One of the most frequent questions we receive from our members, clients and readers is: “I have a small business; how do I get the word out?”

This question is so popular, and there are so many ways to answer it that we’ve covered it in several other posts. Stacey gave us three ways she got the word out about her business; Alyssa talked about how to promote yourself without being a jerk; and our first installment of the Bonfire Buzz covered word of mouth marketing.

Today, I’m going to take a different angle on answering the question: “I have a small business; how do I get the word out?”

My answer is quite simple in theory, but it requires a lot of work to get the desired results. So, if you’re not ready to put in the necessary effort, then I suggest you bookmark this post and come back when you are. For those of you that are ready, let’s get to it.

If you are looking to spread the word about your business on a larger scale, then you need to drive traffic to your website and/or blog. The more visits your site receives, the more leads you should acquire and the more sales you should make. It’s not complicated math, but it is far from easy to accomplish.

Here are six ways to start driving more traffic to your site or blog. While they can be done alone, you will not reach critical mass without implementing all of them; preferably all at once.

Dominate Search

Sounds daunting, doesn’t it? While certain keywords are way too competitive to dominate, there are diamonds in the rough that get enough monthly searches with low competition to justify the effort involved. To find these diamonds in the rough, first look at your own analytics to see how your visitors are finding you now.

Next, use Google’s keyword tool to find related keywords that have a decent amount of monthly searches, but don’t have a lot of competition. This part can be quite time consuming, so we use Market Samurai (affiliate link) to save us time. Once you’ve identified your keywords and phrases, start creating high quality content around them.

Create Backlinks

Creating backlinks to your domain, blog and individual posts and pages is still an important strategy in driving traffic. There are many different ways to create backlinks such as directory submissions, blog commenting, forum posts, social bookmarking (more on that below), posting reviews on sites like Amazon and about a dozen more strategies.

Again, this can be time consuming so we automate some of this strategy by using Ping Kaching (affiliate link). Be advised that not all backlinks are created equal, but by diversifying where you get your backlinks from, they will seem more natural to the search engines.

Use Social Media

Social media is here to stay so you should be using it not only to build relationships, but also to drive traffic to your site. If you have not already, you should create a Facebook page for your business, tweet about new posts on Twitter and share them on Google + and LinkedIn.

I would throw in YouTube as well, but that is a completely different animal and should be covered separately. You may want to streamline your social media posting by using HootSuite. We use it regularly to schedule our tweets and posts to Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. It is a huge time saver.

Continue with Social Bookmarking

While sites like Digg, StumbleUpon, Reddit, Google Bookmarks, DIIGO, Fark, Tipd, etc. don’t pack as much punch as they used to, they are still worth using. By submitting to these sites, you gain a backlink and benefit from the traffic that these sites receive on a daily basis.

Write Guest Posts

By guest posting on another blog, you not only gain a valuable backlink, but you also get exposure to a new audience. This new audience can become regular readers of your blog and has the potential to drive a significant amount of traffic your way. Look for guest posting opportunities from authority sites within your industry to get the biggest bang for your efforts.

Run a Contest

One often overlooked method for driving traffic to your site is holding a relevant contest like we did with Everyone loves to have the chance to win something, and your audience isn’t any different. By running a contest, you will get a nice bump in traffic during the contest, gain backlinks from other sites promoting the contest and gain some new readers/customers.

I would try to implement all six of these methods as close together as possible. Each method has its own particular subset of strategies, and we’ll cover those in a future issue of The Spark.

There are a dozens of other strategies to drive traffic to your sites and I would love to hear what you are doing and has worked best for you.

Image credit: manwolste