You've put in all kinds of work to make a bright, shiny new website. Problem is, it's about as popular as a Chevy Chase Show Reunion Special (that means it's really unpopular for those that don't remember the short lived ratings bomb that was the Chevy Chase Show). Certainly you could spend money advertising, but unless you have deep pockets, it's really not worthwhile (I've personally wasted a couple hundred dollars trying this route and while I saw a temporary traffic increase, it dropped back to normal almost as soon as the run of ads was over). I'm not going to lie and tell you it's easy to make a popular website, it's not. You need to put a good amount of time and energy into it if you want to have a popular site, so hopefully you're passionate about the site you're trying to popularize. If you're not passionate, then just stop reading now. Your site isn't going to be a success so save yourself the trouble.
For those of you who are still with me, I've been working on one website or another since the mid-1990's. This blog is rather new (and not yet brimming with popularity) but I have ran or been a part of several much more popular sites at one time or another throughout the years. Here's a rundown of many of the things I have learned that can help make your website a popular one too.
1. Updates updates updates
The single most important thing you can do if you want to have a popular website or blog is to update regularly. I've had times in my life where I simply do not have time to update websites I have worked on and every time the traffic numbers take a serious nosedive. And it's a lot harder to get users back once you lose them than it is to keep them in the first place. When you post often, people will check back to your site often. If all you have is the same content, people might check a few times and then figure you've given up on the site and you'll probably never see them again.
Plus the more articles you have, the more places that will link to your articles and the more often you'll appear in search engine results. One of the websites I run has over a thousand articles (six years worth of work) and it gets literally hundreds of hits each day from search engines and people clicking on links to articles from random websites and blogs.
One caveat to updating frequently is that your updates must also be reasonably good. If someone comes to your site and your article/news/blog is terrible, there is a good chance that they'll have no desire to come back (after all, who wants to keep visiting a terrible site?). And also when you write good articles, there is a lot better chance that someone else will link to them (more on that coming up).
2. Get linked
When you're a new site (or just an unpopular one), you're not going to have much of an audience to pull from. Unlike a new store in the mall, you're not just going to get random people walking by that stop in. You need to have your site linked somewhere so people can start finding it. A good way to do this is using the different link submission sites out there.
Sites like Iliketips.com, Digg.com offer more general link submissions but they're also a more general audience and it's often hard for your articles to get notices admin the thousands of other submission they receive.