While the number of Web surfers has risen dramatically over the years, so too has the number of Web sites competing for their attention – and patronage. Beyond the hobbyist site level, this patronage is big business – and a business based on separating the surfer from his or her discretionary dollar. And those dollars can quickly add up...
It's really simple; put more surfers into your site, and get more dollars out of it – it's all a numbers game, and the winner of the game is the Webmaster who can work those numbers to his benefit. Moving these surfers between "here" and "there" along the information superhighway, and showing them "the sites" along the way – sites that will (or should) provide a sale or a referral commission, or a fresh surfer in exchange for the one you've sent over – is one of the main keys to financial success with your Web site.
Unfortunately, too many site owners tend to focus too heavily on other elements of their projects, such as endlessly fiddling with minor design changes and needless content updates in the vain hope of "getting it just right." While the importance of having a successfully optimized, easily navigable, and compellingly presented online presence is undeniable, if you keep it a secret, then no one will notice all of the hard work and effort you've put into "perfecting" your virtual billboard – and profits will continue to elude you.
The issue at hand then is to focus on developing a sustainable and ever-increasing flow of high-quality targeted traffic to your site. There are many articles and tutorials in our archives and elsewhere that detail the means and mechanics of traffic acquisition, manipulation and profitable dispersion – all you have to do is study up on the pros, cons, and theories behind each phase of the traffic cycle and implement a plan.
Whether your traffic plan involves free or paid search engine listings, link lists, top lists, TGPs, MGPs, pic posts, peer to peer file sharing, e-mail marketing, traffic trades, or all of the above; the important thing is to "just do it!" Start somewhere, and budget a little (or a lot of) time each day towards promoting your site, and keep track of your successes and failures. Discover what works for you and what doesn't, then focus on the positive means and avoid (or minimize) the less productive approaches.
Remember, there's no such thing as "bad traffic" – but there is such a thing as "badly managed traffic" – so test not only the source of your surfers, but track their productivity; measuring factors such as the cost of acquiring the surfer, the amount of bandwidth he or she consumes (and its cost), the amount of direct revenue (sales) generated by that surfer on your site, and the value of that surfer after leaving your site.
While there are many measurable metrics that can be applied to your traffic, one often overlooked factor is that "real traffic" is made up of "real people." There are personal issues involved anytime you deal with people, so try to look beyond the numbers and see deeper into the equations. And yes, there are many times when traffic isn't "real" – meaning that the "visitor" you see in your stats (you are looking at your stats, aren't you?) is not human, but a robot, spider, hit bot, or fraudulently generated click – and none of those artificial visitors has a credit card. Keep this in mind when evaluating those "seems to good to be true" traffic brokers.
And speaking of traffic brokers; as traffic has gotten harder to get, more and more companies have sprung up offering to sell you all of the traffic you can handle. While an often tempting shortcut, you always need to ask yourself "If the traffic is so hot, why aren't [b]they[/b] sending it to a sponsor instead of selling it for pennies on the dollar?" Caveat Emptor.
At the end of the day the bottom line is that traffic is no longer going to simply fall into your lap – you need to actively attract it and effectively manage it if you want your site to be a business instead of a hobby. Good luck!