How can I drive traffic to my website?

In most cases, publishing a sign up form to a web page is the best way to build a list of targeted, responsive subscribers. But if a form is published to a site that no one sees, does it do any good?

Although we would only ever claim to be email experts, we can provide some advice on how to attract traffic to your website based on our own experience.

Publish Quality Content

Of course, you should be sure that you have worthwhile content on your site so that once you have visitors, they have something to see. But did you know that publishing quality content can also help to attract traffic to your site in the first place?

Search Engines Can Send Traffic

Search engines continually crawl web pages and index what they find.  So, whatever you have published on your site becomes part of the directory people get results from when they search (e.g. "email marketing", "restaurant in Philadelphia area", "homeowner tips", etc.).

Think of search engines as catalogs of most of the information on the web. As long as you're publishing a unique perspective on a topic, new people should find your website this way.

Publish a Blog

Blogging an easy way to get content onto your site in a highly readable way, and in a way that search engines can easily index the information.  There are also blog search engines, such as Technorati, out there that will index your articles and could potentially drive a significant amount of traffic to it. 

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Syndicate your blog content using our RSS to email feature to help build a base of regular readers.

Don't have a blog?  You can find several blogging solutions, many free, on the web.

Advertise

This one may be obvious, but sometimes the obvious is overlooked. There are many opportunities out there to advertise the content of your website. Before you begin to gain momentum through the other suggestions offered here, spending within your business' budget for some advertising may be the key to early success.

Search Engine Advertising

Pay Per Click

Examples include: Google AdWords, Yahoo! Search Marketing, and MSN adCenter. Companies like Google have massively grown as a result of search advertising, and for the most part, this would not be true if it wasn't effective in driving traffic to websites.

By advertising on search engines, you can bid on the advertising space people see when performing searches on what they're interested in.

Advertising on Websites & Newsletters

Referral / Sponsorship Advertising

Some website owners will install an advertisement block, such as Google AdSense to allow advertisements relevant to the content on their site.  By exploring this option, a link to your website will appear on pages the agency you use deems worthwhile, and you'll pay based either on the number of clicks or impressions (views).

Banner & Skyscraper Ads

These ads are graphical in nature (as opposed to the often plain-text search ads) and appear directly on someone's website, often via a third-party service like DoubleClick.com.

You can also contact website owners who advertise on their sites to discuss a paid agreement for an exclusive ad on their site.

Offline

There are always the old standby, traditional means of print advertising.  At one point, this may have been only marginally effective.  But as the online experience continues to become more ubiquitous in the lives of people, your efforts to advertise offline in meaningful ways should translate to the benefit of your website.

Consider advertising on whatever print materials you use, both at your physical location and at materials you use for business promotion (business cards, advertisements, etc.)

Build a Reputation

Some traffic building techniques are highly visible and easily measured.  But there's another that is less so but very important -- your reputation. The type of word of mouth advertising that holds true in the realm of offline may even be amplified online. 

The main way to build a reputation that helps to drive traffic to your site is as simple as providing a product or service that people find useful. But you can further the cause by putting your name out there where people interested in your industry tend to interact:

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Publish blog articles that are easy to link to and share with others, and link to other blogs in your articles whenever possible.
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Post highly relevant comments on others' blogs and in related forums.
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Encourage your email subscribers to forward your messages, which should contain a link to a page where the recipients can sign up easily.

But Don't Do This!

All traffic generation methods were not created equal.  Some will help you to build your business for the long run while others pose a high risk to the longevity of your success.

Avoid these traffic generation methods:

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Purchased Leads and Traffic. In fact, purchased leads are prohibited from use with our service.  All traffic is not created equal either, so inflated numbers of visitors may lead to a deflated conversion rate.
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Reproducing others' content on your website without permission.  Link to others' articles like you would reference in a research paper.  But don't copy their content.
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Spamming blogs, forums, or emails with advertisements for your website or email campaign. This will quickly get you into hot water and may make your email marketing campaign permanently ineffective, as ISPs filter your messages to the junk folder.
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