Top 10 Free Ways to Build Traffic to Your Site

We all want more visitors to our sites. So what can you do to build site traffic? This article lists 10 sure-fire techniques that won't cost a cent.

You've created and published your website. Now you probably want to attract as many visitors to your site as you can. Reasons for wanting more traffic include:

  • Your site is an e-commerce site, and more visitors mean more sales!
  • Your site advertises your business. Again, more visitors translate to more leads and, ultimately, more sales.
  • Your site makes money from advertising. The more visitors you can get to your site, the more ad clicks you'll get, increasing your revenue.
  • Even if your site is "just for fun" and doesn't make money, high traffic can mean credibility, authority, and prestige for your site, and it can lead to bigger things further down the track!

There are many techniques you can use to get more visitors — some cost money, while others are free. This article concentrates on 10 proven traffic-building methods that needn't cost a cent to implement.

1. Create useful content

This technique is number 1 for a reason: All of the other techniques are wasted unless your site contains useful, compelling content that your target audience wants to read.

Some of the following techniques — such as search-engine optimization and getting inbound links — will only work successfully with good-quality content. Other techniques — such as building a base of newsletter subscribers, or doing article marketing — will amount to nothing if your newly-acquired visitors hate your site and never return!

So what is good content? It partly depends on the topic of your site, but here are some general points to bear in mind:

  • Write content for your visitors. Unless you're writing a personal blog and you don't care if no-one reads it, you need to think about the type of people you want to attract to your site. What are their interests, their motivations and desires? Create your content to meet their needs.
  • Update often. The beauty of a website is that content can be published instantly. It's a double-edged sword though; visitors these days expect sites to be updated regularly and frequently. Regularly-published content helps build visitor loyalty, and keeps your site looking "fresh".
  • Write lots of content. Don't expect to bring in tens of thousands of visitors with a 5-page website. Your site needs to be a comprehensive resource on its topic.
  • Write high-quality content. Each page that you write should be checked for correctness, spelling and grammar, and offer genuinely useful, original information. (So don't just copy an article from someone else's site!)
  • A blog can help. With some sites, such as online stores, it can be hard to add good free content. Instead consider starting a related blog with useful information, and building traffic to the blog. You can then link from the blog to your main site. (Find out more in How to Start a Blog.)
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2. Optimise your site for search engines

As you create your high-quality content, keep in mind how the content will look to a search engine. Does your content feature the sorts of keywords that searchers would use to find your site? Have you included those keywords in the right places in your site?

You can find out a lot more about basic search engine optimization in our SEO for beginners article.

3. Submit to search engines

Obviously, optimising your site for search engines is no good if the search engines can't see your site! So you need to make sure your site is in the index of all the major engines.

Most search engines will pick up your site automatically, provided it's linked to from a site that's already in the search engine's index. However, if your site's new then it's a good idea to let the search engines know about it. Most search engines feature a "submit your site" or "add URL" page somewhere (here's Google's). Usually you can just add the top-level page of your site and the search engine does the rest.

4. Get inbound links to your site

The Web is all about links, and it pays to get popular sites linking to pages in your site. This works for 2 reasons:

  • It increases traffic directly. If you get a link from a popular website then many visitors who visit that site will also click through to your page, increasing your number of visits.
  • It improves your search engine ranking. Many search engines, such as Google, look at the inbound links to your site when it comes to ranking your pages in the search results. The more high-quality sites that link to yours, the better your ranking.

Actually getting good inbound links is easier said than done — you can't force people to link to your pages! Here are some approaches that might encourage quality inbound links:

  • Write good-quality content. Already discussed above, but worth emphasizing. Your content has to be good so that other webmasters or bloggers who find it will want to link to it.
  • Link to good-quality sites yourself. This works on two levels. Firstly, linking to quality content is nearly as good as having quality content yourself. It increases the usefulness of your pages. Secondly, if a high-traffic site notices that it's getting some traffic from your link, they might consider linking to your site in return.
  • Get to know the owners of high-quality sites. "Cold-call" email requests for links sometimes work, but usually they don't. Instead, try getting to know the webmaster or blogger. Introduce yourself with a quick email, and build a relationship. If you get them interested in your content and subscribing to your feed, and your content's great, then there's a good chance they'll eventually start linking to your pages.
  • Write "viral" articles. This is covered in more depth below. Write the sort of articles that encourage linking (also known as "linkbait" articles). For example, if your article is very topical or controversial, or the best source of reference material on a subject, then it's much more likely to get linked.

5. Create an email newsletter

Email newsletters or e-zines help to encourage visitors to return to your site. It takes a lot of effort to attract each new visitor, so it's worth trying to keep them. Set up a regularly-mailed newsletter and put a signup box on every page of your site. Our own ELATED Extra is a good example.

To manage your subscribers and send your newsletters, try a service such as AWeber or free server software like Dada Mail. (Learn more about choosing an email newsletter system.)

6. Create a newsfeed

Newsfeeds (also called RSS feeds) do a similar job to newsletters — they let you keep in touch with your visitors and tell them about your latest news and site content. The advantage of newsfeeds over email newsletters is that newsfeeds are easier for people to subscribe to (and unsubscribe from). They also don't need to give any personal info, such as their email address, in order to subscribe to a newsfeed.

If your website is a blog, then you probably already have a newsfeed; most blogging software publishes a newsfeed of your latest blog posts automatically. Otherwise, you'll need to modify your website's software to publish a feed of your content (or ask your Web developer to do it for you).

7. Do some article marketing

Article marketing can be a good way to kick-start the flow of traffic to your site. The basic idea is this:

  1. You write several short articles on topics related to your website. At the bottom of each article you include an "about box" or "resource box" that contains info about yourself and a link back to your site.
  2. You submit the articles to websites or email newsletters that have audiences who would be interested in your articles. You can also submit to article directories such as EzineArticles and GoArticles.
  3. Webmasters then publish your articles on their sites or in their newsletters.
  4. Visitors and subscribers read the articles, then click the link at the bottom to visit your site.

Article marketing is a great idea, because everyone wins. Other webmasters get quality free content; their visitors learn something new from your articles; and you get free traffic.

There are downsides, though. In order to be noticed among the thousands of other article writers, your articles need to be high quality, and you need to write a lot of them! To start with, look at writing at least 20 top-quality articles, and submitting them to as many sites and directories as you can find. This should give you at least some traffic to help get your site off the ground.

Also, duplicate content penalties come into play. This is when search engines rank pages lower if they contain substantially similar content to other pages. So your article may get published on 100 Web pages, but those pages might end up getting hardly any traffic due to duplicate content penalties. It doesn't always happen, but it's food for thought.

8. Use viral marketing

The idea of viral marketing is that you get visitors to your site to "spread the word" about your great content, which encourages more folks to visit and bookmark or link to your pages. There are many ways to get a viral marketing campaign off the ground. Here are some suggestions:

  • Write viral content. This includes articles based on recent news events; content that is very humorous, controversial, or thought-provoking — anything that will make readers take notice and spread the word.
  • Add a "tell a friend" feature. Each page on your site should have an easy way for visitors to email the page to a friend — whether it's by providing the URL to copy and paste, or by giving them a form to fill out that emails the page automatically.
  • Add social bookmarking links. These are links (or icons) in your page that visitors can click to add the page to various well-known social sites such as Digg, StumbleUpon and Facebook. They're quite easy to set up. Here's an article on how to create a WordPress widget to do it; with a small amount of technical know-how you can adapt this technique to any site. You can also do it with JavaScript.

9. Write and send press releases

Press releases allow you to publicise your site for free in various media outlets, including newspapers, magazines, websites and — if you're really lucky! — television and radio.

To write a press release, you first need a newsworthy event that's related to your site. This might be a site relaunch, a new feature added to your site, or an external news event that's somehow connected to the site.

Now you can write your press release around that event. It should start with a compelling headline, and include information about the event, a couple of quotes from people discussing the event (even if those people are you and your best buddy!) and contact information, including, of course, your website URL.

Once your press release is written, you can hand-submit it to newspaper, magazine and website editors, or you can use a distribution service such as PRLog or openPR.

10. Promote your site offline

Last — but by no means least — you can use offline techniques to promote your site. Of course, it's harder to do this for free, especially if it involves things like cards or flyers, but it can have a powerful impact if done right. Here are some ideas:

  • Include your website URL on any stationery you write on. For example, make sure it's on your letterhead, on envelopes, and on compliment slips.
  • Write an article for a newspaper or magazine, and include your URL at the end of the article. This is the offline equivalent of article marketing!
  • Get yourself interviewed on local radio, and plug your site while you're there.
  • Tell all your friends about your site, and ask them to pass the URL on to anyone who might find it useful. (An easy-to-remember URL helps here!)

This article has given you 10 ideas to help you build your site traffic. All of these techniques are free; they just require time and effort on your part. So why not start today! And remember to stick at it. Eventually you'll see results.

Follow Elated

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Responses to this article

20 most recent responses (oldest first):

25-Mar-10 23:46
Thanks John.
01-Apr-10 10:54
This is a great list of website marketing but it's not easy for a new site to build up client's trust,thanks for sharing your thoughts.
08-Apr-10 04:35
@boscodcosta: It depends on the type of site (content publisher, ecommerce, etc) but here are some tips for building trust:

- Always include your company's physical address and contact number on the site, and provide a contact form so that visitors can reach you.

- Provide testimonials and money-back guarantees (if you're an online store).

- Register a top-level domain name (.com, .net etc) that doesn't sound spammy or laden with keywords for SEO purposes.

- Get a professional designer to design your site and logo.

Hope that helps! Anyone have any more ideas for building trust?

15-Apr-10 06:38
Thanks for the recommendation.It is obvious Matt that It depends on the type of site.
29-Nov-10 12:31
Great information.
28-Jun-12 20:15
Thanks for posting this! This is really helpful and informative. I am using some of the tips you mentioned and am about to try the others (ie. viral marketing , offline promotion). I've been in the SEO industry in just a little over a month and I am constantly trying to look for ways to improve my craft.

29-Oct-12 11:57
Hi there, just became aware of your blog through Google, and found that it is truly informative. I’m going to watch out for brussels. I will be grateful if you continue this in future. Numerous people will be benefited from your writing. Cheers!
01-Nov-12 06:26
It really does make one wonder if these people are actually reading the same thing as the rest of us are???

And if they are:

01-Nov-12 06:27

What planet are they reading it on?????????????????????
01-Nov-12 06:36
"I’m going to watch out for brussels."

Yeah you have to be careful, you know what effect eating cruciferous vegetables can have on the digestive system
21-Nov-12 20:54
@chrishirst: lol!
29-Jul-14 07:37
This forum is awesome amazing content love it. Today I learned a few great tricks. Keep it coming.
31-Jul-14 19:41
A lot of the information obtained from this article. I need information like this. It's great article and good job.
09-Aug-14 00:05
Nice tips!
26-Oct-16 18:57
I have a question. About how many contents should I post daily? What would be the ideal?
28-Oct-16 11:18
Assuming this;

" About how many contents should I post daily? "

Actually means;

How many 'articles' should I 'post' daily?

You have ENTIRELY the wrong idea of how to 'Build Traffic'.

To save me repeating myself, ... Read this:
30-Oct-16 23:00
I always refer to articles like this when trying to improve the performance of my website. Thanks for sharing.
19-Jan-17 02:45
How to get traffic for new classified site
19-Jan-17 03:45
19-Feb-17 14:15
It's very useful information! Thanks for sharing!

View all 21 responses »

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