You hear it every day, "I need to increase web site traffic. Seriously, dude, I need more traffic to my web site!" Okay, okay. I get it. Who doesn't? One of our partner site owners was in with me today and we were, once again, brainstorming how we could find more visitors for one of his businesses. It's never ending really.

In ecommerce, this is the task. You are either going to buy traffic through advertising, or you are going to find it organically through SEO. There is also the bigger issue of building a brand and word-of-mouth traffic, but I'm going to leave that to Chad and the marketing experts. As for PPC or SEO, neither is a cake-walk. In fact, both are extremely competitive. And these days, with the economy tanking by the minute, retail spending is way way way down. If you are following the financial news (and I don't know anyone who is not), then you know we are looking at some of the worst numbers in decades. Interestingly, this doesn't mean that your web site traffic will be lower, but I know that conversion will be. I'm not sure people will stop browsing. They might keep their browsing habits because, well, window shopping can be fun for the consumer-obsessed. But, I know that this economic turmoil will make people think twice before putting the cash down.

So you're reading this because you need to increase web site traffic to your business. And I'm not really helping to this point because all I'm doing is pointing out how bad things are. Well, maybe that is really helping. First things first. And hear this clearly: There is no magic bullet when it comes to bringing qualified traffic to your site. As in life, anything that is valuable is a bit difficult. Again, not what you want to hear.

Ah, but it's what you need to hear. The serious business folks, such as those who spend over $10,000 per month on Internet advertising, won't be reading this blog entry. Why? Because they already know how to increase web site traffic to their business. They do this by spending more. Have you ever heard of a business without an advertising budget? Doesn't happen. At least not much. So I'm sitting here wondering if what you really wanted to search on was "I want more traffic to my web site but don't want to pay for it." Am I wrong?

This is the allure of organic search traffic. Seems like the almighty Google could just bring the people to your site for free. How awesome? You just need to learn this SEO thing and I'll be set. Easy street. Work from a mountain top somewhere. (Another unpleasant message upcoming...) News flash! Other people have already figured that out. As with all efficient markets, the laws of supply and demand quickly work to plug any holes in the system and bring the world back to equilibrium through the "invisible hand." You have two possible reactions at this point. 1) Get discouraged and find one of the thousands of sites that will tell you how easy SEO is if you just pay $299 for their e-book (read: Big rip off). Or 2) Realize this is going to be a little harder than you thought, but thank me for speaking honestly before you wasted money paying for 500 directory submissions for $199 (that doesn't work either).

Yes, the lucrative nature of organic search traffic brought about an entire new industry (SEO) and along with it entire outfits that hire inexpensive labor in India to blog away, link build, and every other activity you could think of that is vaguely related to the SEO algorithm in use at Google. In response, Google has incorporated some amazingly advanced anti-spam tools into their algo to keep their search databases filled with quality sites (like the one you found here today :-) from those that are really unfit for public consumption. Cat and mouse. It seems to play out over and over through history. I could go on and on (haven't I already?).

So, long story short. I respect your need to increase web site traffic. I really do. I've been in that chair. I understand. But you need to realize just how many people are thinking that very same thing. It's staggering. And the number of web sites on page 1 of Google is still only 10. Think that through. It will lead to some really simple logical conclusions:

1) The days of easy organic traffic via easy SEO are over.

2) Any serious SEO campaign requires a budget and time. SEO is not quick.

3) Any serious business needs a pay-per-click advertising budget in addition to SEO.

4) This is complicated stuff. Unless you've spent years doing it, you should hire a team that has.

I don't know what it is about Internet Marketing that brings out the "do-it-yourselfer" in everybody, but there seems to be a perspective that if I only take a quick SEO course for Network Solutions (only $199) I will know what I need to adjust my title tags and I'll be set. Again, new industries are full of miss-information and snake-oil salesmen. If you are in doubt, just get back the basics. Nothing in life is easy. There is no free lunch. If something in business was that easy, wouldn't everybody be successful doing it? If that secret method / formula was working so well, why would it be for sale?