Your website needs visitors, that means you need to promote your site to attract traffic. You have 2 general ways in which you can do this – passive promotion, or active promotion.  As you’ll see, passive promotion will give you a greater return on your time and money – if you give it time!
Let’s say you opened a dry cleaners. If you place an advert in the paper, that is active promotion. You write and pay for an advert, and people reading the paper that week get to know about your business. If you want to continue promoting your business in that way though, you need to keep renewing your advert.

If, instead of placing an advert in the paper, you put up a permanent sign in the local town, that would be passive promotion. Once you have paid for the sign and got permission to put it in that location, it will continue to promote your business for months or even years to come, with no further input from you!
Generating hits to your website can also be done actively or passively. Active promotion includes things like PPC (Pay Per Click), banner advertising, adverts on classified sites etc. These all cost (either time, money or both) and last for a limited time. They certainly work but you have to keep working at promotion to keep getting the visitors.

Passive promotion means that once you have an inbound link to your site, it’s likely to stay there generating traffic for you, freeing you up to do other things.
There are a number of passive online promotion methods:

Reciprocal linking
Sponsoring other sites (paid for inbound links)
Forum signatures
Article submissions
Blogging

Let’s take a look at each of these in turn.

Reciprocal linking

A reciprocal link does exactly what it says on the tin!  You link to another site, and they reciprocate by placing a link back to you.  As other webmasters are also trying to get traffic to their sites, there are always people willing to trade links.  They key here is to exchange links with quality websites that are on topic.  By that I mean sites which have something in common with yours.  There is little point in a link from a site specializing in disco equipment, if you sell hearing aids!  Choose your link partners carefully and build them steadily over time.

Sponsoring

A reciprocal link is great, but a one way inbound link is even better.  Once you have a visitor to your site you want to keep them, you don’t want them to click a link and head off to see your competitors. Therefore one way links are even better than swapping links with other sites.  There are plenty of sites which will link to you for a fee.  Again make sure you are getting value for money.  Any site where you are paying for advertising should be on topic, high quality, and getting a decent level of traffic.  Get some facts and figures before putting up any cash.

Forum signatures

Forums can be very useful tools.  While blatantly linking to your site within posts will be frowned upon as spamming, there are ways of getting traffic from forums.  The key here is to use a signature.  Most forums will allow a small signature at the bottom of your posts.  In your signature you want a very brief description of your site and a link.  The ‘secret’ now is to become an active member of the forum.  If your posts are interesting and informative they will be read.  Try posting about things you know that other readers will be interested in.  Keep your posts on topic, reply to other people’s posts in a helpful way, and you will become respected as an authority on your chosen subject.  Whenever someone reads one of your posts they will see a link to your site.  If they like what you’ve written there is a good chance they will click on your link!  Additionally, forum pages get picked up by the search engines so use your keyword in your posts and titles and you may also get extra traffic from Google and the others!

Article Submissions

Like forum posts, articles you have written can have a signature (otherwise known as a resource box) with your link.  Many people are scared of writing articles due to lack of experience or confidence but it’s really not that hard.  Just write about subjects you know well, and are related to the content of your site.  Aim for 1000 – 1500 words.  Make sure they are well structured, avoid the first person, and include relevant facts and figures where appropriate.  Once you have written (and checked) your article you want a way of using it to generate leads.  You can submit to article directories.  These are websites which host thousands of articles.  Webmasters and newsletter editors can search these directories and if they like your article they can place it on their site, on their blog, in their newsletter etc.  The rules are that they must include your resource box and so every time someone uses your article you get a one way link!  Again a quick search on Google will show a whole host of article directories but try these for starters: iSnare, GoArticles, EzineArticles

Blogging

Finally we come to blogging.  Unless you’ve had your head in a paper bag for the last couple of years you can’t have failed to notice the upsurge in the blogging community.  A blog is like an online journal, or diary.  The reason they are such a powerful tool is that by their nature they are text heavy, and constantly being updated.  This makes them very popular with the search engines which like sites that are fresh and full of textual content.  It also means that visitors tend to come back for repeat visits to see what the news is!  A blog is very easy to start and there are loads of free online blogging tools.  Just so a search for ‘blog’ on Google and you’ll find plenty including Google’s own www.blogger.com

A blog will often get high rankings in the search engine rankings and therefore generate a lot of passive leads.  Starting a blog couldn’t be simpler, you just start writing.  Here are some tips though, to get you off on the right foot.  Firstly your blog wants to be on-topic.  If your main site that you want to promote is about ‘home based businesses’ then that is the subject you want to blog about.  Start posting at least a couple of times a week about ‘working from home’.  Write about your experiences and expertise with working from home, about great home business websites you have found, about changes in the law which might affect home workers etc.  The key is to write little and often, write relevant and interesting posts that people will want to read.  It almost goes without saying that you want a link to your main site from your blog, but there is an extra advantage.  If you write interesting and useful content on your blog, other blogs and websites will link to your posts.  As your blog becomes well known as an authority on your subject you will find more and more webmasters and bloggers link to you, and therefore the traffic to your blog, and to your main site increases!

Passive vs Active

These are a few of the ways that you can generate passive, residual traffic and more traffic means more customers!  These techniques however take time.  You cannot build an established blog overnight.   It will take time for your reputation to grow on the forums you frequent.  Your reciprocal links will increase slowly as you build them.  Use these techniques to slowly increase your sites exposure over time.  Active promotion such as PPC and banner advertising can give your site a quick initial boost while you’re increasing your site’s exposure, but these passive techniques will pay off handsomely over time.  Most of these ideas take a certain amount of effort but the reward is traffic that comes to you – rather than having to be sought out.  Remember, there are no short cuts to anywhere worth going!

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