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Driving Traffic to your Site

Sandra Prior
Aug 1, 2008
Driving traffic to your website doesn't mean forking out big bucks on advertising. We show you how to publicize your site without spending a dime.

The Internet. A vast electronic window of opportunity, offering you the chance to expose yourself to millions of people around the world for the cost of a modem and a giant phone bill. The trouble is there are so many sites vying for attention that most just sit quietly on servers, unloved and unnoticed. You may have the greatest site in the world but if the world doesn't know about it, you might as well have left it on your hard drive. Fortunately, there are lots of ways to promote your site for zero outlay, from humble reciprocal links to vast organized banner schemes. Better get started then.

First Things First

Let's assume that you've already submitted the details of your website to the big search engines. If you haven't, don't read any further until you've at least submitted your details to Google. It's the single most important free thing you can do which will significantly boost your traffic - particularly if your site covers a minority interest.

Submit your site to another 10 major search engines. Do a search on Google to find out who they are. Lecture over. Time to face some unpleasant facts.

The top 10 websites receive around 90% of Internet traffic, which means the remaining billions either have to shout very loudly or get together and help each other. And in website promotion, 'love thy neighbor' should be your maxim.

Start by finding sites that cover a similar subject to yours and email the owner suggesting it would be mutually beneficial if you swapped links. Make it easy by including the HTML to link to your site, and point out the location of the link's page on your site where you have already linked back to them.

A good way to keep track of how many sites have linked to you is to use Yahoo's link search service. Type in 'link: usacomputers.rr.nu' for example to see how many sites are linking to usacomputers.rr.nu. An added benefit of regularly perusing other sites is that you can check out what they're doing to promote themselves and learn from it. Chances are you'll come across the Web ring or the banner exchange on your travels. Both are essentially an extension of humble link swapping, only on a larger and more organized scale.

Exchange and Market

Banner exchange programs involve signing up with an organization to display ad banners on your site and in return the organization places ads for your website on other member sites. Typically you will receive one advertising 'exposure' (or one view of your banner) for every two you display. The organization makes its money by selling the remaining 50% of ad views to paying advertisers. Most schemes provide click-through data, which tells you the number of people who clicked on your ad. Be warned, though - click- through rates are pitiful.

A good banner can expect to generate a rate of around 5%, a poor one, less than 1%. That said, if your ad is displayed enough times, joining an exchange scheme can pay dividends. There are dozens of banner swap programs.

Web Rings

Web rings work by sites covering the same subject setting up an organized online group to promote each other's wares. Each site links to the next one, or you can jump randomly to any other member site until you finished where you started. Ring members usually display a graphic on their front page saying something like 'Member of the Computer Hardware Web Ring'. These graphics encourage people to look at other members of the ring.

Web rings are a splendid idea. Not only are they free to join, but they are usually devoted solely to increasing awareness of sites like yours. Surfers who have stumbled across one Computer Hardware website are likely to want to look at another one, so chances are your traffic will increase more than through a banner exchange scheme, where advertising can be less specific. If a ring doesn't exist for your subject, don't despair. You can start your own one.

You can also join a traffic exchange. There are basically two types. Manual and Auto.

You join for free and for every site you surf you earn surfing credits. For example, if you surf 100 sites, you may earn 50 credits and your site is displayed 50 times to other members surfing in the same exchange. In a manual exchange you have to physically click a link every time the site changes, but in an auto exchange the sites are rotated automatically. The difference being that in auto exchanges fewer people actually watch their screens and in a manual exchange you are forced to pay attention to the sites.

Article Marketing

You could also resolve to writing articles based on the subject of your website and post them to various free article directories. You include a small author profile about yourself at the end of the article. People reading your articles may be curious to click on your link and visit your site. Another important aspect of writing articles is that if people decide to use your article in their newsletter, website, or elsewhere, they are required to include a link to your site. This may help you increase the number of incoming links to your site, giving you greater exposure and a better search engine ranking.
About the Author
Subscribe to Sandra Prior's Online Newsletter and get up to date Computer Technology News delivered right to your email box for free. See website for details http://usacomputers.rr.nu and http://sacomputers.rr.nu.
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