What can you do to stimulate and increase website traffic?
How can you get more visitors to your website?
People ask me, how can I increase my website traffic?
Since I got started online back in 1998, I always taught the basics.
Write real content and use real keywords, no tricky stuff.
Well thank goodness for that because in the last two years Google made all kinds of great changes that just killed the
people who tried to manipulate and play tricks with their websites. People lost their page ranking literally overnight.
I am happy to say most of my clients actually went up or at least stayed the same.
Here’s a checklist of over 30 items you need to consider.
Many of these you’re probably doing
already; others you meant to do and forgot about;
still others you’ve never heard of. Of course, a great deal has
been written about this.
While we’re not breaking any new ground here, we’ve tried to summarize some of the most important techniques.
Search Engine Strategies
Perhaps the most important — and inexpensive — strategy is
to rank high for your preferred words on the main search engines in “organic” or “natural” searches (as opposed to
paid ads). Search engines send robot “spiders” to index the content on your webpage, so let’s begin with steps to
prepare your webpages for optimal indexing. The idea here is not to trick the search engines, but to leave them
abundant clues as to what your webpage is about.
1. Write a Page Title. Write a descriptive title for each page of 5 to 8 words. Remove as many “filler” words from
the title, such as “the,” “and,” etc. This page title will appear hyperlinked on the search engines when your page
is found. Entice searchers to click on the title by making it interesting. Make sure your main keyword is in
Plan to use some descriptive keywords along with your
business name on your home page. If you specialize in silver bullets and that’s what people will be searching for,
don’t just use your company name “Acme Ammunition, Inc.” use “Silver and Platinum Bullets — Acme Ammunition, Inc.”
The words people are most likely to search on should appear first in the title (called “keyword prominence”).
Remember, this title is nearly your entire identity on the search engines. The more people see that interests them
in the blue hyperlinked words on the search engine, the more likely they are to click on the
link. All of these will help increase your website traffic over time.
2. Write a Description and Keyword META Tag.
The description should be a sentence or two describing the
content of the webpage, using the main keywords and key phrases on this page. If you include keywords that aren’t
used on the webpage, you could hurt yourself.
Most people now are using WordPress or a content management
system to run their websites. There are great tools and plugins that help you set up your pages in the best way for
SEO. One of my must have SEO tools is
WordPress SEO by Yoast
This plugin actually shows you what your title and the excerpt will look like in google search results before you publish the page.
Your maximum number of characters should be about 255; just be aware that
only the first 60 or so are visible on Google, though more may be indexed.
When I prepare a webpage,
I write the article first, then write a description of the content in that article in a sentence or two, using each of the important keywords and keyphrases included in the article.
This goes into the description META tag . Then for the keywords META tag, I
strip out the common words, leaving just the meaty words and phrases.
The keywords META tag is no longer used for ranking by Google, but it is currently used by Yahoo, so I’m leaving it in. Who knows when more search engines will consider it important again? Every webpage in your site should have a title, and META description tag. Working online is about slow and steady wins the race. Doing all the things you need to do will increase your website traffic the more you follow the right way to set it up.
3. Include Your Keywords in Header Tags H1, H2, H3.
Search engines consider words that appear in the page headline and sub
heads to be important to the page, so make sure your desired keywords and phrases appear in one or two header tags.
Don’t expect the search engine to parse your Cascading Style Sheet (CSS) to figure out which are the headlines –
it won’t. Instead, use keywords in the H1, H2, and H3 tags to provide clues to the search engine. (Note: Some
designers no longer use the H1, H2 tags. That’s a mistake. Make sure your designer defines these tags in the CSS
rather than creating headline tags with other names.)
4. Make Sure Your Keywords Are in the First Paragraph of Your Body Text.
Search engines expect that your first paragraph will
contain the important keywords for the document — where most people write an introduction to the content of the
page. You don’t want to just artificially stuff keywords here, however. More is not better. Google might expect a
keyword density in the entire body text area of maybe 1.5% to 2% for a word that should rank high, so don’t overdo
it. Other places you might consider including keywords would be in ALT tags and perhaps COMMENT tags, though few search engines give these much if any weight.
5. Use Keywords in Hyperlinks.
Search engines are looking for clues to the focus of your page. When they see words hyperlinked
in your body text, they consider these potentially important, so hyperlink your important keywords and keyphrases.
To emphasize it even more, the webpage you are linking to could have a page name with the keyword or keyphrase,
such as blue-widget.htm – another clue for the search engine to help bring you more website traffic.
6. Make Your Navigation System Search Engine Friendly.
Every website should have a google site map installed. If you are running a WordPress website, you can install a
plugin that creates that for you and if you using WP SEO by Yoast, that already includes a site map for your
website, so one less thing to have to worry about.
7. Develop Several Pages Focused on Particular Keywords.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) specialists no longer recommend
using external doorway or gateway pages, since nearly duplicate webpages might get you penalized. Rather, develop
several webpages on your site, each of which is focused on a different keyword or keyphrase. For example, instead
of listing all your services on a single webpage, try developing a separate webpage for each. These pages will rank
higher for their keywords since they contain targeted rather than general content. You can’t fully optimize all the
webpages in your site, but these focused-content webpages you’ll want to spend lots of time tweaking to improve
8. Submit Your Webpage URL to Search Engines.
This is really obsolete now.
In 2012 – you hardly even need a link for Google to find your website. Google (especially) WILL
find your domain, and if has unique content on it – it will go into it’s index and site
9. Fine-tune with Search Engine Optimization.
Now fine-tune your focused-content pages (described in point
7), and perhaps your home page, by making minor adjustments to help them rank
high. A really fun tool that Bing just came out with is called “Bing it On“.
It lets you see what search results for a url or keywords come up in Bing and Google , side by
side. I always recommend you google and bing and search engine your name, your website and anything you are doing to see what is going on, online. I have found all kinds of things when I do that. Pages I needed to fix, places listing me or referring to me that I had no idea about, ( all good so far!), and many other interesting links. You can also sign up for google alerts to let you know when things are published and refer to your website or name or whatever you want to keep track of.
10. Promote Your Local Business on the Internet. These days many people search for
local businesses on the Internet. To make sure they find you include on every page of your website the street
address, zip code, phone number, and the five or 10 other local community place names your business serves. If you
can, include place names in the title tag, too. When you seek links to your site (see below), a local business
should get links from local businesses with place names in the communities you serve and complementary businesses in your industry
nationwide. List your website on Yelp, Google Profiles, and all the social media websites. You will get website traffic from all these sites and they must be part of your arsenal.
Links to your site from other sites bring additional traffic.
But since Google and other major search engines consider the number of incoming links to your website (“link
popularity”) as an important factor in ranking, more links will help you rank higher in the search engines, too.
Google has introduced a 10-point scale called PageRank (10 is the highest rank) to indicate the quantity and
quality of incoming links. All links, however, are not created equal. Links from popular information hubs will help
your site rank higher than those from low traffic sites. This is one of the many reasons being involved in some
good forums online is very helpful. You can create a profile and link it to your website and that link counts in
google. Also leaving comments on popular websites with a link is good. Not
comment spamming, but real comments that are relevant to your website and
11. Submit Your Site to Key Directories , since a link from a directory will help your ranking — and
get you traffic. You can try to list your site in the free Open Directory
Project (www.dmoz.com), overseen by overworked volunteer
human editors. This hierarchical directory provides content feeds to all the major search engines. Plus it provides
a link to your site from an information hub that Google deems important. But don’t be impatient and resubmit or
you’ll go to the end of the queue.
Dmoz links still hold weight but the site is lacking in any kind of follow up and seems like it is slowly dying.
Many top ranking website owners in our current online world hate Dmoz, and with good
reason. Dmoz has many dead links and horrible websites, and to get listed on there is now next to
impossible these days. The word is that Google does not place as much authority on a Dmoz link as it used to. If
you want to have a good laugh go check out websites in your category on Dmoz and you will see some of the
ugliest and oldest websites ever. It feels like a time capsule of the “olden” days.
Yahoo! Directory is another directory to consider if you want
to be in a large directory.
Real humans will read (and too often, pare down) your 200-character sentence, so be very careful and follow their
Hint: Use somewhat less
than the maximum number of characters allowable, so you don’t have wordy text that will tempt the Yahoo! editor to
begin chopping. Business sites require a $299 annual recurring fee for to have your site considered for inclusion within seven business days.
The question really is, do you need this in today’s marketplace? The general opinion I found from experts in the field was a resounding NO.
12. Submit Your Site to Industry Sites and Specialized
Directories. You may find some directories focused on particular
industries, such as education or finance. You probably belong to various trade associations that feature member
sites. Ask for a link. Even if you have to pay something for a link, it may help boost your PageRank. Beware of
directories that solicit you for “upgraded listings.” Unless a directory is widely used in your field, your premium
ad won’t help — but the link itself will help boost your PageRank and hence your search engine ranking. Marginal
directories come and go very quickly, making it hard to keep up. Don’t try to be exhaustive here.
13. Request Reciprocal Links. Find complementary websites and request a reciprocal link to your site (especially to your free
service, if you offer one). Develop an out-of-the way page where you put links to other sites — so you don’t send
people out the back door as fast as you bring them in the front door. Your best results will be from sites that get
a similar amount of traffic to your site. High-traffic site webmasters are too busy to answer your requests for a
link and don’t have anything to gain. Look for smaller sites that may have linking
pages. One warning: Be sure to
only link to complementary sites, no matter how often you are bombarded with requests to exchange links with
a mortgage site that has nothing to do with yours. One way Google determines what your site is about is who
you link to and who links to you. It’s not just links, but quality links you seek.
14. Write Articles for Others to Use in their
Newsletters. You can dramatically increase your visibility when you write articles in your area of expertise and
distribute them to editors as free content for their e-mail newsletters or their websites. Just ask that a
link to your website and a one-line description of what you offer be included with the article. This is an
effective “viral” approach that can produce hundreds of links to your site over time.
15. Begin a Business Blog. Want links to your site? Begin a business blog on your website, hosted on your own domain. If
you offer excellent content and regular industry comment, people are likely to link to it, increasing your site’s
PageRank.If you have a blog on a third-party blog
site, occasionally find reasons to talk about and link to your own domain. The fastest and most simple to add a
blog to your current website is using WordPress. Many of my clients are now converting their HTML website over to
WordPress completely and using it as their content management system.
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16. Issue News Releases.
Find newsworthy events and send news releases to print and Web periodicals in your industry.
The links to your site in online news databases may remain for years and have some clout with link popularity.
However, opening or redesigning a website is seldom newsworthy these days. You may want to use a Web news release service such as PR Web
Issuing press releases is a traditional promotional strategy, but there are other traditional approaches that can help you as well.
Just because “old media” strategies aren’t on the Internet
doesn’t mean they aren’t effective. A mixed media approach can be very effective.
17. Include Your URL on Stationery, Cards, and
Literature. This is a no-brainer that is sometimes overlooked. Make
sure that all reprints of cards, stationery, brochures, and literature contain your company’s URL. And see that
your printer gets the URL syntax correct. In print, I recommend leaving off the http:// part and including only the
18. Promote using traditional media.
Don’t discontinue print advertising that you’ve found
effective. But be sure to include your URL in any display or classified ads you purchase in trade journals,
newspapers, yellow pages, etc. View your website as an information adjunct to the ad. Use a two-step
approach: (1) capture readers’ attention with the ad, (2) then refer them to a URL where they can obtain more
information and perhaps place an order. Look carefully at small display or classified ads in the back of
narrowly-targeted magazines or trade periodicals. Sometimes these ads are more targeted, more effective, and
less expensive than online advertising. Consider other traditional media to drive people to your site, such
as direct mail, classifieds, post cards, etc. TV can be used to promote websites, especially in a local
19. Develop a Free Service. It’s boring to invite people, “Come to our site and learn about our business.” It’s quite
another to say “Use the free kitchen remodeling calculator available exclusively on our site.” Make no mistake,
it’s expensive in time and energy to develop free resources.
Make sure that your free service is closely related to what
you are selling so the visitors you attract will be good prospects for your business. Give visitors multiple
opportunities and links to cross over to the sales part of your site.
Don’t neglect e-mail as an important way to bring people to
your website. Just don’t spam. That is, don’t send bulk unsolicited e-mails without permission to people with whom
you have no relationship. I myself use AWeber and find it simple to use and effective.
I use AWeber for
my email program. I find AWeber easy to use, they have templates if you want to use those for your newslettter.
They are very helpful and you can call them or use their help section. This is important to me because when I
need help I want to be able to call a company and also not be charged extra for help. Here is a free trial sign
up, so you can actually try it first before you commit.
20. Install a “Signature” in your E-Mail Program to help potential customers get in touch with you. Most
e-mail programs such as AOL, Netscape, and Outlook allow you to designate a “signature” to appear at the end of
each message you send. Limit it to 6 to 8 lines: Company name, address, phone number, URL, e-mail address, and a
one-phrase description of your unique business offering. Look for examples on e-mail messages sent to
21. Publish an E-Mail Newsletter.
While it’s a big commitment in time, publishing a
monthly e-mail newsletter (“ezine”) is one of the very best ways to keep in touch with your prospects,
generate trust, develop brand awareness, and build future business. It also helps you collect e-mail
addresses from those who visit your site but aren’t yet ready to make a purchase. Ask for an e-mail address
and first name so you can personalize the newsletter. You can distribute your newsletter using listservers
22. Send Offers to Your Visitors and Customers.
Your own list of customers and site visitors who have given
you permission to contact them will be your most productive list. Send offers, coupon specials, product
updates, etc. Personalizing the subject line and the message may increase the results.23. Rent targeted e-mail lists.
We abhor “spam,” bulk untargeted, unsolicited e-mail, and
you’ll pay a very stiff price in a ruined reputation and cancelled services if you yield to temptation
here. But the direct marketing industry has developed targeted e-mail lists you can rent — lists
consisting of people who have agreed to receive commercial e-mail messages. These lists cost $40 to $400
per thousand or 4¢ to 40¢ per name. Do a smaller test first to determine the quality of the list. Your
best bet is to find an e-mail list broker to help you with this project — you’ll save money and get
experienced help for no additional cost.
24. Promote Your Site in Online Forums and Blogs.
The Internet offers thousands of very targeted e-mail
based discussion lists, online forums, blogs, and Usenet news groups made up of people with very specialized
interests. Use Google Groups to
find appropriate sources (groups.google.com). Don’t bother with news
groups consisting of pure “spam.” Instead, find groups where a serious dialog is taking place. Don’t use
aggressive marketing and overtly plug your product or service. Rather, add to the discussion in a helpful way
and let the “signature” at the end of your e-mail message do your marketing for you. People will gradually get
to know and trust you, visit your site, and do business with you.span style=”font-family: Georgia;”>25. Announce a Contest. People like getting something free. If you publicize a contest or drawing available on
your site, you’ll generate more traffic than normal. Make sure your sweepstakes rules are legal in all states
and countries you are targeting. Prizes should be designed to attract individuals who fit a demographic profile
describing your best customers.
26. Ask Visitors to Bookmark Your Site.
It seems so simple, but make sure you ask visitors to bookmark your site
or save it in their Favorites list. Why don’t you bookmark the
article you’re reading right now? You know you’ll want to find it
27. Exchange Ads with Complementary Businesses.
Banner exchange programs don’t work well these days.
But consider exchanging e-mail newsletter ads with complementary businesses to reach new audiences. Just be
sure that your partners are careful where they get their mailing list or you could be in trouble with the
28. Devise Viral Marketing Promotion Techniques.
So-called viral marketing uses the communication
networks (and preferably the resources) of your site visitors or customers to spread the word about your site
exponentially. Word-of-mouth, PR, creating “buzz,” and network marketing are offline models. #14 above, “Write
Articles for Others to Use in their Newsletters,” is a viral approach. The classic example is the free e-mail
service, hotmail.com, that includes a tagline about their service at the end of every message sent out, so
friends tell friends, who tell friends.
Paid Advertising Strategies
None of the approaches described above is “free,” since
each takes time and energy. But if you want to grow your business more rapidly, there comes a point when you
need to pay for increased traffic. Advertising is sold in one of three ways: (1) traditional CPM (cost per
thousand views), (2) pay per click (PPC), and (3) pay per action, otherwise known as an affiliate program or
lead generation program. Do some small tests first to determine response. Then calculate your return on
investment (ROI) before spending large amounts. Here are some methods:
We certainly haven’t exhausted ways to
promote your site, but these will get you started. To effectively market your site, you need to spend some time
adapting these strategies to your own market and capacity. Right now, why don’t you make an appointment to go
over this checklist with someone in your organization, and make it the basis for your new Internet marketing
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