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Thursday, December 27, 2007

How I Achieved Over 1500 Hits In My First Two Weeks

For anyone who owns an established website, has just started a website or is even thinking about starting a website, the question remains the same – “How can I get traffic to my site?”

That was the question I asked myself when I first started my website, Kumiko’s Cash Quest. Generating traffic to a new website has to be one of the hardest things to do on the internet today. Not only is there an absolute plethora of competition for most topics, but factors such as sponsored listings on search engines and the Google Sandbox effect can push your newly established website to the bottom of the barrel – and that’s a hard place for people to find it!

If you search the internet, you’ll find many articles from professional webmasters about how they increased traffic to their website. The problem is that a lot of the advice does not apply to the amateur or first-time webmaster. Recommendations such as “put links to your other posts in your feeds” do not carry much weight for a webmaster who doesn’t have anyone subscribing to their feeds! Similarly, “create a link to your site from one of your other, high-ranking sites” is impossible for someone who is creating their FIRST site. Furthermore, programs such as AdWords and other advertising systems are not practical for an amateur webmaster without a budget for their website.

So how is it that I achieved over 1500 hits to my brand new website in my first two weeks (starting from nothing)? Before I begin, let me just tell you that it’s not easy! And while 1500 hits may not be a large number compared to other sites, for a brand new website it can be very difficult to achieve. I spent a lot of time in front of a computer screen for this to occur but if you’re not afraid of a little hard work to promote your site, please read on!

The answer to how I gained traffic to a fresh, new site can be answered in six simple steps:

1. Research Your Market

This is by far the hardest and most time consuming of all the steps, yet it is definitely the most important! Although my site launched on December 30th 2006, the whole month of December was spent researching sites claiming to have information on increasing traffic (usually for a fee!) and how to optimize your website for search engines. This was incredibly time consuming due to the literally millions of sites out there claiming to have all the best information. Yet, despite the number of sites, the information all seemed to be repeated and quite similar. Basically, every one of these sites gave the following information:

Update regularly – This will invite the search engines to visit you more often.

Create a website on a topic that interests you – I don’t feel this is completely necessary, but it does help maintain the motivation to keep building the site during it’s initial stages.

Get links from other high-ranking sites related to your topic – Easier said than done for a new site!

“Build a fresh, content-rich site” – AAAAHHH!!!! I don’t know how many times I read this on the ‘build your traffic’ sites, but it was about 4 million too many! Unfortunately, it’s true!

Find a niche-market – The internet has million of sites. There are not may niche markets left. You are going to have a fair amount of competition in any market. Luckily, the internet has billions of users so you can still get a piece of the pie in any market.

While the research stage was time-consuming and often pointless, it did give me the most important piece of advice:

“Update regularly on a topic that you can write a lot about”

2. Submit, Submit, Submit

It goes without saying that you need to submit your site to Google and other major search engines. All major search engines have a ‘submit your site’ link, so this is quite easy. Somewhat more time-consuming is submitting your site to ‘community-based sites’. This involves searching for link directories and other community sites and submitting your information again and again and again.

Most people aim for the major link-directories with a high Google PageRank as they feel that this will increase their PageRank too. That philosophy is quite sound, yet don’t ignore the smaller directories! While these directories may not list as many sites and lack a high PageRank, your site will stand out a lot more. Being a big fish in a small pond can generate quite a few hits. The underlying advice with directories is to submit to all of them - big or small.

Next, submit your site to ‘community-based’ sites such MyBlogLog, MySiteProfile etc. These sites are fantastic as they often give you your own homepage to display information about your site. For a new, small site, this will virtually double your visibility on the web. Furthermore, it enables you join communities of similar websites. People often surf based on what topic they are interested in so if you are a member of a community people will often come to your site from other similar sites. It’s just like getting links from other well-established sites.

If you’re a blogger, join traffic generation sites such as BlogMad and BlogExplosion. These sites are fantastic and easy for bringing hits to your site. But there is a downside – surfers to your site will usually only stay the required amount of time and then leave. However, if your blog is good enough, they’ll come back. Another word of warning is to be careful if your site displays Adsense. Using these traffic generation sites can violate the Adsense Terms of Service. I’ve never used these sites to bring traffic to an Adsense site, but here’s a tip: Surf other people’s sites and use the credits earned to display your banner on other sites or rent space on other sites. BlogExplosion has a fantastic feature called ‘Rent My Blog’ that enables just this. It’s free advertising and you’ll achieve higher visibility than with AdWords!

3. Write, Write, Write

As I said before, the phrase “build a fresh, content-rich” site is used far too much, but unfortunately it’s true. To establish your site, you need to write and write a lot. It’s the only way that your site is going to grow and become successful. This is why it’s important to have a website on a topic that you’re interested in – if you’re not interested, you’ll lose motivation pretty quickly.

Writing can be difficult and time-consuming so there are many sites out there that provide free articles for you to download and post on your site. FORGET THEM. For a new website, you need to build your site with unique content. Google and your visitors will recognize that your information has come from another source and will be less likely to return to your site – they will seek out the source that it came from instead!

Once your site is well-established with a loyal readership, you can think about adding some free articles, but until then you need to promote your site as being fresh and unique.

4. Give Your Site A Personality

This step isn’t for everybody and depends on the content of your site. You need to show your visitors the ‘personality’ of your website. Look at successful sites such as Problogger and WhoIsAndrewWee. What do you notice? Large photos of the webmasters. Is it vanity? Perhaps a little, but it also personalizes your site and gives your site a face that people can relate to and communicate (see Step 5) with. It’s worked for Microsoft (Bill Gates) and Apple (Steve Jobs) and it will work for you!

If you’re not comfortable posting your photo or feel that it wouldn’t suit your site, at least write an “About the Author” section on your site so that people know more about you. Check out AndrewWee’s Bio. With all that information, we know exactly who is writing and it gives his site ‘personality’!

5. Enter Your Vistor’s World

If somebody sends you an e-mail about your site – reply. If someone leaves a comment on your site – go to their site and post a comment.

It’s another incredibly time-consuming technique, yet one of the best for gaining repeat visitors. Darren Rowse from Problogger is an incredibly busy man who makes a living from blogging online, yet he replied to one of my e-mails within 12 hours of it being sent. Andrew Wee is another successful internet marketer who also replies promptly.

This brings your site into the home of the visitor and they will come back to see what you’re going to write next.

The other great way to enter your visitor’s world is web forums. Post and post some more! Web forums are great communities for promoting your site. Find a forum that is about the topic you are writing about and become active in it. Forums such as Mylot will even pay you to post in their forums. This promotes your site to communities that are interested in your topic and that are incredibly likely to come visit your site. Don’t forget to add your website address to your signature to make your website easy to find. If you can’t find a forum on the topic you’re site is about – no problem – start your own!

The other benefit of forums is that search engines absolutely love them! Forums are updated constantly which brings the search engines back – and they’re going to find your link in your signature! Consider yourself indexed!

6. Approach The Masters

The web is one big interactive community. Just as you need to communicate with those who write to you, you are going to need to start writing to others.

See a nice site in your topic area that you like? Ask them politely for a link exchange. Find a fantastic PR10 site that is just what you’re trying to achieve? Ask them politely for a link exchange. Be polite and write enough to show you’re not a spammer. They may refuse, but if they accept you’re on an easy street with a lot of traffic!

As Google admits, the links that your site receives are an extremely important factor when it comes to your site’s PageRank and ranking in searches.

A word of warning when linking to other sites: Don’t link with just any site. Only link to sites that are established and relevant to your area. Your “cat food” site linking to a site about “paper manufacturing” will not help your rankings and make your site seem disjointed. Google will recognize this and punish you for it. Also, don’t ask for link exchanges until you are well-established. If you ask for a link exchange and the person visits your site to find that you have just one article or post on your blog, you are going to look unprofessional and are likely to be refused. Wait a couple of weeks until you have more posts and your site is “fuller” – the sites are more likely to accept the exchange and may even place you higher on their link list! Links from other sites are the easiest way to generate traffic!

So there are my six steps for How I Achieved Over 1500 Hits In My First 2 Weeks! I strongly believe this advice can work for anyone with a new site and for those with an established site who are seeking more hits.

Good luck!


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