Everybody on the Internet wants more web traffic and we’re all looking for the cheapest way to get it. Here’s my personal take on how to do it, how to keep it and most importantly … how to avoid paying for it.
If we’re going to talk about how to increase your website traffic for free, let’s first establish a few truths.
First, I don’t care what search engine you use, at 60%+ of the market Google is king. It’s closest competitor? Yahoo is at around 20% of the market and in the real world of Internet marketing nobody else matters.
Secondly, there is no way to increase traffic to your website other than earning it. There are lots of ‘build traffic quickly’ scams on the Internet, none of them work for one pretty basic reason … Google (remember, they’re the ones that matter) only hires really, really smart people.
Now that we’ve established the two basic truths of the Internet, building traffic for your website is really simple.
Have something relevant to say.
Seriously, there are millions of websites out there and almost everybody has an opinion. Make sure that yours matters by ensuring your content is valid, effective and helpful.
If I wanted to run a website about fishing in the Miramichi, I wouldn’t want to promote myself through my website (after all, who wants to read about me? Instead, I would write content about the sport of fishing and specifically the type of sport fishing that can be accomplished in the Miramichi.
In the real world, a picture may be worth a thousand words but on the Internet the opposite is true.
Let’s appreciate the truth, Google can’t see … it doesn’t have eyes but it can read using text. That’s why the highest ranking websites on the web are full of text, not graphics. If you want your website to be at the top of Google, you need to ensure your website can be read by Google.
Speaking of which, Google reads xHTML not english. Make sure your website uses properly formatted and standards compliant xHTML otherwise Google will not be able to properly understand your website.
- Write content that people care about
- Publish your content using properly coded xHTML
- Include ALT and NAME tags for photos
- Use Microsoft Word to write web pages, the code it produces is not standards compliant
- Build websites in Flash, Google can’t see anything in a Flash application
- Assume your website works because it looks good in Internet Explorer, if you want to see what Google sees view the code
Think like a search engine. If you really want to market your website for free, start to think about Google and what the people who programmed it wanted the Internet to be.
Take the time to ensure your website functions properly, use tools such as The W3C Markup Validation Service to test your site, http://jigsaw.w3.org/css-validator/ will ensure your CSS is good. Why does it matter? Because computers can’t read content that’s written wrong.
Publishing vs. Design
Websites are not about design, they’re about publishing. Ensure your document is formatted properly from top to bottom. For example, is your website name in an H1 tag? Are chapter titles in H2’s? Have you made proper use of DIV tags? SPAN tags and TABLES?
The web is a collection of hyper-linked documents, if you don’t link to other websites then you’re site is a dead end on the superhighway. Cul-de-sac’s might be cute but they don’t get a lot of traffic … take the time to help your visitors by linking to relevant articles, news and general interest pieces which support your content.
Above all … don’t cheat.
Remember, Google employs thousands of really, really smart developers who are always trying to improve the search engine. Remember, You can make money without doing evil.