Say for example I have a website that has finished BETA and is ready for full launch. I'm at the stage now I want it to be very visible to start getting traffic. Right now, I am just getting some random search engine hits, word of mouth and a few referrals.

How do I break out of this and really get some serious traffic to my site? Do I need to launch a huge ad-campaign? If so, what is the best/most cost effective way to do this? I have tried google adwords but at $0.45+ a click this just isn't practical for what I have.

  • 2
    If you're paying .45 a click, you're probably doing it wrong. Though I assume that was an exaggeration.
    – Kzqai
    Commented Jul 19, 2011 at 17:33

4 Answers 4


You have no control over whether or not a website, or anything, goes viral. Going viral is a phenomena where something gets insanely popular for (usually) no apparent reason. Anyone advertising a product/service/website hopes their ad and product go viral but it happening is out of their control. It's more a freak occurance then a created result.

How you get traffic to your website will vary on the website and its target audience. Without knowing that it's hard to give specific recommendations. But some generalizations that you may wish to try include:

  • Search advertising (Adwords) - If the genre your site is in is very competitive avoid the common search terms and go for long tail searches. Your costs will be lower and your ads will be even better targeted and result in a higher conversion rate.
  • Paid advertising on related websites - Putting a text or banner ad on a related website will promote your site to your target audience. If you advertise on a popular website this can drive a lot of traffic to your site and may be less costly then Adwords.-
  • Participate in forums and communities related to your topic. Do not spam them. Participate as a regular contributer and be sure to put your website in your signature. Assuming you are a regular participant and offer good contributions the other members will be likely to visit your link. (digitalpoint.com forums got started this way by participating at sitepoint.com forums).-
  • Comment on related blogs - Similar to above but you comment on related blogs. Once again, do not spam them and offer good contributions.-
  • Attempt to get a related website to review your website and publish the results on their website - This basically amounts to free advertising assuming your website is good and they review it as such.

Directory submissions should be done but they won't really drive any traffic to your website. Using social networks can be done as well, but don't expect too much from them either (but definitely have a twitter account so you can follow any talk about your website).

And, as always, be patient. Sites don't get popular overnight. It takes time to get the word out and build up a following. Good websites are eventually rewarded with good traffic.

  • 1
    +1 for long tail keywords, it takes a little bit of work to figure out which ones are good long tail ones, but it keeps the price for a digital bit of text down. And the "website in forum signatures & comments" thing has worked well in my experience as well.
    – Kzqai
    Commented Jul 19, 2011 at 17:41

For a website to go viral it will help if you tick a few boxes in the human psyche.

1. Is the site easy to use? If the user has to think about how to use it, they won't tell anyone about it. Make sure the site is accessible.

2. Does the user get a sense of satisfaction from using the site? If the user doesn't feel good using the site, they won't tell anyone else about it.

3. Is there a compelling reason for them to come back to the site? If the user has got all they need from the site in one visit, they will not bookmark it and will then forget it.

4. Is it easy for them to spread the word? Don't expect anyone to go out of their way to tell anyone else about the site. Why would they want other to know about the site? Is it easy for them to tweet / blog / talk about what your site does? Is it clear what the site is about?


There's an interesting service called LaunchRock that you can use as a "landing page" to help your pre-launch site go viral. (see it in action)

It provides a signup page for you that visitors can drop their email into to be notified when you go live.

If you combine this with some word of mouth advertizing, tweet about it on Twitter, share it on Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn (if business related) etc. you should be able to attract some interest.

It is also handy if you have a 1-liner story about your site so users know what they are signing up for: e.g. "The best social TV geolocation sharing site - coming soon"(*)

Also consider providing additional incentive to sign up early - e.g. special treatment/discount offers of some kind if you sign up before date X.

Finally, when you do go live, you'll be able to broadcast your launch to many people - which depending on the social interaction required for your sites success... may be very helpful... if you need that "Critical Mass" to get conversations off the ground.

Even if you don't use the LaunchRock service, I'd recommend rolling your own signup page before launch.

(*) ok, totally made up buzzword fluff but you get the point.

Note: I have no affiliation with LaunchRock (or the sample site using it), but I too am hoping to use the service to launch my own site.


I think you DO have control over your site going viral -- at least in the sense that you can optimize everything you can about your site and then be proactive about using all your resources to help make sure your site succeeds.

One relatively easy thing to try is submitting your site to sites that feature startup websites. I submitted my social language learning site to several startup type blogs/review sites. That led to some limited traffic but nothing substantial. Then one day all of a sudden I had people signing up like crazy. Luckily I had already upgraded the server in case something like this happened. I looked at the analytics account and figured out that a popular tech site in Spain featured my site. I had sent an email to the site owner earlier and I guess he liked my site. The number of new visitors died down over the next week or so but new users kept trickling in via word-of-mouth, and then later all of a sudden new users started signing up like crazy again. This time, analytics could not provide a site they were coming from, but I noticed the users were geographically clustered in Colombia. As it turns out, my site was featured on the nightly news there.

So now my site has had two mini-viral episodes. This has obviously had a trickle down effect as friends invite friends. Now I just need to figure out how I can get the same thing to happen in some English speaking countries. But, at least in my experience, being proactive will improve your chances of going viral.

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