By Mike Tekula —
Got a brand new website? That’s great, but nobody cares.
OK, maybe that’s a little harsh. The truth, however, is that just having a website doesn’t get you much.
Many business owners I meet are surprised to find, once we look at the numbers, that the shiny new site they had built not too long ago gets little to no traffic on a daily basis.
Many newcomers to the web make the mistake of thinking that just by buying a domain name and putting up your site, visitors are going to happen by – something like when you buy property and build a storefront in a busy part of town.
It just doesn’t work that way. The web is harsh.
You can have the best looking site in the world with great resources and content and go entirely ignored or unnoticed. It happens. It’s happening right now. Somewhere out there in the ether is a brand new gorgeous website loaded with great content, and nobody cares. Poor little lonely site.
But there is hope. Every website had its early days. Even sites that get hundreds of thousands of visitors a day started out with none.
Here are 7 simple things you can start doing right now to help drive traffic to your site.
1. Get Some Quick Links From Trusted DirectoriesLink building is a long-term process with long-term goals, but for brand new sites with no history you’ve got to start somewhere. There are a number of directories out there that provide free and paid listings (subject to editorial review, of course). Here are the ones I recommend:
Ah, what the heck – here’s a great list of directories sorted by SEOmoz’s Trifecta score – bookmark it and get started.
2. Start Blogging
OK, blogging isn’t for everybody (especially you boring people), but it’s a great way to build relevant content at your site on a consistent basis. It also gives your visitors/ customers a way to engage with you. But please don’t make the mistake of being too “corporate” on your blog – do yourself a favor and check your Public Relations cap at the door. Don’t be afraid to discuss your mistakes, missteps you’ve made, and what you’ve learned from them as well as your triumphs. In short, be a human, not a brand.
3. Consider Paid SearchFor new websites, the day when you receive all the traffic you need for free from search engines and other referrals is a long way off – if not just a pipe dream altogether. Often times paid search campaigns are a great way to get your site in front of your target market today. Be sure to keep your budget modest, though, until you’re confident in your ROI. Be sure to do your keyword research to find lower-cost “long tail” keywords – going after the big traffic keywords might be tempting, but it gets expensive and the ROI is often not the best.
4. Use Article Marketing To Build LinksAs with any tactic, I’d recommend using this one in moderation. Article marketing is, essentially, trading words for links. It can help with link building, but the quality of the links it garners is usually less than stellar.
Here’s how it works:
- Write an informative article on your site topic (or something related)
- Include an “about the author” section as well as links in the article that point to your pages using relevant anchor text
- Submit the article through one of the many article syndication services (such as EZineArticles.com or GoArticles.com )
- The deal is, anybody can come along and publish your article on their website – provided they use the article in its original format including the “about the author” section. So when the article is published, any links you include back to your site are published as well.
5. Guest Post At Relevant Blogs
This certainly requires some up-front investment, mainly in terms of building relationships with bloggers in your topic (a little brown-nosing never hurt), but it can help get the flywheel turning for your site like nothing else can. Take the time to make your guest post remarkable and smart – your host blogger will appreciate it, and it’ll improve the likelihood of attention coming back to your site (which you’ll link to in your guest post, of course). Links from blogs are some of the most powerful editorial links you can get – don’t underestimate them for a second.
6. Submit Your Site to Design Galleries
Is your website breathtaking to behold, beautiful enough to make angels weep? Yeah, sure it is. But seriously, if it looks pretty sharp there are plenty of web design galleries that accept submissions for new sites and link to the sites they feature. Particularly for CSS-driven design there are a number of galleries that will consider your site for listing (provided your site uses CSS for layout/styling – and God help you if it doesn’t) – including CSSElite.com, CSSHeaven.com, CSSBeauty.com and many others. Just search in Google for “CSS design gallery.” Unless your site is ugly – in that case, I can’t help you, and stop asking me to look at it.
7. Sponsor a Local Event or Charity
OK, I admit this is kind of a tired tip – but it works! Especially for local small businesses. Is there a local event coming up in your community? A local charity that has a website? Not only will sponsoring such an event give you all of the normal PR benefits (and self-righteous bragging rights) that are the byproducts of charity, but any web announcement for the event will potentially include a mention of your website as well as a link to it. And you can feel good about yourself for a change.
Bonus Tip: Be Patient
Alright, this one is cheap, I admit it. Not much of a tip. But it’s important to remember that you’re not going to see your unique visitors count skyrocket immediately for your new website. Most “overnight successes” actually take a few years to get going.
And if you find yourself checking your traffic numbers on a daily basis, please do us all a favor – step away from the computer, go toss the ball around with your kid, maybe take your niece out for ice cream. Contrary to popular belief, staring at your site traffic data has no positive effect on it.
Mike Tekula is the president of Unstuck Digital, a Web Design and Search Marketing agency based in New York.