When you’ve put a lot of work into developing your website, you naturally want people to visit it – but that’s not going to happen by itself. Attracting and retaining visitors can be quite a challenge. Far too many people end up exhausting themselves by making a lot of effort to no avail. The trick to successfully building up your website readership isn’t about working hard – it’s about working smart. These four tips will help.

Make it quick and easy

Most people surfing the web don’t stay on any one site for very long at all. They usually take just eight seconds to decide whether or not a site is interesting to them before choosing to stay or go. This means that if your site takes eight seconds to load, you can forget about it. Keep it simple and lean. Video content is great if it can be started up quickly, but if it starts automatically, then it’s likely to put off a lot of people. Pictures tell visitors about the character of your site much faster than words do. Keep your first paragraph snappy or just use a tagline to tell visitors who you are.

Make it useful or beautiful

William Morris famously said: “Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” The same is true online – after all, when there’s so much content out there to choose from, why would people settle for less? Think about what you have to offer. If you’re a business, then provide information, tips or resources that might help somebody with an interest in the sort of work you do. Give your site personality – you can’t afford to be generic.

Get connected

To get people to visit your site, you’re going to need it to be visible elsewhere. Gone are the days when you could use link farms without penalty. Today, your best option is to attract press coverage of your site or use a guest blog post service to generate high-quality external links so that people will read about you in relevant contexts and click through to your site. Well-managed links like this will also increase your search engine rankings.

Be social media-savvy

Social media provides a great way to promote your site, but it’s important to remember that time is money – if you’re spending all your time on it, then it’s not really free. Instead of posting at random on lots of different platforms, work on building up a following on a popular platform such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or Pinterest – whatever suits your site best – and make regular posts that link to new content on your site. Aim to create shareable content so that your followers will, in effect, promote your site for you.

Once your readership starts growing, you’ll find it easier to grow it further. Focusing on the quality of material on your site and making frequent updates will encourage your readers to keep coming back and improve your search engine ranking, attracting still more.