If you’ve ever read tips on how to get and keep visitors to your site, and the #1 tip wasn’t “CONTENT” then it probably should be revised. Nobody cares about a site with stale information, it’s worse then old TV movies and re-runs. The more content you have the more pages for the search engines to index, thus more ways for searchers to find you. If you need new content for your website you’re welcome to use the contents of this article on your website, providing you put a prominent TEXT link to this post at the top AND bottom.
There are many more ways to promote your blog or site and I welcome you to post them in the comments if you wish.
AdWords (And other CPC programs)
I put this near the top because it is one of the most effective and flexible methods of advertising without the need of hunting down other websites to negotiate deals directly. AdWords is probably the most popular cpc (cost per click) programs around. You simply choose the keywords (search terms) you would like to trigger your ads to display and the maximum you will pay for someone clicking and following your ad. Using this service allows anyone with virtually any budget to run an effective advertising campaign without breaking bank, benefit being you only pay for real targeted traffic. Google offers a calculator for estimating how many clicks you can expect from your choice of keywords, daily budget and maximum bid. I suggest playing with the keywords and the CPC rate to see what you can come up with. Paying too little or too much for a click can mean all the difference. Try it. With the calculator raise your CPC to $1 then down to 0.01 then around the middle, you’ll notice the estimate may not be what you expect. Paying the most, doesn’t always mean getting the most, unless you have unlimited funds to cover your bids.
You will want to spend some time trying different ad styles, research the other companies with AdWords for the same keywords. Try to make an ad that stands out from theirs. You way want to send the traffic to a landing page (I discuss these later). In the end a proper AdWords campaign never ends because new things are searched for daily and the web is a place of trends. Staying on top of your CPC, Ad Quality and keywords will surely give you the edge.
Direct Ad Space (Using cost per impression or term programs)
Buying ad space directly from a website closely associated with your site content or product can greatly enhance your branding and increase traffic to your site. Be sure to research the actual website and make sure that they can deliver on the ad impressions. Often these can work out to less money if you can properly convert. With cost per impression you often pay a fee for a set amount of displays. let’s say $1.00/1000 or sometimes $30/2 weeks. Although the traffic can work out to be high quality at a good deal, it can also be completely useless if you don’t do it right. Things to think about. Ad placement. Find out where your ad will be shown (Front page, link page, side, top, bottom?) and also how many ads will be shown near it that you have to compete with. 2 Banners side by side reduces the chances yours will be clicked by 50% or more, depending on ad quality.
Banner quality is essential if buying banner space. Since you are not buying clicks you are buying the “chance” someone will visit your website. The results are largely up to you. 1:100 vs 1:1000 click-through is a very big difference. In CPC terms at $1.00/1000 that’s the difference between $0.01/click and $0.10/click. At just a penny, those are GREAT rates, and pretty much useless in CPC programs. Even at $0.10/click that’s a great rate. Unfortunately bad banners or bad placement can get you click rates of 1 in 5000 or worse.
One thing that’s great about a properly placed quality banner isn’t only the click-through rate, but the fact you have a OPTIMAL opportunity to enhance your branding. Put your logo and name on it, quality color straight to the point message, and even people that don’t visit will remember the name and may just check it out when they see it another time. Again you may want to check into landing pages, this gives you the chance to optimize a page for where the visitors are coming from.
Blog Comments (and other types of comments)
Blogs are the hit of the internet right now, and with community sites taking over the universe there’s the ability to comment on EVERYTHING. Take advantage of this by commenting and leaving a link in the style of a signature on your comments. Now don’t go leaving useless Bull Sh*t spam everywhere. If you read an article, song, video, page, person and liked or disliked something about it, then let them know. Trust me they’ll appreciate it otherwise they wouldn’t of let people comment. Don’t make the comments an advertisement, if possible avoid any ad-like lingo in it. A simple line separating the comment with a site name and link or maybe your slogan if it’s short. This will reduce the chance of it getting deleted. These are extremely powerful as they also provide you with better Search Engine Placement as they increase your back links. Again the trick here is to not get them marked as spam and deleted. It’s not necessary to leave it in every comment if you start having a discussion within a comments section, as all the links can take away from the context. Often 1 link per comment page is enough. Getting the spam label is terrible for site reputation and can be counter productive. Great thing about this is it only cost you your time. You’d be amazed however how many articles and sites you visit have a comments section.
Much like blog forums are growing rapidly on the internet and have been for a very long time. They are simply none real time open discussion rooms for the most part. People post a topic and anyone can reply. It’s frowned upon to start duplicate topics or to change topics within a thread so this provides a great way to receive targeted traffic. First find some busy forums that have areas discussing things you’re interested about and others that relate to your company. Join up and start reading through the discussions, you’ll be surprised at the stuff people talk about, their ideas, and amazingly how on top of the discussions they are. Just like the blog comments if you have an opinion on something go ahead and join the discussion. Most forums have an area in the profile that’s specifically for a signature. Make sure you follow the rules, some don’t allow banners, some do, and other rules may apply. Now every time you make a post and join a discussion that page will retain a link to your site. This is free advertising, great for SEO by creating link backs, and you get genuinely interested visitors. Often they visit based on the things you’ve said, meaning they visit based on your character, not on the ad in your signature. Keep this in mind. Portray a positive constructive attitude and opinion and keep the ad simple, you’ll get the best response.
*If you notice you get decent response from the forum traffic wise or enjoy the community you may want to try purchasing some banner space from them.
Have you ever noticed that almost anything you search for a link to Wikipedia comes up near the top almost every time? Why? Well it often has the most relevant content on any subject (although not always the most accurate) and also easily the most back links, since everyone links to it. Take advantage of this by creating your own Wikipedia entry about your company. Often here you can have things that you wouldn’t ever put on the website, like detailed company history, upper level staff names, what sparked the idea of the website, details about yourself, events, awards successes and even failures can be marked there. You’ll be surprised just how fast a Wikipedia page will go to the top of a good search on your company. Of course make sure to provide a link to your site from the wiki page. Keep it updated, link to other relevant wiki pages and such.
Obviously I didn’t create this blog to simply spend a couple hours of my time typing up yet another list of online marketing techniques for the hell of it. I did it because when I searched I saw many lists from 2005-2006 many with biased opinions on what works and what doesn’t, and all of them were very incomplete, and definitely almost all the same. I’m in the process of creating in what I hope is a large urban lifestyle community and have spent countless tiresome hours searching for ways to increase traffic, for free or otherwise. One thing I noticed is blogs get huge bursts of traffic if you write about something people want to know, maybe even get dugg. Now that’s a goal! So I starting writing this. When it’s complete I will submit it to 100’s of blog directories, and run through this entire list promoting this single document. After I do that, I will go ahead and write yet another blog on a similar topic, using my experiences from this one and god willing have someone useful and interesting to share with all of you. If I can maintain that, you will come back again. And if you are reading this, well you are traffic and proof that this works. What to blog about? Blog about what you know… what you do, where you went, thoughts on the world, your bad day at work. Whatever it is, write about it if you think someone cares. Of course link from your blog to your main website.
Although I don’t do much in this area, I highly suggest trying this as it’s becoming more and more popular. Podcasts allow you to do audio/video blogs and visitors can download them directly their ipods for later viewing/listening. Many people tell friends about podcasts and show them when they are away from the computer. This leads way to the best form of advertising. Word of mouth. Having someone take your ad away from the computer validates it’s quality. Best part is that they are free.
Sites like Digg and other social bookmarking websites are known to crush servers with traffic if you’re lucky enough to land the front page. Now it’s hard to get dugg without people digging you, so you have to do 3 things.
1: Make some diggable content, something fresh, something useful that people will want to share with others.
2: Provide a direct bookmarking link. Many sites provide link codes to put on your page for visitors to follow so they can recommend your site for bookmarking. The more people that bookmark the more likely you’ll get a good listing.
3: Ping the sites to let them know you have new content. Depending on the style of the site you may want to see if they can be pinged to let them know you have new content.
Bonus Tip: If you are taking part in these monitor your traffic closely as a spike may take your hosting account out, kill your bandwidth or even take your server down. 100,000+ visitors in a day can be hell when you don’t expect it. Although it may seem like a dream it can be a nightmare. You don’t want to spend your entire time listed having people unable to access your site.
Contests & Free Stuff
People love winning and people love free stuff, there’s no doubt about it. Free is one of the most searched for terms after sex and porn online. I’m sure mostly in the same search! But it’s true, people love anything free. Offer someone a nickel to fill a form and they’ll do it, pick black or red and get a surprise, they’ll pick one. This is a great way to get people to your site although they are normally there just for the contest and will leave quickly, it’s up to you to make sure you convert them into a sale or at least a returning visitor. To do this you can run frequent contests so they constantly check back or offer something for free. Example if you’re an artist offer a contest to win your album or maybe give away some free song downloads. If you’re website becomes busy enough you can have your contests sponsored and companies will donate you merchandise to give away, saving you the money.
Contests and free stuff are often the best ways to convert banner impressions, bulk traffic or opt-in email lists into actual visitors, but remember they are most likely only there for the contest. Converting them into quality leads can still be difficult especially if they never come back. I recommend posting the contest results on the site and not included in emails. Send out an email to contestants reminding them that the winner has been revealed. That forces them to RE-visit your site to find out if it was them, giving you yet another stab at converting them into quality traffic. Nice thing about this method is that it gets higher click through from garbage traffic + gives you a double chance at converting those that enter. Do keep in mind that the better the prizes the better conversion on your ads and more entries.
Bulk Opt-in Email Lists
Now I expect lots of comments stating that these don’t work, and for the most part they are right, but not entirely. Fact is they work great, most people just expect the wrong results. Do some simple conversion rate math and you’ll see why. Opt-in email lists results get worse and worse depending on how targeted they are. Often the click through rates from an email are the worst of most marketing methods. I would estimate around 1:10,000 from a budget but trust worthy supplier, that works out to about 100 for 1,000,000 messages. Chances are you paid about $30-75 for that list from a budget supplier. Is that terrible return? Well on a conversion rate, on investment? Not really. Send out 1,000,000 messages and get 100 clicks @ $50.00 is $0.50/click. Compare that to AdWords and it’s on par. Difference being that AdWords won’t give you nearly the ad impressions or ad size flexibility that an email will, and those help with BRANDING. I rather pay for $0.50/click and get a full page ad with optimal branding capability for those that don’t click through vs $0.25 for a small text ad beside a good search bundled with a dozen others. Again don’t expect miracles from bulk traffic suppliers. Building a quality landing page or promotion specific to the email receivers can increase the click-through rate, but again they are most likely only visiting for the exclusive offer or promotion.
Buy Bulk Traffic
Again haters will come up in here saying how they are all scams and don’t expect anything. For the most part they are right, often enough this traffic is on par with that of Opt-in email lists, depending again on the quality of the supplier. These are often generated by pop-unders, pop-overs, Pop-Ins, Pop-outs and whatever other way they want to try to pop something up. Often annoying and blocked by various browser tools they can be effective if used properly. Offer something people can’t refuse and they may just click. Set your goals realistically based on if it’s targeted traffic or not and how much you invested. Be sure to set up a landing page for these visitors as you will have to eat the bandwidth costs of supporting so much garbage traffic, however like emails you get the chance to show a full page ad, increasing your branding. Conversion rates suck so people often complain. “I paid for 100,000 hits and only 1 member signed up!” What a rip! well that’s because with garbage quality traffic it needs to be converted 2x. First from garbage to a lead, to a sign-up/sale. So you paid $50.00 for 100,000 visitors. They all hit your landing page but only 100 people clicked through to the actual site. Well you converted 1:100 visitors into a sale. That’s pretty much average. What you need to ask yourself is was he worth $50? And were the clicks and hosting the heavy traffic landing page worth $0.50/click? If so then it’s not such a bad idea. Plus you get the added bonus of a full page ad.
Make Landing Pages
By creating landing pages, best with alternate domains specific to the content of that page and putting a single text link back to your own website you will help your SEO. Back links are critical for SEO success. Often landing pages are used to monitor traffic, offer exclusive offers not found from navigating your main site or sometimes even to offset bandwidth costs. Hosting a landing page for a moderate campaign on a quality shared host might just save you going over your bandwidth costs hosting garbage traffic from that last bulk traffic purchase. Make sure they are quality, not cheesy, direct to the point and don’t make it a banner farm. You want them to go one place and that’s on through to your site. You can consider using a landing page with bulk traffic methods a way to clean it. I would avoid putting any AdSense or similar ads on a landing page as the traffic quality is so low you could possibly be banned from the service.
Print (Stickers, Fliers, Posters)
Often people mistakenly neglect offline methods of advertising online services. We advertise offline services online, why not the other way around? People in your local area are often the cheapest and easiest to reach, not only that by letting them know that you are local, it lends a level of validation to your service. You have so much freedom with print ads and how you deliver them. You can have mini-fliers handed out in a busy area, or someone go door-to-door. Other options are public bulletin boards in laundry mats, grocery stores and more. A prominent ad with the website ad in large bold text will embed the name in peoples heads for them to check out later. Things like bumper stickers can be placed on your car or friends cars (if they permit) and other areas. Give them to some younger friends or your friends kids and let them go nuts. Be sure to remind them not to place them anywhere it would be considered vandalism. If you’re lucky some stores may even let you put up a full size poster in their window if you are promoting an event or something.
You may want to trade them some services or a discount for some window space. A business in a prominent area of downtown can be seen by 1000’s of people everyday.
Believe it or not radio ads are not only for the big leagues. They can provide you with quick simple, broad market advertisements to the local public. Simply your site name, slogan and website address (Must be easy to remember) will take about 10 seconds. It may be best to check with smaller radio stations before going to the larger corporations. You can start as small as college radio, or internet radio, just make sure to ask them about their reach and demographics to make sure they suit your needs and price range. If you have a really cool website or some great new content it’s often good enough to simply recommend it to one of the hosts and they may be courteous enough to recommend it on the air free of charge. Radio hosts are always looking for something great to talk about. On the morning show they are always talking about YouTube videos, blogs and new products that I’m sure are not paid spots, remember quality only. If it’s just another toilet paper company don’t bother letting them know, but if it is made out of cashmere and Shea butter then perhaps it will spark conversation.
Although the entry cost is above that of almost any other marketing method it can still be done on the cheap. There are many budget channels out there and one of them being the TV listing channel. People spend proximately 5-10min of every hour watching that channel, at that time they are left prey to 1/3 or 1/2 screen budget ads. Although often used by law firms and carpet stores, you can use this space to quickly advertise your website. No need for acting, just a catchy slogan and ad with bold website address. Maybe some flash style animation if you want to go all out. With that you can easily have yourself seen on TV by up to millions of viewers, often for just a couple hundred dollars.
Branded merchandise is a great promotional tool, although the investment cost can be quite hefty. The benefits are clear however. Provide someone with a useful item bearing your logo and it’s sure to be seen by more people. The most popular would probably be the T-shirt. Every company out there seems to eventually have some sort of dallas cowboys hawaiian shirt or hat with their logo on it, and so should you. Things like Pens, Mugs, Clothes, Antenna balls, etc are things that will help with the branding of your website.
Social networking comes in many different forms, not just Myspace and Facebook, including their clones. These can be groups such as Yahoo and Google groups, both which have considerably more members then Facebook and MySpace. However you have to be careful when utilizing these as you are probably aware they are often abused. Back when MySpace took a huge leap I started my record label website. I then went ahead and blasted all my friends (I have several 1000 from my music) with a comment letting them know about the release of my album. I made it a very simple comment with a text link, although I used the assistance of software, I had to input the captures and put in time delays as to not flood. I didn’t send them all in one day instead I did them in small numbers spread throughout the month. I noticed very quickly that by doing so my friend requests increased exponentially giving me more prospects to leave comments on later, potentially advertising to all their visitors as well! It also drove over 2,800 unique visitors to my non-MySpace website in just 2 weeks. Boosted my online song plays by 3,500 across 3 sites in the same period.
Telling your friends about your website is key as often they will tell someone else they know. People take certain pride in knowing business owners and will often be quick to tell someone else they know about your site or service when the opportunity arises. Spreading the word through your already existing networks on your favorite sites can make this an easy task. Also make sure to shoot out an email to your E-mail address book letting them know, and asking them to forward it on. It’s easy for me to say this shows the most immediate response, however it doesn’t always bring quality leads, depending on your market. For me it was ideal as my goal was first time visitors and song plays, if I was advertising a commercial service this could of been much less effective. As it stands this will be a method I’ll revisit for promotion regularly.
Obviously this is the optimal goal into achieving a constant traffic flow to your website. Getting your website on search engines is simple, some require you to submit them, others like Google simply send out spiders and will eventually find your site, unless you specifically ask it not to, there’s no need to submit it for indexing. Achieving a ranking within the first couple pages is essential for receiving traffic from search engines and ideally for key words associated with your site/service not your site name. Example if you run a watch company out of Vancouver, Canada called “The Tick-Tock Shop”, you should aim to reach the top of searches for “Vancouver Watch Stores” not “Tick-Tock Shop.”
Very few people will naturally search for the second. How do you do this? Well that’s another article all together, but first you will want to include the keywords in your page title, throughout the body content and also in descriptions of back links. Example using text like “The Tick-Tock Shop – Vancouver’s Watch Store” will help towards this goal. Also the main key to success on search engines is back links. Many of the traffic generation methods above can help in the creation of back links. Forums, Comments, Landing Pages, etc can all contain one-way back links to your website, however many public websites append a “no-follow” to outside links to stop spiders from following them. When this happens they will not increase your ranking, but they still provide links for people to follow.
People will surely let me know that I’ve missed some things and I appreciate it. I will try to append the list as I try recommended methods that I have not utilized before or may have forgotten. Next I will write on several methods of converting “Garbage Traffic” into “Quality Leads” and getting return visitors. First give some of these a shot so you have some traffic to work with!
write by Ethelbert