.com or EATcheese.com
Make it simple. Make it catchy. Make it easy to read.
Submit Your Site to Content Related Directories
Let's say your site is about surf boards. There's a good chance that somewhere out there in cyberspace, there is a directory of surf board websites. Get your site listed on that directory. Maybe people who need surf boards actually do go to that directory. Maybe they don't. Either way, you'll have a third-party link to your site, and this will help your rank in search engines, so when somebody searches for surf boards they might see your site on the top 50 list instead of the top 1,000 list.
Submit Your Site to Directories of Free Stuff
Offer something for free. Maybe it's an ebook. Maybe a calculator. Maybe a printable. Maybe you'll even be willing to mail stickers to everyone (or at least have a distribution service do it for you). Whatever it is, make it FREE. Then you can submit your site to free stuff directories. Some directories focus on anything that's free, but others are specialized (e.g. free ebooks, free stickers, free online tools, etc.). Give away something that those specialized directories focus on, then submit your site to them.
Again, maybe people will click on those directory links to your site and maybe they won't. (In my experience they usually increase traffic quite a bit.) Either way, they give you a third-party link to your site, which helps your search engine rankings
Engage in Blatant Self Promotion with Signatures
Create a signature for yourself and put your URL in it. For example, mine is:
Kristen Brooke Beck
Sometimes I'll put a tagline under it to get people interested in seeing what my site is about. I often change the tagline depending on where I'm posting the signature, such as:
"A Practical Guide to a Happy Life" (for a self-improvement forum)
"Lots of free printables!" (for a free stuff forum)
Use It in Email
Use your signature in your email. Now every email you send out, whether it's to your great-aunt, Mildred, or to the "Unsubscribe from Newsletter" bot will see the link to your website. Some people won't click on it. Some people will. Some people will forward it on to their friends (especially if you send one of those "Hey, check this out. It's super funny" emails).
Use It on Other People's Sites (Forums, Blogs, etc.)
Use your signature in forums / bulletin boards and when commenting on blogs. This will increase the number of third-party links to your website for improving search engine rankings. Plus, it will actually get people who read those forums and blogs to visit your site, especially if your comments were genuinely helpful and related to the topic.
Become a Cyber Socialite with Social Networks
Every time you see a social network, sign up for it. I don't care what it's about (unless it's something you don't want your site associated with). Just sign up for it.
Make a profile that would attract people in that network. (For example, if it's a business network, make a professional, resume-style profile. If it's a network popular among teenagers, make yourself look hip, cool, phat, or whatever lingo the kids use these days, at least on paper.) Put an attractive photograph of yourself on your profile! (This makes a huge difference. People ignore profiles without photos and profiles with non-human photos.) Put a link to your website on your profile.
Now start joining groups related to your website's topics. Post some authentic conversation topics in those groups. (Remember to use your signature.) Add some friends / contacts / buddies / etc. and post some authentic comments on their profiles. (Remember to use your signature.) When people ask to become your friend, add them (unless their profile isn't something you'd like to be associated with). When people start a conversation with you, talk to them like a real person would, not like an advertiser. (Remember to use your signature!)
In some social networks, you won't even get one friend, but that's OK because for every networking experience that doesn't work out, there's always one that will.
Create Your Own Online Community
Keep website visitors coming back by allowing visitors to express themselves and talk to other like-minded people. Allow visitors to make comments about the articles, tools, etc. that you offer. Also create a forum where visitors can discuss topics not directly related to items you've posted. If visitors are allowed to create profiles and meet other people, they'll have another reason to keep coming back to your site, socializing.
Vote for Yourself in Social Bookmarking
There are lots of social bookmarking services. Find them. Sign up. Make a profile that is NOT affiliated with your website. Then start bookmarking sites you find interesting (including yours, of course!).
How does social bookmarking work? There are a couple of ways. It depends on the service, but here are the most common.
Person A finds a site he likes, CoolDogClothes.com, and thinks other people should visit it too, so he bookmarks it with a social bookmarking service and gives it a tag, like "dog clothes."
Person B happens to be looking for dog clothes and goes to the social bookmarks to look at what other people recommend for sites about dog clothes. Person B sees that person A recommended CoolDogClothes.com, so person B decides to visit the site.
Person C happens to be a friend of person A. He actually have a dog, but he sees that his friend has bookmarked CoolDogClothes.com and wants to check it out just because he's curious about what his friend was looking at. (Maybe later, person C will remember to come back to CoolDogClothes.com when he wants to buy a gift for his cousin's new puppy, but even if he doesn't, at least his visit to your website increased your traffic.)
Person D is bored at work and decides to look at random links from a social bookmarking service. He clicks on "show me a random site" and *poof*, there's CoolDogClothes.com. "Hey," he says, "that's cool. I should tell my sister about this. She totally spoils her dog."
Offer a Newsletter via Feed and Email
If people come to your site and like it, they'll probably be happy to sign up for your newsletter. You can use your newsletter to give your readers even more stuff to read or you can use it just to keep them updated about new items on the site and news about you or your company. You may even want to create multiple newsletters to keep your visitors from getting news they don't care about and unsubscribing out of boredom (e.g. "news about our company," website updates," "updates in the xyz section of the website," "weekly tips," "daily inspiration", "monthly giveaways," etc.).
Create a Separate Blog
Let's use my website, Kristen's Guide, as an example. Kristen's Guide is my main website. It's where people go to learn stuff to help them improve their lives, businesses, families, etc. However, I also have a personal blog, my personal online diary (http://www.kristenbrookebeck.blogspot.com). My online diary is a place where I rambling on about things in my life, my philosophies, things I've observed, etc. Some of it is related to Kristen's Guide, but some of it isn't.
People do seem to like peeking in on my personal diary, and that's where they also see a link to Kristen's Guide. At first, I just threw on my link to Kristen's Guide just because my website is a part of who I am, but then I started getting traffic from that link, and I'm a smart cookie, so I figured out that my online diary could also be used as a way to get people to visit Kristen's Guide.
Try making your own separate blogs and linking back to your main website or blog.
Distribute Multimedia (Videos, Podcasts, Stock Art, eBooks, Software Programs, Articles, etc.)
Create multimedia items and upload them to popular distribution sites. For example, upload videos to YouTube, podcasts to iTunes, etc. On every item that you distribute, add your website's URL. In videos, you can add it at the end or in the corner. In podcasts, you can remind your listeners to visit your website. Articles, ebooks, and software can all have your URL and even links to your site.
Participate in Banner Exchange Programs
Create banners and buttons and join a banner exchange program. You add a banner or button to your website and other participants in the program will add one to theirs. Their banners will appear in your banner space, and your banner will appear in theirs.
Many Internet users are banner blind since banners have become so common, but it's still possible to create banners that get their attention without being annoying. Simple, bold, colorful text often works best.
Get Yourself on the Radio, on Television, and in the Newspaper
You can send out press releases to announce new products or changes to your company, but they usually only get picked up if you're already a well-known organization. You have better odds if you do something newsworthy. Set up an event and ask your local media to attend. Volunteer as an expert or correspondent on local shows. Write a column for a small newspaper in your area. In whatever you do, make sure you somehow mention the name of your website and, if you can, the URL as well.
People love contests and lotteries. Create a contest. (Make sure you follow all of the laws for your area.) Decide what the prize will be (e.g. a free year's supply of ..., free service from you, one of your products, cash, etc.). Then submit your contest information to websites and directories that advertise contests.
Give Away Your Services for Free
You can offer to design websites, create screensavers, write articles, etc. for other people provided that they allow you to put a link to your website in return.
Stay Up to Date with Technology
At one time, the only way you could get on the Internet was to have a huge computer hard wired to your phone line, and text was the only thing you could download, But now you can surf the web from your bicycle on a computer that fits in your pocket, and you can download movies, software, calendars, and books. Is your website keeping up?
As technology changes, we change the way we use the Internet, and it's up to website and blog designers to keep up with the changes. Make sure that your site is accessible on a desktop computer as well as a handheld. Make sure that the style of your site is evolving as aesthetics change. Make sure that your code meets current standards. And keep educating yourself about the latest design techniques.
See other Kristen's Guide topics in this category.