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You just put up a website. Now what? How do you get people to come to your website? Should you do nothing, and expect to be on page one of Google? Unless you have a product that nobody else has in a place that nobody else serves, I’m afraid you’re going to have to work to get this baby running full speed. There are plenty of low cost ways to promote your website whether you’re a small business owner, freelancer, or large corporation even, and you don’t have to leave your desk. Below are ways not only to generate traffic to your website, but also ways to build a following which leads to returning users to your site who will hopefully become your customers.

Social networks

Participate in the social networks like the “oh so popular” Twitter and Facebook. Find your audience on Twitter and engage with them. Find out what they’re chattering about and see how you can help. Start a Facebook page and incent people to join by giving away tchotchkes and running contests. There are plenty of social networks out there that you can use as a form of customer support and build relationships around. Also, look into finding social networks that fit your niche.

Blog

Blogging is essential to any business. If you want to sell your product, then you’re going to have to show people that you’re knowledgeable and blogging is an effective and cheap way to do it. For the sake of sounding redundant, I wrote more about this topic here.

RSS Feed

Provide an RSS feed on your website so people can subscribe to your blog. This is a great way to get regulars onto your website and build a following.

Guest posts – receive and give

Submit a fresh blog to reputable and relevant websites that offer guest blogging. This will provide you with exposure to the right audience. Also, offering guest blogging on your website would be a great idea, because you can offer steady, ongoing content on your website which will make for richer content that will improve your rankings.

Comment on others’ websites

While we’re on the topic of blogging, leaving comments on others’ blogs or articles is not only a great way to pay it forward but it also helps get your website out there. It’s a win-win for both the commentator and website owner. Of course choose websites that are relevant to your business because this will help improve your rankings in the search engines. We’ll talk more about this in a little bit.

Search Engine Optimization or SEO

SEO is a way to improve the rankings on your website in the search engines. Optimize the content and tags on your website for a few keyword phrases that you want to be found for on the search engines. Another way to optimize your website, which is essential to improving your ranking, is by obtaining inbound links. You can obtain inbound links by writing great content and some appreciative souls out there will link to your website; as mentioned commenting on others’ websites is another way; adding yourself to the more popular directories such as DMOZ will get your website some link juice too.

Free webinar

Give a presentation via the web using Freebinar or UStream to educate others on your specialty. Provide a Q&A after your presentation. This is a great way to create a following and boost traffic to your website.

Video tutorials

Create how-to videos about your expertise to capture an audience. Sign up for websites like
Tubemogul that distributes your video to various sites such as Youtube and Vimeo. This way you can obtain traffic to your website and build a following.

Q&A and contribute to forums

Ask and answer questions on Q&A websites like Mahalo and Yahoo Answers. Linkedin also has a Q&A category that you can participate in. Forums are another avenue to do your Q&A. These are great ways to expose your website.

Article submission

Submit your blogs to free article submission websites. Most of these article submission sites have a ‘no follow’ tag so your link building won’t count. However, these sites receive a lot of content so you can expect they are ranked high in the search engines; thus, your content will be found easily which will lead readers to your website nonetheless.

All the things that I’ve listed are just a few of the things that you can do online to market your website. Realize that if you want to be successful, there needs to be an offline component so the traditional way of advertising still applies (i.e. word of mouth, direct mail, networking events, speaking engagements, etc…). Online and offline marketing are like peanut butter and jelly if I had to give you an analogy of how important these two sides of marketing are to your small business or large corporation, and how well they can complement and support each other.