Just because you have a new site, it doesn't mean you have to wait months to start getting some traffic. Most site owners are so focused on search engine traffic that they neglect other sources of traffic that can pay dividends immediately and help their search engine rankings in the future. Below are five ways that you can bring quality traffic to your site today that won't cost you a penny:
Write an article
You don't need to be a professional writer to write a quality article. If you've got a site, you likely have knowledge in a subject related to your site that people will find value in. Spend some time brainstorming topics and then choose one or two that you think people will find interesting. A good article takes time to write so make sure you take ample time to research and proofread.
When you've finished your article, you can submit it to article directories like Ezine Articles and iSnare, but to get the best results (and the most traffic back to your site) you should seek out publications in your industry. News sites, email newsletters, and blogs all appreciate quality content and most will gladly link back to your site in exchange for something that their readers will get value out of.
Start social bookmarking
del. icio. us, digg, Furl, and StumbleUpon are all highly visited social bookmarking sites where users “bookmark” web pages that they enjoy to share with others. Sign up for an account and start bookmarking your site, blog, articles that you write, and any page that links back to your site that you think others will find value in. The power of social bookmarking sites is unreal – the more people bookmark your site, the more users see it, and pretty soon you can find a link to your site on the homepage generating thousands of visitors!
Social bookmarking sites can be hit or miss so you have to be patient with them and not expect to see results every time. I've had the same article published in two different publications and “dugg” both on digg. The first time it got less than 10 “diggs”, the second time it got over 2,000!
Join social networks
Creating a profile and interacting with other users on social networks like LinkedIn, Ryze, and MySpace can do wonders for your business. LinkedIn and Ryze are great for connecting with other business owners, but MySpace presents the largest opportunity to drive a substantial amount of traffic to your site.
Depending on your business, MySpace might not be for you, but you'd be surprised at who is on MySpace and how easy it is to communicate with them. MySpace lets you search users by demographics and by common interest. Want to only interact with Honda enthusiasts? Or single females between 28 and 30 that live in Boston? MySpace makes it easy to find them. With the advent of tools like Badder Adder for MySpace, you can automate your friend requests and bulletins to make sure you reach your target audience with as little effort as possible.
The key to a successful MySpace campaign is keeping your “friends” coming back to your profile. If you've managed to get a friends list of 1,000 Honda enthusiasts, provide them with weekly car tips so that they don't forget about you, your profile, and most importantly your business.
Regardless of what your site is about, there's probably a popular forum out there that's filled with the enthusiasts that you want visiting your site. To be successful with forums, you need to become a part of that community. Regular posters can smell someone who's there just to sell something. You should almost never specifically mention your site or your product. Instead, create a signature with your contact information and a link to your site. Curious users who value your comments will click through to your site and provide you with a steady source of targeted traffic.
I've even seen businesses take it a step further and start “expert” threads on forums. I know of one online business that sells car detailing products that generates almost 100% of their sales through “Ask a professional detailer” threads on popular car forums.
Become a blogger
Every site owner should have a blog. Blogs are an amazing tool to express your opinions on your industry in an informal way. Not only will it generate fresh, quality content for your visitors and give you practice writing (which should help your article quality), it's also another great tool for networking.
Blog comments are the ultimate compliment to a blogger. They show the blogger that people are not only taking the time to read their blog, but that they also are interested enough to comment. Most good bloggers always reply to comments by checking out the commenter's blog and returning the favor. You can use that to your advantage.
Spend a few hours reading blogs in your industry and leaving good comments (you can use Technorati's blog directory to find blogs). A large portion of bloggers will visit your blog and your site as soon as they see that you commented. Not only have you driven traffic to your site, you've started a relationship with someone in your industry that people read and listen to. If he or she sees value in your site or product, they may even do a post recommending it to their users.
Adam McFarland owns iPrioritize - simple to-do lists that can be edited at any time from any place in the world. Email, print, check from your mobile phone, subscribe via RSS, and share with others.