You can have the best-looking site in the world, generating $1,000 per visitor, and not make revenue of any significance if you aren’t actually getting any visitors. So, how do you do that?
There are at least four major ways to generate traffic to your website.
Many sites focus all their traffic-generating effort on ranking well in search engines. From Day 1, the focus is always on how to get into the Top 10.
At the other end of the spectrum, many other sites never even think about what they need to do to rank well, relying instead on other traffic-generating methods.
As with most things, though, the right approach is somewhere in the middle. Ranking well can be very, very difficult—particularly for a new site. So for new sites, it’s often best to focus efforts elsewhere. Established sites, however, can often get a significant boost in traffic within just a few days with a few minor tweaks.
Pros: Traffic from search engines is 100% free, and once your site is ranking well, continuing to rank well frequently requires very little work, if any. Because of that, although it can be expensive to do the work necessary to rank well initially, the return on that initial investment just keeps getting better over time.
Cons: Rankings that actually generate traffic can be hard to come by, especially for new sites. The investment in ranking well may not pay off for years, if ever. Additionally, search engine rankings are also notoriously fleeting, making building a business on search engine rankings alone a highly risky venture.
Traditional advertising is often out of reach for all but the most successful growing businesses, but the Internet, and pay-per-click advertising (PPC) in particular, has completely changed that. Now, ad budgets can be as small as just a few dollars. With costs per click starting at just a nickel, $5.00 will buy 100 visitors. $100 will buy 2,000.
Getting into traditional advertising with just $100 is exceptionally difficult—much less $5.00. Getting the same performance from your $100 can be next to impossible.
Additionally, with PPC you can track the effectiveness of your advertising down to the last dime so you know exactly what your advertising dollars bought you, whether you track purchases, leads, signups, or any other expression of interest.
Pros: PPC advertising is cheap and the results are immediate. Open an AdWords or Yahoo! Search Marketing account with a credit card, for example, and have your ads up and running within 30 minutes or less. It’s also 100% controllable and results can be tracked down to the specific keyword—giving you an ability to fine-tune your results largely unavailable in traditional advertising.
Cons: As with any advertising, PPC does cost money. And when you stop spending, the visitors stop coming. Grasping the intricacies of the various PPC advertising networks can be challenging as well.
Word of Mouth
We’d all obviously love to get more word-of-mouth traffic, but many people believe that it’s something we have no control over, it just magically happens—at least what our actions would indicate. Few of us actually spend any time figuring out how to generate more word-of-mouth traffic.
There are a number of ways to affect your word-of-mouth traffic, though. Giving something away, including your URL anywhere you can (on your letterhead, business cards, etc.) and participating in online forums are all ways to get more people talking about your site.
Keep an eye out here for at least one article devoted to creative ways to drive more word-of-mouth traffic.
Pros: Word-of-mouth traffic is absolutely free and often takes nothing more than being intentional about making your site’s URL visible to as many places as possible.
Cons: The amount of word-of-mouth traffic you can drive by direct efforts is limited.
Has your website done something that someone would find newsworthy? Have you issued a press release about it? If not, you’re missing a golden opportunity to generate more traffic to your site. Sites like PR Web make it easy to get your release into the hands of thousands of potentially interested journalists, which could easily lead to a surge in traffic.
Pros: Via PR Web, press releases can gain wide visibility—including Yahoo! News and Google News—for as little as $30. Each press release also includes a link back to your site, which can help boost your search engine rankings.
Cons: A poorly written release can actually negatively impact your website’s image.
There are many ways to generate traffic to your site—this is not a comprehensive list by any means—but I hope I’ve generated some new ideas for you to pursue this week.