In September of 1999, Brett Tabke wrote "26 Steps to 15k a Day" in the Webmaster World forum. A lot has changed since then, and now is the time to consider a new 26-step plan that meets the current needs of webmasters in 2006. Some of the old ones still apply (writing new content everyday, for example), and some don't (submitting to the search engines is no longer necessary), and we're here to tell you which is which! As you probably already know, bringing in traffic is not easy - it takes hard work, determination and lots of elbow grease. So if you're ready, roll up your sleeves and follow these 26 simple steps, and within just one year you will generate enough traffic to keep you busy for a long, long time! The A to Z Guide to Getting Website Traffic
A) Keyword research
Before you do anything else, use a keyword research tool and do an extensive job researching the right keyphrases to use for your site. What keyphrases are your direct competitors using? Are there any keyphrases that create a potential for market entry? Are there any that you can put a spin on and create a whole new niche with?
B) Domain name
If you want to brand your company name, then choose a domain name that reflects it. If your company is Kawunga, then get www.kawunga.com. If it's taken, then get www.kawungawidgets.com. No dashes, and no more than two words in the domain if appropriate.
C) Avoid the sandbox
Buy your domain name early, as soon as you have chosen your keyphrases and your company name. Get it hosted right away and put up a quick one page site saying a little about who you are, what you sell, and that there will be more to come soon. Make sure it gets crawled by Google and Yahoo (either submit it or link to it from another site).
D) Create content
Create over 30 pages of real, original content on your site. This will give the spiders something to chew on. It will also give you more opportunities to been seen in the search engine results for a wide variety of keyphrases.
E) Site design
Use the "Keep It Simple" principle. Employ an external CSS file, clean up any Java Scripts by referring to them off the page in an external file, don't use frames, use flash the way you would an image, and no matter what, do not create a flash site. Do not offer a busy site with lots of bells and whistles to your visitors. Keep things nice and simple. Make it easy for them to find what they are looking for and they'll have no reason to look anywhere else.
F) Page size
The less kilobytes your page uses, the better - especially for the home page. Optimize your images and make sure the page loads quickly. Most people and businesses in the Western world may have high speed, but cell phones and other countries might not. If your site loads slowly, you may have already lost your visitor before they've even had a chance to browse around.
Make sure that your site follows good usability rules. Remember that people spend more time on other sites, so don't violate design conventions. Don't use PDF files for online reading. Change the colours for visited links, and use good headers. Look up usability for more tips and tricks, it will be worth your while.
H) On site optimization
Use the keyphrase you have chosen in your title (most important), your headers (when appropriate), and within the text. Make sure that your page/content is ABOUT your keyphrase. If you are selling widgets, than write about widgets. Don't just stick the word widgets into the text.
Globals are the links that remain the same on every page. They are the reference for new visitors to keep them from getting lost. Sometimes they are on the left of the page, sometimes they consist of tabs at the top. Often they are in the footer of the page as well. Make sure that you have an old style text version of your globals on every page. I usually create tabs at the top, and put the text versions in the footer at the bottom of the page. Find out what works best for you.
Use bold headers. On the Internet, people scan they don't read. So initially, all they will see are the headers. If your headers don't address their concerns, they won't stick around long enough to read your content. Use appropriate keyphrases when you can.
K) Site map
Build a site map with a link to each of your pages. Keep it up to date. This will allow the spiders to get to every page. Put a text link to the site map on the main pages.
Add a page every 2-3 days: 200-500 words. Create original content, don't copy others. The more original and useful it is, the more people will read it, link to it, and most importantly of all - like it enough to keep coming back for more.
M) White hat only
Stay away from black hat optimizing techniques. Black hat optimization consists of using any method to get higher rankings that the search engines would disapprove of, such as keyword stuffing, doorway pages, invisible text, cloaking and more. Stick to white hat methods for long-term success. People who use black hat optimization are usually there for the short-term, such as in porn, gambling, and Viagra markets (just look at your email spam for more black hat markets). These black hat industry sites are usually around just long enough to make a quick buck.
N) Competition analysis
Who is linking to your competition? Use Yahoo's "link:" service to see the back links of your competition. For example, type in "link:http://www.yourdomain.com" into Yahoo search without the quotes). Try to get links from the same sites as your direct competitors. Better yet, see if you can replace them!
Submit to five groups of directories:
1. Dmoz.org and Yahoo (local, such as Yahoo.co.uk, or Yahoo.ca, etc... if you can).
2. Find directories in your field and get into them. Pay if you must, but only if the price is reasonable.
3. Local directories that relate to your country or region.
4. Any other directories that would be appropriate.
5. If you are targeting the local market, make sure that you are in the Yellow Pages and Superpages (because search engines use these listings to power local searches)
Start a blog about your industry and write a new entry at least once a week. Allow your visitors to comment or, better yet, write their own entries. This will create even more content on your site and will keep people coming back regularly to see what is new.
Q) Links from other sites
Simply submit your website to appropriate sites, asking that they link to your site as a reference because it will benefit their visitors. Don't spend too much time on this, if your content is good and original, they will find you and link to you naturally. Remember that Linking is Queen.
Stay away from reciprocal linking, links farms, link scams, and any other unnatural links. They may not necessarily hurt you, but Google tracks when you get a link, how long you have had a link, who links to the site that links to you, where you live, what you had for breakfast, and more (not really... but kind of).
Make sure your server has a good statistics program. Use it! If you don't have access to a good program, then pay for one. Without the knowledge of who is coming to your site, from where, and how often, you will be missing out on some essential tools to improve your site.
S) Pay-per-click (PPC)
Sign up for Google AdWords and Yahoo Search Marketing. Spend money getting people to your site. Use it for branding too. This will create a steady flow of visitors to your site, and will make your site more accessible to your potential clients. You don't have to be #1, you don't even have to be #5... just make sure you are on the first page of search results for most of your keyphrases, when the cost is right.
T) Look ahead
Stay informed of what is coming up in your market. If a new product will be out next season, write about it now. Take advantage of being a first mover. The search engines, and linkers, will reward you.
Write an article once every week and get it published in as many online publications as you can (with a link back to your site). Include the article on your site. Not only will this create many links to your site, but it will also get people to click to your site, and most importantly you will become an expert in the eyes of your visitors. They may even begin looking for your site by querying your name!
V) Study your traffic
After 30 to 90 days you will have enough results to analyze in your statistics program. Go over them with a fine toothed comb. Get the answers to these questions:
- Where are your visitors coming from?
- Which search engines do they use?
- What queries do they type in?
- What pages on your site do they visit the most?
- What are the entry pages on your site?
- What are the exit pages?
- What path do they follow when they browse your site?
Use this information to tweak your site.
- Use the most popular page to encourage the visitors to make you money.
- Adjust the paths they use to send them where you want them.
- Figure out why they leave from the exit pages.
Also, see what search terms people use to find you, and fine tune your keyphrases. If you targeted "green widgets", but your visitors are finding you with the query "green leather widgets", then start creating content about "leather widgets"!
W) Verify your submissions
After 3-4 months, check that you got into Dmoz.org and all of the other directories that you submitted to. If you have not been included, then submit again, or better yet, write a polite email to the editor and ask why. Also, find any new directories that would be worthy of your submittal time and submit to them.
X) RSS feeds
RSS (Real Simple Syndication or Rich Site Summary) is becoming a powerful tool for Internet marketers. You can quickly and easily add fresh content to your website. Article feeds are updated frequently, so you can give your visitors (and the search engines) what they want - fresh content! You can use RSS to promote any new content, such as new pages, articles, blogs, press releases, and more!
Y) Press releases
A press release is a written communication that you submit to journalists in the media (newspapers, radio, television, magazines) which are used to make announcements that are newsworthy. Create press releases announcing publication of any new articles or new company information or products. If it is interesting/original enough, a journalist may pick it up and write an article about it. Before you know it, your website address may get published in the NY Times.
Z) Keep your content fresh
Remember to write a new page every 2-3 days. I only mentioned it briefly, but it is probably the most important point in this article. Keep writing! Without fresh content, your site will gradually drop in the search engine results. To stay on top, your content has to be the most up-to-date, freshest, and most interesting and original content in your field.
Follow these 26 simple steps and I assure you that within one year you will call your site a success. You will bring in a massive amount of traffic from within your industry and watch as your business grows!
So start writing, and write yourself to the top!
Discuss this article in the Small Business Ideas forum.
Shawn Campbell is an enthusiastic player in the ecommerce marketplace, and co-founded Red Carpet Web Promotion, Inc. He has been researching and developing marketing strategies to achieve more prominent listings in search engine results since 1998. Shawn is one of the earliest pioneers in the search engine optimization field.
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