“Top 50 Ways to Drive Traffic to your site” critique installment two

 

Tired of Making Chump Change Online?

free website traffic methodsThis entry is a continuation of our 5-part critique of the “Top 50 Ways to Drive Traffic to your Site.”  Read the first installment of the series.

11. Add a link in your email signature to your website. It’s a free and easy way to get a little more traffic.


How it works:
Configure your email client’s signature system to include your hyperlinked title or your raw URL along with a text description.  Wherever your email ends up, someone can see your link and click it.  Specially helpful if you send email to a groupmail system or you pass along a lot of annoying chain emails.  Your sig is automatically added to the bottom of your email.  Your link goes wherever the email goes.

Pro: Your signature adds a certain professionalism to your emails.  If you use a sig when doing link exchange solicitations, it helps in establishing your credibility and legitimacy.  Groupmail and chainmail emails bearing your signature often travel the globe many times over and going through tons of inboxes–provided the chainmail is viral enough.  There’s no CAN SPAM provisions against that because the email is non-commercial in nature and sent only from friend to friend  In the case of groupmail, group members opted to receive email from the group.

Con: This traffic generation method depends heavily on how much you use email.  If you only communicate with a small group of friends or a small business circle and the nature of the emails are fairly mundane, there’s very little chance your email will “surf’ the massive interbranching networks of friends’ emails.  The “viral” ability of email, just like the viral ability of web content, depends in large part on the quality and nature of the email.  Even if you were to consciously pass on chainmails, many of your friends in your address book might resent you for forwarding that crap.  Overall, email signatures yield low traffic and have no obvious SEO/linkbuilding value (unless it gets published on a web page).  Thankfully, creating and using email signatures doesn’t involve much time and can piggyback on your daily email activities. Otherwise, the traffic produced would not be worth the time involved.

12. Make a custom 404 error page for your website redirecting people to your home page.


How it works:
When you update your site and delete pages or change file names or change directory structures, your visitors’ web browsers can’t find the page they were looking for and a 404 page appears.  If you have a static website, use .htaccess to set redirect your 404 to your homepage.  Here’s sample 404 redirection code.

Pro: Simple.  Straightforward and easy.  Great way to preserve traffic instead of wasting it on a bland/linkless 404 page.

Con: Tracking the lost/missing url the user was trying to access isn’t recorded.  This information would be useful because it would tell you what page(s) you need to rebuild or at least tell you about the content your audience is looking for.

13. Use PPC search engine advertising.


How it works:
You place a bid range for your keyword.  If the user runs a search on the keyword, the search engine will show your ad based on your bid compared to other bidders and other considerations such as the quality of your landing page, etc.  The 5 most popular pay per click providers are Google’s Adwords, Yahoo’s Overture, and the smaller players:  Miava (formerly known as FindWhat.Com), 7Search.com, and Adbrite.  All of them work on a similar model.  However, Google Adwords has added features you may want to know about.  Here’s an official Google Adwords video on how their auction works.


Pro: If you pick the right keywords, you can drive a lot of targeted traffic to your site/page in a very short amount of time.  You can finetune your campaign to quickly find keyword combinations that produce the best Return on Investment (ROI).  Here’s a great video on how to use Google Analytics to maximize your Adwords ROI

Con: Obviously not free.  Also, it can get quite pricey if your click through rate is bad and your landing page’s Quality Score is not very good.  There used to be a very common business model where you buy cheap keywords at a few pennies per click from Adwords and point the traffic to a page targeting higher paying keywords with Adsense ads.  The profit is the difference between the per click rate Adsense payout and the per click cost from Adwords–factoring in conversion rates.  This is called Adsense Arbitrage and it used to be extremely easy and lucrative.  Google’s changes to their Quality Score plus wholesale elimination of many big Adsense accounts of arbitrage player has pretty much destroyed this business model.  Many of the survivors moved on to Yahoo Publisher Network–buy cheap adwords keywords and dump them on YPN pages.  There’s also the IAC workaround to this.  Unfortunately, it’s not as lucrative as before.  Regardless of whether you’re playing the arbitrage game or not, the Google Adwords Quality score system poses a formidable hurdle to webmasters who want cheap and easy traffic.  You have to have a clear understanding of your target audience and the ROI of your keywords for you to make PPC ad buys work out for you (or just to break even).

14. Add a “bookmark this site” link to your webpages.


How it works:
Add a small piece of code to your site which adds you to your users’ browsers’ bookmarks.  Here’s one way to do it.

Pro: Nice and simple.  Very quick to do.

Con: No real disadvantage but you may want to spice things up by using a nice looking graphic.  Also, simple browser-based bookmarks just add your bookmark to the user’s browser–it isn’t public.  You may want to add Sociable or other social bookmark plugins to your blog or use a standalone social bookmarking code for non-blog website.  Why social bookmarks?  Instead of just saving the bookmark in one person’s browser, the saved bookmark is searchable in a central site and can be accessed by other users.  It also has SEO backlinkbuilding benefits.  Here’s a good video on how social bookmarking works.

15. Have a tell-a-friend form on your site.


How it works:
Nothing works better than word of mouth.  We see ads all the time but we pay more attention to ads that our friends have vouched for or recommended.  Why?  It takes less effort and resources than personally investigating and researching something.  Someone else already did the work for us.  This is human nature.  This dynamic plays out not just in buying products/services but also in meeting new friends and establishing new relationships.

In the online context, “Tell a Friend” boxes consist of simple code that you add to your site and your users enter their email address and name.  There’s a box underneath where they can list out the recipients who they want to know about your site.  The admin/setup of these boxes allows you to specify the message that is sent to the recipients.  Here’s one free tell a friend script.

Pro: Free.  Very easy.  Great way to maximize your traffic–you’ve spent time and effort to get a person to visit and read your site.  Maximize that visit’s value by giving that person an opportunity to voluntarily recruit people in his/her circle of influence to visit your site.  Doesn’t take too long to set up.

Con: Established and l337 (“elite”) webmasters think is so 1996, cheesy, and “Old School.”  Not all visitors would recommend–the numbers may be very minimal.  Also, it doesn’t work for certain types of sites like adult, penis enlargement, or gambling or other types of “private” content.   Regardless of these “drawbacks”, every little bit of traffic helps and “Tell a Friend” is an easy, free way to leverage your existing traffic’s friend network to get more traffic to your site.  Moreover, the conversion rate for refer a friend type systems depends on the quality of your website content.  If you have quality content, your content has a higher chance of going ‘viral’ through referrals.

16. Send articles to ezine publishers that includes a link to your website.

How it works: Many ezine sites have page rank and they pass some of this along to your target site when they publish your article.  The links are usually included in the “About the Author” section.

Pro: Mostly free.  You control the targeting level of your article since you can massage the keyword you’re targeting in the title and in certain areas of the article body.  You can put up to two links in the about the author section to target differing pages on your target site.  Many ezine sites have direct traffic so you can also get direct traffic.  These articles can also be configured to sell directly so you can set your links to be redirect pages for affiliate sales landing pages.

Con: If you’re doing this for linkbuilding make sure you keep in mind Page Rank and Do Follow.  The sites you are submitting to must have both of the above characteristics or else you might be wasting your time trying to build backlinks there.  However, if you are trying to get sales from the articles, linkbuilding is irrelevant since you’re trying to convert the readers of these article ezine sites.  Make sure you categorize your article correctly.  Miscategorized articles don’t do too well both for linkbuilding and direct sales.  See our prior installment and read up on the article submission section to see other “Con” drawbacks to this method.

17. Hold a crazy contest and make it go viral.


How it works:
Sponsor a contest on your blog/site and publicize it.  The contest terms must involve having the participants visit your site to either get more information or to register.  You don’t have to offer money.  Depending on your target audience, digital goods like ebooks or free services or links on your site should be enough.

Pro: Relatively inexpensive way to get new site visitors.  Also, you can use the contest to build your newsletter/lead sheet by requiring contestants to give their name and email address.  You can use free newsletter sites for this or use professional mailing list managers.

Con: There’s too many contests taking place on the Internet already.  There’s even sites that just focus on contests.  Users may already be burned out from too many contests.  Even if your site users are not burned out on contests, contests are NOT by definition viral.  Just because you’re giving away a prize, it doesn’t mean people are automatically going to flock to you.  Successful contests focus on psychological triggers in their target audience to spread the word.  It will take time, effort, and a lot of user profiling to get an idea as to what these triggers may be.

18. Give away a freebie (ebook, report, e-course) to keep people coming back to your site.


How it works:
Figure out the key “secrets”, tips, methods, or special content that your users would want to PAY FOR and give it to them free.  They have to sign up and register for your newsletter so they will be notified when the next installment is ready.

Pro: Low cost.  You have to spend money on custom web content copywriting for the ebook/report/course materials.  However, you leverage that cost by having users coming back to your site get the latest updates.  You also get viral marketing benefits if your users share these ebooks with others since your ebooks will have your links in them.  Remember to put links to your newsletter sign up page–let your ursers drive more users to your newsletter.  This creates an exponential effect.

Con: It will take some effort to determine the content that your users would want so bad as to sign up to a newsletter to get it.  This is not an easy “a priori” issue.  It requires that you listen to your users’ feedback and create a real relationship with them.  This is not for ‘drive by’ web publishers that just want to profit quickly from their users.  Also, you have to structure your ebook distribution so that it does result in your users coming back to your site–return traffic is key.  You can’t just give out the materials once and they never come back.  Maybe instead of an ebook, the better approach would be to convert part of your site into a password-driven member content area.  This means they will come back to your site for updates.  It depends on whether you make money via site ads.  If you make your money from direct links, newsletters should be good enough and there’s no need for the user to come back to your site.

19. Add an RSS feed to your blog.


How it works:
The Old School way of viewing web content is that you have to type in the address in your browser or look up your bookmarks to visit the site you want to go to.  Once at the site, you read the content.  You waste a lot of time if there’s no new items/updates.  RSS revolutionizes this process by having the content of sites you like COME TO YOU instead of the other way around.  By installing RSS on your blog or site, you leverage the power of this great way of reading and distributing website content.  Here’s a great video that explains it:


Pro: Very easy to do.  Use wordpress or blogger, they have RSS feeds built in.  WordPress uses RSS 2.0 and other versions.  Blogger.com uses the atom.xml format.  Once your blog is up, submit your feeds to feed aggregation sites so your content “teasers” will be published at these sites or show up in the blogs of their subscribers.  If you don’t know where to submit, you may want to use a blog RSS feed submitter service.  Always ask for a report after they complete the work.

Con: Lots of scumbags will try to LEECH your feeds.  There’s even wordpress plugins to put ‘blogging on autopilot.’ Why would they do this?  Laziness.  It takes time and effort to write quality category-relevant content.  So they use RSS feed aggregators like icerocket to find niche-specific content and get the content through the feeds.  They also strip out all links.  What do they do with the content?  One way is to post on their own blogs with their own ads–you provide the content, they make the money.  Sucks, no?  The other way is to post you content as updates on their sites for SEO purposes.  Both of these practices HARM you because the content on your site might get dinged with duplicate content penalties and you don’t make any money/benefit from your content.  How to fix this problem?  Run your entries periodically through copyscape.  Find where the duplicates are and investigate.  Report the thieves to their hosts so their webhosting companies will close them down.  Another solution is to set up your feed to produce only summaries–people will have to click on the link to go to your site and read the full entry.

20. Submit your site to any related niche directories on the net.


How it works:
There’s many link directories on the internet that list, describe, and categorize websites.  You merely just fill out a submission form and they review your site for quality.  If they approve your submission, your link appears on their database–hyperlinked to your target url.  Oftentimes, there’s a short description next to the link.

Pro: Relatively easy way to get backlinks.  Not exactly free but cheap enough if done by a directory submission service.  If you’re going to submit to only ONE directory, it must be DMOZ.

Con: Categorization is key.  If you can, find directories that focus specifically on your category.  These are very rare considering the tons of content categories available.  Plan B is to find directories that have specific enough categories in their multi-category database.  Make sure these directories have Page Rank and they allow search engine robots to FOLLOW the links to their specific listings.  Submissions can be tedious.  For best results, use differing descriptions for your site, rotate your titles, and submit deep links.  One final note:  Google and other search engines have continuously eroded the SEO value of directory-based links.  However, these can be partly offset by highly targeted categorization, rotated links, and custom descriptions.

Photo Credits:
KevinDooley

Here are the remaining items on the list which will be critiqued and analyzed in PARTS 3 through 5 of this 5 part series.

21. Participate in a banner or link exchange program.

22. Create a software program and give it away for free.

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

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

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

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

27. Start a page on social bookmarking sites such as www.wowzza.com .

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

29. Conduct and publish surveys to your website.

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

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. After reading this article, I get all the information required for traffic in one place and will try all the ways. Earlier I was only using RSS, and Social bookmarking only.

    Thanks for the informative and useful article.

  2. WoW man what a writeup. Took me sometime to read it but worth the read. You have covered everything and i mean almost everything (except for blackhat techniques).

    Thumbs up. Great post!

  3. The 404 has to be done very carefully. I have had google get weird on my main page as it had three main pages on a php site. Watch for the “/” and without and then index.php and without.

  4. Very good article. I hope you will explain the rest when you get a minute :) Points 21 through 50.

    thanks

    Adam’s last blog post..RipNAS – SSD-based CD ripping NAS device

  5. Know Internet Secrets says:

    @todd

    yah but with little bit of extra care while doing, 404 is not a big deal

    Know Internet Secrets’s last blog post..BSNL datacard, Sancharnet card-EVDO and ICC(BSNL-NIC) Modem Tariffs

  6. Benjamin Cip says:

    Nice article! :)

    Benjamin Cip’s last blog post..Where Is The Best Place To Display Ads?

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