How would one economically drive up traffic for a new web site?
October 25, 2006 8:33 PM   Subscribe

How would one economically drive up traffic for a new web site?

Just this week, I launched a web site for a service business. We want to generate nationwide traffic. Meta tags are in place, all is pretty good.

I have started an Adwords campaign with a $300/month budget, and paid the $300 annual Yahoo fee to get listed in their directory. I have already received two solicitations from companies that claim to be able to bump up traffic.

What are the best, most economical ways to do this myself?
posted by titans13 to Computers & Internet (12 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
 
Well, there's always the "put a link in your profile and ask how to drive up traffic on askme" You've got the second part down.

Anyway, it really depends on what the actual service is...
posted by delmoi at 8:50 PM on October 25, 2006


Use this question as your guide: Where will I find the people who be really excited to learn that this web site exists? (In some cases, adjustment to the web site and/or service may be necessary to ensure that there actually is an answer to this question :-)
posted by winston at 9:16 PM on October 25, 2006


I have already received two solicitations from companies that claim to be able to bump up traffic.

That's called SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, and they are in my mind barely above the rank of spammer in the web's ecosystem. Everything they know that isn't going to get you blackballed from the web is already easily accessible and free. Look at Google's webmaster info -- it is essentially everything you can do SEO-wise and not get busted.

If you sign up with some shady SEO company, know that they can hurt you just as much as help you with a shady scheme.
posted by mathowie at 9:29 PM on October 25, 2006 [2 favorites]


None of this is an instant guarantee of success, but if I was trying to establish my business in a crowded field, I'd do everything I could to spread word of mouth and get people talking about me.

Incidentally, #1 is the most critical. If you can't get #1 down, then #2 and #3 (and most other advice people will give you) won't matter.


1> Do well by doing good.

That means be exceptional by delivering terrific above-the-board customer service. People love to talk about companies that treat them well, so start building word of mouth with your existing customers first. Encourage them to talk about you and your service. Give them reasons to love you and make it easy for them to talk about you to their colleagues.


2> Give stuff away.

Post a form on your home page asking people to subscribe to receive weekly special offers, coupons, and other "giveaways". You'll have an instant mailing list from which to start building your business.

Don't be stingy about this. It's a trusism -- the more you give, the more you get. I'm not saying give away the whole store, but you can easily afford to give "something" away each week. I guarantee you that for every "freebie" you give away, you'll get 5 back in sales.


3> Start a blog.

Post at least one small paragraph each day. Talk about your company's successes, the not-so-successes, tips, tricks, featured customers, stories, etc. Be personal. Talk about why you got into this business. Publish your email address and phone number, and let people know there is a real human being behind this business. The more personal you are, the more they'll talk about you, and the more business you'll receive.

Check out the Word of Mouth Marketing Association for more details and tips. Especially the WOMBAT section (http://womma.org/wombat). Disclosure -- I used to work there and remain an enthusiastic believer in the power of WOM.
posted by zooropa at 10:02 PM on October 25, 2006


You keep talking in terms of "traffic". You don't want traffic. You want customers. When you're planning your strategy, ask yourself, "is what I'm about to do going to drive people to my website who don't want to be there and will never buy anything off me?"

The SEO firms who have contacted you basically offer ways to trick people into visitng your site. That doesn't help you, and that doesn't endear you to the public. It is a difficult task, trying to get noticed in the crowd, but well targeted, honest advertising (like you've sorted out with Yahoo!), an honest, reputable, well run business, and word of mouth (as zooropa suggests) are the best ideas going.
posted by Jimbob at 11:22 PM on October 25, 2006


You've demonstrated immaculate askme etiquette so far, but you may as well put a link to in your profile now, to help further, it may be useful to know what the service is.

As mathowie says (and, really, he should know) forget about SEO stuff. I'm pretty sure about 70% of the SEO "specialists" just run bots that spam comment/trackback random blogs. I have akismet on my blog and the other day, I noticed I had been spammed 30 times in a day by a site that sells kitchens. This was really odd - most comment spam is porn/cialis (WTF is that stuff BTW)/vicodin flavoured. I can only assume that some poor fool signed up for a less than reputable SEO service...

The blog idea is an interesting one. It may generate traffic to your site - not necessarily customers, perhaps - but it should help to explain your product and alert people to updates/new products/new services (note how nearly all the major software sites run targeted blogs now - adobe even has one dedicated to flash for linux). Run it, write (relevant, but interesting) content on it and sign up to technorati (or your favourite equivalent) and see if anyone bites.

The only other bit of advice I can give to improve your search engine ranking (I'm not an expert) is to create both a google and a yahoo sitemap, if you haven't already. The google one (sitemap.xml) is readable by MSN too. Personally, I've never been able to figure out yahoo's sitemap, but they accept url lists (in txt format) too - not so good if your site is massive though, I admit. Adding these should, (eventually) bump you up the search results quite a lot. However, if you're entering an already crowded market, this on its own won't be enough...

Anyway, good luck.

*on preview*

What Jimbob said.
posted by davehat at 11:30 PM on October 25, 2006


There are a couple of details missing. Why are you looking for traffic? Are you looking for conversions or are you looking for profit?

If you are looking for conversions, high traffic numbers are mostly useless. You want traffic with a purpose, which means asking two questions:

Who is buying your service?
Where do they hang out online?

$300/month is an okay budget for ad buys on community sites and forums that your customers will be on anyway. Buying an ad on a targetted community site does two things in your favour:

It puts your ad in front of people who are looking for ways to solve a problem that you know how to solve.
It supports the community of your industry.

If you are looking just for pure traffic (selling ads to people who don't care about conversions, maybe), then you need to build your website with traffic in mind. Your comment about meta tags could be a joke or shorthand, but in terms of real search engines, meta tags are mostly useless.

Most of what has been said in this thread about SEO is true, but there is a lot of value in understanding how modern search engines work and what they are looking for. Google is actually working pretty hard to make websites better and their ">section for webmasters is a very good starting point.

It's obviously pretty hard to search for legitimate information about SEO but sites oriented to web designers (such as A List Apart) will have very useful information.

The short version of legitimate SEO is: Logical page structure, clean and relevant xhtml, regular fresh content.
posted by cCranium at 5:01 AM on October 26, 2006


I am looking to be found when people search for data recovery companies or services. Generally people who are in the market for my service have an urgent or pressing need for quick help.

So...I guess I am looking for visibility by the niche market I am trying to serve, which are people in need of my services. This group changes day to day. Perhaps this clarifies things a bit.

On the advice of some above, I put a link to the site in my profile. Posting it on this message just would not seem right.
posted by titans13 at 5:27 AM on October 26, 2006


I am looking to be found when people search for data recovery companies or services.

Be the best data recovery company in the world, or in your area. Or be the best inexpensive data recovery company, or the fastest turnaround, or whatever. Then people will recommend you and link to you, and you'll get good Google results.

I agree with the others that you've asked the wrong question here, because your product isn't a website -- your website is advertising for your product. So you're essentially asking how to advertise your advertising!

What is your niche market?
posted by mendel at 6:39 AM on October 26, 2006


Given what you've said, I doubt that freebies will be an effective marketing tool! :-)

However, a blog would be very successful, because it would greatly increase your chance of hitting one or more keywords that someone was using to search for an answer to their problem.

It appears there's already at least one data recovery blog out there. On the bright side, they don't update very often

You could make your blog about both the fixes and preventative measures. Don't be too technical or explicit -- you don't want to bore readers or help out the potential competition -- but you can at the very least make it clear that it's difficult and requires a high level of competence. Also, if you write it well you'll send the message that you're keeping up to date with the latest developments.

On the preventative side, you might want to think about partnering with or reselling data backup service companies. This would send a really positive message: "Ideally, you would never need my services. Here's what you can do to prevent heartache next time. But if something ever goes wrong, you can always come to me." Sort of like the doctor telling you to eat plenty of fiber.
posted by Deathalicious at 6:42 AM on October 26, 2006


davehat writes "most comment spam is porn/cialis (WTF is that stuff BTW)"

Cialis is a viagria like drug.

I'm going to encourge the blog as well. If only because it'll encourage you to keep your site fresh. A site whose content is all several years old is in some ways worse than no site at all.
posted by Mitheral at 9:43 AM on October 26, 2006


I am looking to be found when people search for data recovery companies or services. Generally people who are in the market for my service have an urgent or pressing need for quick help.

So...I guess I am looking for visibility by the niche market I am trying to serve, which are people in need of my services. This group changes day to day. Perhaps this clarifies things a bit.


More questions to think about:

Who are the people doing the actual searching? Are they independant freelancer types who've just crashed their computer? Home users who just lost all their photos?

I know diddly about the industry, but if I had to guess I'd wager the people most frequently searching for data recovery services are IT professionals, and probably ones from small and mid-sized companies.

Large companies probably didn't get large without suffering a few data losses so probably already have a process in place.

Is there an advantage to advertising at or otherwise supporting IT hangouts? Get your name in their heads. Maybe advertising on popular IT blogs. Not that I can think of any, but maybe ones like Scoble or Mini Microsoft or less popular/expensive ones with fairly wide ranges.

Maybe on some of the smaller ad networks like Federated Media or of that nature where you can get your ad content on a larger swath of blogs all generating relevant content.

And let me chime in with explicit support for the blog suggestion. If I needed a data recovery service, I'd turn to the people I know for recommendations, but if I couldn't get anyone from word of mouth a company that provides intelligent and informative posts about the subject could win me over pretty easily.

you don't want to bore readers or help out the potential competition

A somewhat contrary point: If you help me solve a simple problem through the use of detailed instructions for common industry-standard type techniques, I'm going to come to you first when I really need some help.
posted by cCranium at 12:39 PM on October 26, 2006


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