Presumably you have a website because you want people to visit it. Visitors are traffic. And generating a constant flow of fresh traffic, both unique and repeat visitors, will take up more of your energies than probably any other website-related task, including website maintenance and sales. It is with this imperative in mind that web hosting companies have begun offering their customers assistance in generating that traffic.
One of the most basic and common ways that web hosting companies help you get traffic to your site is by offering to submit your URL for you to the major search engines, such as Google or Ask Jeeves, for free. While this is certainly a nice convenience, submitting your URL to the major search engines is already free and doesn't take all that much time. So to impress you with their traffic generating wiles, a web hosting company is going to have to do more than just this.
That said, some web hosting companies include with their free URL submission services, free submission not only to search engines but to directory websites (web portals), classified pages, and blogs. That's a bit more useful, as your time can be much better spent. Just make sure you know exactly where the web hosting company does submit your URL to and where it does not.
And it's not as simple as submitting your URL once to each place and leaving it at that. To remain competitive (not to mention relevant), you'll need to resubmit your URL to each place on a recurring basis. Conversely, however, it is frowned upon and may even be detrimental to your traffic-generating efforts, to resubmit your site too often or too frequently. If your web hosting company offers free URL submission services, find out how often they resubmit it to each place and what guidelines they use to set their submission schedule.
Search Engine Optimization
Many web hosting companies offer free Search Engine Optimization tools and tips with their web hosting services. The object of SEO is to catapult your free listings on the major search engines to the top of the first page of results for your chosen keywords. There are a number of excellent methods for using SEO to dramatically increase traffic to your website, including website review and SEO analysis, keyword and keyword phrase suggestion and selection, and header/footer/meta-tag generation.
Any web hosting company that offers free SEO tools with their web hosting packages is well worth considering.
Web hosting companies may also offer Reciprocal Linking services, where they help you find other sites that already receive the targeted traffic you desire and arrange to post a link to each other's site on your own respective sites. This is another of the most effective and beneficial free forms of targeted lead generation. If a web hosting company offers you free reciprocal linking assistance, it's a definite plus.
Tracking and Reports
Quite possibly the most valuable traffic tool a web hosting company can provide you is tracking. And simple click tracking (tracking how many clicks your homepage/landing page gets) isn't enough. You want to know and compare the number of unique visitors and repeat visitors. You want to know the paths visitors took clicking through your site. And you want to know your conversion rate, or how many of each type of visit resulted in a signup or a sale.
The best web hosting companies won't merely track these statistics for you, but they'll generate reports comparing and evaluating the results and making suggestions on how to improve your traffic generating campaign.
The benefits of heavy traffic (namely: more traffic) don't come just by getting people to click to your site; you also have to keep them there. One of the best ways to hold a visitor's interest is with interesting content relevant to what they're looking for.
Many web hosting companies will help you create compelling and relevant content to post at your site which will serve to key ends; it will captivate visitors to stay at your site (and even click around to explore more of what you've got) and it will give you better and better search engine rankings.
With that in mind, don't underestimate the power of a well-designed website. People don't spend much time on a site that's unattractive, error-filled (whether textual or graphical) or difficult to navigate. At the absolute least, a web hosting company should give you a website editor/builder that helps you design the kind of website loved by search engines and visitors alike.
Hosting-Review.com is the premier resource on web hosting. Visit http://www.hosting-review.com for comprehensive reviews and rankings of over 50 web hosting providers, as well as informative articles about everything to do with hosting and the top-rated picks for different types of hosting packages.