Yes, that’s right – it is possible to acquire new customers through your website absolutely free! Stick with me and I’ll tell you how. But first I’d like to share a story with you and I invite you to think about it – really think about it.
I recently met a fellow entrepreneur who provides training to companies seeking to educate and adapt their employees to the rewards of cultural diversity. Of course I asked, “Do you have a website?” She said she did and I said, “Great! Is your website generating any business for you?” She told me no and that she doesn’t need it to. Now, I met my fellow entrepreneur at a networking event as she was passing out her card to other business owners. If she weren’t interested in attracting new clients, why would she be at a networking event? The point is, once you create a website, even if you don’t want to spend money marketing it there are ways to invite traffic and encourage more business which will cost you nothing – yes, they’re FREE.
Now hopefully you are not like my fellow entrepreneur, but an ambitious businessperson ready to maximize your return on investment and attract and retain clients at every opportunity. That’s what I thought. So let’s take a look at some simple no-cost ways to attract visitors to your website:
Search Engines – Search Engines are compilations of websites. To submit your site is simple. Put together a brief description of what your website or business is about by selecting the most relevant keywords. Next visit each search engine and add your web address (aka URL) together with your description. The most common search engines are Google, Yahoo, MSN, AOL and Ask. When someone initiates a search using specific keywords, a search engine will provide a list of websites containing those keywords. For higher placement in search engine results, regularly add keyword-rich text and meta-data to your website.
Online Directories – Though similar to search engines, directories are more specialized because they are reviewed by editors for acceptance and organized by industry or specialty instead of by keywords. There are hundreds of online directories that offer free listings including DMOZ.com, Yahoo Directory, Superpages.com, Business.com, BOTW.org and more. For optimum results submit your URL to industry-specific directories. A quick online search via a major search engine will return a list of directories.
Affiliate Programs – Affiliate programs are an innovative online solution for businesses (referred to as “merchants”) to generate sales without paying any upfront costs. It’s a brilliant idea, really: Your affiliates or “publishers” promote your products or services to their customer base through their own websites. When one of your affiliate’s visitors clicks from their site to yours, it is known as a “click-through,” and is the basis of the “pay-per-click” commerce system. Whether you barter with affiliates to share in profits or merely want to exchange links to make your sites more search-engine-friendly, you can manage your own program or outsource it to a third party company such as Commission Junction (Cj.com), Linkshare.com, ValueClick.com, ShareaSale.com, Linkconnector.com or others.
Article Writing – Yes, I know, you don’t know how to write. But before you humbly retreat, you should understand that the more you write the better you get. Writing articles and submitting to free online e-zines on topics related to your products and services or your industry will prompt curiosity. All you need to do is add a byline at the end of each article including your web and/or email address. Article writing not only helps you attract traffic to your website, it also helps build your credibility and elicit trust from customers. It shows that you have something valuable to offer your target audience. RSS feeds make it easy for your articles to become syndicated and before you know it; your articles could be appearing on hundreds of websites, even in a reputable print publication. Writing an article at least once a week is a good place to start. Simply do a search for a free article submission service to discover the best service for you.
Link Building – Exchanging links to your website with other businesses that target the same audience and enjoy a reasonable amount of traffic is a great way to drive visitors to your site. There are two types of linking, one-way links and reciprocal links. One-way links link your site to another but don’t link the other back to you, or vice-versa. Reciprocal linking provides a direct connection between the two sites.
Put Your URL Everywhere – I cannot say this enough: Add your web address on all your print materials, including business cards, brochures, print ads, email signatures, letterheads, invoices and whatever else you can think of. This is a great way to invite prospects and current customers to visit your site for more information about your business and share your web address with others.
I hope you find these tips helpful, but most importantly I hope you put them to work for you. Remember you have to take advantage of every opportunity available to you, in order to maximize your chances of success.