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This article aims to show you how to attract users and make them hungry for more. Who is this post for? Anyone with a website. Not all of the items listed below will apply directly to you and your business; however, they are, at the very least, an excellent source for inspiration.
1. Write Fresh and Catchy Content
If you have good content, people will always come back for more. One of the most important things about content is to keep it fresh and up-to-date. But, just like Smashing Magazine, make sure to archive your content for people to refer back to.
2. Listen to Your Community
If you are already lucky enough to have a community—even just some regular users—listen to them. You can do this by emailing your users directly, setting up comment forms, live chat, or even user feedback systems such as UserVoice, which allow users to vote on site issues and functionality. By listening to your community, you can determine exactly what they want.
3. Monitor How Your Site is Used
Knowing how users use your site is vital. This allows you to target their needs better. The best way is to keep a close eye on your analytics data; check what country/area your users are coming from, what search terms are working well for you and what sites are giving you the best referrals.
Find out how users navigate your site via heat maps. These help you alter your site so that it is easier for your visitors to use and find what they want. This keeps your users happy and more likely to return.
4. Take Part in the Online Community
When you read your favorite blog or read an article of interest, leave a comment with your name, email address and website link. Ensure you are an active member of a relevant forum discussion or networking group. Of course, make sure you are an active member of your own site's online community sector.
Smashing Magazines commenting system making it easy to take part.
5. Submit to Directories and Galleries
This should be an ongoing process since there are many local, national and worldwide directories. Your first stop should be DMOZ.org. Following this, submit to the local directories and those specializing in your site's business sector.
If you are designing web sites and are proud of your work, submit your site to web design galleries. These directories—such as CSS Beauty and CSS Elite—feature beautiful and creative designs and ask users to comment on and rate each design. Once people see your work, they may become your visitors.
6. Use Email Signatures
Whenever you send out an email, make sure you have your URL in the email signature. It's a simple idea, but it's effective.
7. Have Business Cards at Hand . . . Always
Ensure you always have business cards to hand out. If you meet someone needing your services, it always pays to have a striking and memorable business card to exchange. It is worth spending time on your business card to make it creative and memorable, otherwise you may just be left at the bottom of the pile with the rest.
8. Use Company Stationery
Put your website address on everything: pens, letterheads, flyers, and anything that represents your company. Make sure it is clear and pushes people to visit your web site. For example, you could say, "For more information on our new product, check ourwebsite.com"
9. Win an Award
Winning an award is not easy, but it can lead to a flood of new visitors for your site. Even if you are a runner up, people will be curious and want to find out who you are. The winner of the .net magazine Interactive Site of the Year in 2009, www.ecodazoo.com, received huge amounts of visits from the www.thenetawards.com site. Choose your competition wisely and remember, winning is not everything, but getting your URL in front of as many readers as possible is.
Ecodazoo pushes the boundaries of 3D design on the web
10. Run Competitions
On the flip side of winning an award, running a competition can be just as beneficial to your analytics stats. This could be as simple as coming up with a new name for your latest product, or as complex as designing a new logo. Either way, this will attract more users to your site and show that you are giving back to your users as well as taking.
The Webby Awards is the leading international award honoring excellence on the Internet.
11. Optimize for Search Engines (SEO)
Effective SEO, common sense and web standards go together. The idea is to create semantic, valid code that uses the right tool for the job. This means using the right HTML tags and having a unique title and appropriate meta data for each page. Ensure search engine spiders can correctly index your site. And don't forget that good content is a must. Remember, the most important way to climb the search engine ranks is through quality links. For more information on this, visit the Google Webmasters/Site owners guidelines.
12. Pay for Advertising
Pay per click advertising can drive a great deal of traffic to your site, if you correctly target your keywords. Placing your banner or link on relevant sites will vastly improve the chance of you getting noticed.
The most effective advertising gets your message to a relevant audience.
13. Write Articles
Writing articles for other sites as well as your own is a fantastic way to get noticed. If you work with web technologies, consider writing a tutorial for Nettuts+. If you sell power tools, consider writing an article about the best router for making coffee tables. Target the niche that you're after. Just make sure you add your URL next to your name. If it's well-written, people will want to know more about you.
14. Create a Blog
As you know, blogs are big and they are continuing to thrive as people want quick, useful information about a product, service or general news. WordPress has been at the forefront of blogging and gives us the tools to make rich, search engine-friendly blogs with beautiful designs. Of course, it is up to you to fill your blog with fresh and catchy content.
15. Join Online Community Websites
In the past year, we have seen the social web boom and many sites have reaped huge benefits. Creating your own Facebook page, uploading your work to Deviant Art or creating your own Squidoo page all help build your online presence.
16. Get on Twitter
We all know the power of Twitter by now, and much has been said on the subject of using Twitter as a marketing tool. But the fact remains: it is a very effective way of getting noticed. Get the most out of Twitter by choosing one of the many tools available. Keep inside your niche area, follow people that matter to your website, and make it personal. Do not just spout marketing spiel or you will quickly lose followers. If you are part of a niche area consider setting up your own Twibe (a group of Twitter users) or use Twitter's list feature.
17. Record Podcasts and Videocasts
If you have something to say and you think others will be interested, then consider making a podcast or videocast. Boagworld.com has been a leader in this area for the web design field and Paul Boag has said that the majority of his new clients have come through the podcast. Here are eight tips to remember when thinking about podcasting:
- Invest in a good microphone.
- Reduce background noise.
- Prepare, but do not read a script.
- Follow a consistent format.
- Invite guest speakers.
- Have regularly-scheduled podcasts.
- Enjoy the process and relax!
18. Offer Newsletters and RSS feeds
Users sign up for your newsletter and you have your captive audience. If used properly, newsletters can be very effective tools for driving people to your site. Check out Smashing Magazine's best practices article before embarking on your campaign. When you are ready, use a service like MailChimp to monitor your success.
Similar to newsletters, having an RSS feed of your content is another way to keep users noticing your web site. They are easy to set up and a good way to keep your users up-to-date on your website. Make sure you keep your feeds relevant, interesting, informative and easy to find.
19. Send Seasonal Cards and E-Cards
Send out cards to your clients either by snail-mail or email. This is not only a nice gesture but also keeps your website address firmly imprinted in their mind. Using services like Cards Direct is a quick and easy way to spread the holiday cheer with your website address attached to it.
20. Run an Event
Running an event is a fantastic way to both market your business and connect with your customers, clients and experts in your sector. For example, the Future of Web Design events are run all around the world featuring many professionals from the web design community. Your event does not have to be about web design; it can be focused on your site and your business' sector, in order to to raise awareness of you and your site.
Alternatively, you can be one of the speakers. This form of marketing has worked very well for people like Brett Welch, Danny Somekh and Folkert Gorter who spoke at the FOWD London 2009.
21. Sell Branded T-shirts
Do your own marketing: have t-shirts, bags, folders and other items sporting your website address clearly.
Joomla raises peoples awareness with its online shop.
22. Create a Mobile App
Can your service be provided via a mobile app? Would customers want to purchase your product on the go? If so, consider creating your own mobile application. If you want to tap into the vast iPhone / iPad market, you can consider selling your app on the iPhone app store. You can create the app yourself or use a company like Siruna to create the mobile application for you.
23. Help with Charity Work
You can donate directly to a charity or run a charity event. There are many charities out there, so choose wisely and carefully.
24. Sponsor a College and University Project
Many courses require a student to get a set amount of work experience or do a final year project. Contact your local college and/or university and offer them a project that you would like their students to help on. My final year project was to create a new search engine-optimized template for a local business directory. The directory benefited from the new template tremendously and we learned a great deal as a team.
Submitting proposals for college and university projects not only supports your website, but it also helps students gain real-life experience in their chosen field. Here are a few examples:
- Business Services at the University of Salford UK
- Center for Bioengineering Innovation & Design
- Monash University Australia
25. Place Your Content Elsewhere
Your website is not the only place to put your content. If you sell a product, you can also list it on eBay. If you are a band, why not put your songs on Last.fm? If your site publishes tutorials, you can also submit a tutorial to other sites, like Nettuts+. Once people notice your content they will be more inclined to visit your site, hungry for more.
26. Give Away Free Stuff
In the case of Vista Print, they offer free business cards; the cards have your logo and details on one side and theirs on the other. Here is a list of ideas you can give away:
- Pens, badges and other stationary
- Free e-books or even audio books
- Desktop backgrounds
- Amazon Vouchers
27. Sponsor Something
Sponsorship can be a remarkable way of getting your website in front of hundreds or thousands of eyes. When choosing a sponsorship project, keep to ones that will reflect well on your company as well as being relevant. For more information check out the following sites in the UK and North America. You can also place advertisements stating that you or your company is looking for sponsorship proposals from individuals or companies. When you receive the proposals, have a set criteria of what you're looking for in mind.
The DataPowertools.co.uk 5-a-side football team.
28. Get in the News
The news takes many forms in today's media; one of the most beneficial ways to increase awareness of your site is to get it featured on a popular news website. One of the top five news portals is Google News. You should concentrate on having original content, multiple authors, proper attribution, and good response time. For more information, check out the Website Magazine article "Get Your Website Included in Google News".
29. Release Press Releases
Do you have web site that people are interested in on a national or local level? Why not submit a press release informing the public about your new site? Simply place an ad in the local paper or a sector-specific magazine.
30. Sell Merchandise
Do you have a product that you think will sell? Why not try your hand at merchandising? If you are new to all this, you can use services like 50below.com to help setup your online store. If you do have a number of products, list them on various other platforms like eBay, Froogle, and Amazon with links back to your site within the product descriptions.
31. Solve a Problem
Find a problem that affects your website's sector, create a fix, and publish it. A good solution to a difficult problem is a surefire way to get people flocking to your website. One example is the PNG fix for Internet Explorer; this simple site received thousands of hits as it helped solve a problem with image transparencies in IE6.
32. Add Widgets to your Website
Give your site a boost by adding news feeds, blogs, tweets, widgets, Delicious links, Diggs and StumbleUpon links to your site. For the most comprehensive list of widgets, try the netvibes ecosystem. When adding widgets to your website, keep in mind that they should enhance the user experience and not clutter your website. Less is more!
33. Publish and Share YouTube videos
We all know that YouTube is massive. One of the biggest ways that websites get noticed is by uploading or creating creative, fun, shocking, interesting, or downright weird videos. Setting up your own channel will allow users to subscribe to it, thus giving you more eyes on your content and website URL. Making a short introduction, or a series of clips like Expert Village is a cost-effective way of driving traffic to your site, as well as climbing the search engine results ladder.
34. Offer Free Services
Having a specific free service that is useful and intuitive could attract a plethora of users. Here are some examples of sites with free tools and services:
- Freelancer rates calculator
- Kuler colour scheme creator
- Multiple browser tests
- XML site map generator
- Calculate your salary
- Customized currency converter
- Web Page Analyzer
- FavIcon Generator
- Instant Domain Search
35. Solicit Consultation Services
If you are a specialist in your field, consider offering consultation services. A consultation service can be done via the internet, over the phone, or in person. You can provide this service to individuals, groups, or businesses; and with the power of Skype and a web cam, it can be just as though you are standing next to them. You could even offer alternative consultation services, like usability testing.
What tools are the professional online consultants using? Many online consultants use Skype because it is cheap, effective and well-supported. When using any peer-to-peer communications service, make sure you set-up a separate account for your consultation service so you keep your private messaging private. Skype offers a Skype Prime account where you can register as a trainer and people can contact you for one-on-one or group learning.
36. Make Affiliate Schemes
As a business, you offer rewards to affiliate marketers for every visit or consumer brought to the site using affiliate marketing techniques. This method allows you to attract more customers to your site by letting someone else do the hard work. You can offer different types of schemes such as co-branding, white labeling, loyalty schemes and many more.
There are hundreds of thousands of schemes available, so make yours attractive to marketers by offering high rewards for sales.
The Affiliate Programs forum contains information about hundreds of schemes and—most importantly—user feedback from people using them.
37. Give out Vouchers and Special Offers
If you have a marketing budget, spend some time attracting users with goodies. Maybe you could offer 10% off their next subscription, or a free trial to your service for 30 days. Vouchers can also attract users as you can post your voucher on one of the many voucher sites.
Make your special offer loud and proud so people notice.
38. Become a Reseller
A reselling service is where you sell an existing product or service such as hosting and domain names. Reselling is a way to gain passive income by offering a quality product or service you would not be able to develop alone. This ability to give a better service will attract customers. If you ensure good customer service you might benefit from word of mouth recommendations.
39. Have a Great Idea
The internet has been a veritable breeding ground for creative people and ideas. This creativity has given birth to some amazing ideas that make people flock to the site. If you think you have a great idea, harness it. Turn your idea into a reality, like Google's originators Larry and Sergey, who created a fast and simple search environment called Backrub in 1995. Don't forget the student who sold pixels to put himself through University in 2004!
40. Create a Plug-in, Template or Widget
A widget or plug-in is a design to enhance a platform. It is designed to entertain or make life easier for users. Keep this in mind when developing. For example, you can make a WordPress plugin or Joomla template. Make sure people know who made it and where they can find your website.
Theme Forest helps designers sell their work.
41. Write Tutorials
If you are an expert in your field and you know what your talking about, choose a subject and write a tutorial on it. You can then make the tutorials available on your own site (to capture your audience), or submit your tutorial to sites such as Nettuts+.
42. Write a Book
Writing a book is time-consuming and it is a labour of love, but it can reap so many benefits as a product in its own right. It will raise awareness for its topic and author. Books like Elliot Jay Stock's Sexy Web design, Steve Krug's Don`t Make me Think or even an audio book like Chris Anderson's "The Long Tail" have brought brand awareness and visitors to each of the authors' respective websites.
43. Start a Magazine or Online Publication
Blogging is a simplified version of creating an online magazine. Your online magazine should be much more by concentrating on different types of content, building a community of readers, and exploiting various revenue streams.
When creating an online magazine make sure you know your CMS inside out. It will be the foundations of your business and web site and should allow you to make publishing the content painless. Think about how you will make the money to help you grow your site. Newsletters, RSS, and forums will help you keep your readers up-to-date and talking.
If you need help with content you can look at purchasing content or invite other authors to help you get started.
44. Launch a Subscription Service
Subscription services can help you gain a constant stream of visitors to your site as they download the latest news, music or tutorials.
If you are planning on charging for subscription, use an integrated payment system like Spreedly to take the pain of setting up payment gateways and storing credit card details away.
45. Attend Networking Events
Networking events can be a fun and effective way to promote your website. Armed with your business cards and an approachable smile, you are sure to meet someone who is interested in your services or who knows someone else who will be.
The key is in choosing the right event for you and being prepared. Networking events are normally based around certain types of businesses or they target professionals in specific areas. Choose what is best for you. Check online event sites like Facebook,Meet-up or the local paper. If you can`t find one in your area, run your own!
46. Push Out Product Updates
Offering regular updates to your product can attract a consistent stream of users wanting to benefit from the new update. You should notify your users when a new update is available; this can be done via the software itself or via your website. Consider making your updates a regular attraction and remember to make them easy to download and install.
FireFox makes it simple to update by making it part of the software. The user does not have to go away, download and install the update, but simply click "OK."
47. Label Your Work
Be proud of your work and put your logo and web site address on it. For web designers, write in your contract that the finished site must feature a back-link to your site. This may not always be possible, but anyone enjoying the site you built will be intrigued to see the company who built it. For photographers, put a water mark on all your site samples; if you are a producer, have your website address on your packaging. No matter what sector you are in, there is always room for a label on your work.
Links to a sites design company can normally be found on the footer.
48. Use White Label Sites
A lot of sites, especially in the hotel and leisure industry, use what is called a "White Label" site. This enables a successful brand to offer a service without having to build the functionality and databases itself. You can go about this two ways:
- Use a white label service such as white label dating, social networking, holiday and leisure to create a site. For more information on white labeling check out this article.
- Allow users to use your functionality and database to create their own white label site. Lastminute.com , has created a very successful net of sites that utilize their data and functionality.
Sites using Lastminute's database / functionality can be seen on.
49. Hide a Konami Code Easter Egg
A new sensation on the web is the addition of hidden code; when users press a sequence of keys, they get a hidden surprise (this is called easter egg code). Sitepoint and many other sites have done articles on this "blast from the past" way of entertaining your users. For more information go to http://konamicodesites.com/; you will need the code to access it: up, up, down , down, left, right, left, right, b, a. Enjoy!
You'll need quick reactions to score on this Konami game!
50. Use Social Bookmarking
The last tip is also one of the best and easiest. Stemming from the simple idea of having a "Tell a friend" form on your website, allow users to bookmark your site on the many social bookmark sites. That way, you are letting other popular sites do the hard work for you. Social bookmarking meta-services like AddToAny are a simple way for users to publish your site to their accounts on Facebook, Delicious, StumbleUpon and many more with one click. Copy and paste their code on to your pages and you're away.
That wraps it up for this article; I hope you have enjoyed the read. Some of the ideas are a little wacky, but they will all help you get your site noticed.
I look forward to reading your feedback!
This article was originally posted on the ThemeForest blog. We are currently porting over some of the more popular articles to Nettuts+.