Optimize your site for search engines.
Search engines have always been a major way to get traffic for free. That is why you need to do your homework and optimize your site so that it ranks well for the keywords you target. SEO is still the most powerful way to get traffic for free and you really need to invest some time and efforts in the optimization of your site. SEO is not that difficult and if you want to get familiar with it in a nutshell, check our SEO Tutorial. If you are too busy for that, you can start with the 15 Minute SEO article.
Frequently update the contents of your site. .
If you expected some shocking secrets revealed, you might be a bit disappointed. One of the first steps in getting traffic for free is trivial but vital – get great content and frequently update it. In terms of SEO, content is king. If your content is good and frequently updated you will not only build a loyal audience of recurring visitors, who will often come to see what is new, but search engines will also love your site.
Take advantage of social bookmarking sites.
Social bookmarking sites (especially the most popular among them) are another powerful way to get traffic for free. If you want to learn how to do it, check the How to get Traffic from Social Bookmarking sites article, where we have explained what to do if you want to get free traffic from sites such as Digg, Delicious, etc.
Use your Twitter and Facebook accounts.
Social networks are also a way to get traffic for free. If you are popular on networks, such as Twitter or Facebook, the traffic you get from there can easily surpass the traffic from Google and the other search engines. It is true that building a large network of targeted followers on Twitter and supporters on Facebook takes a lot of time and effort but generally the result is worth.
Get links with other sites in your niche.
Another way to get traffic for free is from other sites in your niche. Getting links with other sites in your niche is also good for SEO, especially if you manage to get links without the famous nofollow attribute. But even if the links are nofollow (i.e. they are useless for SEO), they still help to get traffic to your site. If you manage to put your link in a visible place on a site with high volumes of traffic, you can get thousands of hits from this link alone. If you need list of sites within your niche where you could get backlinks from, check the Backlink Builder tool. However, be careful if you exchange links because linking to bad neighbors can do you a lot of harm.
Use any chance to promote your site for free.
Free promotion is always welcome, so don't neglect it. There are many ways to promote your site for free and some of the most popular ones include free classified ads, submissions to directories, inclusion in various listings, etc. It is true that not all free ways to promote your site work well but if you select the right places to promote your site for free, this can also result in tons of traffic.
Create a free product or service.
Content drives most traffic when you offer something useful. There are many types of useful content you can create and they largely depend on the niche of your site. You can have articles with tons of advice, or short tips but one of the most powerful ways to get traffic is to create a free product or service. When this product or service gets popular and people start visiting your site, chances are that they will visit the other sections of the site as well.
Use viral content.
Free products and services are great for getting free traffic to your site and one of the best varieties in this aspect is viral content. Viral content is called so because it distributes like a virus – i.e. when users like your content, they send it to their friends, post it on various sites, and promote it for free in many different ways. Viral content distributes on its own and your only task is to create it and submit it to a couple of popular sites. After that users pick it and distribute it for you. Viral content can be a hot video or a presentation but it can also be a good old article or an image.
Use offline promotion.
Offline promotion is frequently forgotten but it is also a way to get traffic for free. Yes, computers are everywhere and many people spend more time online than offline but still life hasn't moved completely on the Web. Offline promotion is also very powerful and if you know how to use it, this can also bring you many visitors. Some of the traditional offline ways to promote your site include printing its URL on your company's business cards and souvenirs or sticking it on your company vehicles. You can also start selling T-shirts and other merchandise with your logo and this way make your brand more popular.
Include your URL in your signature.
URLs in forum signatures are also a way to get traffic for free. There are forums, which get millions of visitors a day and if you are a popular user on such a forum, you can use this to get traffic to your site. When you post on forums and people like your posts, they tend to click the link to your site on your signature to learn more about you. In rare cases you might be able to post a deep link (i.e. a link to an internal page of the site) rather than a link to your homepage and this is also a way to focus attention to a particular page. Unfortunately, deep links are rarely allowed.
Getting traffic for free is a vast topic and it is not possible to list all the ways to do it. However, if you know the most important ways – i.e. the ways we discussed in this article and you apply them properly, it is guaranteed that you will be able to get lots of traffic for free.