Driving traffic might be a cakewalk for experienced internet marketers, but what if you’re new to building websites or stuck in a rut and looking for more ways to get people to your site?
Over the past few years, building relationships with people in and around your niche has become an important part of generating traffic. No longer can we rely on Google and other search engines to do the work for us. We have to get out there and do it ourselves.
Most of my tips involve getting to know people, sharing content and using social media platforms to generate traffic. There’s a mix of short- and long-term strategies that work across a broad spectrum of niches which you can put into action right now. Go through the list and start with the ones you think will work best for you; after that, take another look and see where else you can go.
Never Stop Optimizing Your Website
Your long-term goal should be free traffic from search engines. If you produce high-quality content (the best out there) that provides a positive user experience and answers the searcher’s query, Google will reward you with traffic. Just don’t expect it to happen overnight. Here’s how you can improve your search engine traffic:
- Write attention grabbing headlines, so when your pages show up in the search results, people just have to click.
- Utilize the meta description tag. Use it to entice people to click your link rather than the ones around you.
- When people land on your site, keep them there by interlinking your content (find out more about this in our tutorial: 7 Powerful SEO Tips for WordPress Blogs). You’ll be surprised how well this works if you do it properly.
- Start a mailing list and encourage people to join. Try giving away something truly desirable to get people to share their email address with you. How about an iPhone? Build relationships with the people on your list and you’ll have traffic from it for a long time to come.
There’s a wealth of information about SEO online. Sure, some of it’s confusing and probably makes your head hurt, but I encourage you to not look too deeply into it. Just learn about optimizing your pages/site, keyword research and improving the user experience.
Ignore manual link building and everything that might get you into trouble. Instead, network and promote your content in a way that generates links naturally. In the long-term, it’s a better strategy than buying links, guest posting for SEO and creating private blog networks.
Get Active on Social Media
To protect your brand, create an account on each of the major social media sites – and if there’s a network or two specifically for your niche, get on those too.
You don’t have to use them all right now; in fact, it’s a good idea to put all your efforts into the two your target audience uses most. This way you won’t suffer burn-out or spread yourself too thin.
Promoting your site through Twitter will generate traffic. Quite how much depends on a lot of factors including: number of followers, timing, calls to action, imagery (or lack of), and trust.
If you’re just starting out on Twitter, don’t expect too much until you have a lot of followers (or a small amount of hardcore devotees). Work on building trust and growing your network. Relationships play an important part in social media.
Here are a few ideas for generating traffic from Twitter:
- Regularly share your own content. Use a URL shortener like bit.ly to create short URLs that you can use in your tweets and monitor clicks. Some people post every few minutes, some every few hours. Find a level you’re comfortable with and stick at it for a few days to one week, then review and revise.
- Use attention grabbing headlines and calls to action that people just want to click.
- Use hashtags for major keywords so your tweets show up in Twitter’s search results.
- Post an image with your tweet to grab attention. Tweets with images stand out a lot more than tweets without images.
- Mention people in your tweet to get their attention using @username. Don’t overdo this or you will annoy people.
- Use tools like Hootsuite or Buffer to send tweets when you’re asleep. This helps you cover all timezones.
- Don’t rely on fully automating your Twitter account; use it in ‘real-time’ whenever you can (within reason, it’s a real time-suck).
- Use Twitter’s search function to find people tweeting about your niche. If you have a solution to their problem, send them a tweet and a link to your solution (a page on your site).
- Retweet other people’s content so you get noticed. They may return the favor when you tweet about a new post on your site.
- Write a great profile and be sure to add a link to your site in the appropriate field.
The organic reach for Facebook posts through a website’s ‘page’ seems to be declining more each week – for some that means ignoring the site altogether. However, you can still get traffic from Facebook:
- Share your posts through your personal account so that your friends and family see them. If you’re worried about being so open or annoying some of your pals, create a custom list and populate it with your like-minded friends and share it with those people instead.
- Share your posts through your personal account, change the setting to public and add a couple of hashtags.
- If you don’t have one, create a Facebook page for your site and share your content through it. Yes, the organic reach isn’t what it once was, and yes, you probably won’t have any likes yet, but you’re building for the future. People find all sorts of content as they meander through Facebook.
- Get in touch with the owners of Facebook pages in a similar niche and ask them if they could share your post on their page. If they like it, there’s a good chance they’ll agree. If the page is popular, you could get a lot of traffic using this method.
- Set up a community page or group and invite people to join. Community pages and groups provide a much more interactive platform on Facebook and although you may not see traffic straight away or in great numbers, you’re building up trust and expanding your network, which you can tap into at a later date.
- Use Facebook as a personal and business network. It might mean posting less photos of your kids or your drunken weekend, but it could be the smartest business move you make. Business is all about relationships, right?
If your blog is in a niche that lends itself well to Pinterest – food, crafts, fashion to name just three – then head straight there, avoiding all other social networks as you go.
It’s common knowledge that you can get a lot of traffic from Pinterest. But again, it’s not as easy as simply stepping up and posting images. Some work better than others, so it’s matter of trial and error to see what works.
There’s a funny thing with Pinterest – your images don’t have to be high quality to get a lot of shares. Yes, it helps if they look good, but it’s more about getting your images in front of the right people than using a professional photographer and copywriter. Some helpful things to remember are:
- Create images people want to share. Use ‘portrait’ rather than ‘landscape’ and place text over the top of the image. It could be a headline or call to action. Whatever it is, entice people to click and visit your site.
- Fill out the description and include a direct link to the post.
- Add the same image to multiple boards.
- Create multiple images for the same post and share them on multiple boards.
- Join group boards (you’ll need an invitation from the board’s owner, find out more here). Once you become a member, share your content as well as other’s.
- If you’re not very good at creating graphics, use online tools like Canva and PicMonkey, which do a lot of the hard work for you.
The future of Google Plus is uncertain. A recent announcement detailed the splitting of the network into two: Photos and Streams. This could be the first of many changes, but does this mean you should ignore Google Plus? It’s hard to say for sure, but here are some tips for using Google Plus as it currently stands for generating traffic to your site.
- One of the nice things about Google Plus is being able to write as much or as little as you like. You can share your content via a short microblog, or you could write a few paragraphs and go into a lot of detail. Either way, don’t forget to include a link to your page and relevant hashtags. Good visual content works too.
- When you publish a new post you can share it publicly, with people in your circles, with a specific user using ‘+’ and their username or with email addresses. The last option in this list is a little scary because you could easily get on the wrong side of the right people. When you first start using Google Plus, use this option with caution until you know how it works. Here’s a great post from Moz that’s well worth reading.
- Join communities and share your content. To find communities worth joining, click on the Home menu on the left hand side and choose Communities. Google gives you a list of all communities or you can switch to the ‘recommended for you’ tab to find communities based on your likes and activity. Each community has its own guidelines regarding self-promotion and behavior. Be sure to read and abide by them.
- To attract attention to yourself and build up your network, you should get involved with the conversations happening in your stream. Do this by +1-ing posts, sharing with your circles and commenting.
LinkedIn is a powerful platform in the business to business sector. If you’re in this sector too, be sure to spend some time on LinkedIn. In fact, it might be the only social network you need:
- Share your own and other people’s content using the ‘Share an update’ feature.
- Mention people in your update using the ‘+’ tool.
- If you prefer to go deeper, compose a full-blown blog post and publish it through the LinkedIn Pulse platform.
You know this already, but to reiterate: guest blogging works. It might not be as powerful as it was a few years ago in terms of driving traffic to your site in huge numbers, but if you do it well and get yourself published on popular sites, it will drive traffic and it will get you noticed.
To get as much traffic as possible, you must:
- Write a post that really touches a nerve or provide an ultra-thorough ‘how to’ guide. A wishy-washy post about nothing in particular won’t cut it. Aim to take away some breath.
- Aim as high as possible and pitch to a site you know gets a ton of traffic every day. There’s little point guest posting on a site with no audience.
- Keep your pitch email short and to the point and please, make sure you check it for spelling mistakes and grammatical errors before hitting send.
- If possible, give something away (check with the site owner first). It could be free access to a course, an ebook or even a physical product you’ve made. At the end of your post, add the call to action to get people to visit your site.
- If you can’t do the giveaway, be sure to include your web address in your bio at least. Some blog editors may allow links within the body of your post.
- If one guest post isn’t enough, try becoming a regular contributor. Once you’ve built trust, you will get people visiting your site through your bio links.
- Once published, come back to the site and reply to comments.
Now it’s time to look at some of the ways you can use content to market your site and drive traffic:
- Create videos and upload them to your own channels on YouTube and/or Vimeo. Make sure the videos contain references to your domain/website/blog, and don’t forget to include a link in the page’s description area when you post it.
- Some folks disable the embed function. If you don’t mind people sharing your content and you’re using it as a promotional tool, be sure to allow embedding.
- Podcasts are very popular right now. For a long-term plan, start your own.
- In the short-term, try nailing down an interview with a popular podcast in your niche. You probably know a few already, but if you don’t, check out this chart, and this this one too. Send an email to the host to ask if they’d like to interview you. If they agree, offer something to their audience. It could be free membership to your site, a free product or even free time with you – it all depends on how you’re marketing yourself/your business.
- Create amazing content that wipes the floor with the competition. Brian Dean from Backlinko coined the phrase ‘Skyscraper Technique’ to describe this method and since doing so he’s found he gets a lot of traffic from people searching for a keyword phrase he invented (there’s another tip!). The method is very simple: find a piece of content in your niche that ranks well, create an article that’s way better, and reach out to people to tell them about it, including the people linking to the original content (ask them if they’d like to link to yours instead).
- Create microblogs on sites like Tumblr, Blogger, and WordPress.com. Write short posts, sometimes just a line or two, and post pictures and videos to news stories, blog posts and anything else of interest to the people you want to target. Occasionally, write longer posts and link to your own content. As ever, don’t spam these platforms as you could end up getting banned and your blog(s) taken down. Tumblr and WordPress are particularly fond of doing this.
- Create infographics for your niche and reach out to bloggers and website owners for shares. A good infographic can generate a lot of traffic from multiple sources.
- Create a Slideshare presentation. You can create a presentation on just about any subject and post it to Slideshare. Good ones will bring traffic to your site.
Build Relationships and Network
I’ve already mentioned this, and I’m sure you’ll read about it more and more as the clamor for free traffic from Google gets ever louder – relationships matter. If you can connect with online influencers, they have the power to send you lots of traffic over a long period of time. Not only that, the links that follow will help your site rank more highly in Google. It’s a win-win. Here are a few tips to get you started:
- Become an active member of relevant forums and communities. If you’re in the internet marketing niche, join Inbound.org.
- Comment on other people’s blogs. This method for generating traffic is tried and tested and will only work in significant numbers if you’re one of the first to reply and you say something interesting, controversial or informative. A “great post” type comment will not make you stand out above everybody else.
- Reach out to people in your niche. Tell them about a piece of content you’ve written and ask them if they’d like to see it. If they reply with a yes, send them a link and ask if they’d like to share it with their network. To make this work you must send plenty of emails. 100 plus isn’t unreasonable.
- Contact your local newspaper and ask if they’d like write a feature about your new venture. If they say yes, you get some great, free publicity.
Tap into the Power of Already Established Sites
There are a lot of sites aggregating content from around the web. They do it in all sorts of different ways. Some allow self-promotion, while others only allow you to submit content by others.
I’ll mention some you can use very shortly, but you could also use Google to track down more. If you look hard enough, I guarantee you will find plenty of suitable sites.
Before you go sharing your content on the sites you discover, it’s a good idea to research into the etiquette for each one. Doing the wrong thing can lead to your content getting buried and a hail of abuse from site members.
I’m mainly thinking of Reddit here, which has a very tight and proud community with rather strict guidelines and protocols. Stay on the good side of Reddit, and you could get a lot of traffic. Here’s a case study worth reading about the power Reddit marketing.
And a short list of sites you can use for submitting, sharing or syndicating content:
- Blog Engage
- Biz Sugar
- Networked Blogs
- Google News (read this tutorial before applying)
Well done on reaching this far!
All you have to do now is get out there and start generating traffic. It’s not going to be an easy journey. You’ll spend a lot of time working on ideas, testing solutions and figuring things out. But, if you create great content and continually grow your personal online network, the backlinks and positive user experiences people have when they visit your site will boost your organic rankings.
Your website is an asset. It’s part of your business. Treat it well, nurture it and grow your network of friends and acquaintances, and there’s no reason why you shouldn’t see a steady stream of traffic coming your way for a very long time.
Do you have any other methods for generating traffic? Please let us know in the comments section below!