If you build it, they will come

If you're a fan of '80s movies, you'll remember this approach worked for Kevin Costner in Field of Dreams, but whether or not it will work for your website is a whole 'nother story.

Each month, we generate website reports for our customers, and in these reports, we can see how much traffic visits each site and where that traffic comes from. Consistently, we see that some sites receive a lot of traffic, and others do not.

Why? Why do some sites generate traffic while others don't?

Websites come in all different shapes and sizes, so comparing traffic between sites is often like comparing apples to oranges.

But what happens when we compare apples to apples?

If your closest competitor's website is very similar to yours in terms of target market, content and features but receives twice as much traffic as your site, you've probably asked yourself, “What does that guy have that I don't have?”

A better question might be “What does that guy DO that I don't DO?”

So here it is – 10 little things that many of our clients do (and that you should think about doing too) to help drive more traffic to your website.

1. Write great content – and do it regularly

New content is THE SINGLE BEST way to show the search engines your site is dynamic and has something valuable to offer. Search engines regularly spiders websites, and when they do, they can tell if you've added new, unique content.

2. Blog

Blogging is a quick, simple way to connect with and share information with your clients. Not to mention, blog posts fuel SEO; search engines love valuable content and will reward you for writing it.

3. When you've added new content, email a link to your clients

Let your clients know when you add a new article, update your blog, update your product list or publish a new newsletter. These emails will keep you top-of-mind and will give clients a reason to visit your website.

4. Share your URL every chance you get

Is your website address listed on your business card?

Is it on the bottom of any marketing materials you send out?

Have you included it in your email signature?

Have you added it to any and all of your online profiles (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus)? The only way to increase the number of visitors to your site is by telling EVERYONE to visit. If you've forgotten to add your URL in any of these places, go and do it now – before you even continue reading!

5. Use social media

LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Tumblr, Google +.... the list goes on. It can be hard to find time for social media, but it can be a valuable tool for your business. Post compelling content, share your story online, and try to to build a loyal following. Follow and share with people who may reciprocate and who may help to promote your content for you.

6. Sign up for a Local Google Places Listing

Signing up for a Google Places listing is FREE and it's a great way to position your company in the local community. Some industries use Google listings more than others (restaurants for example), but every business can benefit by establishing itself in a niche market.

7. Get linking!

Links back to your site are important in terms of both SEO and driving traffic. Trading links with other websites that are closely related to your site can bring you more website traffic; but remember - only link to sites that are relevant and that will truly help your visitors.

For more information about linking, check out: How do i get people to link to my site See what I did there? I worked a link to our website into this post.

8. Promote your site

For this, you may have to put on your thinking cap. There are many ways in which you can promote your site – some are free, and others will cost you some time and/or money. Decide what you're comfortable with, and make yourself a promise to do something to promote your website.

Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • If you have money, consider trying a pay-per-click advertising campaign (such as Google AdWords).
  • You're a subject matter expert, so write about the topics that you know well, then submit your work to e-zines or websites that accept article submissions. Remember to include information about your business (including a link to your URL) with the article.
  • Leave business cards in cafes or on community message boards
  • Participate on message boards frequented by your target audience. Post answers to other people's questions, ask questions and become part of the community. Include your URL and make sure your profile is public.
  • Have a decal made for the back window of your car. Include your URL on it.
  • Advertise in local newspapers or in magazines that appeal to your target market

9. Add something of value to your site

Add a survey or a needs analysis; add some free (and useful) document downloads; add useful links or resources. Give your visitors something of value, and you'll be giving them a reason to visit your site.

10. Be patient

It takes time for search engines to index the content on a new or changed website. Be patient during the process, but don't just sit wait; keep promoting, keep improving, and keep adding quality content.

So remember, please don't follow the “If you build it, they will come” philosophy. It might work for ball parks, but it almost certainly won't work for your website. If you want people to visit your website, building it is just the beginning.