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From PPC Summit

Why do you have a hard time getting (converting) web traffic when it’s *this* easy?

The lifeblood of all businesses online is traffic. I mean – targeted traffic that you can begin to test for conversions.
This Article Shows You Mostly Free Ways To Get Started.

#1: Keyword Research

Keyword research should be #1 on your list – always. Try tools like Google Keyword Tool, SEO Book Keyword Tool, Market Samurai (free trial). Get more ideas using the search based tool. If running PPC (you should), look at PPC data and keyword portfolio overall that is most closely aligned to your market need: write and optimize for those terms. The most competitive should be in focus, but the higher converting term is most often not the most highly trafficked term. Discover how they search the web and target your terms accordingly. (Informational, Transactional or Navigational)? “Armani black leather jackets for women” is better than “leather jackets,” for example. Use search engine optimization (SEO) to create a set of themed pages to match your findings.

#2: Social Media & Link building

Most know and agree that the Google algorithm relies heavily on links for ranking, especially in competitive markets. Most of these tactics are low cost entry points. Offering quality, and something of value will create link opportunities by default, and should always be your goal. Spend more time thinking about this and submit to quality properties than the useless “300 directories for $49.99” approach.

a. Article Marketing – 400-600 words with real value. Think about the users and webmasters (who may use the information) first. Make sure to include at least 2 links in the resources box. One could be the actual company name, another, an anchor text keyword. Think users, and then search engines. Make sure to submit to top article directories within your category and sub-category. You can use Yahoo directory and DMOZ to get a sense for activity and relevancy in your marketplace. Use EzineArticles to start.

b. Answering questions – Providing value to your community is always a good thing. See the top answer search engines and get started. I have used Yahoo Answers and Yedda, they are all pretty easy to use. Remember to not “pitch” your own business. Provide real, useful answers. Of course, you’ll get a link back to your site, but the “value” is more important long term. If one of the answers (example Yahoo) appears high and gets you more traffic, you can target additional ads on that page too. (Sponsored Results). If you cannot spend the time yourself, an expert author or an outsourced model works well for an hour a week to work on this.

c. Activate the social communities and start sharing your (quality) content
a. Start with one of two at first. Look at what your competition might be doing. Then, check – Digg, Reddit, Linkedin, Twitter, Facebook, Delicious, Youtube, Technorati, Stumbleupon. But – don’t forget to look at: Squidoo.com, Hubpages.com, Zimbio.com, Scribd.com, Docstoc.com, Slideshare.net, eHow & Wetpaint.com. For competitive terms you can get to first page ranking using these trusted web properties. It certainly can build your brand and company reputation much quicker. All this for free (outside of your time, of course)! Use socialmarker.com to bookmark your best content across multiple accounts easy and fast. However, do not spam – and try to keep the various content channels unique, not just duplicate content.
b. Distribute your videos via tubemogul.com, and for a paid fee, try trafficgeyser.com.
c. Use budurl.com to track your clicks and visitors from Twitter, and use ping.fm to distribute your “tweets” across multiple social platforms – in seconds! Remember! Creating your trust and authority using relevant link building is a “never-ending” task for you.

d. Blog Strategies
a. A little more advanced topic, but creating PR or Traffic pumper sites with (WordPress) blogs that are relevant to your business, can work very well. Create newsworthy sites and promote them. Use an inter-linking strategy to feed traffic and PR juice to the destination sites of more “core” (money) sites that you own.
e. Directories
a. Get Yahoo (paid), DMOZ (free) listings established. Look at goguides, gimpsy, skaffe and botw.org as well (not free). This strategy will yield more link/authority juice than 100’s of low quality directories.

#3: SEO

SEO – Search Engine Optimization is the art and science of crafting keyword rich copy and building search friendly websites to appear high in the rankings in the natural search results pages. Consider the power of blended search in all your doings where video, news, podcasts, images, maps all display into one “Universal Search,” as Google calls it.
a. TAGS: TITLE, DESCRIPTION, H1, ALTs – Make sure to describe your page using keywords in these tags.
b. LOCAL SEO: If you are a local business, make sure you get your listings into the big three search engines (Google, Yahoo, Bing/Microsoft). You can use getlisted.org to check your listings, and ease the process of submission. Do NOT spam by faking multiple listings and phone numbers. See Google Local for more details, and the steps you can take. Make sure to read David Mihms Local ranking success factors.
c. Google Webmaster Tools: Make sure to set up a free account here. Look at the diagnostics, links, what Googlebot sees, and terms that Google qualifies. Do they match your major topics and keywords? Tune accordingly and continue to build links, as mentioned.
d. Analytics: Google Analytics, Getclicky (free/paid) – to make sure each page is getting the right keywords and traffic that you had planned for each topic and subtopic.

#4: Plan to Fail? Or…

…fail to plan. Be clear on your strategic plan for all online endeavors. Make sure you have short and long term goals in mind. A SWOT plan can really help you. Look at the competition using (free/paid) SpyFu.com, Compete.com and SEMrush.com tools. If you want a quick overview of your competition that includes social popularity and traffic measures, try quarkbase.com. However, it’s important not to over-obsess on the competition. And, think about conversions as your end goal, not rankings.

Using the above tactics – along with tracking your competition’s URL and keywords in your space via Google alerts will get you ahead of your competition and the search engines.

by Jon Rognerud, Entrepreneur.com