Everyone knows that if you want to promote your website, you need to work on your search engine listings. What is perhaps lesser mentioned is that there are other ways of drawing traffic to your site that are sometimes missed by the newcomer. Some of these can prove to be quite good at drawing traffic.
Don't underestimate the value of an advertisement, delivered at the right time in the right place.
If you have the budget, you might want to consider advertising on other sites either by directly contacting them and asking if they accept advertising (and finding out their rates), or through a broker like an affiliate network. Affiliate networks are like a middle man that lets you advertise on other websites without having to manually hunt for relevant sites yourself. You typically sign up with them and pay whatever rates they require, and they'll handle the payouts to the websites publishing your advertisements.
Alternatively, you can also advertise on a search engine. For example, both Google and Microsoft provide advertising opportunities for webmasters to advertise on their search results page.
I've mentioned elsewhere how useful it is to have a free newsletter that your visitors can sign up on your website. In particular, I've mentioned how it can serve as a link between you and your visitors, benefitting both parties, and drawing return visitors to your site.
What I've failed to mention in that article is that you can actually promote your site and draw *new* visitors by having your own newsletter. How is this done?
Newsletter Announcement Lists
If your newsletter has useful content, you can actually promote your newsletter on the numerous newsletter announcement lists on the Internet. Targeted carefully, you can actually bring new visitors who want to check your site out after reading your announcements.
Since newsletter announcement lists come and go, I won't list them in this article (else I'll have to spend my time updating it just to keep it up-to-date). You can search for them using the usual search engines if you like. Note, however, that some of them are only frequented by webmasters whose only purpose there is to announce their own list (and so may not be as useful as it may appear at first). You will probably find out soon enough which announcement list works best for your newsletter and target group if you stagger your announcements and examine your web logs after each announcement is made.
Besides newsletter announcement lists, there are also numerous ezine directories where you can list your newsletter or ezine. These might draw some traffic to your site too, depending on their popularity and your target group.
Free Articles for Republication
If you write your own original articles, you can actually make those articles available to other websites and newsletters for republication. The usual policy is that other sites and newsletters can republish the article only in its entirety without modification, and the author's byline and links to his website (usually at the bottom of the article) must be preserved.
This supposedly results in a mutually beneficial transaction — the other website (or newsletter) gets to use good articles which can draw in visitors to their site. You get free publicity, since your byline will include a link back to your website and brief information about what it offers.
Nonetheless, if you wish to allow your articles to be published by others, there are at least a couple of ways you can get this done.
One way is to simply post a note on your site saying that all articles are free for republication and that the person who wants to reprint them need not specifically get your permission to do it. This allows your article to spread fast around the web.
Another way is to require other websites to request permission from you, which you will grant freely. This results in a slower distribution of your articles, but it has the advantage of your being in better control of its distribution.
Among the visitors to thefreecountry.com (one of my sites) are a group who go there looking for the free programs that I wrote, namely Logtime and Tofrodos. Some of these visitors, while exploring the site, eventually also make it to the other sections which offer different sorts of free facilities (webmaster resources and programmer resources).
If you are adept at writing your own software, you might consider offering free versions on your site to attract visitors. Offering your own original software allows you to take advantage of the free advertising done by the numerous software sites on the Internet which drive traffic to your site.
Note though that if your free software is unrelated to the theme or products offered by your main site, the best you get is untargeted traffic, which may consume your bandwidth without necessarily increasing your revenue.
Essentially, having an ebook that is freely available has good promotional potential. You can submit the free ebook to free ebook sites (which will promote and distribute your ebook for you free of charge) and encourage your visitors to pass it to their friends.
Links from Other Sites
There are webmasters who claim that the main source of their visitors come from links from other sites. While I can't claim that for thesitewizard.com as yet (the search engines are still the biggest referrers by far), it is true that a certain percentage of my visitors come from links on other sites.