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“How do I get more traffic to my website?” “How do I build a list?” “How can I make more money online?” These are three of the most common questions I get from aspiring Internet entrepreneurs, as well as seasoned online professionals.

Marketing guru Jay Abraham teaches that there are really only three ways to grow any business: Increase the number of customers, increase the number of purchases they make, or increase the average amount they spend on each purchase.

In the world of online business, this translates into getting more traffic to your website and collecting their contact information. By building — and marketing to — your own in-house e-mail list, you’ll find that you’ll make more sales. You’ll also find that you can sell increasingly expensive products to those repeat customers.

There are hundreds (possibly thousands) of ways to get traffic to your website. The way I see it, all of them can be broken down into free traffic, paid traffic, and what I call leveraged traffic. Let’s take a closer look at each one…

1. Free Traffic

As its name implies, free traffic is traffic that you don’t have to pay for. The main benefit of this type of traffic is pretty obvious: It’s free. And because of that, your potential return on investment (ROI) is almost unlimited.

The downside (relative to the other two types of traffic) is that it usually takes time to get a consistent, steady flow of visitors to your website, and it does take some work. The good news is that once you get it going, it builds on itself and the effect is long-term.

Here are my two favorite methods of generating free traffic…

  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the practice of optimizing the amount of traffic you get to your website from the search engines’ natural or “organic” search results. In human language, that means getting your site listed by Google, Yahoo, and other search engines when people search for information related to what you’re selling.

To get the most bang for your buck, you should identify the specific keywords that your potential customers are typing into the search engines, and create useful content for your website based on those keywords. Tools like SEO Book and Word Tracker will help you do this.

The idea, here, is that by adding valuable content to your website, the rankings will follow.

  • Article Marketing — submitting articles to other websites and article directories (like EzineArticles.com) — is another good way to get free traffic to your website.

As with the content you create for your website, you write useful articles based on the keywords that your potential customers are searching for.

When submitting articles, I like to find websites related to my niche that already have high rankings in the search engines and already get a lot of traffic. Let’s say you run a business that sells stationery. To find likely websites to submit articles to, you might go to Google, type in “wedding stationery,” and make a list of the search results for that keyword. Then you’d do another search, this time for “bridal shower note cards.” You’d repeat the process for 10 or 20 related keywords. Once you have a list of top-ranked websites, you’d contact them and offer to submit articles in exchange for a link back to your site.

2. Paid Traffic

The advantage of paid traffic is that it is immediate. Also, as compared to most free traffic, it is quantifiable — and, thus, it is easy to tell whether a paid traffic campaign is profitable or will be profitable in the future. The disadvantage is that it costs money, and you’ll probably experience some losses up front when you begin testing.

Here are two of my favorite methods of generating paid website traffic…

  • Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising works in a way that is similar to SEO. When a user types a phrase into the search engine, they get a list of organic results. On the same page, they see a list of paid results — ads placed by advertisers based on the keywords that had been typed in.

Getting started with PPC is fairly simple. You set up an account with one of the major PPC networks (like Google). You select the keywords you want to bid on and get listed for, and you write a short ad that will entice qualified prospects to click on your ad and visit your site. You can begin driving traffic to your website within minutes.

There are many factors that will determine your success with PPC, including how much you bid for the keywords and your ad copy. To make PPC work, you have to constantly test, test, and then test some more. It may take some trial and error, but once you find a winning combination, you can roll it out and be more aggressive.

  • E-zine Advertising can help youreach a large group of highly targeted prospects. You can find e-zines and online newsletters that are related to your niche simply by doing a search on Google. Let’s say you are in the credit repair niche. You might search Google for:”credit repair newsletter,” “credit repair e-zine,” and “credit repair e-newsletter.” Then check with the e-zines/websites that come up to see if they run paid advertising. Those that do will probably offer several options, including short, inexpensive classified ads and more-expensive dedicated e-mail blasts.

Before testing an ad with an e-zine, I would first subscribe to it to see what it’s like to be one of their subscribers. Do they send out good, useful content? Do they publish regularly? And do they have ads for products/services that are similar to those you plan to advertise? If the answer to those questions is yes, that publication is a good candidate for you.

Another tip is to look at the top ranked websites for your niche and see if they are acquiring names with any type of lead-capture or subscription box. If they are, contact them to see if they would be open to running your ad to their list.

3. Leveraged Traffic

What is unique about leveraged traffic is that it has all the positives of free and paid traffic without the negatives. It is both free and immediate — and highly responsive, to boot. There are several ways to get leveraged traffic, including viral marketing and affiliate marketing. But I want to talk about my favorite: joint ventures (JVs).

JVs give you a quick and powerful way to get traffic to your website, build your list, and make sales. It’s one of the methods I used to start and grow my online business — and it’s a key strategy for big, growing companies like Early to Rise.

While there is no one way to do joint ventures, the most common JVs in the online world involve cross promotions, also known as e-mail swaps. Your JV partner sends an e-mail to their list promoting your product or service. In exchange, you send an e-mail to your list promoting their product or service.

With the kind of traffic generated this way, not only will you get a lot of it fast, but it will be much more responsive to your offer because it comes as the result of an endorsement from your partner (assuming you selected a good JV partner). And as you do more joint ventures, you’ll build your in-house e-mail list and will be able to leverage off of that to do more joint ventures with the owners of larger lists.

So how do you find a joint venture partner? It’s as simple as sending an e-mail, picking up the phone, or meeting someone at a conference or event. Introduce yourself, develop a relationship, and see if it makes sense for you to do business together. Once you experience the power of a joint venture, you’ll never look back.

There you have it — five specific ways to start driving traffic to your website and build your in-house e-list…  five of the methods used here at Early to Rise. As you can see, we use a multi-channel approach to online marketing, and so should you.

Improve on what you are already doing, and continue to learn new ways to generate more traffic and, ultimately, more sales.

[Ed. Note: You can help speed your business to profitability with the five traffic-building strategies Brian Edmondson revealed today. And you can discover more powerful, profit-accelerating marketing techniques that can take your business to new levels of success with ETR’s Perfect Home Business Start-Up Kit. We based this new home-study program on our recent 5 Days in July Internet Business Building Conference. It featured Brian, as well a dozen of the top Internet marketing experts working today, sharing everything they know about how to do business online. ]

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