Once you have a good site, it’s time to start getting other people to notice it. It’s very much an iterative process, and it will probably take you some time to figure out what really works the best for you and your site, but here are some good ways to start.
You want to know how many visits you’re actually getting, so you need good stats software before you do anything else. There are countless stats packages you could use, but I recommend Google Analytics for several different reasons:
- Because of the computing resources Google puts behind it, it’s much less likely to slow down your site like other programs.
- The stats are as close to an accepted standard as you can get — which will be important when it’s time to sell the site.
- The information you get about your site is much more extensive than with most stat software.
- It measures stats on actual visitors in real-time instead of trying to derive the stats later by looking at server log files — which is often wildly inaccurate.
Just go to Google Analytics and follow their instructions for getting up and running.
Strategies for Driving Traffic
Got Analytics installed? Good. Now it’s time to start making the numbers go up.
Actively Contribute to Relevant Blogs
What’s the easiest way to get some traffic flowing to your site? Be an active participant in the blogosphere.
Start by reading and commenting on what others have written. Each time you leave a comment on someone else’s blog entry, your name is linked to your site. And if you write something interesting, there’s a good chance that visitors who come by later will click over to your site. The key here, though, is the quality of what you write. Nobody likes a spammer, so I’m not talking about making comments like “Please visit my blog” all over the web. You have to be genuine or it will backfire — big time.
(Not sure if you’re a content spammer or not? Take this test.)
Be Active in Relevant Forums
Similar to being active on other blogs, find one or two popular forums related to your topic and become a regular contributor of valuable content. I can’t stress this strongly enough, though: You’re there to provide value, not to promote your site. People will find out about your site naturally if you’re genuinely interesting, and there’s nothing that’s a bigger turnoff than being all about “me, me, me”:
Take Advantage of Your Network
Who do you know who would be interested in your site? Tell them about it! And if they have a blog or website, let them know that you’d love it if they let their readers know, too (if it makes sense for them).
If you’re an active blog reader (and if you’re building an online business, you should be), you’ve probably seen guest bloggers on one or more blogs that you read. Well, scoring just one post on a popular blog can give your own site a great jumpstart. Learn how with this guest blogging guide.
Give out the Link Love
In every post you write, be sure to give out as much link love as possible. Most avid bloggers and website owners watch their sites like a hawk and will notice right away if someone has linked to them, quite often leading to a beautiful friendship. If you’re blogging, create posts specifically to review, expound, critique or disagree with things other bloggers have written (always respectfully so), and be aware of other opportunities to link out in every post you write. Don’t get so hung up on getting visitors to your blog that you try to get them from going anywhere else once they find you.
Promote Your Site’s URL
Always been on the lookout for ways to make people aware of your site’s URL. You can include it on letterhead, in your email signature, and lots of other places. Don’t get caught thinking that the only way to promote a website is online.
Liveblog an Event
If you have an opportunity to go to an interesting conference or other gathering that others can’t get to, blog live from there and include plenty of pictures. If you’re one of the few doing, it or if you do a particularly good job, you’ll find lots of sites recommending that their readers check out your coverage.
Don’t Ignore Search Engine Optimization
Making sure your site is optimized for search engines is a very smart thing to do. It may not make much difference in the short-term, but it will pay huge dividends the larger and older your site gets. Look for more specific information on this soon.
Interview a Popular Blogger
As I wrote in “Can I Interview You for My Blog?“, approaching someone for an interview is a great way to get your site noticed. Interview a popular blogger in your niche or, maybe better yet, interview a not-yet-popular blogger who should be. You can always say you gave them their big break ;)
Give Out an Award
Check out this post on Indeed’s blog. For nothing more than naming Indeed the “Best Job Search Engine,” Job-Hunt.org got a fantastic link back to their site — which drove visitors and helped their search engine rankings. If you look for them, you’ll find tons of examples both in the posts and in the sidebars of blogs you read (especially small ones).
The #1 Way to Drive Traffic
Work all of these strategies, and you’ll see traffic start flowing in a little by little in no time — and it does flow in slowly. Don’t get frustrated if it takes you several months just to get up to a handful of visitors every day. It takes some time to build a quality foundation of traffic.
If you’ve really created a site of value, though, that traffic will start to take on a life of its own as people start to spread the word. The more remarkable you are, the more people will talk about you.
And that’s the #1 way to drive traffic: Be Remarkable. If you’re not remarkable, you’ll always be swimming against the flow.
Time for Revenue?
Once you’re up to at least 1,000 unique visitors/month, you can start looking at ways to generate revenue. Until then, don’t take your focus off generating traffic. Why? Okay, take a sneak peak and I’ll tell you.