You are launching a new website but you are facing the chicken and egg problem? You need content to make your website valuable and you need users to add content?
I have launched several projects in the last three years, and here are a few tips I have to help you grow your website.
Add enough content yourself to avoid the blank state in your website. It is also a way to show the first users how your application is meant to be used.
Ask your friends or family to check out your website and add some content too. You don’t want to have all the content of the website signed by your username only.
Track your traffic. Set up Google analytics. You want to see what you do to bring traffic works and what doesn’t. Some sources of traffic will bring thousands of users and some only a few. Define goals in Google Analytics to track the quality of your sources.
You need to understand what type of person would want to go to your website so that you can better focus your efforts. At the beginning you must value learning over scaling.
Participate to online conversations
Once you have enough friend-generated content showing in the homepage, you need to participate to discussions to learn and drive some extremely qualified traffic.
Set up alerts in Google Alerts about specific keywords of your niche. For example, for TaskArmy, I am monitoring “find a freelancer” and “freelance marketplace”. Each time someone mentions these keywords on the internet, I receive an email. I can then decide to leave a useful comment with a link towards my website.
Alert: don’t spam, ever. I don’t put a link in all my comments, only when I believe it adds value to my comment.
Make a list of the 5 most popular blogs in your niche and subscribe to their RSS feeds. (I recommend Google Reader to read and subscribe to the RSS feeds).
For each blog article that is posted on these blogs, ask yourself if you can leave a smart and useful comment. It is for me a conscious effort to remember to leave a comment. I read countless of articles online, many of which I can contribute to, but I just don’t naturally think of participating to the discussion.
Leaving a good comment is an art. Don’t spam, don’t be pushy. Add something interesting to the conversation to make your comment remarkable.
Make a list of the 5 most popular forums in your niche and search for topics related to your niche in there. For example, I look for people who are looking for “fiverr clone” to participate to the discussion for mytaskrr platform. (This can also be done from google directly). You can also directly post a message related to your site to learn more about your users.
Use Social Media
Connect on Twitter. Like most of my advices, you should really ask yourself, does this apply to my niche? Depending on your target market, your users might not even know what Twitter is.
1. In Twitter you can save searches. Save searches about keywords related to your business. For TaskArmy.com, I am currently tracking “taskarmy” and “find a freelancer”.
2. Also, start following potential users. It will allow you to follow their tweets and interact with them and they will be notified when you will start following them. (Some even follow back).
3. You can also use Twitter Lists to drive more attention to your account by adding potential clients to your lists, and potential freelancers or by creating useful lists for your niche.
4. Add your twitter account to twitter directories.
5. Put the url of your website in the biography of your account
6. Put the “.com” in the twitter account display name. It is an easy way to get people curious.
7. Grey hat: Twitter allows you to have an animated avatar which allows to differentiate yourself from the other followers of a popular twitter account.
Use Facebook. I will write another article about how to set up a Facebook page and how to use it properly. (I have multiple facebook pages with up to 50K fans). You can also search for groups relevant to your niche.
Join groups in LinkedIn. Participate to conversations. You can also contact the members of a group directly once you have joined a group.
Start a blog. SEO is probably the best long term traffic driver for your business. You don’t want to ignore it if you are in for the long term. How to run a blog properly could be the topic of a whole new article. Just know this is the best method to drive traffic on the long term.
Submit your website to news aggregator websites. Not only can it drive traffic (very small unfortunately), it will actually give you backlinks that Google uses to rank you higher. You can use digg.com, reddit.com, stumbleupon.com, etc… (Check out socialbookmarker.com for more ideas of social media websites). Note: this has never been very effective for me.
Add your website to relevant directories. Generic directories are totally useless and won’t drive any traffic. Pick a few good quality directories related to your website and submit your website. Finding good directories is the hard part. http://feedmyapp.com was awesome for some of my websites.
Hot tip: If you get reviewed by feedmyapp.com, there is a high probably that you will get reviewed by KillerStartups.com too, which normally charges for their review. WeekPlan.net and TaskArmy.com both got reviewed for free.
Some extra tips
Publish videos about your website and post it in YouTube and Viddler. People underestimate the power of videos. Make sure your video title and description contains important keywords, and that you fill the tags correctly.
Pay for advertising. Although I believe SEO is a better strategy for the long term, paid traffic is a good option at the beginning. Start small, with maybe $5 to $10 to experiment with keywords, bids and copy. I usually use Adwords, Facebook Ads, and StumbleUpon. I wrote a blog post about it in this article on how to get cheap and targeted traffic. I can personally recommend the Adwords services of Alexander if you don’t feel comfortable setting up your campaigns.
Email marketing. As people register on your website, your email addresses list will grow. You can bring users back by sending them tips or update them about new features available on the website.
Your head has probably exploded if you have read the whole article. Thanks for still being here 🙂
Do you have other tricks you have used to kick-start the traffic of your website?