Tips on Driving Traffic to Your Site

So you now have a website and are scratching your head trying to figure out how to get your site listed at the top of the search engines. Although it may seem like a big mystery, there are things you can do for free to help others find your site. Although there is no magic bullet that you can use that will instantly give you top placement (unless you pay for it), here are a few, tried and true tips that you can use.

Utilize your search terms on your pages

One of the best ways to add content to your site is to think like a potential customer. If you were on Google and wanted to find your site, what keywords or phrase would you use to search by? Once you figure out what those are, use them in your site in a natural sounding way. Search spiders look for these keywords and phrases to understand what your site is about.

For example, if you are a hair stylist in San Francisco, say so near the top of your page and repeat it in a sentence somewhere else on the page. If you specialize in women’s hair, say that as well. Something like “I am a hairstylist in San Francisco specializing in women’s hairstyles.” It’s concise and descriptive enough for the search engines to use when analyzing how best to index your site.

One word of caution – don’t overdo it. There are some web publishers that believe that the more keywords they can add to their site and the more they can repeat those keywords, the better. this practice is called ‘keyword stuffing’ and can get you in big trouble with the search engines. If Google feels that a site is practicing in keyword stuffing, it’s very likely that the site will be de-indexed from the search engine. So just do it in a natural way, as if you were describing the page to someone verbally.

Create a blog and add content regularly

A blog is a great way to communicate with your customers. When you write a blog post, you are adding fresh content to your site. This lets search spiders know that the site is updating on a regular basis which they index more over the old and stale stuff. A blog also allows you to build links and gives other sites more opportunity to link to your site, which is another really big plus.

A big question that most often comes up is what to write about. Well, if I’m a hair stylist in San Francisco, I may want to talk about some of the ways to keep your hair looking nice for those windy or wet San Francisco days. Or you may want to talk about some nightmare hairdos you’ve seen that you’ve had to fix. That sort of content can be really popular and people may create links back to those articles. More links means higher google rankings. Also, if you have trouble trying to come up with new content, see what people over at Digg and StumbleUpon are writing about. They are good places for inspiration. For more tips on blog content, read the article “Finding Fresh Content for Your Blog“.

Get those tags added and get them right

There are two highly critical tags that are used by the search engines – the title and description tags. These are also referred to as ‘meta tags’. The title is the name of the particular page. You can see the title at the very top of the browser window. Your title tag should be very brief and very descriptive. A single, short sentence, no more than 60 characters (spaces included) is recommended. The description tag is used as a longer description of the page. This description is not seen on your page specifically. Instead, it is seen on the Search Results pages in Google and other search engines. For example, if you do a search on google, you get a list of results. The top part is the title and that is a link to the web page. The second part is the description of the page. This is what will be used when you include a description in each of your pages. Keep descriptions to no more than 160 characters, including spaces, to guarantee that the entire description will be viewed.

There was a third tag that was big for many years. This is the keywords meta tag. In the very recent past, sites would have to add keywords to the meta data for engines to get an idea of what the site was about. Nowadays, the spiders have become a lot more intelligent, looking at the site as a whole instead of needing to look at keywords. So now, very little is gained, if anything at all, from adding meta keywords to your site.

Use free tools

There are a number of quality, free tools at your disposal. So why not use them? Google.com/webmaster is a great tool and is completely free. You can create and submit a site map which is used to show Google all the pages in your site, use the diagnostic tools to see where possible problem areas might be occurring, and find out how users arrive at your site.

If you have a brick and mortar store, you should add your site to the Google Local Business Center (google.com/local/add). Your business will show up within the first 10 non-advertised spots with a map. It’s really a no-brainer.

Get other sites to link back to you

Once you’ve got your search terms, added your tags, and have started posting to your blog, it’s time to get really serious. A web site’s popularity is critically important to Google. Getting links from authoritative sites gives your site authoritative status. It would be wonderful to get a link from the New York Times or CNN. If you do, Google thinks that you must be important. However, this isn’t always achievable. So start on a smaller scale. Look to sites that are a little bit bigger than you and see if you can get them to link to your site. The key is to get sites that are more popular than your own to link to your site. Getting a ton of links from very small sites doesn’t do as well as getting a few from larger ones.

Another key to this is to get these links without having to link back to them. Google got smart a few years ago on link exchanging – the practice of putting a link on your site from another site and vice versa. They now look at link exchanges as a deal made between two sites to help both their rankings. Because it’s not natural, no credence is given to this arrangement. So yes, this job of getting these inbound links has been made more difficult over the years. But if you are successful, you can really reap the rewards.

Summary

There are a number of ways to build traffic to your site. it doesn’t have to require any money or advertising. It just requires an understanding on some basic fundamentals, persistence, and some trial and error. It doesn’t happen overnight, but putting yourself on the right footing from the get-go will have you traveling in the right direction.

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