Making a website popular is one of the most straightforward ways to build wealth online. Whether you’re interested in selling a specific product or service or just using advertising to monetize your visitors, if you can make a website sufficiently popular, you’ll have no trouble making plenty of money.
You can always pay to attract visitors to a website. With the help of strategies like paid advertising (and maybe even a bit of bribery), the sky’s the limit for how many people you can attract. Obviously, if you don’t have an unlimited budget, this isn’t really an option for you.
So what if you have a limited budget or what if you’re starting with almost nothing? Is it possible to make a website popular for free?
What Is “Free?”
First we need to dig into the semantics. What exactly is “free?” You might be able to use a strategy to make your website more popular without spending any money, but that usually means you’ll have to spend a lot of time doing it. For example, you could go door to door introducing people to your website one at a time; eventually, you could generate hundreds or thousands of new visitors and you wouldn’t have to spend a dollar to do it, but this would be a total waste of your time.
If you consider time as a cost, then the answer is no, it’s not possible to make a website popular for free. That said, if you consider both time and monetary costs, it is possible to make a website popular for cheap.
Creating a Website
Everything starts with your ability to create a website. You can’t make a site popular if it never exists in the first place. There’s currently an abundance of free website builders that purport to allow you to create your website for free. But this is a bit misleading. While you may be able to build a website without spending any money, there are a number of drawbacks you should also keep in mind:
- Advertising. Some website builders require you to host their advertising as a form of payment. You may be stuck with a different domain name and you won’t be able to host any advertising of your own.
- Limited templates. You may also be forced to choose from a small number of different templates as the basis for your site. This may restrict you, preventing you from executing your creative vision for the site. More importantly, because many business owners and webmasters will be choosing from this pool of templates, your site will end up looking unoriginal.
- Limited hosting and security options. Free website builders also offer limited hosting and security options. By extension, your site may end up with significant security vulnerabilities. It may also fail to perform in line with your expectations.
- Limited builds. Most free website builders are only effective if you’re creating a simple website, like a blog or informational site. If you need something more advanced, you’ll have no choice but to create it from scratch.
If you want to build your own website, and avoid relying on templates, you can expect to pay at least a few thousand dollars. This is a reasonable cost and a good investment, but it obviously prohibits you from building a website for free.
Free Marketing Strategies
But let’s imagine that your website is already created and you’re not worried about startup costs. Is there a way to make your site more popular for free?
- Onsite content marketing. One of the best tools at your disposal is going to be onsite content marketing. The basic idea here is to write high quality content that makes your site more trustworthy and authoritative while also attracting new people to your site. You can start with a simple blog, writing articles relevant to your audience and your industry. As you begin to develop a better reputation, your blog readership can grow, and you can start increasing your content efforts, developing white papers and eBooks to invite even more subscribers. Onsite content marketing also has useful synergies with a variety of other inbound marketing strategies, as we’ll see. You can pay someone to write your content and plan your strategy, but this is also a strategy that you could technically do yourself for free, as long as you put in the time and effort.
- Search engine optimization (SEO). Optimizing your website for search engines is another free way to boost the visibility of your site, if you don’t mind spending the time to do it. Google and other search engines prioritize websites they deem to be trustworthy and relevant to user searches. you can make your site more trustworthy by writing keyword optimized content, making your site more functional and secure, and establishing links with major trustworthy publishers. It’s a long term strategy that takes many months to start paying off, but it’s not exceptionally difficult to learn. If you struggle to take off, you can always work with an agency to increase your chances of success.
- Social media marketing. Social media marketing is also somewhat free, since you can create your profiles and business pages without spending any money. It’s hard to get organic reach naturally on social media platforms that have paid advertising options, but if you post consistently, you engage with new people, and you get active in local groups, you can facilitate a much better following.
- Offsite content marketing. Offsite content is the perfect counterpart for onsite content. With the right strategy, you can get articles published with offsite publishers routinely. This way, you’ll get more brand visibility and you’ll have the opportunity to build valuable links back to your site; these links, in turn, will be able to generate both referral traffic directly to your site and higher authority, ultimately boosting your search engine rankings. Over time, you’ll earn a better reputation for yourself as an author and you’ll be able to work with bigger and more influential publishers, expanding your audience in the process. Again, it takes a lot of time and effort – but it doesn’t have to cost you money.
- Email marketing. Despite countless other digital marketing strategies that have emerged in the past couple of decades, email marketing remains one of the most effective digital marketing strategies you can use. This is partially because of how inexpensive it is. You can create an account with an email marketing platform for free and usually send regular emails to thousands of subscribers for free. As long as your content is interesting and you’re working actively to build out your email subscriber list, you should be able to generate significant recurring traffic and improve the visibility of your site.
- Networking and referrals. Don’t forget about networking and referrals. It’s free to meet new people and talk with them, and while it can be time intensive, it can also pay off in spades. If you introduce your website to even a handful of new people and they’re all impressed enough to share the website with their circle of friends and colleagues, you could quickly reach hundreds of new people.
Achieving Peak Popularity
Some of your success will depend on factors beyond your control, such as your industry, your timing, and economic conditions. But much of your success will be totally in your hands. Even if you don’t have a significant budget, if you’re willing to invest a little bit of time, you have the potential to make your website much more popular, ultimately attracting thousands or tens of thousands of unique monthly visitors. It’s not something that can happen overnight, and it’s not going to be “free” in the strictest sense of the word, but it is achievable, easily understandable, and appropriate for the majority of websites.