This is my first blog post, so I thought I'd get the gun rolling with useful information any webmaster with a stiff budget can use. I'm going to explain what techniques are best in the order of least preferred to most desired. Read up and take it all in, it's actually very easy stuff!
- Affiliation - This is my least favorite method, but it's still an effective tool today. Get out there and find contacts, be aggressive. Find webmasters with websites that have slightly higher traffic than your website, but not too much, you don't want to over exert your server. You want to share traffic with similar websites because it helps build organic and relevant linking. By getting traffic at a steady rate, you can adapt to the demands of high traffic, and upgrade your hosting as needed (You're on a budget, remember?). Affiliations are probably the easiest method to burst traffic to your site, and that's why I'm not too fond of it. I like'em challenge.
- Social Bookmarking - Not on the top of my list, but still important. Everyone's using it! When you place popular "Share" links and buttons on your website, something clicks in your viewers' minds and they tell themselves "Hey, maybe John Smith would like this too." The most effective share tools I've come across are Twitter Tweets, Facebook Like Buttons and Digg Buttons. One share button I see having a promising future is the Google Buzz Button. Currently I'm only using Facebook's features, but I'll soon add more which you can use to "Share" this blog post.
- Community Involvement - Don't just sit there expecting others to share your stuff, do something! Be the representative, don't let others represent you. When you're just starting out, you want to set a good impression to your potential audiences. Some great places to advertise on are Forums, Blogs (by commenting), Answers Websites and even small communities dedicated to a single topic. When I say community involvement, I mean actually putting something up that others would find useful, and something that contributes to the website you're posting on. Don't just join every community spamming your links as this could actually hurt your website. You want everything to be natural. It will pay off in the end.
- Go RSS Yourself - Get ready to open the doors and set yourself up for content theft, RSS Feeds (Really Simple Syndication Feeds) are one of the best ways of generating related content links! Okay, so you don't want others to have "YOUR" content on "THEIR" website. I say "So what?" I've learned this the hard way when I've sent a DMCA notice to an RSS subscriber who was using all my content without permission. They were linking back to the website providing it as a source, boy was I mad when I lost a point of page rank because of that. The point is, sometimes it's good when other webmasters use your content on their websites. Higher page rank means more displays in search engine results because your high rank shows Google that you're a trustworthy source of information. If your content is intended to be unique and exclusive to only your website, limit the size of your RSS feeds and even list it in your terms that your subscribers must provide attribution (Link backs, author information, etc,.) I find it helpful to let them do whatever they want with it except "Claim it as their own", "Not providing proper attribution" and "Not linking back."
- Offer Widgets - The internet's term for "Gadgets." Perhaps it's as simple as a page hit counter, small flash game or an RSS widget. It could be as robust as a chat script, embedded stock ticket tracker or local weather tool. Whatever it may be, it has potential for adding a little spark on amateur webmasters' websites. Widgets are popular, but are by no means easy to make for inexperienced programmers. This method of advertising is optional, but if you create a widget that becomes so popular that thousands of other websites link to it because it's just that great, you've just found yourself a gold mine of advertising. If you're up for it, do it. Never hurts to try. Feeling lazy? Hire a developer!
- Talk About It! - Sometimes the best form of advertising is through word of mouth, but there's a flaw. Let's say you have an article that's got a title of 50 words, and the URL itself is always the same as the article. You wouldn't dare expect whomever you're conversing to remember that long of a URL, would you? I thought not. Simply put, the best way to advertise a website is to tell people the WWW part, the name part and whatever dot extension (com, net, org) is and you're good to go. Be sure to make relevant statements, you don't want to bring up your pet training website during a wedding. There's a small chance that you'll get decent traffic early on, but when the people you've told the website about start talking, you never know who they'll tell. They may even post it on their own websites!
- Advertise! - Not having any luck getting traffic, but have a ton of great content? Advertise. You're probably not hitting the right demographic for repeat traffic and you need to open up new boundaries. Brochures, business cards, flyers and tree stapled ads all work wonders. I've just recently started advertising my web hosting business through brochures which cost me about a dollar in ink and paper. Okay, maybe it's not "THAT" free, but doesn't it still count since the stuff was just lying around? Point is, I didn't spend any money at the time. In the future when you start monetizing your website and can afford it, an excellent way to advertise is through the Google AdWords program. They even provide $100 free credits from time to time, so check around.
- Write Reference Worthy Material - It can be anything from guides, how-to's, tips and tricks that anyone can bookmark or even share with others. One great example is this very guide you're reading right now! Think of how Wikipedia got so popular. Many people have contributed towards the world's largest encyclopedia, and now it's referenced by everyday individuals, schools and even businesses. If you have an interesting way of doing something that seems to be better than the others, my advice is to post it on your website.
- Repeat Traffic, Freebies Anyone? - You want free traffic, but don't want the burden of providing expensive incentives to your visitors to get them to come back. Truth is, you don't have to pay a dime. You just need to think of what you can offer. I'll get you started. If you have a community portal, offer free blogging services. If you have a forum, let others earn points that they can spend to buy stickies, or even profile features. Offer an addictive badge system for their contributions. Have a mini arcade? Let them play those addicting games, but be sure to offer score boards! Don't spend anything for incentives, that's the number one rule. If you have a specific type of website, contact me and I'll help you come up with some ideas. Don't worry, it's free of charge since that's what this blog post's all about.
- Only "Real" SEO - I can't stress this one enough. Ever so often I hear SEO (Search Engine Optimization) professionals selling their services and users are getting their websites blacklisted from search engines because of it. Don't overdo it! It's impossible to get high traffic because you have high keyword density, a million links back to your website and meta tags in every possible nook and cranny. The goal of SEO is to not suit your website for search engines, but to suit your website for your users. You don't get input from search engines, so why would you care to optimize for them? A search engine only catches your pages and display them to their users who perform search queries. The best way to optimize for "People" is to have high quality content, links to relevant content and inbound links from relevant websites. Most importantly, have something that enriches your readers' lives. Don't post something with a few words that has little to no intellectual value. You want your readers to love your content and your website. Having a bunch of jargon is just going to end up in an unpopular website and you'll regret it in the end. Be a good webmaster and you'll have plentiful visitors!
At the time of this post, lawrencewright.net has absolutely no page rank, no ranking on Alexa and doesn't rank well in Google. I'm going to prove that these methods of advertising work by applying them during my everyday life. My goal? I intend on being in the Alexa top 200,000 within a year. I intend on having a page rank of 5 or greater (That's not easy!). Mark it on your calendars, December 8th, 2011 is the deadline. If you like my writing, follow me. I'm going to need every bit of traffic I can get. Wish me luck!