Web 2.0 and Web marketing is a match made in heaven. There are many ways to create traffic to your website using the power of Web 2.0. Below I am going to examine what I consider to be the top five.
Jack Humphrey, a well-known Web 2.0 expert, defines it this way in his Authority Black Book:
Generally speaking, if people can submit links to content, submit content, make comments and vote good/bad content up/down thus affecting the amount of traffic that content can generate, it's Web 2.0.
Blogs, wikis, file sharing sites, content rating systems, book-marking sites, and social networking sites are all examples of Web 2.0. Some of the more well-known Web 2.0 sites are YouTube (file sharing), Facebook and MySpace (social networking), Wikipedia (wiki), del.icio.us (book-marking) and Digg (content rating system). The list is almost endless, and the traffic that these websites generate is absolutely staggering.
So how can you harness some of this traffic?
1) Create original, quality and compelling content and submit them to Web 2.0 websites.
For example, if you write an original and compelling article, you can submit it to content sharing and content rating system websites such as Digg, Propeller, Newsvine, MarkTD or Reddit. Sometimes content sharing and content rating system websites specialize in a particular industry. MarkTD specializes in marketing, for example.
When you submit your article to these sites, people will give it a vote, and each vote moves the article up where it can be seen by more and more people. This has the potential of creating a lot of traffic for your website since each reader will need to click on the link to go to your site to read the full article. And you're building a permanent link pointing to your website that can be followed for months and years to come. (And don't forget, a link from a quality site to your website helps in your search engine rankings too.)
Or you can create an original video and submit it to YouTube. Here it will get rated and possibly seen by many people. If the video contains your website or a plug for your business, then all the better. YouTube is not the only video sharing website however. There are many, and one video can be submitted to them all. This same concept applies to your original images, photographs, digital art and audio files.
2) Web 2.0-ize other people's sites that contain a link back to your website
I'll assume you already know how your bookmarks (or Favorites) work in your browser. There are websites that exist that act in the same way, but the bookmarks you set are public. Del.icio.us was one of the first and a very popular example of this.
People's public bookmarks are browsed by others and lead to clicks to the sites you've bookmarked. So be sure to bookmark your business website and inner pages that are important. Also, these bookmarks can appear in search results in engines like Google and Yahoo.
And some even think that search engines use book-marking sites in their algorithms, although this has not been conclusively proven. Simpy and BlinkList are two more examples of these kinds of Web 2.0 book-marking sites.
Let's say you write an original, quality article and post it to your business website. Then let's say you submit the article to a handful of content rating websites like some of the ones explained above.
To further market this article, you can then use social book-marking sites to bookmark the page on the content rating websites that list your new article and that contain a link back to your article. This can be very powerful.
Or let's say you notice that an authority in your industry has a link on its website that points back to your website. Go ahead and bookmark the page on the authority site, thus marketing it, which in turn markets your site as well. One particular Web 2.0 website that is very popular and can generate tons of traffic is StumbleUpon. This site allows people to give any page you deem worthy a "thumbs-up".
And if you get enough "thumbs-up", people browsing StumbleUpon will see it and click over to that page. So I always make it a point to "Stumble" my business websites' homepages and sites that contain links to my business websites as well.
If you become an active member in a handful of Web 2.0 websites and utilize these first two suggestions alone, you will be amazed at the kind of traffic you can generate.
3) Engage in the conversations and activities
When I suggest above to become an active member I mean that you need to visit a few of your favorite Web 2.0 sites on a regular basis and actually contribute to the site with your opinions, votes, comments and submissions.
For instance, if you like Digg or Newsvine, visit them often and submit quality articles, content and sites to them. And they don't all have to be your sites. In fact, the more impartial you are, the more people will trust you when you submit one of your articles. And you ought to vote for other people's Digg submissions as well.
You may enjoy Facebook, Linkedin or MySpace. First, create a profile on the site, then go out and make connections within the community. The more you do this, the more you can harness the power of the people you meet to help market your website or yourself.
Visit and comment on blogs in your industry. This is another tried and true way to engage in the online conversation. Blogs are Web 2.0 and have been around for a while now. Unfortunately, leaving blog comments has been abused by so many people that you absolutely must only leave blog comments that contribute to the overall blog post.
Only add your website's link if you're asked to. These links won't help your search engine rankings but can drive traffic to your site.
4) Encourage visitors to bookmark and tag your content
If you have a blog, add a feature that shows up at the end of every post that allows users to bookmark or submit your post to other Web 2.0 websites. 'Share This' is just such a blog add-on (or plug-in) that can do this for you.
If you have a Wordpress blog you'll be able to find a plug-in that allows you to integrate this type of feature (including Share This) into your blog very easily and without the need for any technical knowledge. If you write a memorable or compelling post, people can use this to make bookmarks to the post, Stumble it, Digg it and so forth. All of this can lead to more traffic.
5) Add a Web 2.0 feature to your website
First of all, your business website needs a blog. If you don't have one, then stop reading this and go to it. A blog provides you and your employees an easy way to post new information that is relevant to your business and helpful to your customers. And it allows your customers to easily communicate with you by leaving comments.
But beyond a blog, what other Web 2.0 features can you add to your website? If you're selling products, consider adding in a feature that allows customers to rate each product. It can be something as simple as one to five stars or more elaborate where they leave reviews.
Amazon does this and it one of the major driving forces in their sales. When potential customers see that your products are rated by existing customers, they'll be more likely to trust you and buy.
You could add a wiki to your website. A wiki is software that allows users to freely create and edit Web page content.
By encouraging your website visitors to create content for you, you're allowing your site to grow and become more informative, thus creating more chances to be found in search engines. These features can be found as third-party software packages and integrated into your existing website surprisingly easily.
The power of Web 2.0 is substantial. It's time you begin to harness its potential and by following these five suggestions, you'll be well on your way. See JackHumphrey.com for a great list to start with.
About The Author - Jason O'Connor is the owner of The Net Gazette, a free newsletter that teaches Web professionals all about Web design, development and Web marketing.