Subscribe to Entrepreneur for $5

Hit List

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

How to get first-time visitors

In the classic movie Field of Dreams, Kevin Costner's characterconstructs a baseball diamond in the middle of an Iowa cornfield after a voicepromises him, "If you build it, they will come." Just a few short years ago,that phrase became the siren song of the Internet. Put up a Web site, andcustomers will beat a path to your (cyberspace) door.

Unfortunately, that doesn't always work. Follow these steps to bring first-timevisitors to your site:

Start with a recognizable domain name. Choosing your company or productname for your domain automatically makes your Web site easier for visitors tofind. Select an URL that communicates what products and information your siteoffers.

Promote your site in all company materials. Make sure your URL isprominently displayed on your brochures and fliers, and include it in all youradvertising and public relations materials. Get a buzz going, becauseword-of-mouth is a good traffic generator.

Register with major search engines. You can register your site withsearch engines, such as Yahoo! and Excite simply by visiting their sites andfilling out a form. But don't count on listings with search engines to be yourprimary traffic generator. Newer sites and those with fewer visitors often getthe lowest rankings when searches are performed. And if your site is number 40or 50 to show up in a search, it's less likely to get noticed.

Set up links from related sites. Do keyword searches for good sites thatoffer related information or reach your target audience. Then contact as manyas possible to negotiate for links between your site and theirs. Ideally, youshould negotiate for descriptive text to accompany your link and be prepared tooffer reciprocal links back to these related sites.

Advertise on related sites. If you sell products or services on your Website, consider running ads on other high-traffic sites that reach your targetaudience. The overabundance of ad space on Web sites means you can run banneror other advertising inexpensively on a variety of quality sites.

Publicize in conventional media. If your Web site offers informationthat isn't obtainable elsewhere, publicize it by mounting a PR campaign to keypublications that feature news about the Internet. Submit your press releaseselectronically, then follow-up by telephone or e-mail. Be prepared to explainwhy your Web site will be of special interest to each publication's readers.