Six free ways to grow your traffic (part 2)

Rebecca Weeks Watson · March 12, 2009 · Short URL:

How to use social news sites, sharing tools and widgets to increase your audience

 If you lack a marketing budget, use the following three powerful approaches to instantly increase your site’s traffic. You can read three additional free social media tactics in Part 1.

Get exposure on social news sites

Social news publications and aggregators enable people to discover and share content from anywhere on the Web. These sites, such as Digg, StumbleUpon, Fark, Yahoo! Buzz and, surface the best content as submitted and voted on by the community. When you submit an article, image, or video, it will immediately be added into the mix where other members can find it, access your site to read it, and vote for it. Once something has earned a critical mass of votes, it becomes worthy of appearing on the site’s homepage, which is the ultimate traffic driver you’re aiming for. Since you’ll have to compete with some of the nation’s leading content providers, you need to be strategic about which pieces of content you select to submit (they need to be unique and memorable) and which are most appropriate for a particular site’s audience (for example, Digg and Fark cater to more males than females).

There are several simple ways to package and market your content for success on these sites: write strong, bold story titles; use subheads within a story; organize bites of information into lists (i.e. “Top 10 ways to avoid a layoff”); offer new details on a popular topic (i.e. wacky info that makes you a hit at a dinner party); vote for great content, not just your own; and submit your stories regularly and frequently. Don’t forget to build a network on these sites – invite your friends, find related authors, and add them to your friends list so that you can collectively find news together.

Create tools for users to share your content

What good is your content if readers don’t know how to share or reference it? You need to add “take action” tools on all your article or video pages, such as print, subscribe to a feed, bookmark, share (email), etc. Emailing a story to a friend is something today’s media consumers have come to expect and look forward to, so don’t miss this simple opportunity to take advantage of their network of friends and peers. AddThis offers a free tool that enables users to easily share your content on social news sites. For example, when a reader wants to indicate he likes an article on, he can scroll over the “share” button and select Digg. Then he either registers or signs in as a Digg member, and can instantly vote for that article, thereby increasing the article popularity and promotional exposure.

Develop and distribute widgets

Another free tool for exposing your digital content is a widget. You’ve probably heard the term but you’re too embarrassed to ask what a widget is and does. Basically it’s a compact, portable application that can be easily embedded into someone else’s site or blog. You can use this format to showcase your site’s headlines, features, images, or whatever you think will motivate a user to click through. I suggest asking a question, taking a poll, or somehow getting the user to enter information so that they feel more connected to your brand on a personal level. The Weather Channel’s widget does this well by enabling users to insert their zip code and with one click of a button their local forecast appears. Products like Snap Shots and Widgetbox help you build, customize, distribute, and track your own widget.

Through friends, fans, partners, and free tools, you now have the education (and zero excuses) to greatly benefit from social media.

(Image source: moneymakinginternettree)

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