You'll need to know some basic and proven ways to increase Web site traffic whether you're running an online business or trying to get folks to read your blog. "If you build it, they will come," may have worked for Kevin Costner in Field of Dreams, but it doesn't work on the Web. With an estimated 108 million sites on the Web (and growing), there's a lot of competition for visitors.
Create Keyword-Rich Content
Unless you have an unlimited budget for pay-per-click advertising, you'll need to rely on search engines to increase Web site traffic. There is one very magic word when it comes to making search engines love your site: keyword. If you want to get high rankings in search results, you'll need to focus your page content.
Start out by picking a few words or phrases that accurately describe what your Web site is about. List them on a piece of paper, then use a free keyword tool such as Wordtracker to test your keywords. Sites like Wordtracker use databases of actual searches, allowing you to find out what words people type when they're searching online.
Using the results from the keyword search tool, choose a single keyword or series of keywords and make it the focal point of a page. The keyword or keyphrase should appear in the page title, the headline on the page and somewhere in the first paragraph. If we use this page as an example, "increase Web site traffic" is the keyphrase. If possible, get the keyphrase into the URL as well.
There may be a benefit to sprinkling the keyphrase throughout the text on the page, but you don't want it to be more than 5% of the page's total word count, which is known as the keyword density. For a 1,000-word page, that's 20 appearances. Don't struggle to jam phrase in; keep your writing natural. Readers don't like Web pages that read awkwardly, and neither do search engines.
Pictures and Flash Add Nothing
It's natural to want an attractive, professional Web site design. Flash and Java both make your Web site stand out from the crowd of plain HTML sites, but they'll work against you if you want to increase Web site traffic, because search engines can't read Java or Flash-based menus, so they can't follow links within your site. Keywords located in these menus are worthless.
Instead of Java, use CSS, which leaves your links visible. Internal links that use your keyphrase, such as those found in navigational menus, are a great way to get a higher search engine ranking, but only if the search engines can see them.
Images are a must for any Web site, but your photos and illustrations can't be seen by search engines. What they do see, however, is your ALT tags, so be sure to provide accurate descriptions of your images in those tags. Working your keyphrase into your ALT tags is another strategy that boosts search-engine rank.
Who Links to Your Web Site?
Another important step to increase Web site traffic is to get links to your site out on the Web. You can do this in a number of ways: submit your Web site to industry-specific directories; submit articles to newsletters and e-zines and create link-exchange opportunities with other Web sites on your topic.
Submitting articles to newsletters and e-zines is the strongest tactic. This creates additional links to your Web site and gives readers a reason to click on them. If readers like your articles, they're more likely to visit your Web site for additional information.
Link exchange involves contacting the Webmaster of a related site and offering a link to that site in exchange for a link to yours. This is a time-consuming strategy that must be handled carefully, because links to unrelated sites won't help you. Don't pay to include your Web site on a long list of meaningless links, thinking you'll save time. Web sites that contain long lists of unrelated links or that offer run-of-site links on unrelated sites are frowned upon by search engines. Google, in particular, may ban your site from its search results if you use these kinds of links.
The best links come from impartial or expert third-party sources. Think CNN or cNet. Submitting press releases to online sources such as PRWeb and PRWire can be a good way to get noticed. Try to get your targeted keyphrase in these inbound links to maximize their value. If you're approached by a Webmaster for a reciprocal link, make sure that the site requesting the link is readable and relevant to your site.
Forget About Tricks
If your Web site contains hidden text, links or redirects designed to mislead a search-engine spider about the content of your page, you're very likely to get banned by Google. New schemes pop up all the time and they always fail within a year. There's simply no substitute for having focused, well-written content with keyphrases and links.
One thing you can do is to update your Web site regularly. Search engines like Web sites that regularly post news updates or useful content that visitors will appreciate. When changes are found, Web crawlers assign your Web site a higher value. Consider adding a blog or a regularly updated News page. Try to keep your home page fresh as well by changing links to reflect new content and updates.
Pay-per-click (PPC) programs work by allowing you to purchase a keyword or phrase for a specific cost. You pay that price every time a consumer clicks on your paid link, usually displayed at the top of search results as a sponsored link listing.
PPC is a straightforward way to increase Web site traffic, but if you have an expensive or popular keyword, your bill may increase fast. Because of the nature of the program, it's easy to get involved in bidding wars with competitors and lose profitability. You should only use PPC if your Web site is your business, and you should choose keywords very carefully to get the maximum return on your investment. Look for very specific keywords that generate searches but don't have a lot of competitive bids to get the best value.
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