As the newest medium for interactive communication, the World Wide Web offers the potential for tremendous exposure, even notoriety, if you know how to use it to promote yourself and your work. There are a variety of ways to bring traffic to your corner of cyberspace. How much and what kind depends on the content or service you offer, and how you've designed your website.
Competing for attention with millions of other sites makes the task challenging. Don't be discouraged though. With realistic expectations, you can increase the chances of people finding your site or blog. How do you do it? Read on for some strategic advice.
Register Your Site
Search engines such as Google, Bing, and Yahoo! receive billions of hits a day, because people use these tools to locate specific information on the Web. Free and simple, this is probably the best way to get people to your site. What better way to increase your visibility than by being listed where everyone goes to find things?
Get things going by registering your site with the major search engines:
Be sure to read their FAQs to understand how the process works.
Major search engines will only ask for your URL when you add your site to their index. They then use web crawlers or spiders to crawl your site and determine what your website is all about.
To ensure that people can find your site, make sure the text on your home page accurately describes the site's purpose and content. Whenever possible, HTML document titles and file names should be self-explanatory. This increases the odds that your site will turn up in more searches.
Be aware that once you register your site, it can take weeks before the listing shows up. Check regularly to make sure the listing is there. If it hasn't appeared after a month, contact someone at the service to find out what happened.
Post in Groups, Mailing Lists, and Blogs
Give this one some thought. Don't blindly use these forums as a way to promote your site or you might get flamed or harassed. If the content of your site has something valuable to offer a specific audience, then by all means find the appropriate place and let those people know about it.
You might also look up some blogs that are popular in your industry and offer to write a guest post requesting that a link to your site be added to the author byline at the bottom of the post.
Use Advertising, Marketing, and PR
Traditional marketing methods can be highly successful, assuming you have the money to invest. If you decide to place print ads in various publications, make sure they target your audience. If your website appeals to classic car enthusiasts, don't advertise in a food magazine.
Be sure to include your site name and URL in all of your advertisements and marketing materials. Send press releases to Internet-related publications. If your budget supports it, consider hiring a Web-savvy Internet marketer to spread the word and come up with creative ideas for generating traffic.
Buying Online Ads
Advertising online is another way to go. In general, when you buy ads, whether in print or on the Web, you are paying for the number of impressions–the number of times your ad is seen. The rate is also determined by how highly targeted the audience is. For instance, if you sell graphics software, you want to reach design professionals. If you advertise to a general audience, most of those people will have no interest in your product. So while it may cost more to advertise to a targeted audience of graphic artists, the chances are greater that they will be interested in your product.
Another option is called Pay per click (PPC), where you buy sponsored keywords with search engines. For instance, suppose someone is looking for door knobs and you operate an online hardware store. You've set up an account with Yahoo! to sponsor these keywords: “hardware, hinges, door knobs”. When the prospective buyer searches “door knobs,” a sponsored link to your site appears as part of the search results. Typically, you only pay when the buyer actually clicks on the link, so this can be a very cost-effective way to generate leads if your average cost-per-click is les than the average value of a visitor to your website.
The Power of Links
We've saved the best for last. Don't underestimate the value of links. Find websites related to your area of interest and ask them to link to your site. Many sites will do that for free, especially if you reciprocate. With new sites coming online all the time, this should be an ongoing process.