Getting Web Traffic
Getting Web Traffic to your Science Fiction Website Without Search Engines – A beginners guide.
Here is the scenario: you are a SF/F author, poet, artist or whatever, you have gotten some web space and spent a few nights after work or school and a weekend building your first website, published it to the web and now you want to know how to get some traffic to it. Most traffic comes from search engines, but optimizing for search engines is a tricky process and takes some study and practice. There are other means of getting traffic to your website without search engines. The quantity might not be huge but it is well worth the effort because these are good ways for fans within your subject to find you.
Who this is for:
This guide is intended for content type websites within the science fiction, fantasy, horror and RPG genres. It is intended for beginners to whom the process of gaining web traffic might not be obvious. It might be of some use for hobby type commercial sites, but that is your call.
In the real world, traffic is always highest at a crossroads and this is where towns and cities develop. The same holds true online, that is you want to position your website on as many virtual “roads” as possible. All roads may lead to Rome but you want people passing your site on as many roads as you can. You also want a certain amount of repetition – you want people to see the name of your website (or your name if you are an author or artist) repeatedly wherever they go. If they see that name enough, they will start to remember it and eventually get curious enough to visit.
Webrings are small micro-directories usually organizing around one topic (ie. science fiction, Star Trek or William Shatner). Webrings are like little roads that visitors can surf around by clicking on the “Next” link. Webrings require that you place a snippet of HTML code, called a ring code, on one page of your website. This ring code is like a highway marker – a visible marking of the virtual ‘road’ the webring represents. Each ring is only going to provide a tiny smidgen of traffic, but 20 or 30 well run rings can provide a steady little trickle of high quality – pre qualified traffic.
Webrings are very low maintenance – you join and put up the code only once and pretty much can forget it once you are accepted into the ring by the Ring Owner.
Tip: Place the ring code on your webpage immediately after applying for the ring. Do not wait. If you have enough time to apply you need to take the time to put the code up. The faster you put the code up the quicker you can get approved.
What rings to join? Apply to those rings that fit the content of your website: for example – if you are a fantasy author and have posted some of your own stories on your site then you can join some: fantasy rings, author’s and writers rings, online fiction rings – etc.
RingSurf – Ringsurf uses a less sophisticated HTML ring code. It means that you have to put up a new unique ring code for each ring you join. Placing that ringcode is still fairly easy but a little more complicated than Webring. Still you should join a couple of appropriate rings on Ringsurf if you can so that you get some traffic via both hosting systems.
Plus here is a list of good individual webrings.
Tip: When joining a webring, be sure to put your keywords into the description of your website. People also search rings for sites that look interesting so be sure to incorporate the keywords that describe your website into the description. So an author or artist would mention their author or artist name, and the kind of art or writing they do eg. fantasy art, monster art, fantasy writer, etc.
2.) Niche (Topical) Directories
Niche directories are important hubs for traffic that is interested in the same subject as your website. Most niche directories offer free listings.
It is important to take your time with adding your URL to a directory. Be sure to look around for guidelines, find the most appropriate category and check out the other listings in that category.
Spend some time writing the description for your site. It is better not to include promotional copy in the description. Describe your site, not you or your business. Include the main features of your site and fit in the appropriate keywords within the sentence(s) of that description. If you are a author or artist be sure to include your published name, and what kind of art or writing you do. Remember, people also search directories in addition to browsing, so you want your site to come up on a search for your keywords.
You want to get listed in as many directories that are appropriate to your topic as you can.
Grackelfish has a good list of science fiction and fantasy directories and roleplaying directories.
3.) Banner and Button Exchanges:
Free banner exchanges are a cooperative way to exchange advertising on each banner exchange member’s site. You will need to create a graphical banner in the size specified by the exchange, join the exchange and place a unique banner code on one or more pages of your site. Banner impressions are expressed in a ratio like: 3:2. What this means is for every 3 banners shown on your site two of your banners will be shown on other member’s sites. This means that you need some traffic to gain traffic from a banner exchange. Because of this, it helps if you put a banner code on a high traffic page so you earn more impressions than to bury the banner code on an obscure page. Also banner exchanges work best for high traffic sites and the quality of the design of your banner can make a big difference.
Another trick to banner exchanges is to find one as tightly targeted as you can to your own subject matter. (ie. if you have a horror site then join a horror banner exchange, or if you have a RPG site then join a RPG banner exchange.)
Over the years, I have kept track of the banner and button exchanges that have lasted through good times and bad and have given good reliable service. Below are some that I think are worth trying.
Fantasy Herald Button Exchange – has an equal rotation which makes it perfect for a new or low traffic website. (Fantasy Only)
Many Jars Button and Dropbox – you get listed in a button rotation and a dropbox at the same time. Again, very good for new or low traffic sites. (SF and F)
MyStarship Banner Exchange – this is a full sized banner exchange with a traditional ratio. (SF and F)
RPGExchange – a button exchange for RPG sites. Been around for a long time. (RPG Only)
4.) Good Content:
This may be the secret ingredient. Good original content makes others want to link to your website. It is a long term strategy, but good sites attract links. By adding articles, stories, news, your own art or useful facts or data it makes you will eventually attract referrals from outside links by having good content.