While Rachel Kuptz, who really is a big deal (@girlydrinks) wrote this a while back, the advice she gives is sound and still accurate today. While we miss her here at Stone IG we do know the wisdom of her online marketing passion. This was original posted October 2008. I’m posting it again today as a refresher…

So you have a great website name, wonderful design, perhaps a blog, and a few pages of content – you’re ready to go! A quick glance at your analytics, however, shows that only a few people are reading your blog, and you’re pretty sure that the IP address that keeps on showing up is actually your mom.

On top of word of mouth promotion to your clients and building up content, creating a few pieces of link bait can bring in additional visitors as well as establish links to your site – something that, in the long run, will help with your site’s SEO.

While you’ll still have to do a little bit of promotion after creating any of these pieces, a quality piece of content will help you to get your website – or blog – to the place you want it to be traffic wise. And won’t your mom be so proud…

Top 10 Lists Whether it be a Top 7, Top 10, or Top 100, lists tend to be a fan favorite when it comes to earning back links. Lists can also earn you expertise status if packaged correctly and can be a start to a series to expand on in future blog posts. Take for instance Time’s list of 50 Best Websites in 2008 or Web Worker Daily’s list of 12 Free Tools for Online Collaboration. Make the list as silly or as serious as you want, but make it unique. Hair Salon? Top 10 Cuts for Fall. Law office? The Top 5 Craziest Lawsuits in History. Restaurant? Top 100 Things You Can Use a Fork for Other than Eating. Make it fun, make it unique, and make it interactive. A good discussion piece will bring in quality links for time to come.
Checklists A few minutes of keyword research shows that people regularly look for terms such as SEO Checklist or Travel Checklist. Create a quick checklist of items your clients and potential clients would find valuable, then PDF it or make an interactive html page that can easily be printed out. Examples of link worthy checklists include a travel agency that puts up a To Pack List and the magazine that puts up a wedding registry checklist.
Contest Any contest will bring in a few back links to your site, just make sure to make it something people want to enter. Have a product that you can give away? A service that you can offer for free? Heck, money always works, as do gift certificates. Just tie in the contest to your business somehow. You can also use the contest as a way to gather additional email address by allowing contest entrants to subscribe to your rss feed or newsletter sometime during registration. Check out these sites that increased readership just by having a contest.
Competition with another blogger Friends with another blogger in your industry? Suggest holding a competition, such as bloggers John Chow and Shoemoney did, that cross promotes both of your sites. Whether it be a competition to see who can write the most posts in a month, grow the most traffic, or even sell the most of a specific product, a friendly competition can earn you some links as well as promote your site to a target audience.
Calculators and Widgets Since web visitors are often in the research stage when they’re visiting your website, offering up a tool that allows them to answer questions on their own can draw in a variety of links to your site. A bank could put up a calculator that allows people to calculate interest or try something silly like this Web 2.0 URL generator. Visit Widget Box for already created widgets and calculators that might help to conjure up some ideas. Perhaps our developer could come up with a Top 10 List generator 🙂
Resource List Create a page on your site that lists out every quality resource you would recommend in your industry. Examples of resources could include free tools, magazines and blogs relevant to your industry, or case studies and white papers that would be valuable to clients. Check out Agency Tool’s Web Design Directory that lists out a plethora of web design resources, or this fun list of “National Days.”
Offer Something Free Free consultation, free fonts, free images – people like free. Whether you offer a free consultation, product/sample, or even a download of advice or tips, promote the free item as something unique and valuable that only you are offering. This online fax company offers up a free fax service for those who don’t (yet) need regular online faxing services and this software company offers up a free trial download of their quality control software. You can also offer up a free eBook, online tool, or even email address.
Review a product Review a product, brand, or website that is related to your industry then let those people know that you reviewed them. Have a grocery store? Review some of the latest foods out and give them a rating. Attend an industry conference or convention recently? Review the latest and greatest in new products or recap a speaker’s presentation. Become the CNET, PCMAG, or TechCrunch of your industry.
Capture a Round Up of News Do you have a list of websites or blogs related to your industry that you frequent on a daily or weekly basis? If so, your potential customers may be interested in learning about them. If you have a blog, a weekly or monthly round up of all the blogs or news articles in your industry that interested you can garner in quite a bit of attention. Check out YumSugar for a fun example of a round up of restaurant and food related posts.
Expose a Trend Have you noticed a new trend in your industry? Keep an eye out for clients that are asking for something out of the ordinary, products that are selling out quickly, or ideas that you think may take off eventually – trends do have to start somewhere. You can also pick out trends from industry publications that clients may not read or visit sites like Google Trends or Digg to discover items that people are talking about.