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Traffic is everything to an internet business, as without traffic you won't make any sales. Think of it as being like people through the door of your store.
There are a number of ways you can start to drive traffic to your website. They are ranked roughly in order of importance, including the basics - such as getting your own site. Search Engines are always the main source of traffic on the Internet, with other methods falling gradually in effectiveness.
However, your mileage may vary: One strong Viral Marketing campaign has the potential, for example, to outrank all others. There may be some crossover between certain methods (Article Marketing will drive direct traffic, as well as increase PageRank for SEO, for example) and the ranking is a combination of the total number of potential visitors compared to the number of targeted visitors (visitors who just hit your site vs visitors who want to see it).
1. Your Own Site
Your own site is essential, you just can't rely on free websites to stand up under the strain. But more importantly, it let's you control the domain name.
This means you can use keywords in your domain name, which will greatly influence your search engine rankings. In general, short, .com, keyword-laden names are the best.
To get your own domain name simply visit a registrar such as namecheap.com and start searching. You'll quickly find that an awful lot of good names are already taken, so you are forced to take your second choice. Your domain name will double as your brand, so think carefully.
If you cannot find the dictionary term you require don't worry - after all Google and Yahoo don't actually mean anything! But if you do find, for example, SearchEngineTips.Com is available then grab it.
If you cannot find a domain you want it's not the end of the world. You purchase an already registered one at various auctions on the web, or direct, but be prepared to pay a premium: millions of dollars in some cases!
Finally, you can grab domains that have expired, which the original owner has not renewed. Be careful with trade names etc as you may have a battle on your hands, but in most cases it's fine and legal. There are a number of services that list expired and ready to expire domains.
1a. Your Host
A site name on it's own is pretty useless unless you're just forwarding it somewhere or using it for e-mail, so you will also need a hosting service.
A host is where the contents of the site are held. That means your web pages, graphics, audio, downloads - whatever your site contains.
In general any familiar name should do, but it depends on your budget and the level of service you require. Some hosts specialise in e-mail sending, for example, and some can handle more traffic than others. Some will give you your own, unique, IP address while others will share it with more than one site.
And finally, it depends on the type of site - or sites - you wish to host. A download site will require a lot more space and traffic than, for example, a blog. And certain hosts will even install that blog and other scripts for you.
However, in general, it all comes down to: Price, Bandwidth, and Diskspace.
There are far too many to list here, but if you just want a simple recommendation then go with HostGator who are one of the biggest, and have different packages to suit every pocket.
Click Here For Host Gator
2. Search Engines
Note: I recommend "Stomping The Search Engines 2" for more information on this subject. Now available as a DVD-Rom for free!
The Search Engines, and almost by default that means Google (though it is also worth targeting others) are the best source of traffic you can get. People will come to a search engine too look for a specific site, or subject. That means that people who arrive at your site are there for a purpose, to it's targeted traffic.
There are millions of sites in the world wide web, so how do you get yours to the front of the queue? Most people will only look through the results on the first page or two.
You have to understand how Google ranks your site. First, it looks at the content, for keywords, as well as special "meta" parts of your webpage such as it's title and URL. Then it will use it's own proprietary ranking method known as Page Rank.
You'll find many Pagerank tips here
Page Rank counts the number of links coming to your site from other sites. The theory is this means your site is more respected, and more useful, than others. It also puts an emphasis on older sites - therefore links from sites that themselves have a high pagerank and age will effect yours more beneficially.
There are two main theories of getting good Search Engine rankings. One states that just by being the best you can, adding content literally every day, making your site easy to navigate and easy to use will naturally result in a good ranking. The cream rises to the top.
Another says you can actively influence the results. By seeking out sites to link to yours, by adding content that specifically includes keywords you wish to be ranked for, and by ensuring each of your pages are listed.
So here's what's important:
(Note: There is more general information on page-building at this Squidoo page)
i. Find out what Keywords you wished to be ranked for. You can use Google's Keyword Tool for this. So, if for example you have a fishing site, perhaps terms such as "Carp Fishing", "Boat Fishing", "Fishing Rods", "Fishing Tackle" etc can be focused on. You can also look at competing sites and see what keywords they are targeting.
ii. Create pages for each of the terms you have listed. Have the content on those pages include the specific terms a number of times - but don't over do it. And ensure the page URL, Title and Meta Keywords sections include those terms. Make sure the page links to a few of your other pages.
iii. Get links to your main site, and your sub pages.This can be done by signing up to directories, commenting on other blogs, writing articles, asking other site owners to link to you, or just by writing great content that people are happy to link to. In general, one-way links are best - that is where other sites link to you but you don't link to them. Also, anchor-text can influence the link, so the word "Fly Fishing" linking to your page on that subject is better than just a raw link with your URL.
That is essentially SEO in a nutshell. There is an entire industry around the subject, and there are many other tips and tweaks you can use that mostly cover other methods to get links. But in all seriousness you are generally at Googles whim, as if they change their page rank algorithm overnight (which they do) all your hard work could be lost.
So content is the best strategy. You'll even find yourself ranking for very specific search terms (known as The Long Tail) that you didn't really aim for. And the easiest way to create good, search engine friendly content? Use a Blog! Wordpress is especially easy to install.
One last point. Although Google *should* index every page of a well linked site, by submitting a SiteMap you can ensure all your pages are listed.
Use FreeTrafficSystem to build one-way backlinks to your site.
Write articles for more backlinks and traffic.
3. Your Own Mailing List
Full information on Mailing Lists at this Squidoo page
Having your own mailing list is great, it's a little like having an instant source of traffic whenever you press "send". And it's perhaps the best quality traffic, beyond targeted - since the people here have done more than look for your site. They have actively joined it, and over time will get to know you.
There are a number of ways to store and use your mailing list. The first is simply to keep the addresses in a file and send them manually via your e-mail program. Of course that would quickly become unworkable.
The other main options are to host your own mailing list software at your website, or to use a third-party, external service.
The benefits? Firstly - cost. With a self-hosted script you pay once for the script, or maybe even get a free one. You also have all control at your end. And you can usually use it more flexibly, such as import subscribers directly, etc.
But with a third party Autoresponder you'll have the benefit of better email deliverability, and in the end that is what may sway you, regardless of cost. Services such as Aweber and Getresponse are professional email companies and spend a lot of time negotiating with email service providers to ensure their mail gets delivered, and keeping their names off the spam lists.
They are not so flexible as your own script, because they're unlikely to allow you to import subscribers, and are more likely to come down heavily if they think you are abusing their system. However, if you send emails yourself it becomes your responsibility - if any user complains of spam (which they probably will, regardless of whether they subscribed themselves or not) it may mean your domain enters the major spam lists.
Once you have your choosen provider and you are ready to start building your list, how do you accomplish that? Simple: Put a form on your site.
This form can simply say "Please Join Our Mailing List" or you can go much further! Offer a bribe, for one. Say they can have a free membership, access to a special report, or a free ebook for joining. Or you can use a squeeze-page. This is essentially form that the user HAS to pass through before they are even allowed to enter the site.
You can also joint venture with other list builders, so you share each others traffic: for example "Thank You For Joing My List. Please Try xxxxx". Or you can join even bigger events where every marketer will promote the same page or service - that page being where visitors can sign up.
You can even buy a mailing list directly. This is a somewhat dubious area, though many people have had success this way. The main point is you need to tell these new subscribers why they are now on your list, anad how they can remove themselves - but of course, why they shouldn't :). You are more likely to be accused of spam this way.
Which ever method you use an email list is well worth building. If you have a service or website you can do it on the side, or you can build sites that specially designed JUST to build a list. But this list will be one of your major assests, so it's up to you to nurture and look after your subscribers.
4. Social Networks
Social Networks are a modern phenomena on the web. Essentially it's where people can gather and recommend to each other sites, services and more as well as communicate and chat.
There are two main types that of use to the site owner. The first kind of social network actively recommends and rates various websites, such as Stumbleupon and Digg. The second type is really a communication medium, such as MySpace and Facebook.
With the bookmarking sites, you can simply add your site, then attempt to get as many votes as you can. With a high vote your site can be shown, for example, on the frontpage of Digg (resulting in the infamous "Digg Effect", literally thousands of hits overnight). Or you can grow your own personal network - by adding "friends" - on sites such as MySpace, Twitter and Facebook.
Other social networks are more specialized, such as YouTube and Flickr, but you can still use that sites specific kind of content (videos and pictures in this case) to build a traffic flow. You just need to ensure your site link appears somewhere with the content.
Really this becomes a race for votes. It can snowball easily, so the more people who see your site on Stumbleupon or Digg the more people there are to click the vote button you provide. And with Facebook, for example, the more friends and contacts you get the more likely you are to get even more.
It's well worth using social networks for traffic but it becomes an ongoing task, otherwise you'll just get traffic spikes and not a steady flow.
5. Viral Marketing
Viral Marketing gets it's term from the fact that the traffic you get grows exponentially. For a simple example, one person can recommend two - and those two recommend two each - and then those four recommend two each - and so on. So it becomes 2x2x2x2x2 etc.
For this work, you have to have something worth sharing.
Videos, eBooks, Websites and Programs can usually share well. As long as your content is unique or funny people will want to share it. And if you provide a simple way for them to do so, they will.
Another tactic is to encourage people to share - by, for example, offering something in return - perhaps more content or another download. Another way is to appeal to their greed, so you can offer an affiliate program of some kind - by sharing they can earn 50%, or whatever.
So you can see that an affiliate program is also a kind of viral marketing campaign! A customer is encouraged to share the site because of the commission, and many of those referred will do the same.
6. Paid Search-Engine Advertising
This mainly concerns Google Adwords. This is Googles paid advertising system, where you can bid on keywords and your ad will show in the right-hand menu.
Many people have a lot of success using this system. As long as you can account for every penny spent along the way! You must work out, for example, how many ads you will get shown for x amount of dollars, how many of those ads will get clicked on, and how many of those go on to purchase your product.
These figures are very important, for without them you will end up throwing money down the drain. Luckily, Adwords is the best place to get instant results, and to try out new ideas.
It works by you building up a list of keywords and entering how much you are willing to bid on each keyword. If you bid the most, your ad is shown first. Otherwise it will appear in a lower position or even on the second page. It depends on your competition for those keywords.
Once you have your keywords - you can start by using the same ones you use for SEO (step 2) you need to see how many people actually search using that term. If, for example, there are 4,000 searches a month for "Fly Fishing" it may be worth you bidding on that keyword. But if it is going to cost you $2 per click, perhaps you'd think twice.
This kind of mathematical balancing is prevalent in making a success of Adwords. To get back to our example, what if 50% of those people who cost you $2 a click go on to make you $50 down the road? Is it worth the cost, then?
Sometimes, you will get lucky. You'll find a niche with very little competition, and therefore a low cost per click. You can easily make a success this way as long as your website goes on to convert that visitor to a buyer. And even if they don't buy, you are just aiming to get a subscriber, perhaps your lifetime value of a subscriber is going to be $50+. Worth thinking about!
More on the Maths here!
7. Your Own Affiliates
This is much easier than you might imagine. If you have a product for sale that you control - usually something you've created yourself, you can pay people to promote it for you. you are effectively getting traffic that is generated by your affiliate in the hopes that they will make sales. You both win, you run the product and sales, they run the promotion, you split the income.
That's only a basic example. Percentages can vary widely, from 5% right up to 100% (so you get ALL the sale). Sometimes the initial sale isn't important, as you can make money from further sales along the line.
You can run your own affiliate program easily by using ClickBank. With these services you just add your product to the system and you have a ready made back-end where the payment processor will pay you and your affiliate. With others, such as PayDotCom, you must ensure you pay your affiliates what you owe, manually.
You can also use a simple script such as the "$7 Method" script or the various membership scripts that are around. It all adds up to one thing, a successful product will gather willing affiliates, and as long as you have an in demand product that converts well, they will want to promote.
8. Joint Ventures
A Joint Venture can take many forms, but it's usually a complimentary deal between 2 or more marketers.
The affiliate program above is one such JV. You have the product, they have the traffic, so you team up.
You can also agree to cross-promote each others products - so you both benefit from each others traffic. And you can even create products together, perhaps one persons strength is marketing, anothers is programming. Or one person is good at copywriting, another at graphics. There are lots of opportunities in this field.
In all actuality most JV's are affiliate deals, where "JV Partners" are really simple affiliates. But as long as both parties are happy, it's well worth arranging.
9. Paid E-Mail Advertising
If you don't have a big list of your own perhaps you would like to rent space on anothers. You can pay for ads to be sent out by another person, to their list.
You can actually rent an email list from list brokers, or you can purchase ads directly from other marketers. You can have your ad sent out to the list alone (a solo ad) or, as in the traditional magazine market, your ad can be included in their electronic magazine (ezine).
Results will vary widely. And it's difficult to know in advance which ezine list is a match for your product, whether the people on that list are responsive to third-party deals (noone likes receiving ads!), etc.
It's probably better to come up with a unique offer for the list owner, be it a discount or a bonus, so they can promote it not as an ad but as a recommendation. Sometimes you will rather form a JV this way instead of purchasing the ad directly.
10. RSS Feeds
An RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feed is a simple text file that contains all the content you have published. You'll usually find them automatically generated by your blog, but you can also use them for other purposes - perhaps an up to date feed of your articles, or your offers.
The benefit to the user is they can use web services or software to "subscribe" to feeds they like, and each day be presented with the latest updates. It's like having an e-mail subscription outside of their actual email.
For the marketer the benefit is that it's yet another way to keep in contact with your visitors, subscribers and customers. With email becoming more difficult deliver, RSS feeds are one possibility. It's probably better to use both.
One service worth using is Feedburner, now part of Google. This service will count the subscribers you have, and ensure your feed is compatible with a ride range of readers. It also has features to let you add extra content to your feed - such as ads, and social bookmark features.
11. Article Marketing
Article Marketing is often suggested as one way you can drive traffic. It is still effective, though less so than it used to be.
The idea here is that you write content, specifically for distribution. You can send it to other site owners and list owners who will hopefully publish your content, and you can submit it to article directories, who will also publish your content as well as make it available for others to use.
When writing an article you should again focus on keyword based articles, in the title and content. This way it will help with search engine listings and enable interested people to find your article.
You gain actuall traffic in two ways. Firstly, you can include a short bio and link at the end of your article, so if people want to find out more they can follow that link. You will also get a pagerank boost as that link will count as another vote for your main site. Luckily, many article directories as considered "authority sites" - so the link will have greater weight.
To encourage people to read further from the article, consider only writing about a subset of your subject, so to read more they have to click that link. A good example is to include an excerpt from a fuller article or book, or include only, say, the top 5 from 10 total tips.
One point to watch out for is that Google will penalise duplicate content across the web. This is debatable (many Google processes are) but to be safe include a rewritten version at your own site. Even if the article appears first at your site and then at another, higher ranked one it could end up that Google would consider your home copy as the duplicate.
Full Guide and Article Directory List here
12. Traffic Networks
There are many traffic networks, or exchanges, around. Some are specialised, some more general, but in essence you will get visitors to your site in exchange for driving visitors to another.
This can work in many ways. For example, with a "banner exchange", you will show banner ads on your site, and for every ad you show your ad will be shown. Sometimes the ratio is different, such as 2:1, so you have to show another ad twice for every one you gain.
Other exchanges work via popups, popunders, pop-ins, etc. Some will use a widget on your site to show ads or images.
Traffic from an exchange is driven by traffic to your site. So the more traffic you have, the more you will receive. And the more you receive, the more that will generate. The sucess of an exchange depends on how many members there are, but it is worth joining them unless the design will not compliment your site or it will irritate your visitors.
As a rule you don't want anything on your site that encourages a visitor to leave, so you have to think carefully about where you place banners or widgets.
One other kind of exchange focuses on subscribers. This works in a similar way, except for every subscriber you can add, you can mail one more. Email exchanges often use a matrix or multi-level based system, so you refer new members. This way you will gain new subscribers for every one you add, but you also gain a percentage of the subscribers that any of these that you refer go on to add.
13. Paid Hits
It is possible to purchase traffic directly. This will usually be in the form of popunders or pageviews from other websites.
For example, a traffic network might have deals with a large number of participatiing sites that they pay to run ads. These ad impressions are then sold off to other people who want to purchase that traffic.
Another way this paid traffic is generated is from expired domains. The network will own a large number of domains that have fallen into disuse and been de-registered, yet still get traffic. Anyone who arrives at that site is then forwarded to purchasers sites.
Whatever the method used, it's worth noting that bought, bulk, traffic is rarely a high quality. Many traffic providers will allow you to target your traffic, so you can ensure the hits will only come from, say, casino sites, merchant sites, or health sites. But the fact remains people do not specifically aim to visit your site and may see it as an intrusion.
One use for bulk traffic like this is the fact that it still counts as a "hit". So if you run traffic exchanges there, it will still add a credit to that exchange. It can also increase your rankings in services such as Alexa.
14. Offline Advertising
While most people with websites focus entirely on internet-based methods to drive traffic, there's still a lot of use to be had from traditional methods.
That is, direct mail marketing, billboard ads, magazine ads, newspaper ads, etc.
Traditional businesses whose website is just an offshoot of their main business are more used to these methods, so they include their web address in their literature, business cards, etc. But there is still scope to be had for companies that are entirely online.
The most important thing is a short, easy to spell URL. This ensures the address is entered correctly. It may also be worth including an incentive, for example a 10% discount or a competition if the website is used.
There is far less competition in the offline world for websites so this can be a good tactic to drive traffic. Even buying a mailing list and sending postcards can work well, and many marketers have driven a lot sales this way. There is a novelty factor in receiving a website address through the post, and URLs in ads can also help with your brand awareness.
Don't forget your local freeads and classifieds.
15. Forum Marketing
This takes you directly to your customers. If you look for and use forums that cover your niche, for example a Fishing forum for the fishing example we have used throughout this report, then you can participate in conversations there - with a link to your site in your "signature file". This is a small block of text that appears at the end of each of your posts.
You can also be more proactive in promoting your site, by answering queries (or even posting your own) where a potential answer can be found at your own site.
It's important to read the forum first to get a feel for the style used there, and to use the correct etiquette when responding. If you rub the forum regulars up the wrong way your promotions are doomed to failure.
Internet Marketing Forum List Here
16. Everything Else
First, beware "black hat" techniques. These are methods used to trick the search engines, and although they may work in the short term (which could be enough for you, I don't know) they rarely work in the longer term and worse - could get your site banned entirely. Black Hat techniques include keyword stuffing, link cloaking, site cloaking, forced cookies, etc.
Free Exit Profit Generator, worth $27
Using Vouchers For Traffic
Using "Tell A Friend"
Using Download Sites
Parasite and Piggyback Traffic
Manipulating Social Networks
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