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Traffic Building - Understanding the basics

By James Leckie
Posted Wednesday, July 21, 2004

So, you've spent hundreds of thousands on a state-of-the-art website. Your client is happy, and your hard work has paid off. The site goes live and the telesales team is standing by for a flood of enquiries. Nothing happens. Why?

It is easy to forget that the key aim of any web marketer is to attract visitors. They must not only bring in the visitors, but also keep them there, and encourage them to return on a regular basis. It doesn't matter how good your site is, if nobody visits!

There are many myths surrounding the art of traffic generation, often created by unscrupulous web marketers who claim they can 'double your site traffic for just $99 per month' or 'submit your site to 1000 search engines and watch your traffic grow'. Such bogus claims should be ignored if you are serious about traffic.

In reality, building site traffic is far simpler than you may think, and inexpensive. In fact, you can build a sizeable community for your site at no great cost.

From initial web page design to traffic generation, there are several key stages which should be followed to attract visitors to your site. We have expanded on each of these topics in articles on (

Configuration of your web pages

Time spent configuring the code in each of your web pages prior to search engine submission will pay dividends in the long run. Not only should the META TAGS in each page be optimised for each key search engine, but care an attention should be paid to the ratio of 'keywords' to page content, and the use of 'ALT' and 'Header' tags for example. Search engines use complex algorithms to determine how high your pages should rank for the keywords you specify in the underlying code. Good code configuration will lead to good traffic.

Submission to search engines and indexes

There may well be over 1000 search engines and indexes on the internet. However, there are only a dozen engines with any real clout. Google and Yahoo dominate the web in terms of traffic, followed by a raft of medium sized search engines. Ignore the ads claiming to 'boost your site traffic'. Just concentrate on these key sites (most importantly, Google), and submit to the smaller sites if you have time.

Reciprocal links / Link Popularity

Not only will links to your site from others increase your ranking on some search engines, but also they will ensure a constant stream of targetted traffic to your site. You want the right visitors for your product or service, not random visitors. It is worth exchanging links with sites with a similar theme to your own. You won't lose traffic, if your exchanged links are bringing the same amount (or more) back to your own site. More importantly however, Google measures your site's "link popularity" (the number of sites which link to yours) to determine its page ranking, so effort in this area is essential. The more relevant these links are to the content of your own site offering, the better. Also ensure your site is well linked together, since internal links also count towards your site's Google Pagerank.

Maintaining your traffic

Traffic building is not a one off process. It is a permanent activity. Search engines may drop your pages when they re-index (which happens periodically), or may not index your pages at all during busy times. Search engine submission should be an ongoing activity, with each page resubmitted on a monthly basis, as a general guideline. If your pages do not rank highly first time, you will need to revisit the source code in under performing pages, and resubmit.

These initial steps deal with the physical process of initial traffic generation. Following these steps will bring you visitors, then it is up to you to keep them coming back for more. Good site content, structure and positioning are key to building a lasting web community.

About The Author
James Leckie is founder of (, the search engine portal, and (, the UK small business portal.


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