Traffic is the lifeblood of the Internet and traffic generation is what drives Internet marketing.

A website on its own is like a store at the wrong end of a one-way street: it can be the most wonderful thing that you can possibly create, but with no passing trade the sound of the tumbleweed will be louder than that of the cash register.

Search engine optimization is mainly done to entice Google to send your site free traffic from its natural searches, but search engine traffic isn’t the only game in town. There are lots of other ways to get people to visit your site.

There is an ongoing argument among the expert marketers – which is more important, getting traffic or converting that traffic into paying customers? On the one hand you can’t convert what you don’t have, but on the other, all the traffic in the world is useless if it doesn’t turn into buyers.

The reality is that they are not at odds at all – they are simply two sides of the same coin.

It should be simple. Go and tell people about your whizzy new website and they’ll come take a look. It is called advertising. Unfortunately it isn’t that easy – or simple. You can tell how hard it really is by taking a quick look inside any of the big Internet marketing forums. There you’ll find people constantly complaining that Internet marketing doesn’t work and that they’ve wasted years doing everything they were told, building the exact sites that the guru’s methods told them to; and yet they still failed to make any money.

When you scratch under the surface you almost always find that yes, they did do everything right, but the methods they were taught fell short at the important part. They were told to build sites. They were tutored in some of the most effective online marketing strategies, but they were not told that the site building was only the beginning. Traffic generation is the ongoing, never-ending process that only starts when the website is finished.

So, doing great on and off page SEO to claim high Google rankings that will send free traffic your way is still and will probably always remain the #1 traffic generation method. But it isn’t the only one.

The second most effective way to keep that traffic flowing is to build a list. Too many Internet marketers forget that the cost in time, money and effort of getting a person to visit your site can be quite substantial. So it is crazy to let someone visit your site, do nothing while they are there and then leave. That’s a total waste.

Every website should have some means of capturing the email address and name of at least some of those ‘lost’ visitors so that you can hopefully persuade them to stop by again at a later date.

Once you have their contact details, by means of an opt in form on your site that is linked to an autoresponder, you don’t have to pay an acquisition cost for them ever again. Each time you email them with a new enticement to come back to your site they are your own free traffic generated by you.

The third favorite traffic generation strategy is currently article marketing. Writing articles that other people can use on their websites may sound odd, but in practice it can be very effective. The deal is that when they use your article they agree to display a short ad below it – called your resource box – that you write in such a way as to make clicking a link through to your site an attractive proposition.

Each article you write may only generate a few clicks, but get enough of them out there working for you and you’ll build up a steady stream of traffic that you’ll never be able to turn off.

Article marketing isn’t as effective a traffic generation method as it once was, but many Internet marketers still swear by it and base their entire traffic generation strategies on it.

Generating a constant flow of traffic is where your online business starts and ends. Learning its importance and how to do it in the most effective ways is what separates the people who complain that Internet marketing doesn’t work for them from those of us who make a great living.