It’s easy to get free traffic directed at your website, if you know where to go. You just need to keep one thing in mind; the balance between time and money. Think of a see-saw. On one side, you have time; on the other, money. If you want to decrease the money you spend, you’ll end up increasing the cost in time. Conversely, to cut down on time, you can spend more money. Free traffic can be very useful, but it may take you some time to harvest.
Social media sites exemplify the see-saw; they can be very potent for bringing in traffic, but they require commitment and dedication. You can’t throw up a profile and expect it to work; you need to maintain that profile and keep an active community growing.
The king of social media, Facebook is the largest and most potent network to utilize for traffic, but it’s also the most susceptible to drop-off when you fail to keep it active.
A good, active Twitter feed can bring in a surprising amount of traffic, but it takes a specific mindset to create compelling tweets. Be aware of your hashtag usage, your mentions and your direct messages on Twitter.
If you have a graphic artist on your team, you can leverage Instagram for a great following. The site has some of the most engaged users of any social network, but the creative barrier to entry is high.
Tumblr is particularly popular amongst a younger, mostly liberal audience. If you can cater to these people, the site is great. One post can receive hundreds of thousands of reposts, and it can resurface weeks, months or even years from the time you posted it.
The Internet’s largest social bookmarking and aggregation site, Reddit has strict rules about advertising on the platform. If you can use it properly, it’s amazingly potent. If you can’t, you’re liable to find yourself blocked from the site.
Only certain types of tech-savvy users make use of Google+ these days, but if they’re in your audience, you need a profile. You also need a Google+ presence if you have a physical store location, as it earns you carousel and Google Places results.
LinkedIn isn’t just for job networking, though it’s potent for that as well. Make use of the site by using it as a sub-blog, posting more corporate and business-focused content instead of your usual blog content.
You can find yourself a great presence on Pinterest, but you need to use the platform properly. Create boards for your own business interests, and create specific pins for your content when you post it. Image content works well, just like Instagram.
Images, videos, podcasts, infographics; the web is full of visual and audio multimedia. It’s worth it to stand out from the crowd by investing in an alternative media channel; blogs are a dime a dozen today.
Infographics are a compelling way of showing data that isn’t as dry and boring as a blog post with pie charts and tables. A good infographic is reposted around the Internet, including in specific infographic aggregators; look for exceptional sharing possibilities in trending topics.
Video has a lower barrier to entry than ever before; all you need is a decent camera, a decent mic and some software to make great videos. YouTube is a social network of its own as well, so you have plenty of potential.
Vines are limited to six seconds, and as such they require a special kind of storytelling. If you can carve out a niche in Vine, however, you can reign as king; the site is relatively untouched by corporate messages done well.
Flickr used to be the go-to great image host slash social network, but in recent years Imgur has taken over that title. The userbase is very different, and Flickr still has a place amongst photographers, but Imgur is like the YouTube of image hosts.
Take a blog post and convert it into an audio script. Read and record that script. Post it as a podcast on iTunes and watch a whole new audience roll in.
14. Amazon Kindle Direct
Whenever you have an ebook to sell, you have a choice to make; do you try to sell it directly through your site, do you give it away to your mailing list, or do you post it on Amazon? Amazon is a great source of traffic, but it’s also great for making some cash off your readers.
Sometimes the direct method gets you the results you want; sometimes you need to go in through the side door. These “side door” methods to bringing in traffic make use of odd services or phenomena that aren’t directly related to social media or traffic schemes.
15. Guest Posting
When you guest post, you’re spreading your name, byline and occasionally link around the web. As long as you’re guest posting with high value articles, the name and face recognition is potent.
16. Blog Comments
Commenting on other blogs with your expertise is a sure-fire way to become part of the blogging community. Link back to your site in your Gravatar profile; it’s all you need. Interact with people on blog comment sections as you might in any discussion platform.
17. Email Lists
There are dozens of ways to build a mailing list; leverage it to bring those interested users back to your site. Make sure to include ways for your subscribers to refer their friends.
17. Social Contests
A contest can draw a lot of publicity, but you need to make sure it’s drawing the right kind of users. You don’t want a bunch of people following your blog just because you give away new high-dollar tech items, after all.
19. Off-Site Profiles
Sites like Yelp and other business directories often have profile pages for companies. Claim your profiles and fill them out; any time a user finds one of those profiles, they may refer to your site for information.
Help A Reporter Out is a great site for setting up authority interviews; it’s the middleman you never knew you needed. You can also gain great references by being the industry authority yourself.
A community is a group of like-minded people having ongoing discussions. Finding the people having discussions about your industry is a great way to draw people to your site.
21. Industry Forums
Forums links aren’t particularly valuable themselves, but a community of interested users on a forum can refer a few good users. This tends to assume you’re not already a big enough name that they already know all about you.
22. LinkedIn Groups
Yes, LinkedIn gets two entries on this list. LinkedIn Groups are great little discussion boards limited by subject, membership or industry. Find relevant groups and participate; the traffic will follow.
Quora is a weird little commenting and discussion platform that serves as a blog comments section, a social network and a content aggregator all in one. If you can find a relevant section and answer questions, you can refer an unusually large amount of traffic.
Free traffic for a low time investment? Sign me up!
24. Email Signatures
Every email you send should have your URL pasted in the signature. It’s simple and it informs people who don’t know of your site what your URL is.
25. Business Cards
Everyone should have a handful of business cards to give out. Add on your URL along with any relevant contact information and you’re good to go.
26. Organic SEO
SEO is a whole industry of its own, of course, but implementing the basic optimization tips will make you much more visible in Google results, leading to higher traffic.
Can’t find a subreddit for your business? Banned from the only discussion forum that relates to your site? Make a community of your own!
27. Your Own Forum
It’s a simple matter to set up your own PHPBB web forum, though it takes some time to keep it moderated and spam-free. Foster a home for discussion in your industry and you’ll become the go-to hub for news and communication.
28. Your Blog Community
Build a group of users who comment in your blogs, and foster that community by keeping up with their discussions and taking part when possible.
29. Gamified User Participation
Set up a system where user participation – blog comments, likes, favorites, etc – earn them badges on your site. Your users will fall all over themselves trying to engage.
30. User Referrals
Word of mouth is powerful, and you can direct it by incentivizing it. Get users to refer other users, and give them some benefit for doing so.
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