So you've made the perfect web site (in your eyes at least) and that all-important traffic is out there just waiting to visit you. You've done your research and followed the usual methods for making people aware about it, and you're now sat there twiddling your thumbs, regularly checking your traffic analysis tracker in case you get a sudden surge of visitors. Of course, unless you're a big business with a mass of promotion behind you, those days of overwhelming traffic are quite a way off. So while you wait for your search engine submissions to reap their reward is there anything else you can do to help yourself?
Simple answer. Yes there is and it's a method that is not discussed much. What is it I'm talking about?
Forums. No do not run away just yet. Not only will you develop a small amount of traffic in the first few days of launch (a couple of hundred visits easy) but you'll gain a lot of valuable feedback about your site that can allow you to make changes before the search engines kick in. What could be better than free reviews?
First things first. If you're unfamiliar with forums they can best be described as the community discussion area of a web site. If you've never used one before do not be afraid they're not as scary as they seem. Go have a look at a few to see for yourself, read some of the topics and look at the messages people have posted. Nobody is going to jump out at you and ask what you're doing there. Honest.
Right, now that you're confident you can post a message on a forum, you should be aware that you can not and should not post a message about your wonderful new web site on every forum you come across. If you've had a look like I suggested you'll notice that most forums are split into sections that cover different areas related to that particular web site. Therefore, if you want to tell people about your site you need to look for forums that will accept this sort of entry.
It is not hard to think about where these magical forums might be. You'll want to look at computer magazine sites, webmaster sites, web review sites, that's just for starters, I'm sure you'll come across more once you get going. The process is then simple; Find one of these sites, have a look to see if they run a forum, then check the forum to see if they have a section that allows for your site to be submitted for review by other members.
If you're new to this then keep things simple with just a simple post at first. Just ask people to look at your site and give you some feedback. The best things to remember with forums are to polite and friendly in your posts. Most people will usually have something positive to say about your web site all the criticisms they may also give. Even if you get lots of praise you'll often be surprised at the small tips that you get that can make your site look that little bit more professional looking. Once you've done a couple of forums and noted the general response, use your different forums to be more specific. Ask about your navigation, ask about the content, ask about the colors, or whatever else may be bugging you.
Some forums ask that you look first at one or two other members sites and give some feedback of your own before asking for yours to be looked at. This can help you in that it may show you how to critique your own site by looking at what's wrong with someone else's. Also if you do need to give some feedback look at the list of posts and pick someone who reply count is low or non-existent. They'll be pleased that you've responded and may pay you the same compliment by looking at yours.
This brings me to another point regarding the reply / view count. Most people who go to the forums (especially newbies) are more likely to look first at the posts that have a decent reply and / or view count. It's a psychological thing, the post looks popular so you want to see what's so interesting. With some forums you can use this to your advantage (just do not abuse it). Be aware of the forums that show an increase in the reply / view count every time someone (including you) adds a message. If you find one make sure you visit your post to respond to anyone's comments and add a message to keep the count going. It's a bit sneaky I know but like I said do not abuse it and you'll gain a slight advantage for getting people looking at your site.
Now do not expect thousands of visitors from the method detailed in this article (unless your site is so good that everyone starts talking about it) but for every person that responds to your request for feedback you'll get loads more that just visit your site who for whatever reason do not reply. At the end of the day it's all about getting the ball rolling and anything you can do to proactively promote your web site has to be considered. So best foot forward and get exploring all those forums.