FORTUNE Small Business:

Drive traffic to your website

From search optimization to blogging success, here's how to drive traffic to your site.

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(FORTUNE Small Business) -- Dear FSB: I am in need of traffic to my website. Can you help? What can I do?

- Annette, Washington, D.C.

Dear Annette: If you haven't done so already, sit down and plan out the objectives for your website, says Lois Geller, author of Response: The Complete Guide to Profitable Direct Marketing.

Your brainstorming session should least identify your output (products or services?) and your audience (current customers or prospects?) "Try to focus your website on getting the right audience to visit, and on what you want them to do once they get there," Geller says.

Once you've got that down, test different ways to draw in the appropriate traffic.

"Perhaps the first and most important step is to include your website address on every page of your letterhead, billing statement, checks, advertising and promotion materials," Geller says. Then try creating an online press release on PR Newswire and BusinessWire about something newsworthy with your business.

There's also the complex process of Web optimization, which entails specifically designing your webpage to rank high in the search engines. "There are hundreds of experts who can help you with this, but they're expensive," says Geller, who recommends consulting self-help books instead if your budget's tight.

Offer something free-of-charge to those who do visit your site - and it can be as simple as information or advice, says Geller, whose firm recently offered a free booklet to users of one of its clients websites in exchange for an e-mail and home address.

"We then began to build a relationship with them. Eventually, many of them will become clients for us," she explains.

Build up even more incentives for visitors to return to your site: For example, you could come up with a series of trivia questions and offer prizes for the first right answer (or the most creative wrong answers). Make sure to post the contest on blogs and relevant sites, because creating external content will always link more users back to your own site.

Nate Kresse, Creative Director of Stamm Business Technologies, a Milwaukee-based IT and new media consulting firm, suggests adding a blog of your own. While time-consuming, keeping your site fresh with new content (every day if possible, but once a week is just fine) brings great benefits.

"A blog will show the world that you are an expert in your field," Kresse says. "Comments left on your blog posts give you an opportunity to respond directly to potential customers, and search engines will reward fresh content with higher rankings, drawing in more visitors."  To top of page

How have you spruced up your website to beef up traffic? How much time did it take, and what has been the result? Talk back on our forum.

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Market indexes are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer The Dow Jones IndexesSM are proprietary to and distributed by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and have been licensed for use. All content of the Dow Jones IndexesSM © 2014 is proprietary to Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Chicago Mercantile Association. The market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved. Most stock quote data provided by BATS.