Building a website is only half of the battle. The other half is the tough part, getting people to visit. A quality website is worthless without a steady stream of people that can make use of the information (and possibly make you money, depending on the type of website in question).
Never fear though, because we have some great ways to bring traffic to your website. Before you know it, you'll have more visitors than you know what to do with!
The first point is the obvious one. You've got to have a website worth visiting. Quality content that is updated consistently is the key. Ask yourself, if you were just a normal visitor, would you want to visit this website? Is there anything you would find of use? If the answer is no, start by changing that first.
Getting links to your site is a great way to achieve quick, quality traffic. It can also be quite difficult, since you have to convince a webmaster that your site is good enough to show their visitors. An easy way, without dealing directly with humans, is to go around and submit your website to free directories. A simple Google search, with some creativity, will uncover thousands of free directories that have categories for nearly everything. These directories are awesome ways to get traffic to your site, as well as influence the search engines a little bit.
The other way to get links is the old fashioned way. Fire up your email client, and send out some emails to the owners of websites you feel would be willing to link to you. Don't spam sites, but write quality emails to the owners asking if they would be interested in linking to your site. The best kind of websites to email are those with “links” pages, as they are the most likely to add you, since there is already a place for your site to go.
-The Search Engines-
By far the number one tool that people use to find information, search engines are definitely something you want to have on your site. Focus on the big three – Google, Yahoo! and MSN. Forget the rest. The others won't bring you enough traffic to make it worth while.
The best way to tame a search engine is to get it to see plenty of links to your site. Not spammy ones, because they will discount your site for that, but direct links to your site from high quality websites. Remember, if you want to rank high in search engines, you have to start by going out and gathering links. There is no other legitimate way.
Manually submitting your site to a search engine doesn't do much, as if you have any number of backlinks at all, the spiders will find your site with no issues. If you don't have enough links for them to find you, then there is no way you will rank high anyway.
Be sure to have clear titles for your website. Don't use the same title for every page on your site, make each one a unique, descriptive title for each individual page. This is very important.
Don't panic if you don't rank well at first. Most engines, especially Google, have “sandboxes” that they put new websites in for the first few months. You probably won't rank well until after that period is over.
-Your PR Rating-
Google uses a system of rating websites called PR, short for Page Rank. PR is a score, between 1 and 10, that is given to an individual page based upon the number and quality of links pointing to that web page. When a page with a PR rating links to another page, it “passes on” some of its PR to that page. For example, if I have a new web page, with no PR rating, and a PR 6 page links to it, that page may eventually have a PR rating of, say, 4 or 5. Google uses the PR rating of a page to help decide where to place it on search results for a particular keyword. Keep in mind, however, that PR is not the only factor used in deciding where you will rank with search engines, it is just one of many.
You can view the PR rating of a website by downloading the free Google toolbar.
Webmasters commonly use a form of linking known as reciprocal linking, which is just trading links. Site A links to site B, and site B links back to site A. It's a good idea in theory, however, search engines have started picking up on it. Link trading is no longer a good thing to do. The best kind of linking is to have a one-way link to your site (you can talk a webmaster into it by being nice, or perhaps by trading services, or maybe even buying a link from him or her), or by finding a webmaster with more than one site to link with.
If you choose the latter, the most common way is for you to link to someone's site, and for them to link back to your site on a different site of theirs. For example, you have a website (we'll call it site “B”), and the other person has two websites (we'll call them site “A” and site “C”). Site A links to site B, which links to site C. Search engines can't figure this out, and you both get quality links back to your sites. Just be sure that site C doesn't link to site A to form a ring, other wise it's just old-fashioned reciprocal linking with a third site thrown in.
An easy way to get traffic to your site is to issue press releases. It can be gold when it comes to traffic, but oddly enough, it is often overlooked by webmasters. It doesn't take much time to set up a press release, and there are plenty of free PR publishing websites on the internet, so set aside some time to issue one. The rewards could quite well be worth your time.
An RSS news feed on your website is another way to get traffic to your site that is often overlooked. Keep in mind, however, this will be useless unless you update your site with quality content, and often too.
-Gotta Spend Money to Make Money-
If all else fails, there are two sure-fire ways to get traffic to your site, but they will both cost you money. The first is the easiest: Simply hire an SEO (Search-Engine-Optimization) firm. They are pros that specialize in making your website rank well in search engines. They will cost you a pretty penny, but turn your site over to them, and they'll do all of the work for you.
The other way is Pay-Per-Click advertising, such as the Google Adwords program. A carefully configured campaign will allow you to pay a few cents per click to your site, and if you have a for-profit website, it is very easy to turn those clicks into profit for yourself, with very little work. It's definitely worth a shot if you have never tried it before.
Ryan Bauer is a large-scale webmaster who runs a Web Hosting Review website and writes how-to articles for advanced computer users.