Increase traffic to your website

The age old question: How do I get people to visit my website?

There are two parts to this:

First, you have to give people a reason to visit your site: information, good products, or a useful service.

Second, you have to let people know that your site exists: print your web address on marketing materials, get other people to link to your site, submit your site to search engines, purchase banner ads, or purchase pay-per-click ads offered by search engines.

Giving People a Reason to Visit Your Site

Unlike other forms of promotion that vies for attention, a website is a place where visitors or potential clients choose to go on their own terms. It's as if they've walked into your institution. It's your opportunity to show yourself in a good light to a willing audience. But what makes people go to a website?

People generally visit websites for one of two reasons: information or service. You might visit a jeweler's website to find out what to get your spouse for valentine's day. Later in the day you might visit a news website to learn about local events, and then visit your bank website to transfer funds from one account to the other and maybe buy a pound of jelly beans from an online candy store.

Any website worth going to offers some kind of value to the visitor. This might include:

  • Information about your product or service so that a visitor can make an informed purchasing decision.
  • Information that teaches visitors about a topic.
  • Information that helps visitors live healthier or happier.
  • Information that offers support to your product or service.
  • Services that deliver custom information - such as monthly car payment calculators.
  • Services that help people take care of errands from the comfort of their home.
  • Services that sell goods - like online storefronts.

Remember, people are choosing to visit your site on their own terms and they expect to find something there. This is your chance to deliver the information or the service a visitor wants, and it will reflect favorably upon your institution. Generally, it's best to stay away from language that sounds like an advertisement, as this can reduce the credibility of your site's information.

Note about design: Good design is important to the credibility of your website and establishing how people feel about your company. But it should not be expected to carry the full weight of your website. By itself, design won't draw people to your website or bring them back. See the Stanford University Web Credibility Project

Letting People Know that Your Site Exists

Much ado has been made about search engines, and often by companies that charge to work some mysterious search engine optimization voodoo. But the truth is, search engines are only one piece in the puzzle, and not always the largest or most important piece. Many websites find that their best source of traffic is through "direct navigation" - those are people who see your web address on an ad or a business card and go directly to it. So start posting your web address on all of your promotional material.

Here are some basic methods for promoting your site:

  • Print your web address on all your promotional material.
  • Tell people about your website at trade shows, conferences, or during meetings.
  • Print your web address in your phone book ad.
  • Try pay-per-click ads or banner ads like Google AdWords , Yahoo Search Marketing, or Ask Sponsored Listings - these can get pricey but can expand your geographic range of customers and depending on the cost or popularity of your product or service can deliver a quick return on investment.
  • Make search engines happy. How? Add A LOT of valuable content to your website. The more plentiful and valuable it is, the more people will visit your site over time. Try this BEFORE spending a dime on search engine optimization.
  • Submit your web address to search engines. Usually this is FREE. Submit to Google, Submit to Ask, Submit to MSN, Submit to Yahoo