You’ve come a long way since you hatched the idea to start your website. What once began as a simple idea manifested into a powerful site complete with unique graphics, edgy content, and hours upon hours of meticulous programming. Are you getting a lot of visitors to your site though?
The time, effort, and caffeine you put into your website seem pointless if nobody is visiting the site to admire your work. Unfortunately, the web world is oversaturated with low-quality “marketers” who can drive traffic to your site, but the quality of said traffic is poor to say the least.
Thankfully there are tried-and-true methods of building exposure, some of which you can even do yourself; provided you have the time and resources at your disposal. Anyhow, let’s get started:
At this point, we have all probably used Facebook, Twitter, or some other social networking platform, right? Well if you didn’t already know, many webmasters are using social media to their advantage, using various platforms to communicate with potential customers, industry contacts, and just all-around likeminded people. This is done by posting photos, sharing content, answering questions, and so on and so forth. By doing this, you can expect to get “Likes” on Facebook, “Followers” on Twitter, and essentially create a portal in which interested parties can get a more intimate look at the workings of your website and what you have to offer.
Blogging (and Guest Blogging)
Ultimately, by providing interesting and compelling content on your site, you can encourage new visitors to check out your site, and keep the existing visitors coming back. However, it is crucial that you establish a schedule of sorts and abide by it. If you wrote one new post a day for the past year, then your site’s visitors will expect a new post to be published every day. If you suddenly switch to a once-a-week publishing routine, then you could potentially lose traffic.
Blogging on your site isn’t the only way to draw in traffic though. By writing insightful content for high-quality sites related in some way to your niche, you can attract new readers to your site. This is called guest blogging! While most webmasters won’t put it this way, guest blogging is a way to “harvest” one site’s readership, who might click through to your site to read similar content. Of course, you must remember to include a link to your site either in the content itself, or in the Author Bio at the end of the post.
Giveaways & Contests
In my experience, aside from paying a SEO expert to completely take over your marketing, a contest and/or giveaway is one of the best ways to bring in new traffic. Giveaways in particular are so successful because they take advantage of a common human instinct…free stuff! However, I would advise against using a giveaway or contest in the beginning of your marketing efforts. Establish an upstanding online reputation by building and maintaining social media profiles, while also guest blogging wherever possible. This will give you an established audience with which to broadcast the contest or giveaway. From there, word-of-mouth will carry your message above and beyond any threshold you thought possible.
As far as figuring out what to giveaway though, that can be a little tricky. Well-established sites often work with sponsors who provide products or services to be given away in exchange for the added exposure. For a webmaster that is just starting out, promotional items make a fantastic giveaway prize, ideally because they are cheap and extremely diverse. As an example, let’s say you operate a site advocating hybrid cars. You could easily obtain 50 completely customizable keychains from National Pen and give them away to the first 50 subscribers to your “What’s New in Hybrid” newsletter. The list goes on and on. If your budget allows for it, you could also purchase a high-value prize to be won or given away.
Often referred to as “PPC,” pay-per-click advertising is used to draw in visitors from popular search engines such as Google and Bing. As its name suggests, a webmaster pays a specified price (fixed) every time someone clicks on your advertisement. PPC costs can vary wildly, being as little as $0.38 a click (average PPC cost in 2005) to as much as $1.00 or more. So if you were to get 2,000 clicks this month and the PPC rate was fixed at $0.32, you can expect to pay $640.00 for the month.
While that seems like a lot just to get people to visit your site, the ultimate hope is that the majority of these clicks will result in a new subscriber, reader, commenter, or customer. Ideally, you’re hoping the return on investment is worth the cost of the PPC campaign. If you’re operating on a fixed budget, then it is possible to set daily limits. What that means is that you could set up your Google AdWords account to only allow clicks up to as little as $5.00. Therefore, once you have reached $5.00 worth of clicks, your AdWords account will “disappear” for the day.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
I saved the best for last…just kidding! As the name suggests, search engine optimization refers to the optimization of your website’s visibility within search engine results. In a nutshell, you’re setting your website up so that search engines value it more, placing it within the top results. Having your site listed within the top results can be highly valuable. After all, when you search for something on Google, how often do you venture further than the first page? Therefore, it is safe to assume that potential visitors are not going too either.
I held off on discussing this category because it is, by far, one of the most complex marketing methods as it is always changing in order to cater to search engine changes and updates. Basically though, you can improve your site’s visibility within search engines simply by editing your site’s pages and content to fit specified keywords that are commonly searched. You can also remove any barriers a search engine might encounter while attempting to index a page. The best advice I can give you here is to hire a professional. These guys live and breath SEO, and are always up to date with the latest algorithm changes. It will likely cost a pretty penny, but it is well worth it given the quality of the SEO professional hired.