Marketing Your Business

27 Web Site Marketing Ideas. Add yours below in the comments.

So, without further ado, here are 27 ways to increase traffic to your website or blog that have nothing to do with Google, search engines or SEO. But the bonus is that all of these things will indeed help you rank better in the search engines, too.

  1. Social Bookmarking
    (Digg, Mixx, SU, Sk-rt, Sphinn, etc.)
  2. Social Networking
    (LinkedIn, Facebook, etc.)
  3. Forum Participation
    (I shouldn’t have to say that you go there to add value, not just get traffic!!)
  4. Blogging
    (If you aren’t doing this already this should be priority #1)
  5. Linking Generously
    (What goes around, comes around – & referral traffic generally sends the best and most qualified visitors to a site)
  6. Advertising
    (Even a small budget of $50 a month can get you started with a company like BlogAds or with PPC)
  7. Email Marketing
    (An art in and of itself, but most email marketing providers can get you started for free & can cost as little as $15/month)
  8. Directory Listings
    (There are lots of free niche directories, and some good paid ones, likeBOTW)
  9. Flyers
    (Get local and make flyers to post at local cafes and other community bulletin boards)
  10. Yahoo Groups
    (I’ve had long-term success building communities through email discussion groups – really highly recommended if you have the stomach to be a good moderator)
  11. Listservs
    (Hosting your own email discussion groups is a little more involved, but if you need a branded option to Yahoo groups, it is worth it)
  12. Press Releases
    (Really important to raise the visibility of your site – it’s a new priority for me as well)
  13. Video
    (I can’t go anywhere without hearing how important it is to get into video. ARGH!)
  14. Twitter
    (I haven’t been very active there, but have heard that it can be a huge traffic driver I am now very active on Twitter and it IS a huge traffic driver!)
  15. Conferences
    (A quick search for “Wendy Piersall” and “SOBCon” brings up an astonishing 1200 results. ‘Nuff said.)
  16. Meetups
    (Real-life networking is crucial to your long-term success)
  17. Blog Comments
    (Leave them, respond to them, encourage them – love them!)
  18. Associations
    (Being involved with my local internet advertising community has been critical to my professional success)
  19. Widgets
    (BlogRush kind of fizzled, but MyBlogLog has been the 12th top referrer to this site in 2007)
  20. Memes
    (I find it hard to participate in them much of the time, but long-term they can be a great source of links and traffic)
  21. Blog Carnivals
    (I never had a lot of traffic from carnivals, but I do think they are important, especially for beginners)
  22. Craigslist
    (Some of my potential advertisers have done extremely well on Craigslist – not just getting traffic, but traffic that converts)
  23. AdLandPro
    (I couldn’t handle this place – but it is indeed a forum dedicated exclusively to letting you promote yourself – mostly for free)
  24. Contests
    (Just be careful that you don’t set up the rules so that you get banned by the search engines – unless, of course, you are already banned & don’t care  )
  25. Article Marketing
    (Some people swear by it, others say it’s dead – I think it’s worth mentioning and testing, as different things work in different niches)
  26. Use Email Signatures
    (SOOooooooo important)
  27. Feature RSS feeds prominently
    (Once you get them hooked on your content, keep them coming back by making it easy to subscribe to your feeds! A large, prominent RSS buttonDOES increase subscriber numbers)

So, what website marketing strategies would you add to the list?

Matt Cutts from Google – Obligatory Disclaimers

Let’s get this out of the way, as Matt seems to be a lightning rod for controversy. I’m a nice guy, but if you don’t read this section, don’t expect me to reply to your comments.

I don’t speak for Matt

Other than having played a couple of hands of Search Spam with Matt over the years (I think we’re 1-and-1), I don’t know him and I’m not trying to put words in his mouth. I’ve used the original video titles, for reference, but the rest is paraphrased. I strongly encourage you to watch the originals.

Don’t believe everything you hear

Matt, like everyone, has vested interests, and Google doesn’t have any motivation to tell us every detail about how the algorithm works.

Don’t disbelieve everything, either

I don’t think Matt stays up nights scheming about how to deceive SEOs. I think he’s a smart, decent guy who cares about search quality.

My Top 10 Picks

One quick note, before I reveal my picks (counting down from 10 to 1). If you want to get Matt to answer your questions, it apparently helps to have a cool-sounding name, like “Magico” or “Youser”. From now on, I will have my Muppet Intern Yoozer submit all of my help questions.

10. Should I spend time on meta keywords tags? (Apr 19)

Matt says: “I wouldn’t spend even 0 minutes on it, personally”.

I know most of you know this, but it’s good to hear it from the source. Google does not use the keywords meta tag for ranking. Meta description still has value for other reasons (Watch the video – 1:21).

9. How does URL structure affect PageRank (Apr 6)

Matt says: “Google doesn’t worry so much about how deep a set of directories is.”

This post raises an important distinction – URL structure is not link structure. We get this confusion frequently in Q&A. Let’s say you have a URL like this:

That page isn’t 5 levels deep, just because it’s 5 /s behind the root domain in the URL. The depth of the page is determined by your internal architecture and link structure. URL length may affect the power of keywords in the URL and the click-through of the URL, but the crawlers don’t really care when it comes to finding your pages. What matters is if this page is one hop from the home-page or 10 hops away (Watch the video – 2:04).

Note: SEOmoz correlation data has shown that deeper folder structure may correlate with worse rankings. Deep folder structures can be an indication of other issues, including information architecture problems.

8. Can I make sure Google always uses my meta description tags? (Mar 24)

Matt says: “The short answer is ‘no’.”

I hear this complaint a lot. Google will sometimes rewrite its own snippets for relevance. You can block the ODP and you can write relevant, unique meta descriptions, but you can’t completely control what Google does (Watch the video – 1:52).

7. Can having dofollow comments on my blog affect its reputation? (Feb 22)

This is an interesting two-parter. First off, outbound links to spammy sites can have a negative impact on your reputation. Manage your outbound links and nofollow if you have to. Individual, inbound spammy links will typically not harm you, on the other hand, because they’re beyond your control (although, in my experience, a pattern of inbound spammy links can be a different story). Matt has some great comments at the end about the value of commenting on dofollow blogs (Watch the video – 2:35).

6. Is cross-linking websites bad? (Jan 25)

Matt says: “I would ask yourself: are these websites really related in any kind of sense?”

When Matt wants to read cartoons, links to auto insurance and coffee tables make him sad. Cross-linking 3 sites probably isn’t a big deal, but 30 or 300 could likely get you into trouble. Relevance is the key, and footer cross-links are often low-value (Watch the video – 2:00).

5. How can I get Google to index more of my Sitemap URLS? (Mar 23)

Matt says: “I wouldn’t get hung up on just how many pages have been indexed…”

We hear this one from frustrated webmasters every day. Google does not guarantee that pages in your XML sitemap will be indexed. Indexation has a lot to do with your authority and trust – an authoritative site will get more love from the crawlers, plain and simple (Watch the video – 1:31). Check out Rand’s recent post diving deeper into Matt’s comments on the indexation cap.

4. Will changing hosts cause any SEO concerns? (Feb 9)

Matt says: “Most people can switch their IP address and never have any issue whatsoever.”

This is a common fear that is usually unfounded. As long as your domain name and hosting country stay the same, switching from one reliable host to another should have no SEO impact. Matt gives a nice briefing on how to change DNS servers and set your TTL that’s worth watching (Watch the video – 1:53).

Note: Although I implied this in the recap, it deserves repeating. If you’re changing your domain name and/or hosting country, that can definitely affect your ranking and is a much more complex issue. Consider the risks and plan accordingly, in those cases.

3. Is Google Analytics data a factor in a page’s ranking? (Feb 2)

Matt says: “I promise you, my team will never ask the analytics team to use their data.”

I don’t think you’ll hear a more direct answer from Matt than that. Conspiracy theories abound, but there are 3 separate videos in 2010 where Matt states that the quality team does not use Google Analytics data. Of course, that doesn’t mean that user metrics (click-through rate, etc.) aren’t a factor, but these are more likely coming from other sources, such as SERP tracking (Watch the video – 1:17).

2. Can you give us an update on rankings for long-tail searches? (May 30)

This is a discussion of the so-called “Mayday” update. Matt clearly states that Mayday is a deliberate, algorithmic change to improve the quality of long-tail searches, and it is not temporary. It is not related to Caffeine, although the roll-out timeline overlaps somewhat (Watch the video – 2:39).

1. Should I be obsessing about load times? (May 5)

Matt says: “We have considered in 2010 using page speed…”

There are a couple of important points here. First, Google hadn’t even finalized the decision to use page speed as a ranking factor until this spring*. Second, page speed is just one of over 200 ranking factors. All else being equal, a fast site is good for users and good for search, but an occasional server glitch isn’t going to kill your rankings. If you can speed up your site with a few simple changes, though, why not do it (Watch the video – 2:28)?

*Edit: As Lindsay points out below, Matt’s April 9th blog post does suggest that page speed was incorporated as a ranking factor. One of the issues with the dates on the videos is that they’re often recorded a bit before they’re released. On the May 5th video, Matt suggests that Google hadn’t made a final decision on using page speed, but the reality is that that decision was probably made in March or April.

Honorable Mentions

3. How many bots does Google have? (Feb 30)

This is a nice review of what bots/spiders actually are. They aren’t real robots that come knocking on your door. It’s a good, short primer for new SEOs (Watch the video – 1:30).

2. State of the Index 2009 (Jan 20)

This is a long one, and it’s slightly out of date, but it’s a good review of some of what happened in 2009. It has a solid explanation of rel=canonical, as well as the parameter blocking and fetch as Googlebot features in Webmaster Tools. It ends with a brief explanation of what Caffeine is all about (Watch the video – 25:59).

1. How many search algorithm changes were made in 2009? (Apr 22)

Google makes a change to the algorithm on the order of ONCE PER DAY. These changes may be batched and rolled out in chunks, but another video confirmed a number of roughly 400 algorithm changes in 2009. If you think May-Day and Caffeine are the only things that have happened in 2010, think again. Google is constantly evolving. This video also includes a statement you don’t hear from Matt every day – Good content is necessary, but not sufficient (Watch the video – 1:53).