Everyone knows that if you want to promote your website, you need to work on your search engine listings. What is perhaps lesser mentioned is that there are other ways of drawing traffic to your site that are sometimes missed by the newcomer. Some of these can prove to be quite good at drawing traffic.
For those who missed my articles on promoting your site through the search engines, you can find them from thesitewizard.com's Website Promotion and Search Engine Optimization index. For example, you can try the following articles for starters:
Don't underestimate the value of an advertisement, delivered at the right time in the right place.
If you have the budget, you might want to consider advertising on other sites either by directly contacting them and asking if they accept advertising (and finding out their rates), or through a broker like an affiliate network. Affiliate networks are like a middle man that lets you advertise on other websites without having to manually hunt for relevant sites yourself. You typically sign up with them and pay whatever rates they require, and they'll handle the payouts to the websites publishing your advertisements.
Alternatively, you can also advertise on a search engine. For example, Microsoft has a facility for webmasters to advertise on Bing and Yahoo! When potential customers search for a term relevant to your website, your advertisement will appear in the search results.
I've mentioned elsewhere how important it is to have a free newsletter that your visitors can sign up on your website. In particular, I've mentioned how it can serve as a link between you and your visitors, benefitting both parties, and drawing return visitors to your site. If you missed that article or you want to refresh your memory, you can read it online at http://www.thesitewizard.com/archive/newsletter.shtml
What I've failed to mention in that article is that you can actually promote your site and draw *new* visitors by having your own newsletter. How is this done?
If your newsletter has useful content, you can actually promote your newsletter on the numerous newsletter announcement lists on the Internet. Targeted carefully, you can actually bring new visitors who want to check your site out after reading your announcements.
There are probably too many lists for me to exhaustively name in this article. Indeed, some of them are only frequented by webmasters like you and me whose only purpose there is to announce their own list. You will probably find out soon enough which announcement list works best for your newsletter and target group if you stagger your announcements and examine your web logs after each announcement is made.
Here are a couple of announcement lists to get you started:
There are probably many more around.
Besides newsletter announcement lists, there are also numerous ezine directories where you can list your newsletter or ezine. These might draw some traffic to your site too, depending on their popularity and your target group.
If you write your own original articles, you can actually make those articles available to other websites and newsletters for republication. The usual policy is that other sites and newsletters can republish the article only in its entirety without modification, and the author's byline and links to his website (usually at the bottom of the article) must be preserved.
This supposedly results in a mutually beneficial transaction — the other website (or newsletter) gets to use good articles which can draw in visitors to their site. You get free publicity, since your byline will include a link back to your website and brief information about what it offers.
There are, however, downsides to this. You can read more about them in my article on Syndicating Your Articles: Pros and Cons at http://www.thesitewizard.com/archive/syndication.shtml.
Nonetheless, if you wish to allow your articles to be published by others, there are at least a couple of ways you can get this done.
One way is to simply post a note on your site saying that all articles are free for republication and that the person who wants to reprint them need not specifically get your permission to do it. This allows your article to spread fast around the web.
Another way is to require other websites to request permission from you, which you will grant freely. This results in a slower distribution of your articles, but it has the advantage of your being in better control of its distribution.
You can also post your articles on certain sites and mailing lists designed for webmasters who are looking for articles to reprint. One such site is EzineArticles.
Among the visitors to thefreecountry.com (one of my sites) are a group who go there looking for the free programs that I wrote, namely Logtime and Tofrodos. Some of these visitors, while exploring the site, eventually also make it to the other sections which offer different sorts of free facilities (webmaster resources and programmer resources).
If you are adept at writing your own software, you might consider offering free versions on your site to attract visitors. Offering your own original software allows you to leverage on the free advertising done by the numerous software sites on the Internet which drive traffic to your site.
Note though that if your free software is unrelated to the theme or products offered by your main site, the best you get is untargeted traffic, which may consume your bandwidth without necessarily increasing your revenue.
In an earlier article, I dealt with the benefits of publishing your own electronic book (ebook) and how you can go about doing this. If you missed that article, you can find it at http://www.thesitewizard.com/archive/ebookpublishing.shtml
Essentially, having an ebook that is freely available has good promotional potential. You can submit the free ebook to free ebook sites (which will promote and distribute your ebook for you free of charge) and encourage your visitors to pass it to their friends.
There are webmasters who claim that the main source of their visitors come from links from other sites. While I can't claim that for thesitewizard.com as yet (the search engines are still the biggest referrers by far), it is true that a certain percentage of my visitors come from links on other sites.
How do you get others to link to you?
Set up your own Reciprocal Links page where you can put links to other sites.
Prepare some HTML code which the other sites can use to link to you, and put it in a Link To Us page for the convenience of other webmasters.
Look out for related websites which have a Reciprocal Links page. Put a link to their site in your Links page, and ask them for one in return. They're more likely to consider your request if you're already linking to them and if you ask politely.
Perhaps by far the most important thing you need to do to get others to link to you is to put up useful content. That is, don't concentrate solely on talking about your products and services. When other webmasters see a useful site, they will link to you without your even having to request that link. This is how thesitewizard.com acquires links to her: I don't think I have ever written to anyone to specifically request that they link to this site. Webmasters like to link to useful sites, since it has the effect of increasing the value of their own site (since their visitors will realise that such webmasters have good links, and come back for more). Make your site useful, and you will be surprised to find people linking to you without your asking.
There are many other ways to promote your site besides getting a good search engine ranking. Work on these alongside your search engine submission activity, and you will probably find that your efforts will pay off with increased traffic.
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