Wednesday, 30 November 2011

How-to: Get More Traffic to your Website

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When it comes to building an audience for a website or blog, there is no magic wand to wave, it all comes down to hard work and patience.

While you might get lucky occasionally and time a pertinent article now and then, relying on the odd Stumble or Digg or trending Tweet is not going to provide an audience that keeps coming back.

Let's assume you've followed the advice in Promoting Your Blog post, as applied to Blogger and delve a little deeper into building an audience.

  • Post to your online social networks: most website and blog platforms have plugins to cross-post automatically to social networks and micro-blogging sites. Use them. has thes Publicize feature, for which you can specify services to cross-post; automatically tell your Twitter followers and Facebook friends whenever you publish a new post.
  • Adjust Privacy settings so your content is visible to search engines.
  • Submitting to search engines only works if your privacy settings actually allow your site to be crawled and indexed by search engines such as Google and Bing. Also see tagging.
  • Email updates to your distribution list. Send out reminder emails for key updates, to a selected distribution group culled from your contacts. Don't email too often - you'll look like a spammer. Only email people with an interest in your subject matter. Your grandmother may not be into skate-boarding. Better still, encourage them to sign up for updates using a widget embedded on your site (Wordpress has the Follow Blog Widget).
  • Tag carefully with relevance. Tags are essential aids to Search Engines; create a small set of appropriate categories and tags. Don't go overboard. Too many tags are as bad as none at all. Don't go beyond 5 and 10 tags or the Search Engines will mark you down as a spammer. Fewer, well-chosen tags will indicate to the search engines your quality, rather than desperation.
  • Read and comment on other blogs. Be active, be seen with your site name in your signature.
  • Read and subscribe to sites covering similar topics to yours. Make intelligent comments on posts; more then simply fawning in agreement, never flame or insult and never cut and paste generic comments across sites.
  • Link to other blogs or sites. Further to being active is belong to a community. Linking to other sites organically will generate pingbacks and attract authors and readers from those sites along with search ranking. This is not the same as attempting to frig a link wheel.
  • Join collective sites. Some sites such as Technorati have a more collective, community focus. Joining and submitting your site feed can give you further visibility to their existing audience.
  • Let people know about specific posts. If you wirte a post with a specific person or organisation (that's not inflammatory), contact them to let them know. Nothing appeals to people's vanity or PR sense like being written about; they are just as likely to re-post or link back to you so that their members or followers can read about them. Use sparingly, don't turn into a stalker or spammer.
  • Post Frequently. We said before, blogs that have a frequent and regular schedule will develop an audience faster. Posts need not be long; in fact, the more frequent you post, shorter may be better. Your audience has a life, you know.
  • Pay for publicity. This is a difficult one. Web site like StumbleUpon can generate traffic from around $.05 per visit. 3,000 visits would cost you $150. Can you afford it and will that bring any revenue? Although you can pay certain sites for each thru-click they bring you, pay sites do not guarantee traffic to your site. Nor do they guarantee and proportion of repeat traffic. A stack of paid, one-off hits becomes expensive.
  • Have patience. Building an audience is a marathon not a sprint. If you have welathy backers for a commercial site good luck to you, arrive with a splash and spend while you can. Hopefully your brand will build before the money runs out. The rest of us have to build trust, relationships and communities and that takes time.
  • Temper your expectations. How big an audience is there for a site about African Rafia Weaving in the North-West? Your target audience may be very small; even if you become the foremost authority in a single specialist subject, the total audience will still be very small and limited to those specialists. Post on very common topics and you will only gain a slice of the available audience as readers move around looking for the few sites that suit them best of the many available.