I don't want to do link exchanges or anything shady. I just want some legitimate ways that I can direct a little bit more traffic to my site. How do I do that?
Provide content that people value, and the links will come naturally. This is the slow, free way to drive traffic over time.
If you have some particularly valuable or interesting content, submit it to news organizations that relate to your content (Slashdot is a good example for technology content). If they pick up your content it will help to drive traffic.
Participate in public forums and message boards (sort of like this one ) and people who value your input will visit your site and potentially link to it (hint, hint!).
If you want traffic NOW, you can purchase advertising in a number of places including Google, Facebook, and many other high-traffic sites that will be happy to drive traffic. This is the quick, expensive way to get traffic fast.
Place a Facebook "Like" button on your key pages so users can share them on Facebook
Place a retweet button on your key pages so users can tweet about them
Put a Google +1 button on your pages so people in your network can see you like those pages
If you publish content on a regular basis offer an RSS feed of that content
If your content allows for it, offer other webmasters the opportunity to place a widget provided by you on their website. This will get both users to visit your site and a backlink from that site.
Always ensure your content is fresh and updated often. Then use RSS and other syndication methods to allow others to embedd your content into their site.
Widgets for other peoples sites can help draw traffic without seeming too much like an add. If you can think of an innovative way to attach other people's sites to yours so that value is added to both the attacher and attachee then you are ahead of the game.
Maybe try partnering with sites that are not competitors and in the same user demographic, see if you have help eachother grow by cross linking.
I would also suggest you register your site with Stumbleupon, I have found that people do visit through those links. Keeping them there is your responsibility.
Additionally, I've used ProjectWonderful.com for some really low-cost advertising. You can bid pennies and dimes on sites related to your content. You can host a PW adspace, and other people can bid against each other to advertise on your site. (You can either approve them one by one or set up some exceptions and let the service screen for you. The money you earn on your ads can go into buying more ads.
It's worth checking out.
It depends a lot on the type of site you have and what you're willing to spend.
If you have a commercial site it may be worth it to you purchase advertising space such as Google Adwords. If you target the proper keywords and/or advertise on the right sites this can greatly increase your daily traffic. Of course, this comes at a price so you have to make sure the ROI is there.
For gaining unpaid traffic from search engines (aka SEO) the key is getting links from other sites, especially more influential sites. There are a number of clean and legit ways to accomplish this such as guest posts, using industry/press connections and so forth. There are also a lot of less than clean and legit ways to do this as well but those are best left for sites you don't intend to keep long term.
Social networking via Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, StumbleUpon and so forth may work for you as well. How well depends a lot on your site. For example, a site about people/pets doing stupid stuff is going to have more success in this area than one about natural athletes foot cures.
Lastly, online community involvement helps a lot. For example, being involved in online forums on your topic can drive traffic and, for a commercial site, customers. This not only will get you links but traffic directly from the site(s) in question. Of course, you can just walk in and start spamming/promoting, you have to actively participate.
- Google+ is becoming influential in determining traffic to your site. The authors, users (if it is a blog) should have a google+ profile page. Alternatively you can create a team google + page and have all the post attributed to that user
- Use alternative SEO title in your pages and post. Users search for varying keywords and having a slight different title can help your site in search engines
- Every content you produce, make sure to share it. No point producing high quality content if no one reads it.