The Mostly Viral Top Traffic Alternatives to Search Engines List
by Brett Tabke
As the search engine referrals continue to fall for most on the web, we are in a scramble to find alternatives. That scramble has become a panic for some that have traditionally relied on the now fading search engines for traffic and repeat traffic.
The following is a collection of ideas that are mostly viral in nature for acquiring new traffic and maximizing your existing traffic.
Recip Link Exchange
Both traditional and non-traditional link exchanges can work wonders. The biggest change has been the coming of "strategic alliances".
You sell forks, and the guy down the street sells spoons - there ya go. It pays to go out and find similar sites that sell complementary products to yours.
Directories: Both large and Topical
We all know about the Open Directory Project, The 'hoo, and Looksmart. Are you taking time to play the smaller directories? Although most smaller directories have taken some serious body shots from search engines because they are viewed as competition, most of the older ones have weathered the storm.
Take time to investigate the directory thoroughly as there are some real scams out there that are nothing more than loss leaders for megaspam. Stay far away from FFA's, Top 100 sites, "awards managers", and other "scam of the day" sites.
Although a bit pricey for most sites, a good BizWire targeted press release can generate good prequalified traffic. It's important traffic to analyze prior to sending out a release, because you need to speak to that audience.
Can certainly be repeat traffic generators and good lost leaders.
It's old, it's tired, it's dumb - sad to say, it still works. You know the drill.
Use 'em properly. View the site, say something nice, include your url if offered.
Launching an Affiliate Program
Got an affiliate program or affiliate program like gimmick? It's amazing how fast you can get your url onto a few hundred websites via an affiliate program.
Similar in nature to E-A-Friend. You me and everyone else here think they are a has been dumb idea anymore. It's strange that they still work - but they do. Everything someone sends one, you url goes out with it.
You know 'em you love 'em. 'nuff said, but I included them for completeness.
Submitting articles around the web to places that accept open article submission, is a great way "name brand" yourself. Letting other sites reprint your content has it's obvious rewards in link backs and name branding. Make sure to get the rules of distribution up front.
Check this out: I just looked up various viral promotion kw's in a search engine. In the top 100 results there was one article listed eight times from eight different domains that the guy had shared the article with! He viral marketed his viral marketing story - that's cool! He gets 8 links, and probably dozens of times the exposure. Viral is cool.
Check this out 2: Egads, they are paying $16.50 a click for data recovery on Overture! (think about it). How much are clicks to your site worth? Are they worth giving away some articles?
Careful contributions to daily email lists can be excellent traffic generators. Check out the email list and see if it has a web archive. Not only contribute to the email list to get your signature file noticed by the list readers, but also to get your url onto that web archive for search engines to see.
Pete and RePeat.
How many times has a friend forwarded you the "joke of the day"? Ever found a "virus alert" from a friend? How about a simple, "check this out dude"? Viral email - think about it. There's traffic there for the right hot thing of the day. Remember the hamsters?
Don't forget the kids!
q: Why did the computer squeak?
a: Because somebody stepped on the mouse!
Kids are awesome at viral marketing. They are a little unseen army of traffic generators out there. They don't swap sack lunches anymore, they swap email and urls beamed from their Palm PDA's!
Used properly, usenet and forums can be good traffic producers. Always check the TOS [webmasterworld.com] of sites to see what is acceptable and what is not [webmasterworld.com]. There is little that is more powerful that a good old profile referral [webmasterworld.com].
Hey, pass it on would ya! In the classic free email style of promotion. Email-a-Friend scripts are widely available and some are quite good. In fact, if you look at the bottom of this thread, you'll see one in action. Hey, pass it on! ;)
Give a discount for your regular visitors that refer a friend. Tell 'em joe sent you.
The Big Giveaway!
Who doesn't love a good web freebie? We know they come with strings attached. The beauty of a product give away is that they are your product - hence, your strings! Email signups, newsletter subscription - whoa, it's a builtin long term client base. Be sure to get optin permission for any mailings. (it's your strings, your product. Use em!)
Conferences and Trade Shows
Do you do b2b? Ever been to a trade show in your industry? If not, why not? Go to one, you'll go to them all. The contacts and promotion can be killer. Be sure to take some freebies to give away for their goodie bags!
Got something to say that isn't quite appropriate for your site? Not pc to a general audience? Then start a blog! Carefully used blogs can drive a good deal of traffic and bring in prequalifed customers. Example: Scalizi.com [scalzi.com] daily column (similar to a true blog, but not quite). He's a writer that does a blog to both get it off his chest and show off his writing skills too -- win-win. Prequalified traffic at minimal expense.
Small ads in the local paper. Some papers filter out domain names, but others allow them inline with other ads. These can be quite productive. Tracking them is always a problem. You need to use the shortest url possible, which means you will have no idea where the traffic came from. You can get around it with a temporary domain used exclusively for promotion activity.
In the back of most trade magazines are small classified like sections. A simple well written ad can bring in prequalified traffic at affordable prices.
TV and Radio
Got budget to burn? Depending on the size of your local market, radio ads can range from $20 each to a several thousand for short commercials. This is where it is important to have an easy to type domain name. There are so many options here, that tv and radio is best left to traditional offline marketing firms.
On the other hand, simply sponsoring a segment or feature on the local news can be very cost effective. I know of one local company in a 200k viewer market that sponsors the local tv weather for $30k a year. Works out to be pennies on the dollar for them. At the bottom of several weather maps is their domain name.
Pssst Hey! You like this article? Then hit that email-a-friend link at the bottom and let ten of your pals know that you are a pal! To be a friend you got to e-a-friend ;)