The Most Effective Ways to Promote Your Website (For Free!)
Some tactics, like using StumbleUpon, Digg, and Reddit, will take mere minutes. Those are no-brainers. Other sites, like Flickr, do take some time investment. Blogging takes massive amounts of time, and so does blog commenting. Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, ditto there too. You have to invest time into these sites to get something back.
Share and connect with customers and potential customers on Facebook
You already have a Facebook account, but are you promoting your work? And, are you promoting it the right way? Is there a right way and a wrong way to promote on Facebook?
Here's the wrong way to promote your stuff on Facebook:
Sharing a link with no information about that link.
Automated feeds all of the time. No real content to see here. No real person either. Move along people!
Repeated invites, shares, begging, posting your links on other people's walls
Only one type of social sharing
Only "like" your own stuff
Never comment on anyone else's updates/posts
Now, here's the right way to share your information on Facebook:
Post information about the link you just shared. How about a teaser fact from the page?
Limit automatic feeds that pull in information to your Facebook page, and make there's a good content-to-feed ratio.
Invite sparingly, and people will know when you invite or share something it's something truly good.
Be active. Log into your account daily for best results.
Share other stuff besides links, like photos, your thoughts, video, or ask a question.
Help out other people.
Like everything you truly "like," not just your stuff.
Post on other people's walls, comment back on their shares when you find it interesting.
What will happen when you do this? You'll start to increase your network, and you'll be seen as a non-spammer. That's really important in the writing world!
An essential part of your web marketing strategy
Twitter, launched in July, 2006, has remained a web promotion staple since its inception. While you are limited to 140 characters or less, that's the beauty of it: you have to make your point for the ever dwindling attention spans of the collective reader.
What exactly can you say in 140 characters? Plenty, but you want to make sure you keep it interesting and also not spammy. What makes a Twitter profile spammy?
Automated direct messages - never like getting those.
Automated feeds that make up the bulk of the content.
Affiliate links tweeted out to the masses. (Especially when frequent).
Constant, unabashed self promotion with little content, news, or opinion.
Before you start promoting the bejesus out of your website on Twitter, get a feel for how Twitter works, follow the people you know, and follow websites, people, bloggers, friends, family, or celebrities you like. Start by offering up good advice, real information, retweet helpful/good links/tweets, then, mix in some of your own links.
Here are some ideas on how to create great content for your Twitter profile:
Install a Twitter app on your phone so you can tweet more often (and tweet real stuff, like pictures and commentary).
Follow others in your niche and retweet their best tweets.
Here's some helpful Twitter etiquette rules to follow to get you started.
Learn how to write better tweets, and become a master at creating the ultimate tweet for your audience.
StumbleUpon is really an exellent source of traffic to your website. Many people forget the power that StumbleUpon (aka SU) can send to a website. It isn't that unusual for StumbleUpon to double, triple, or quadruple traffic for one day or a few days in a row. When you get that traffic spike, it can expose your site to a whole new crowd of people. Do take advantage of this!
As a user, StumbleUpon can be addictive. The way it works is you will download toolbar onto your browser. On the browser, you'll have a "stumble" button, as well as a "thumbs up" and "thumbs down" button, as well as other icons. When you thumbs something up, you are giving SU your vote that you like that type of content. Can you guess what thumbs down does? And when you click stumble, you will be brought to a random site based on the tags and topics you chose when you filled out your profile. As you stumble more and more, you will find that the toolbar will get "smarter" by getting to know what types of content you like. It also takes into consideration recent popularity of sites on StumbleUpon, so you could be seeing what's hot right at this moment. This is a great way to find interesting stuff to read, and to use as a talented content provider, blogger, or author like yourself..
Pin your content to this fast growing website
Pinterest isn't new, but most people think it is. I had actually never heard of it until I started reading about it picking up steam in late 2011. Now, Pinterest is everywhere, and the site is growing at a phenomenal rate. Pinterest allows you, or anyone else, to "pin" a photo or content to a board on their site. If it is seen by others, it can be repinned. It is driving substantial traffic to websites, though it has its share of controversies (mainly over copyrighted photos).
If you'd like to capitalize on the sizable amounts of traffic Pinterest is sending to websites, then start pinning. If you have a blog on your website, add the Pin button to your site to get potential pins (it's traffic!).
Promote your website using Google Plus - get better search results
Google Plus is very similar to Facebook, but has the big advantage of being owned by Google. How is this exactly a positive thing?
Google Plus is integrating social factors from using Google+ into their very own search results. When you are logged into your Google account and have started using Google+ actively, you will notice that their will be recommendations in search results based on things your friends (or people in your "circles") have already given a +1 (that's the equivalent of a Facebook like). These +1's are given priority and will often appear on the first page of results. That means the bigger your circles on Google Plus, the more influential your +1's will be.
How to gain traffic from uploading photos to flickr
How can you not love flickr? Flickr is the best place to upload and share your best photos. Create a profile here, share your best photos, and link back to your website in the description (in a non-spammy, relevant way, and not necessarily with every photo). Backlinks here are nofollow, but it's the traffic here that's more valuable.
As a traffic referral source, flickr can funnel very interested traffic to your website. Images already boost your site's conversion rate, but having off-site images has its benefits as well.
Expand your audience by starting a blog
Blogging isn't going anywhere. All the hype years back of "blogs are dead!" have been quelled. It's not social media, it's not an article, it's something entirely different, and the appeal of blogging is here to stay. As a way to market your website, blogging still is one of the best ways to do so.
Why use blogging to market your website?
It adds content to your website. If your website contains, say, only ten pages, then adding a blog can add a lot of new content. Content is how search engines find your website, so more content can potentially mean more traffic.
You can keep your audience up to date with what you're doing. Adding a blog tells the reader the site is being updated. This freshness factor also helps with search engine rankings.
Blogging widens your appeal and scope. You can reach out to a whole new audience by blogging about the business you are in, the ups, the downs, offering tips to readers, announcing events, and uploading photos.
You can add a blog to your pre-existing site easily. Adding an external blog (separate from your website domain) will negate most of the benefits of starting a blog.
It creates a resource that builds you as an authority in the eyes of readers, and again, search engines! As you blog more, your site gets larger, and you have an entire library of content to refer back to. This free resource can also link back to the main part of your site to funnel in new traffic.
Wordpress - This is the preferred format for most bloggers. The ease of use, easy installation, and simple plug-ins allow functionality without having to know complex coding. They also have many free and premium themes to alter the look of your site. The other great thing about Wordpress is it allows you to create a site or blog without anyone knowing it's hosted by Wordpress -- and you own the content. (Not free, but recommended! Very cheap to set up.)
Wordpress.com - This is also owned by Wordpress. The biggest difference here is that a Wordpress.com blog is a subdomain that you don't own, and therefore do not have complete control over. Go for your own hosted site over Wordpress.com when you can. The bonus: it's free.
Typepad - This blogging platform offers easy to use features like Wordpress, but doesn't have as many features like their many plugins, or their massive community. You can use your own URL at Typepad, making it the second most popular option for bloggers to host their own blog on its own domain. It's not free, but it's more professional than having a subdomain.
Blogger - This is Google's own blog platform. It is free to use, unless you would like to buy your own domain and hosting through Blogger. Otherwise, you will use a subdomain for your site. However, you are at the mercy of Blogger, meaning you must play by their rules. You never truly can be sure the content you place here will always remain, so back up your Blogger blogs. On the other hand, Blogger can drive a good amount of traffic, and shows up in search engines very well. They also have free to use widgets, templates, and have easy Adsense integration. And, it's free.
Tumblr - Tumblr is one of the most popular and free choices for blogs. It is one of the most simple blogging platforms, putting it content-wise between Twitter and a "regular" blog. It's trendy to use Tumblr right now, but the site also has excellent authority.
Increasing traffic to your blog through excellent comments
Has this method of driving traffic died off?
Blog commenting used to be (and still is) a popular method to drive traffic to your own website. On most blogs, comments are allowed, where you can input the URL of your site into the URL field. Now please, pay attention, because this tactic can cross the line into spamdom very easily!
When you comment on a blog:
Always be respectful of the rules of the site and leaving comments. Never try to leave your site's URL inside the body of the comment, or leave a plug at the end of the comment like "hey, come check out my page on radical gizmos!" It's annoying, and no one wants to read that.
Check back in with the same blog. Forge some relationships with bloggers in and outside of your niche. This can come in really handy.
Leave a useful comment. "Great tips!" doesn't really help anyone, but if you can expand upon the idea or tell the author what your favorite or most helpful part of the post was and why, that adds value. When you add value, you're more likely to have your comment published.
Don't go on a random blog commenting spree. Instead, target blogs related to your site's content. The more authoritative you sound in your comments, the more likely someone is going to click on over to your website.
Use a good picture of you and not an avatar as your profile picture or Gravatar image. This increases your credibility by a billion-fold.
Promote with these social voting sites
The way Reddit and Digg work are exactly the same: someone adds a specific URL (or news story), and depending on how good the story is, or how good the headline is, it gets "up" votes. Get enough up votes that day, and you could wind up on the home page of either website. Even if you aren't on the home page, it can send massive amounts of traffic.
On both sites, you'll find that creating a great title for submissions is key. On both sites, you'll find that there are "inner circles" that can influence the front page content. Like any other social site, you'll find that being active on that site is going to go a long way in terms of promotion.
Other Social Sites to Promote Your Website:
Networking on social media sites
Being social is one of the keys to growth of your website. Social media websites simply allow you to spread the word and increase your reputation as an author, website owner, business owner, and person.
LinkedIn: The growth of LinkedIn is very respectable, and is one of the best networking websites for professionals. While it's hard to stay active on a multitude of social media websites, setting up a profile is free, and can lead to quick connections with little effort.
Path: You won't be able to grow outside connections with Path, but you will be able to keep your close friends in the loop on this mobile site.
There are several other social sites to promote your work. Networking on these sites does take time and energy, so while it's free, it's best to stick to a small number of sites to concentrate your efforts. Others sites include MySpace, DeviantArt, Tagged, and CafeMom.
Before you start your social media campaign, read the 5 rules for professional social networking here.
Syndicate your content to readers and writers across the web
An RSS feed is a simple, effective way to provide your content to larger masses. One of the best things about an RSS feed is it allows other bloggers to take your syndicated content and display it on their own blog, either in full or as an excerpt or link title. Creating an RSS feed takes just minutes. The most popular RSS feed services are FeedBurner and Feedity. These are free to use, and will help you syndicate your content to the masses. Readers can also sign up for your feed, so it can appear in their RSS reader or Google Reader.
From an SEO standpoint, feeds can also generate backlinks in some instances. There are RSS feed directories, feed aggregators, and other feed sites that can display your feed and link back to your original content. While most of these will be nofollow links, these RSS links can play a tiny, tiny role in getting more links into your site.
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