Creating a website, finding the perfect layout and then filling it with content is challenging for any beginner, but it's only the start for dedicated webmasters. Whether you are hoping to simply share some knowledge or have dreams of making millions online, even the best content and marketing will go to waste if no one reads it. There are many ways to bring traffic to a website, some more successful than others.

Most fall under the broad term "search engine optimization", or SEO. With the right strategy and a few hours of work, your website will have more visitors than ever before.

What is SEO?

Search engine optimization is, ironically, one of the most searched-for and written-about terms on the Internet. The idea of making money from the comfort of home is something very few people can resist learning about. As such, there are thousands, if not millions, of articles, programs and self-proclaimed experts willing to sell you the secret to rocketing to the top of the search engine rankings. In reality, the basics of SEO are easy to understand and utilize. As you become more confident and your website expands, you may want to purchase SEO software to help you fine tune your performance, but for now you can improve your site's ranking by following a few simple rules.

Using Keywords

Keywords are the phrases that tell Google and other search engines what your site is about. They determine which searches return a page of your website, and in part how highly that page ranks. Doing keyword research before writing a blog post or completing a page can help drive traffic more strongly than working off the top of your head. Google offers a free keyword tool, although there are more accurate ones available elsewhere. Don't use keywords too often, however, as keyword stuffing is more likely to be punished than rewarded. Try to work them in naturally and Google's bots will pick them up with no difficulty.

A Beginner's Guide to Bringing Traffic to Your Website

Building Links

Keywords help Google determine the content of a website, but it's back-links that give the search engine an idea of quality. Google believes that a website with many links pointing to it from other highly-ranked sites should be valuable to its users. Recently, in an effort to curb abuse of this system, Google has begun cracking down on poor back-links. Don't fall victim to people who claim that they can get you thousands of links for a low, low price. Guest posting on other blogs or submitting to high-quality article directories are now the best ways to improve your website's profile without drawing Google's wrath.

Joining the Community

If your SEO is strong, you'll start seeing a trickle of visitors every day. That trickle should grow larger and larger, until you are seeing reliable traffic and begin to gain a reputation within your particular niche. SEO makes for a strong base, but lasting growth requires active involvement in your website topic's community. Leave comments on blogs that are similar to yours, and email their owners about writing a guest post. Always be informed, friendly and helpful, and you'll soon become a staple in your niche that others are happy to refer their own readers to. At this point, the SEO efforts of others will actually help fuel the popularity of your own site.

Keeping Subscribers

A continuous supply of new readers is necessary for the survival of most websites, but if every viewer takes one look at your home page and hits the back button, you will eventually run out of visitors. Keep up a steady stream of fresh content, and don't let the appeal of monetizing tempt you into forgetting that readers want useful information first and foremost. Use social media and newsletters to help your subscribers keep track of new posts or offers. Try to leave posts that encourage comments, and with any luck you'll cultivate a loyal following who will keep your pages active and spread the word to other interested individuals.

The business of running a website, even just for fun, is enough to make a person's head spin.

Take everything slowly, master one thing at a time and don't make the mistake of expecting to become an overnight success. The good news is that, no matter who you are, someone less intelligent than you has already mastered SEO and built a thriving site that generates a respectable income. You have the ability to succeed; the only question is whether or not you have the motivation.