Web Traffic building tips

I just read an article on how to build web traffic, and thought I’d make a few comments on it.

Garrett (the author) makes some good points about online traffic building. They boil down to suggestions I’ve been making lately:

1. have good, focused content: Garrett mentions that your audience needs to consist of people who want to read your content. Should be a no-brainer, right? Not always – are you updating a page of links that no one uses? Do you maintain a (to you) very cool, yet little-used database of info? If so, are you focusing on content your users want? Probably not.

2. Update that content frequently: Once you have good content that customers are interested in, keep it going! Update it with new links, new library material purchases, new databases, new “how to find stuff” articles, etc. This will keep customers coming back.

3. Provide a way to keep customers coming back: Offer email and/or RSS updates. This will keep customers updated of changes – but more importantly, this gives customers new info they’d most likely be interested in (ie., new books, videos, etc to check out, new programs and events of interest to them, etc).

Garrett also misses the boat at least once. He states “At the root of it all, there’s really only 2 ways to get traffic. Other sites. And search engines.” Have I missed something here? His own article mentions RSS and email alerts (not other sites or search engines). And in my library world, there’s something called marketing. You know – press releases, mailed out versions of a calendar of events, bookmarks by the service desk, programs (with handouts) given at schools… all mentioning our website. And that’s just for starters.

Yes, links on other websites and search engines do bring in traffic, but only online-generated traffic. For many websites, that’s only one type of customer (the web surfer), and possibly not even the best type of customer. For my library, local customers that can actually come in to the library, get a library card, use our databases, and check out material are very important customers, too. And they usually don’t find us by searching the web. My guess is that other non-library organizations and businesses would fall here, too – local businesses that sell stuff online and in-store, local organizations that rely on the local community, etc.

To be fair, he’s probably thinking about smaller niche websites that get a majority of customers directly from the web (he works at a technology consulting company, for example). But still – even Google or Yahoo! place ads on TV and in print once in awhile.