Thursday, September 17, 2009

How To Increase The Traffic To Your Website

I get asked this all the time, whether via Alexa's forums, or after work by my friends: How do I get more traffic to my Web site? I wish there was just some simple button that I could tell people to push and that it would solve all their traffic issues. But it doesn't exist; if it did, everybody would already be using it.

But there are whole heaps of great advice, which if followed, will lead to more visitors to your site. What follows is a simple to follow list of best practices to help get you on your way.

1. On-Site Factors. Start with your site. You need to make it the best it can be. So that it will be attractive to visitors AND search engines.
  • Keywords. What is your site about? Find a few key words and phrases that you think describe your site and that people may actually enter into a search box on Google. If you pick very popular keywords and phrases, you might be disappointed. Millions of people will search for those keywords and phrases, but you will be way down the search results because lots of sites are optimized for those phrases. If you pick less popular keywords and phrases, you may have a shot of actually showing up in the search results because fewer sites have optimized for those keywords and phrases.
  • Optimize Your Site. Use your keywords and phrases on your site. Put them in the title of your page, in the H1 tags, metatags and throughout your site. Use them in the text of links that point to your page. Shoot for having keyword density of about 6%.
  • Have Good Content. You should strive to have something new on your site once per day. Don't let your site get stale... Google's algorithms will notice and so will visitors to your site. If you don't have a lot of time to create unique content every day, consider putting up a daily poll, creating a forum on your site, or leaving a comments field/Guest Book for visitors to fill out. If you use Twitter or Facebook, you can have your updates automatically appear on your site.
  • Unique Value Proposition. Give something away on your site to your visitors to remember you by. Otherwise people may forget your site and won't come back. You can find interesting content on, or you can give them a custom Alexa Toolbar. Just give them something.
  • Create A Sitemap. Every time you update content on your site you should update your sitemap and submit the site map to Google, Yahoo, Bing, Ask, etc.. There are lots of free sitemap tools out there. Find one and get started. It is a great way to let Google know when your site is updated.
  • Return Visitors. How are you going to get people to return to your site after they have left? You may want to consider an e-mail newsletter. But don't spam... please. If people like your content let them sign up to get your newsletter. You should also allow people to subscribe to your updates via facebook or twitter. Most blogs offer easy plugins for this feature.
  • Link Bait. People love lists. Make lists of things that are relevant to your site and put them on your site, like top ten fishing sites. Then let the sites in your list know you have made your list. They may take that list and put it on their site... Or give out awards like "fishing site of the week." which brings us to...
2. Off-Site Factors. Once you have a great site you need to start thinking about other factors, mostly links. If nobody links to your site you are going to have a tough time getting seen in Google's results. More links = better placement in Google. So how do you get links?
  • Link Number One. The first link is easy. Alexa already has a link to your site, and Alexa's page rank is high, so the link from Alexa counts more than most. You just need to let Google know that Alexa has a link to your site. How do you do that? Install the Google Toolbar then visit Alexa. But be sure to put your Alexa Toolbar back!
  • Get Listed In Directories. Directories that are relevant to your site are generally more important than others, so if your site is about basket weaving, find a basket weaving directory and ask them to list your site. Get listed in as many as possible. And then find other general directories like DMOZ and get listed there. Are there Wikipedia articles that should list your site as a place for more information on a topic? Get listed.
  • Participate In Social Media. Find forums that are relevant to your content and participate... a lot. Update your signature footer on the forum to include a link to your site. Use Twitter, Facebook, Digg, but, in all cases, do not just post or write about your own site. Nobody cares. Write and post about things that you care about, sometimes your site, and people who like your posts may make their way over to your site.
  • Have Something Newsworthy. If you have something newsworthy, don't just blog about it. First post it as a press release on your site, then update your sitemap, then post it to the newswires, then submit it to ezine articles, Article Base and/or Go Articles, then blog about it, twitter about it, etc. If you do it right you will have at least a couple of new links to your site, and if you do it really right you could have dozens of new links.
  • Advertise. There are lots of great advertising solutions out there. Google AdWords is a great place to start and, if done well, can offer you a good deal on targeted traffic. Display advertising can be effective and affordable as well. The social networks are now offering do-it-yourself advertising at reasonable prices, and even Alexa allows you to advertise at inexpensive CPMs.
And, as always, install the Alexa Toolbar. It won't increase the traffic to your site, but it won't hurt and you will be helping Alexa to track your site and helping the entire Internet Community by contributing to Alexa's Traffic Data.

Getting more traffic to your site is a journey. Take the first steps today, and with a little hard work and some luck, you will be counting your visitors in the millions before too long.

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