Maybe you've already got good search engine placement. Maybe lots of sites have linked to you, and people are able to find your little piece of cyberspace without much trouble. However, once they've been there, do they ever come back?
There are two keys to earning repeat visitors: fresh content and interactive features.
If you can offer your visitors new articles, columns, interviews, information, jokes, cartoons, pictures, etc. every few days, great. But if you can't, you have another option: let visitors work for you. Here's how.
The simplest way to keep people coming back for more is to put up a message board. There are several free ones (http://www.bravenet.com offers a good one) that you can link to your site with very little effort. It's not enough just to put it up there, though. You must also be ringleader-start several interesting threads yourself. Give your vistors a reason to respond to your threads. How?
· Ask questions related to your content · Ask people to introduce themselves · Discuss a controversial topic · Comment on something in news that relates to your content · Tell a funny story or joke, and ask visitors to post their own · Encourage visitors to post feedback about what they'd like to see on your site · Ask people to vote for their favorite [blank]. Movie, band, magazine, celebrity, etc. · Offer simple tips in your field of expertise, and ask visitors to add their own
Want to make your board look more active? Post responses to your own messages under different names. Or ask friends to post, just to get discussions flowing. Whenever someone posts, at least in beginning, drop him or her an e-mail to say, "Thanks for visiting my forum."
Be sure you have ability to delete offensive messages and spam from your board, or you may scare people away from posting.
People love contests. Not just ones in which you can win a million dollars or a trip to Bahamas, but little giveaways. Free t-shirts or books or gift certificates. Think you can't afford it? Think again.
If you run a monthly contest, and offer a prize worth $10, your total cost per month shouldn't be over $13 (including postage.)
What kind of contest should you run?
Forget simple "enter your e-mail address here and get a chance to win" kind, unless you have an e-mail newsletter and want to build your subscription base. Instead, call upon your visitors' creativity and challenge them to write a winning response to an interesting question.