I really do not know where this goes, mods feel free to move.
Alright, I have owned a mid-sized website for around 3 years now. And many people just starting out have asked me, How do you attract visitors??? Well, here is my quick guide.
You may not agree with everything, and these might not work for you. This is just my opinion.
Ok, enough chit chat. You want a booming website, hundreds/thousands of registered members right?
1. Learn Search Engine Optimization (SEO from here on out). This is most likely the best way to attract users to your website, but it takes some time. Anywhere from a week to a year like in my case.
-Use Keywords in website titles.
-Make website easy to navigate for web bots. (Links, etc)
-Use META keywords and description
-Use sitemaps such as Google Sitemaps, XML Indexing and the bots fly right through your site.
-Analyze weblog files, learn what keywords people are using to get to your website compared to what keywords you WANT them to use.
-Stay away from "We'll submit your site to 30 search engines!" services. Its just a waste of money.
-Use Google, Yahoo, etc's directory service
-Submit your site! A lot of times the bots will not even find your site, and you can submit it (for free) to them. Chances are there is a link in the Help section of the search engine.
2. Stay away from ads unless you have a large budget.
I've used a few ad programs to try to advertise my site, and I was not at all impressed. I once threw $100 in an ad campaign and the results flat out sucked. I got around 200,000+ ad views but like 20 clicks, NO change at all in hits. I literally felt like I was throwing my money away. Unless you have thousands of dollars to spend, stay away from ads.
3. Take advantage of FREE services! Becides search engine submission and sitemaps as I covered in #1. I have found the following methods highly succesful, especially since they didn't cost me anything:
-Take advantage of topsites/link exchanges. Its like advertising on other sites for free and I have found that around 14% of my visitors come from topsites.
-OFFER topsites as a service on your site. If you have 100 people enrolled in your topsite, yo uare constantly advertising (for free) on 100 websites.
-Use Wiki! I'll bet you $100 that there is an article on exactly what your website covers. You can edit them INSTANTLY for FREE! Why not? Again, like free advertising.
4. Don't bombard your users with ads.
Ask yourself, will this ad really
increase my payout? Do I really
need it? I have found that 1-2 ads per page is nice, it is pretty good payout and doesn't affect page load times.
But most of all, Avoid popups.
5. If possible, get a VPS/Dedicated server.
I got my server with iWeb and I couldn't be happier. There are so many more options compared to a shared host. And yo ucan configure it to best meet your website's needs.
6. Attracting registered members...
Don't you hate those forums you visit, where you go to the forum index and it says "Sorry, guests cannot view this board?"
Is there not a think more annoyging than that? I just click "X" and move on.
At least make your website VIEWABLE to guests, and then make them register once they have they have the ambition (correct word?) to post. Odviously, they have enough of an opinion to post whats on their mind. Chances are they will take an extra minute to register.
As for guests viewing media (Such as photos, videos, etc) on file storage sites. Like Google video, youtube, etc. I am indifferent. PERSONALLY, I let guests view photos/videos on my gallery, but require them to register if they want to rate/upload/comment on them. But depending on your bandwidth restrictons, this might be different.
7. Multi Lingual.
I've found, by analyzing my weblogs, that only 72% of my visitors are from from english speaking countries. Chances are this is a similar case on your website. I am personally working on making it eaiser for people from different countries to navigate my website. Such as:
-Multi language skinsets (There are more than likely dozens avalible for any given app)
-Multi language images
8. Multi Browser.
This cool little website will check your website in dozens of browsers, in dozens of operating systems. (Even i ndifferent resolutions). There is a 24 hour free evaulation, I suggest you check it out.
And if you are having multibrowser issues... There IS A WAY to make your site look the same in all browsers, it will time but its possilble. Simple "ignoring" the problem is a stupid and ignorant choice, and you are basicly saying "whatever" to 20% of the internet's users. Millions of people haven't downloaded Firefox for nothing.
Well, thats about it right now... But most of all I have had the most success with SEO, because when you're looking for an answer...What do you do?
Chances are you "Google It".
If anyone is interested in MY site stats, yo uca nview them here: http://www.fszone.org/Report.pdf
We have approx. 500 registered members, and 23,000 posts.
Not huge, but notable. ;-)
Suggestons not mentioned are welcome.
(PM me if you want to distrubute this article)