I recently held a brainstorming session with a colleague about how a new web site might best attract traffic on a limited budget. As I looked through the ideas we discussed, I realized that these strategies could be effective for many businesses. Here they are:
One of the easiest ways to drive traffic is to encourage other sites to link to yours. For example, if you run a mortgage business, contact related businesses, such as real estate brokers, and suggest reciprocal links. Both sites will benefit from better position in search engine results because search algorithms look favorably on links from quality sites. If you actually sell things on your site, you can also sign up with affiliate programs, such as those run by CommissionJunction, Linkshare and ShareASale. These sites will help drive customers to your site and you only pay when a sale is made on your site.
When you launch your web site, be sure to send out a press release to local publications and to all the industry-specific publications that make sense for your type of business. Then consider casting a wider net via services like PR Newswire. And to make sure that you know about reporters who might be looking to write about a business like yours, subscribe to HARO, a site where reporters sign up their story ideas. Your free subscription will lead to a daily email of journalists looking for sources, interview subjects and examples for their media pieces.
Running a contest is a great way to generate some buzz about your business. After all, everyone wants to be a winner! But make sure that the contest you run is consistent with the kind of business you run. A travel site might ask users to submit a short essay or video on the best vacation they ever had, with the winner receiving a short stay at a nice hotel. The best submissions could become content on the site, too.
Facebook and Twitter accounts also offer businesses low cost ways to promote their web sites. Make sure that everything you post is relevant to your marketing message – but have fun with it! If you have a blog (and you should), invite prominent people in your industry to guest blog for you. They will likely appreciate the chance for some extra PR and your site will benefit from their authority. Similarly, you can volunteer to guest blog on other sites to build your own audience – simply include a link to your site as part of your signature.
Sometimes, small, quirky campaigns can pay off big. I knew a business owner who printed up thousands and thousands of business cards (which is inexpensive with companies like VistaPrint) with just his company logo, web address and the words “It’s coming.” His team left them in cabs, buses and subways all over NYC. The web site got a huge increase in traffic simply from folks who were curious about what “it” was.
Before you announce your site to the world, review it carefully (or better yet, enlist someone who hasn’t yet worked on the site, so you have a fresh pair of eyes) to ensure your navigation and all your pages were developed with your target audience in mind, that they’ve been tested for usability, and everything looks as it should across all browsers. Make sure that you’ve incorporated appropriate page titles and key words – these will help your site in search engine rankings.