If you have built a good site and are expecting people to just show up, you will be waiting a very long time. While developing a great website is half the work, the other half is promotion. The reality of the Internet is that no matter how great your site is, you still have to promote it. You may receive some small amount of search engine traffic through optimizing your site alone, but to really lift your site off the ground, promoting it is a necessity. Online site promotion comes in two major forms – link building and PPC.
- Link building – Acquiring links to your site, particularly quality links that come from related, high ranking sites. This raises your natural search rankings and brings in traffic directly.
- PPC – Buying visitors. This can be a viable option if your site has a strong monetization system in place and a high conversion rate.
There are three ways visitors can arrive at your website – through search engines, referring links and direct traffic.
- Search engines – The user finds your site through a search engine.
- Referring links – The user follows a link from a site or another source.
- Direct traffic – The user arrives through a bookmark or types the URL in manually.
In most cases, direct traffic represents returning visitors. These will hopefully make up a good deal of your traffic, since this signifies that your site has a lot of value. On the other hand, search engine traffic and referring link traffic are just as important, because this is how most new users find their way to your site.
To track and analyze your own site’s statistics you should set up your site with Google Analytics. This is a free online service that generates detailed statistics about your site’s visitors and their behavior. By tracking this data you will be able to make adjustments to improve your site in many ways.
Once set up, the service will begin gathering information about your visitors. After a couple of days you should begin to see some results. Be sure to have a look through the many pages of Google Analytics to see what metrics you have at your disposal. Most of your site’s important statistics are available on the Overview pages for the various categories.
- Audience→Overview – Shows you the number of daily visitors in a graph. A key metric for the popularity of your site and the success of your marketing efforts. Also shows graphs for unique visitors, page views, pages per visit and many other interesting metrics.
- Traffic Sources→Overview – Displays your site’s distribution of search, referral and direct traffic. It can show you exactly which search keywords and referral pages are sending your site its traffic.
- Content→Overview – Includes which pages get the most traffic. You may want to produce more content similar to these pages, or turn such pages into a series. Other pages can also be changed to emulate these high traffic pages to improve their popularity.
Another Google site you want to start using is Google Webmaster Tools (GWT). This site contains a collection of tools that give you useful information about your site from Google’s point of view. Most importantly, it shows you the search ranking positions you hold and some of the back links that Google knows of. Go there now to register and verify your site, if you have not done so already. This SEO information will be important as you begin building links to your site. Once you have verified yourself as the owner of your site, you can use GWT to tell you about a number of things related to your site. Some of the more important categories and pages include:
- Search queries – This page shows which keyword phrases you rank for and the exact ranking position you currently hold.
- Links to your site – Shows which sites link to you and with how many back links. Also shows which of your pages have the most back links.
- Internal links – Here you can see how well your pages are interlinked.
- Crawl errors – Lists any problems encountered by Google’s crawlers while on your site, such as unfound pages and broken links. Be sure to fix any broken links, and if there are unfound pages you may want to redirect these to their intended locations.
- HTML improvements – Displays any potential problems with your pages.
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