We, as online marketers, have become very dependent on search engines - almost obsessed. Click prices are going up. Return on investment is getting tougher to improve. Search has become an entire industry. Companies dedicate teams.

We have our own trade shows, conferences, technologies, and specialized search firms. Has search become the king of driving online traffic? Are we trapped into playing the search engine game, if we want to drive quality traffic?

What about e-mail? What about banner ads? We all know they are less effective than search marketing. Hmmm. Let's see. How can we as online marketers drive more traffic to our Web sites without using a search engine?

Here are a few ideas to drive traffic without an engine and still improve natural rankings:

Blogs: Blogs are highly effective in building links of relevant, optimized pages. Blogs can increase your link popularity and link relevancy, thereby increasing natural rankings. Blogs can be used for marketing, informational, and research purposes, and drive traffic to specific landing pages on your site. To optimize the effects of blogs, I recommend developing 10 blogs ("Blogset") with unique content updated three times a week with at least 250 words per entry that are keyword specific to the target keyword. If you did this, then after one month, 120 optimized Web pages (individual posts) of links will be directed to your target pages. (10 blogs times three posts/week times four weeks).

Press Releases: Use a resource like PRweb to create press releases that are optimized for the search engines. If you use SEO copywriting to write your release, then you could drive more quality searches to your site than a whole month of paid searches on the search engines. An average press release on PRweb can attain over 70,000 reads in a very short period of time.

Creative Public Relations: GoldenPalace.com did a great job last year when it bought the Virgin Mary grilled cheese sandwich for $28,000. Did they really buy it? Yes. Did they buy it for $28,000. Yes. Did it cost them $28,000? No. How'd they do it? Here's how their PR genius works: My guess is that they made the sandwich themselves. Yummy. They made a big announcement about it. Created a fictitious name as the owner of the sandwich, then put it on eBay. GoldenPalace wins the auction, pays themselves the $28,000, and only pays eBay the fees for selling it. Pretty amazing PR.

Viral Marketing: For great examples of viral marketing, just take a look at Subservientchicken.com , or Asksnoop.com. Custom online games have the same effect. People send these links to their family, friends, and co-workers. Thousands upon thousands of people will click through to your site, and if they didn't know about you before the campaign, now they sure do.

Article Submissions: Article submissions to "submit article" sites are a great way to build links. Write a great article with your link. Why do other sites want your article? For the content, of course. As long as the article is optimized for search, after one month, it is possible that you could have over 300 relevant sites linking to your desired Web page.

As online marketers, it behooves us to seek out additional ways to drive traffic. Since natural traffic accounts for roughly 70 percent of all the search engine clicks, it also benefits us to search for ways to increase our natural listings. If done correctly, utilizing some or all of the above techniques can immediately increase your traffic, and will incidentally increase your natural rankings.

Shimon Sandler is a professional interactive marketing manager. He can be reached at www.shimonsandler.com.