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If you're running a website or online business, your number one goal should be to build traffic. The following are ten ways to drive traffic away from your site. Make sure you aren't making these mistakes.
1. Links Open in the Same Window: If links to other sites don't open in a new window, then you are giving your traffic away. Don't expect site visitors to use the "Back" button or remember where they started. Once they're gone, they are most likely gone for good.
2. No Free Content: Sites that are pure sales pitches are missing the boat. You need to establish credibility with your site visitors and give them a reason to come back. Simply displaying the internet equivalent of an informercial gives your visitors little chance to get to know you-and many people will need to be exposed to your site a number of times before buying. Offer articles, links, statistics, and other useful information.
3. Poor Design: You don't have to be a professional web designer to have a quality site. You can purchase an inexpensive template to give your site a uniform and professional appearance.
4. Useless Newsletter: If you don't already have a newsletter, you should. This is an effective and inexpensive way to market your business. Your newsletter MUST provide information your subscribers want. The best newsletters give free tips and advice-and lots of it. You want your subscribers to enjoy receiving your content and to pass it on to a friend. Survey your readers and ask for feedback. Find out what they want and then figure out how to deliver.
5. Difficult to Subscribe: You should be asking your visitors to sign up for your newsletter or e-zine and make it easy for them to do so. Every single page in your site should provide the opportunity to subscribe. Archiving copies of your newsletter also allows visitors the chance to try before they buy. If your newsletter is good enough, subscribers will be in abundance.
6. Weak "About" Info: Too many websites either don't have an "About Us" page or have one with minimal information. Not only is this page a tool to establish credibility with your customers, it's a way the media can learn more about your business.
7. Lacking Contact Info: Similar to the "About Us" page, the "Contact Us" page needs to be as thorough as possible. If you don't include a mailing address or location information, site visitors may question your credibility. If you don't have a commercial location, you can rent a post office box. You may never even receive mail there, but at least you will be accessible.
8. Too Much Advertising: You want your site to sell, but you will drive potential customers away by advertising too heavily. Avoid becoming a banner farm and balance quality content with related advertising.
9. Using a Hit Counter: There is absolutely no reason to provide a hit counter on your site. Why advertise your site traffic to everyone when you can obtain the statistics through your hosting provider?
10. Broken Links: Not only do broken links hurt your website rankings when crawled by the search engines, but they frustrate visitors. If you provide a lot of links on your site it can be difficult to keep up with them. Make a point of testing your links on a regular basis and let your visitors help you by including an option on each page to "Report a Broken Link."
If your site is guilty of any of the above offenses, then it's time to act. Evaluate the web sites you visit and notice which sites look very professional and which sites need help. Virtually anyone can run a successful website by being resourceful and avoiding these mistakes.
Stephanie Chandler is the author of "The Business Startup Checklist and Planning Guide: Seize Your Entrepreneurial Dreams!" and the founder of http://www.BusinessInfoGuide.com, a directory of free resources for entrepreneurs. Subscribe to the newsletter to receive hot small business tips and resources by sending an email to newsletter@BusinessInfoGuide.com.
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