All Website Traffic Is Not Created Equal by Angela Wu © Copyright. Website owners are bombarded with offers to help them get more visitors. Yet 'traffic', in and of itself, just doesn't cut it. The goal is to drive sales, subscriptions, inquiries, bookings, applications, or whatever it is that you do. There really is 'good' traffic and 'bad' traffic. Some may argue that if getting the traffic is free, then it's worth it. To the contrary, even free traffic can have negative consequences. For instance: - You pay for bandwidth. Buying traffic is easy... but if that traffic doesn't translate into sales, then why bother? You're stuck with the bill for both the traffic and the bandwidth, with nothing to show for it. - If you place third-party links or banners on your site in return for a share of traffic, you still pay the price in possible lost opportunity: visitors may leave your site due to the extra load time for the banners or links, or because they get distracted from your main message. Many of the less-effective methods to get traffic are based on a 'numbers game' -- that is, they try to get as much traffic as possible, in the hopes that someone will buy (eg. out of a million visitors, maybe one person will make a purchase... a pathetic conversion rate, but still a sale). Some of these methods include: - Classified ad sites. People generally go to post ads, not to read them. Enough said. - FFA sites ('Free-For-All' websites): add your link to the hundreds of others on the site. You'll be lucky if you get a trickle of traffic - and if you do, chances are that it's not targeted enough to do you any good. Plus your email box is likely to get flooded with sp@m. Don't get sucked into buying your own FFA site either; the 'benefit' is supposed to be that you can send a confirmation email to everyone who posts a link, however, the chances of you getting reported as a sp@mmer are high. - Automated banner or link exchanges. People have learned to ignore banners, and these types of exchanges often don't allow you to pick and choose who you want to trade with. They're rarely effective. Better to handle any exchanges on your own. - Traffic-generating programs such as start or exit page programs, popups, popunders, and so forth. Unless you can specifically target the audience, these programs are generally ineffective. Those who use them are usually more interested in generating extra 'credits' to display their own site, rather than genuinely interested in any of the other sites in the network. - 'Safe lists'. This is a misnomer, with addresses that are usually harvested and distributed without permission. Chances are you'll end up with a great many complaints if you mail to these lists and very few, if any, sales. The more effective methods of generating traffic involve finding people who already have an interest in your product or service and directing them to your website. + Search engine traffic is wonderful because visitors search you out, rather than the other way around. Find out what key phrases people use to search for the type of products or services that you sell. Then work at getting your site listed on the first few pages (preferably the first page) of the search results. A good primer to search engine optimization is included in the Site Sell package, http://onlinebusinessbasics.com/myss.html . + Pay-per-click search engines allow you to buy your position in the search results. Again, you have to find the right key phrases or all your efforts are wasted. The good thing about PPC campaigns is that you only pay for click-throughs to your site - so if no one clicks, you don't pay. + Major directories such as Yahoo and Open Directory. A listing in these directories can help to bring more interested visitors to your site as well as provide a boost in your link popularity. At the time of writing, submissions to Open Directory are currently free so be sure to take advantage of it ( http://www.dmoz.org/ ). Yahoo charges an annual fee for commercial websites; review whether or not you think it's worth the money. ( http://www.yahoo.com/ ) + Niche or specialty directories are excellent because the people who visit them are searching for information, products, and services on specific topics. Start with http://www.finderseeker.com/ to check for specialty search engines, or visit http://beaucoup.com/ . + Targeted links allow you to 'share' traffic with other relevant sites. Your link strategy should include both the submission of your links to appropriate directories, encouraging others to link to you (by providing easy instructions, as well as great content), and trading links with quality sites in your niche. WebFerret is a handy tool to help you find potential link partners: http://www.webferret.com/ . For more information, visit http://onlinebusinessbasics.com/nn/2003/03oct17.html + Reviews and endorsements. Naturally you'll say that your product or service is good. When someone else says it, it has more impact. Consider offering a copy of your product for review. If the reviewer likes it, he or she may give you some good free publicity. Even 'implied endorsements' can work in your favor. An example of an implied endorsement is when your article or column appears in quality publications other than your own. Your credibility is boosted by that of the other publication. + Referral business is often overlooked, yet it's one of the most powerful ways to do business. Keep your customers happy and ask them to send others to you. You can even provide incentives for them to do so, if appropriate. An article on generating referrals is available at http://onlinebusinessbasics.com/nn/2003/03nov07.html + Publicity. Press releases and interviews offer a good way to draw attention to your business without incurring the costs of advertising. This can be especially powerful if your business is written up in a popular printed magazine; people often keep magazines or pass them around. + Targeted print advertising in respected trade or specialty publications that reach a wide audience within your niche. Test a few of the more affordable ads to see the response - then, if you are happy with the results, consider trying a larger or different type of ad. Finally, make sure you monitor the results from each of your marketing campaigns to find out what works best for your business. Refine your campaigns and build upon your successes. ================================================================ Angela is the editor of Internet Marketing Truths, Tips, and Tools, a beginner's guide to marketing online. You'll find loads of instantly useable tips and links, in a down-to-earth style that even marketing "newbies" can understand! Pick up your copy at: http://onlinebusinessbasics.com/article.html ================================================================
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