You’ve heard the legends before: Create a tool, get it out in the internet and hordes of traffic will come in. Alternatively, create a tool, distribute it among webmasters and get thousands upon thousands of backlinks. If only reality were that easy.
Yes, it’s absolutely possible to get thousands of backlinks and visitors using tools and widgets. You’ve seen it before as you browsed plugin sites, template sites and tool sites. This tactic really works.
However, the side you don’t get to see is all the webmasters who’ve taken this path and failed. For any webmaster who’s created a tool and successfully gotten a lot of traffic, chances are there are dozens of webmasters who did the same thing and saw no results.
How can you make sure your efforts are rewarded rather than ignored?
#1 – Better or More Original Than Any Existing Tool
This is the first and most important rule. If you’re creating a tool, make sure it’s either better or more original than anything else out there.
For example, if you’re creating a Body Mass Index (BMI) calculator, take a look at all the other calculators on the market. Can you create something that’s better and more original? Can you create a calculator that gives them more stats than other calculators?
If not, then don’t do it. Your tools won’t rank in the search engines and won’t rank in tool or widget distribution websites of if you’re not original.
Don’t do “me too” tools and widgets.
#2 – Make Your Tool Viral Friendly
Make it simple and easy for people to share your tool with their friends.
Put Facebook likes and Twitter retweet buttons right on your website. Put an embed code for your tool at the bottom of your page, so anyone can embed it.
Ask people to share your content. Make it easy to invite their friends. If you can give them some sort of incentive to invite their friends, such as the ability to compare results, you’ll increase the virality of your tool.
#3 – Target Webmasters
Give your tool away to other webmasters, who can then republish the tool on their site. Do it for free.
This model strikes a lot of people as counter intuitive. After all, you’ve spent dozens if not hundreds of hours building the software. Or you’ve spend hundred or thousands of dollars getting it off the ground. Why should you give it away for free?
If you charged for it, chances are you’d make a few sales to hardcore developers, true fans or people who really need your widget. The reality is however, selling tools and plugins are very difficult.
On the other hand, if you gave it away for free, you could easily get hundreds or thousands of backlinks to your site. Make sure a link is embedded in the plugin.
These links will help you get ranked in the search engines. They’ll help you get thousands of other visitors to your site who could eventually end up buying from you.
#4 – Duplicate it on Other Platforms
Make your tool available on as many platforms as possible.
If you have it working in just plain HTML right now, write a version that other developers can use in WordPress. If right now you only have WordPress, expand to Drupal and Joomla.
If your tool is getting extremely popular, write a version for the iOS. Then write a version for the Android store.
Each time you write your tool, you tap into a different, brand new audience. As long as your tool is truly useful and original, it’ll spread, get traction and build a following no matter what platform you’re on. Each time you’ll get more backlinks, more buzz and higher rankings.
Using tools and widgets to build backlinks and get traffic is one of the most powerful yet overlooked methods of generating web traffic. It takes some experimentation to get it right, but once you do the efforts will more than pay off.