Part three of Top 50 ways to generate online traffic Analyzed

 

Tired of Making Chump Change Online?

free website trafficThis is the third installment of our 5-part series analyzing the “Top 50 ways to Drive traffic to your Site”.  The previous installments: Part 1 and Part 2.


21. Participate in a banner or link exchange program.

How it works: In exchange for showing a free link exchange network’s banners on your site, the network will give you credits to show your banner on another site’s pages.  This system works on a credit system–your banner’s appearance on another site depends on how many times you show the network’s banners on your site.

Pro: Free.  Some networks are sorted by category so you have SOME control over where your banner will appear.
Normally, these banner exchange networks are very flexible and they allow you to drop out anytime.

Con: Categorization is still a hit and miss affair.  If your site’s niche is fairly well-known and popular, it will be easier to find banner exchange programs that can deliver targeted traffic to your site.  However, if you are a longtail blogger or niche product/service marketer, this traffic generation method might be of little value because your category is not included or might not match the “closest related” category the network might put your site in.  Another problem with this method is that banners, generally speaking, don’t perform as well as text ads.  Text ads are direct and, with the right copywriting skills, more descriptive and persuasive than banner ads.  There IS such a thing as banner ad burnout.  Internet users have been ‘trained’ by saturated banner and Google Adsense adveritisng to ignore ad spaces.  To fully leverage this traffic generation method and compensate for bad category targeting and bad conversion rates due to “banner blindness”, you would have to publish a whole lot of ads on your pages–this will make your blog/page look really bad and might turn off your site’s visitors. 

WARNING: link exchange programs (and traffic exchange programs in general) can be cheated through the use of bots that run their fake hits through a proxy bank.  The page views look like they are coming from different computers when they are actually just coming from one computer.  These computers keep loading the pages where the banners are located so it registers as an “impression” in the banner network.  The network then shows the bnaner at another site.  Beware of this practice because you might end up just wasting your time and feeding your traffic to someone else.

List of Free banner exchange programs:

Prospector (list)
Banner Ad Traffic Exchange Program
Bannersxchange

22. Create a desktop application or webscript and give it away for free.

How it works: Your applications (desktop or server-based) draw users who need a one-time download or regular site visitors who repeatedly use your free webscript.  Applies to firefox plugins, too.

Pro: You attract a highly specific population–people who need to use your application/webscript.  This is a “self-filtering” traffic pool since only people who are interested in your software/script will come to your site to download/use it.  This specificity allows you to show ads or site content that fits this target audience’s needs.  One category of sites that routinely use this method to get traffic and generate ad views are “Free SEO tool” type sites.  iWebtool is a very good example of a “tool traffic”-driven site.  You can pair Aweber.com’s newsletter services with every giveaway of your downloadable application, firefox plugin, or “free lifetime membership” to your password-protected script to create a mailing list.  The mailing list could yield sales for a long time.

Con: Scripts/software cost money.  For every giveaway you plan to market, you’ll have to spend money on development fees.  Another problem with this traffic method is that it assumes you know what kind of free tool people would flock to your site for.  No one wants to spend thousands of dollars on tools that end up being used by very few people.  One workaround to this problem would be to run surveys on your sites asking your users what online task they’d like to save time on.  Build your specs based on these surveys.  Another approach would be to consider your own experiences and come up with script specs that will save you time and effort.


23. Purchase the misspellings or variations of your domain name, or those of your competitors.

How it works: When people misspell the domain name of your site or your competitor’s, they end up on a page not found page.  By buying mispellings you direct these searches to your site. Common “misspelling traffic” methods involve reserving names that sound alike (example:  youtube.com vs. utube.com), plural vs singular, and taking out a repeated letter in a domain (example:  hello vs. helo).

Pro: Relatively cheap way to, depending on your ‘target’ domain, get a lot of traffic.  You are basically feeding off the established traffic/buzz of your target domain.  The more traffic your target domains get, the higher your traffic load.  Based on forum posts, this method works best for sites where the main domain holder also has an affiliate program like casino and adult sites.

Con: Depending on the domains you target, some domains may be protected by trademark law.  ICANN regulations provide that if you register a trademarked domain and the trademark owner contests your registration, your domain (and its traffic) will be transferred over to the trademark owner after ICANN strips it from you.  However, if there is NO trademark AND the domain is NOT distinctive (example: made up of commonly used words or words that are commonly used together), you have a good chance you can keep the domain.  Another consideration to keep in mind–typo domains/variation domains ARE NOT free.  Since they cost money, you might lose a lot of money if you register typos/variations that don’t get much traffic.  There’s really no way to tell which of a domain’s variation will pass an ROI test.  With the end of domain tasting (you register a domain, test it out for traffic, and ask for a refund after five days if the ROI is not there), domain buying in general has become a more costly proposition.  For investment and traffic purposes, domaining used to be one of easiest ‘slam dunk’ ways to make money online.  Not anymore.  The barrier to entry has gone up dramatically with the death of domain tasting.


24. Buy a domain name related to your niche that is already receiving traffic and forward it to your site.

How it works: There’s many sites (I recommend Hunting Moon and PDDW–I went to college with the guys behind these excellent services)  that list domains that get traffic, have backlinks, and/or already have page rank.  You buy a domain with these qualities and set up a redirect page going to your site using .htaccess

Pro: Very effective way to get highly targeted traffic.  Very low effort required.

Con: Pricing is all over the place–from very cheap to very expensive.  A lot of targeting is required on your part to make sure that the domain pays for itself.  Always keep return on investment in mind.  Also, Page Rank might be lost if you just redirect the page.


25. Pass out business cards with your domain on them everywhere you go.

How it works: Get cards printed with your domain name, description of what your website is all about, and hand them out.

Pro: Good way to piggyback on the impact face to face connections have in establishing credibility/rapport.  More people are willing to enter into long term deals with someone they’ve met in person.  Business cards also let you graphically set the tone/level of professionalism of your business’ image.

Con: Obviously not free.  Not only do you spend money for printing out the business cards, design and layout and copywriting also cost money.  However, the biggest problems with this traffic method are:  No targeting and Bad conversion.  The way the traffic method was written, you are supposed to randomly give out your cards “everywhere you go.”  Bad move.  Unless you’re going to a very specific business convention, giving out business cards randomly will get you very little results because the people you’re giving your cards to might not be your target audience/market.  Go to a convention and you’ll have a better shot because these people ‘filtered themselves’–for example, only people interested in comics would go to Comic Con.  Distributing your cards to targeted inviduals helps eliminate the second problem inherent in giving away business cards for traffic–conversion from physical card to actual site visit.  For someone to type in a domain in a browser after hearing about it or reading a card or brochure, takes a lot of convincing.  Just because someone knows a domain name, it doesn’t mean they automatically type it in a browser.  They must have a REASON to do this.  That’s why targeted card distribution works–only people with a NEED for or genuine interest in your service/product/content will type your domain in a browser.

Overall, we recommend this method for B2B (business to business) websites if the webmaster/publisher distributes the cards at a convention or some sort of industry meeting.  For business to consumer websites, the ROI might not be there.


26. Start and affiliate program and let your affiliates send you visitors.

How it works: Affiliate programs are business arrangements where you pay other webmasters/website publishers for sending you sales/leads/emails/downloads.  Each individual referring account is tracked by the affiliate management script you install on your pages or, if you don’t want a custom solution, you can use affiliate marketing programs’ own proprietary tracking systems.  For examples of these programs, try share a sale or Commission Junction.  The webmasters post your tracked link code on their sites, pages, software, or whichever way they promote online and whatever traffic comes in is tracked by the system.  You pay only for results–no sale/lead/info collection no payment.  Simple as that.

Pro: You only pay for results.  You piggyback on the efforts and expertise of webmasters.  Whatever expertise and efficiency they possess work to benefit you.  Depending on how you set your affiliate system up, payouts and accounting are a breeze since everything is automated and stored in a database.  It is also easy to change advertising materials if you’re using the right platform.

Con: The biggest problem with a standalone affiliate program is recruiting the right affiliates.  Not all webmasters cater to your target audience.  Not all webmasters run sites that are in your niche.  How do you find them?  How do you recruit them?  Thankfully, there’s many webmaster forums available.  Just do a search for “affiliate marketing forum” and you’re bound to get a list of these sites.  Create an account on these sites and, if allowed, put a banner or text ad for your affiliate program in your “signature” line (your  “sig”). Make targeted forum posts that emphasize your niche.  Another way to get affiliates is to get your affiliate program site listed in affiliate marketing directories–just do a search for that term and you should be able to get a lot of listings of these types of directories.  Finally, another way to get your affiliate program publicized is to hire an affiliate program promoter to find forums and directories and submit/market your program aggressively.

Affiliate recruitment is not a problem if you choose to use a network-based affiliate program.  These websites have a recruited base of thousands of affiliates (example:  cj.com and shareasale.com), all sorted into categories.  When you join their network, they send out an announcement to webmasters in your niche category.

Regardless of whether you’re using an affiliate network or you run a standalone affiliate program, you will still face the following challenges when running an affiliate program:  competition from other programs, dealing with webmaster recruitment conversion, and improving your active webmasters’ conversions.

  • Competition from other programs:  Unless you’re selling products/offering content/offering services that are truly unique, chances are there will be other programs offering the same items as you.  You can compete based on price, quality guarantees, and selection.  Meet this challenge head on–don’t shy away!  Get nice banners designed, get effective marketing copy written, and give away FREE CONTENT to your affiliates. Give your marketers the right to distribute your free ebooks, free articles, free images, and whatever else you can put your domain or live link on.  Free content establishes credibility with the target customers.  Free content is also viral as it gets passed on from one circle of influence to another.  With each transmission, there’s a chance that a reader will connect with the materials and click on a link to get more information.
  • Dealing with webmaster recruitment conversion:  It’s a fact of life in online marketing–the webmaster productivity funnel.  For every 100 webmasters you market to, only a few will bother signing up to your program.  Of the few that you managed to sign up, only a small percentage will actually install your affiliate code and send traffic.  Of the few that are sending traffic, only a few will send substantial traffic or traffic that converts. Of these, only a few will remain with your program.  Each stage in this funnel needs your active intervention if your affiliate program is to become successful.  Here’s what you need to do:  Maximize the number of webmasters you market to–join as many forums and submit to as many affiliate marketing directories as you can.  Get your base number of potential webmaster recruits as high as possible.  The higher the base, the higher the number of recruits (regardless of the dismal recruitment ratio).  Use effective banners and convincing text link copy to increase your recruitment ratio.  Advertise that you give out free content or tools or other goodies that either minimize the webmasters’ time or costs.
  • Improving existing affiliates’ peformance and improving webmaster retention:  Once you’ve got webmasters to sign up–make sure to personally ask them how you can help them directly.  Make a webmaster resource tool page which list tools that your affiliate webmasters can use to generate sales (content, traffic tools, and conversion tools).  Establish a relationship and never let up.  You can outsource this affiliate management tasks to a cheap virtual assistant company.  Once the webmasters are sending traffic, aggressively monitor their performance and send them optimization tips and tricks.  Offer them specialized landing pages or custom materials.  Once they are sending sales, continue the conversation by brainstorming with them on how they can increase their site’s conversion ratios.  If you take this proactive approach, you can minimize the negative effects of the webmaster productivity funnel.


27. Start a page on social bookmarking sites

How it works: Many social bookmarking sites are DO FOLLOW and have PAGE RANK.  Many are also highly categorized and also very tag-driven.  You submit your site to these services and list out the keywords, description, and tags you want your URL to be indexed with.  This combination of factors give user-submitted links is Social Bookmarking sites an SEO boost.  Just how much of a boost is open to debate nowadays since Google has reportedly started downgrading the SERP boosting effectiveness of social bookmarks in general.

Here’s a quick video explanation of how social bookmarks work

Pro: Free.  You also get direct traffic from the social bookmark services’ installed base of thousands if your content is compelling and viral enough.  You get a lot of flexibility on which tags you can use.  Great for pairing main keywords and subkeywords.  Great for building backlinks to a rotating set of keywords.

Con: Very time consuming.  Automated tools are prone to banning due to the fact that automation tends to miss certain “guerrilla” tactics that manual seo linkbuilding employs.  Depending on the site but sometimes filing your site under the wrong categories can render your submission worthless.


28. Submit a viral video to www.YouTube.com

How it works: Just judging by the mammoth page views that Susan Boyle’s tryout at “Britain’s Got Talent”, Youtube delivers traffic–and lots of it!  To use this method, you simply upload your video, send a notification to your newsletter subscribers, socially bookmark the video, send out notices on social networking sites, post about it on forums, and otherwise get the views up.  The more REAL views the video gets, the more Youtube itself will publicize it to its other members.  This drives more traffic to the video and upward spiral is created.  How do you get traffic?  Through links in the video description and in your channel page.

Pro: Explosive traffic if the video is compelling enough.  You can put links that link out of youtube in the description page for the video and in your channel page (linked to your username).  You can also improve your channel’s and videos’ traffic by using an attractive profile image (that don’t run afoul Youtube’s Terms of Service and copyright laws, of course) and postinga  lot of comments on highly popular videos.  Click here to get more Free YouTube Traffic Tips.

Con: You have to know how to boost your video’s page views if, for some reason, your video is not compelling enough.  While you can do it using real traffic, there’s also automated bots available online that are very tempting.  Don’t use them unless you’re prepared to risk getting your url banned on youtube.  Youtube traffic is free but the cost of producing a compelling video may NOT be free.  It depends on what kind of video you plan to use–funny video, tutorial, etc.  Also, general Youtube traffic may not be the way to go.  Untargeted traffic produces crappy conversions, normally.  Sometimes the Zen Buddhist mantra of “Less is More” applies and it might apply to this traffic generation method–better to create a highly specialized and targeted video with similarly discriminating tags and get a few but high converting clicks than a video that will appeal to everyone (like the Susan Boyle video above) but generate few sales.


29. Conduct and publish surveys to your website.

How it works: Post a free survey on a topic that is relevant to your website’s topic/theme.  Post the results.  Publicize the results via Digg and press releases.   People interested in the same topic/theme will come to your site to see the poll or read your analysis.

Pro: Great traffic generation method to use with the traffic method of issuing a press release.  Not only do some press release sites publish categorized backlinks, they can also be used to publicize “newsworthy” events such as survey findings.  Many news sites and agencies can also link to you or mention your poll in their surveys.

Con: The survey itself is free but the publication (via press releases) may not be.  Also, the reason many scientific surveys and accurate polls get a lot of publicity is because of the credibility of the organizations running such polls.  Also, the value of a poll depends on the sampling quality and, depending on the topic, quantity of the people taking the poll.  So if your traffic pool is general in nature, their opinions on a particular specialized topic might not carry much weight with news agencies and sites.


30. Find joint venture partners that will send you traffic.

How it works: You find websites that already get a lot of traffic and you set up a special affiliate deal with them that gives them a larger payout or higher level of affiliate support as you would normally give to a  regular affiliate.  This deal might also involve a larger amount of custom content you produce for that affiliate.  It can also involve a lot more customization.  Generally, the discussion above regarding affiliate marketing applies to this traffic method as well.  The scale just happens to be larger.

Pro: and Con: Generally, the same concerns as the affiliate marketing traffic generation method discussed above.

Photo Credits: GrendelKhan

The following traffic generation methods will be discussed in Parts 4 and 5 of this 5 part series.

31. Start your own newsletter or ezine.

32. Use a autoresponder or email campaign to keep people coming back to your site.

33. Purchase ads on other sites.

34. Send a free copy of your product to other site owners in exchange for a product review.

35. Sell or place classified ads on www.eBay.com with a link to your site.

36. Post free classified ads on any of the sites that allow them with a link to your site.

37. Exchange reciprocal links with other related websites.

38. Network with other people at seminars or other live events.

39. Purchase advertising in popular newsletters or ezines.

40. Advertise on other product’s “thank you” pages.

41. Create a free ebook and list in on the “free ebook” sites.

42. Buy and use a memorable domain name.

43. Do something controversial.

44. Create an Amazon profile and submit reviews for books and other products that you have read.

45. Start a lens on www.Squidoo.com .

46. Use a traffic exchange (low quality traffic, but can sometimes be worthwhile).

47. Get referrals form similar but non-competing sites.

48. Create and sell a product with resell or giveaway rights and include a link to your site in it o others pass it around for you.

49. Email your list. If you don’t have one, get one.

50. Buy a pair of sandals; get your website engraved on the bottom and walk on the beach, stomp in the mud or play in the snow.

Comments

  1. Kraig Grayson says:

    Great article. I have been doing a few of them and will embark on trying out others I never tried before or never thought of prior to this article. After all, the more money the merrier.

    Kraig Grayson’s last blog post..IQURL.com Revamped – New Features

  2. Cassy@erp integration says:

    Just to add to #23. I think miss-spellings are a dying method. Google now corrects most miss-spelling in their queries. Also be careful when buying competitor domains, especially if they are trademarked names. Some of the other tips are really clever though. Thanks for the article.

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