Getting People To Your Website

Getting web visitors is what every website owner wants (including me!). Many people call it driving traffic. I refer to it as creating gravity because many of the best actions will pull visitors to a website as opposed to pushing them there from other places.CreatingGravity

When the discussion of creating gravity or driving traffic comes up (with me at least), it usually involves a small budget. People often think that it’s easy for any website to get a million hits. It’s because of the stories like the YouTube video of a cat dancing to an old disco song… and getting 7 million hits in one month. A dancing cat getting 7 million hits is impressive, but a website for a local insurance agency won’t get that much attention… no matter what. Unless a salesman puts on some tight polyester bell-bottom pants and danced like a cat to a Bee Gee’s tune. But would we want to buy insurance from that guy?  Not me.  I digress…

Like anything in business, creating gravity takes all resources:  time, money, expertise, creativity, and luck. If you want to skimp on any one of these elements, you need to make it up in the others.  As I mentioned earlier, most discussions of creating website gravity involve a small budget, so here are my top ten ways to create gravity to your website without using high-tech or high-dollar anything.

1. Create Controversy.  Stir the pot.  Tap into people’s passions. Take a tip from the conservative talk radio shows like Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck.  Leverage other media (the editorial section of a newspaper and re-print online) and other websites (make strong comments on other websites).

2. Build a Network. Create a community of like-minded sites; the whole is bigger than the sum of the parts. Brainstorm ways the community can grow beyond your community. Consider reciprocal banner ads.

3. Cover Events. Being the first to report is huge. Exclusive and underground coverage is great.  Time is of the essence!  Be the first to post some interesting news and people will flock to your site. Keep in mind, the word “news” is used liberally. Think “Entertainment Tonight” not Walter Cronkite. It can be photos from an industry event or a POV of an industry trend or just some good old scuttlebutt.

4. Make Top-Ten Lists – they make it onto Digg, Slashdot and even into the mainstream press.  Case studies:  Letterman’s Top Ten might be the most famous, but on the web, Nielsen’s Top Ten Web Design Mistakes and the recent Top 10 Unintentionally Worst Company URLs (that made both del.icio.us/popular and Digg) are good examples. Heck, you’re reading a top-ten list right now!

5. Graphic & Web Design — using design portals to drive traffic to your well-designed site. Examples include CSSThesis and CSSBeauty.

6. Leverage Social Networks.  Of course there’s the popular ones:  Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, YouTube, AOL, etc.  Also consider using Ekstreme’s Socializer Tool. Using Digg, Slashdot’s, Reddit, Furl, Shadows and StumbleUpon. The list is endless and ever changing.

7. Blog and Blog Comments.  Regular content generation is required. Requires passion and expertise on the subject.  Case studies:  thousands of great blogs including Better Living through Design, Montreal Food, Re-Imagineering and Creating Passionate Users.

8. Buy Some Google Adwords. They can be cheap, and you get what you pay for, but it’s quick, easy, and worth a go.

9. Offering Something Incredible.  Build-it-and-they-will-come product.  Case studies:  Zillow, Flickr, Craigslist, Kayak, Web2.0Awards.

10. Don’t Forget the Simple Things: Use an email address from the URL. Build an email list and e-newsletters. Case Study:  Yoe.com

Bonus tips:

• Sell something on eBay or Craigslist as a way to drive traffic to your site.

• Use your business’ primary client contact point to drive traffic to your site. To encourage people to go to your website, what signature could you add to every email that is sent from your company? What could you print on the back of everyone’s business cards that would get people to go to your site? What could you print on your packaging that would entice website visits?

What ideas do you have for creating gravity (or driving traffic) to a website?  Please add a comment.

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