One of the most frequent questions I get asked by my clients is "What is the best way to promote my site?" If a brand new webmaster asks me that question then I will take as much time as I can possibly muster to answer their request, before they learn about and put on the SEO and ranking blinkers so many webmasters wear with pride.
Allow me now to state the obvious, the success of any website is in direct proportion to the amount of visitors it receives. If success is about visitors then why on earth would any intelligent business person devote 95% of their promotion time and budget to a single method of advertising their site?
Imagine for a moment you are the advertising executive for a large automobile company. Your company has just released the most economical car ever and your job is to make sure everyone knows about it.
Which of the following would you do?
1. Place a full page ad in one or two car magazines, then spend the next year rehashing and tweaking the wording of that ad, because it wasn't creating the sales you wanted.
2. Advertise in every magazine and newspaper you can find, start national TV advertising campaigns, make sure you have slots on every commercial radio station in the country, advertise on billboards, in cinemas, sponsor sporting events and what ever else you could think of.
It doesn't take a genius to work out the second idea is a much better plan. Now this may come as a shock to you, but the major search engines are not the only source of visitors to your website. Many SEO gurus are quick to point out to you that search engines are the only way to achieve substantial traffic. That is simply not true. One disturbing idea promoted heavily by the SEO world recently is that "Links are dead" My answer to that idea is, if links were dead then there would be no web.
Links are how people travel the web, whether they are text links, banners or email links to visit any site you need to click a link. Google itself is one enormous searchable link database.
Let's states something even more obvious. Google is not the only site on the web that links to other sites. There are directories, there are banner exchanges, and the big one there are hundreds of millions of other websites. How many of those carry a link to your site?
For any keyword or phrase on the major search engines there are millions of sites vying for just 10 first page places. Are you really devoting all your promotion time to SEO with those kinds of odds?
There is also much talk of the value of links, and nearly all of it is based on the value of links in a search engines eyes, and how that will or will not improve your rankings. STOP!!! You need to get this!!! The value of a link is how many times it gets used, clicks and visits NOT rankings.
While many will object to this statement SEO is nothing more than educated guesswork, why do I say that? Simple because Google, Yahoo and MSN do NOT tell SEO experts how they order their results. Just the opposite they regularly change how their results are ordered to stay one step ahead of the SEO experts. Why do they do that? Because they do not want their results manipulating period! They want one thing, to deliver accurate search results.
Don't take my word for this, go and get the words from the horses mouth here.
Notice the all the advice is geared towards building your site for visitors not for search engines.
If you really want to build steady long term traffic to your site, then advertise your site in every legal way you can. Yes it requires time and a consistent effort. As a wise man once said " The only place success comes before work is in the dictionary". In closing, how many of the following have you used to advertise your site? If you haven't done them all maybe you need to.
Listed your site in a couple of hundred directories?
Exchanged quality visible links with at least 200 sites?
Exchanged banners with sites in your genre?
Started a small pay per click advertising campaign?
Written articles to do with the genre of your site and offered them to other sites for free inclusion in their newsletter or on their site?
Had your site reviewed by a review site?
Donated a product or free membership to a competition on another site?
These are only a few promotion methods that will bring visitors to your site. There are many many more if you use your imagination. This is also advertising that will not be undone in one minute by a Google algorithm change.
Am I saying don't optimize your site? NO I am saying don't rely totally on SEO for your traffic.
Are you putting all your promotional eggs in one basket? If so, isn't it time you stopped and gave your site the best chance of success.
Gary McHugh is co author of HonestLinks.Net, a site dedicated to teaching webmasters to exchange links that bring traffic. He also runs his own web design and hosting company 2001web.com