There are a variety of ways to get traffic to a blog. I thought it’s only fair to touch on all the ways that I currently know of to get traffic, and how to promote a website.
Think that design doesn’t matter to your website? Wrong. There are millions of other sites out there already, so what makes you any different?
Well you could differentiate your content, but when you are starting a new site out, the design will be what separates you from the crowd, because your content will be light or non existant. Hire a good freelance designer if you can. It will pay off for you in the long run rather than having a cobbled together DIY approach to your site.
So what has that got to do with website traffic? As it turns out quite a bit. A good design will get you off to a flying start, by gaining numerous backlinks from the CSS galleries. Running on WordPress? Loren Baker has a couple of resources to submit your WordPress blog to gain backlinks.
People also love to link to visual bits and bobs. The CSS gallery article that I wrote has virtually no images in it. I wrote it way back when I was starting to promote my site, but on reflection I should go back and take a screenshot for every one of the galleries listed. Doing so would bulk it out, and make it high impact. So think about the design of your post before you hit that publish button, it may be the difference between getting a backlink or not.
Are you a Flickr user? Alot of people hoard their photos and don’t upload them in case someone steals the photo – I prefer to put my images up there under creative common’s licensing, and hope that other blogger use them with attribution. Editing the photo description, and including a link back to my site, may help to pass some link juice back.
So whilst I don’t have a great load of photos up there, it makes sense to properly tag them so they’ll be found in searches, and to go through and add my website domain name to each description.
Directories have fallen out of favour with many, simply because alot of them are rubbish. However it still makes sense to get listed in directories such as Dmoz and Yahoo.These are syndicated across the web, and this can give you a small boost in website rankings.
It’s worth mentioning social media directories which have recently popped up. Kevin Rose has launched WeFollow for categorizing Twitter users, and Twellow works in the same sort of way. Listing yourself in these sort of directories can increase the exposure of your brand, and in a round about way, this will promote your website as people clickthrough from your Twitter profile.
Promoting other people
You’ll notice that I promote some of my social profiles on this site – and I do my best when I see an opportunity to drop these profiles around the web. Increasing page rank to these, will pass link juice through to your own.
If you gain a backlink on someone else’s website – it makes sense to promote their work. You will gain the exposure as the result. I’ve recently has some nice traffic from DesignRiviver – I was the first to submit to Digg and Delicious, (which went popular) – and I benefitted as a result. I also submitted it to my twitter stream, which got a viral retweet, and further increased my followers.
Win win, share the love with the people who link to you.
The bigger your twitter following, the more traffic you can push towards your site on demand, when people are online. If you work at providing value to your followers, then your twitter following will grow. Simple.
There are plenty of “experts” out there who claim to know how to get more twitter followers at the drop of a hat. (40,000 articles and counting). You can go and Google those if you so desire. I prefer to just provide value, keep it real and connect with people. Everything else will follow.
Another useful tip is to setup keywords and terms for each of your posts than can be twitter searched. Use something like my brand monitoring post to monitor these. For example, I’ve written posts before on content management systems, so I twitter search for “looking for cms” – then Tweet my link at the people who are interested. I think this would be a great WordPress plugin, which allows you to define your blog posts as a series of questions, then lets Twitter users know you have a post on that topic.
As Justin has pointed out, the mantra of content is king is getting a bit tired. But it still plays a pivotal role in social promotion of content.
There are a variety of strategies you can use with content to promote a website. You can go down the volume method, and pump out loads of posts per week – probably not an option for one author sites, or you can go down the quality over quantity method and gain authority.
The other alternative is to use list bait, which works for sites such as Speckyboy. I guess there’s nothing wrong with this as it works (these posts gain loads of links when properly promoted), however you have to ask whether the world really needs another 25 Inspirational photos or 3 million firefox plugins post. I’ve bitched about this before.
My own method is to try a combination of all of these, and see what my visitors want. This is your opportunity to speak up now in the comments.
If you are a blogger or even if you are not, blog comments are a great way of building authority around a chosen subject area. Effectively everytime you comment on a blog post, you are providing additional search engine exposure to the author – i.e. New content. So make it count, and it stands a much better chance of not being assigned to the great big Akismet in the Sky.
If you are just going after links – think again. The majority of WordPress blogs are no-followed, so they aren’t going to count. Every time your avatar appears on someone else’s site, your reputation is at stake.
Sometimes, writing for yourself isn’t as rewarding as giving back to others through guest posts. Especially if you manage to land a guest posting slot for a large brand or authority in that space.
A well formed idea, for a site with existing traffic is much more likely to go viral around the web – and as it does so, your reputation travels with it. Whilst you may not get the traffic directly, the benefits far outweigh the cons, as people will start googling your name and brand, and see you as a more versatile writer.
Don’t forget that you can always let your existing readership know that you’ve guest posted, and link off to the destination in a small post of your own. That way your still providing people with content regularly, just via an alternative site that isn’t your own.
If you do decide to try a few guest posts, remember to write a landing page post that compliments the original article, and serves as an additional hook for the influx of potential new visitors to your site.
Forum signatures are an old school method of driving traffic, but one that still has its benefits. If you are going to use this to promote your site, dont be a dick.
Spam on any level, is not cool, and not alot of fun for other webmasters to deal with. It’s hard enough keeping the automated spam bots at a manageable level, without human spammers / webmasters coming along posting one forum introduction with a forum signature then leaving. Many forums only allow links to be posted after a certain number of posts, which helps to kerb this anyway.
Key thing to remember here, as with blog comments – provide value, contribute to the community and you stand half a chance at people following the links that you point back to your own site. Karma.
Word of Mouth / Social Interaction
One of the best ways to get traffic to a site is via word of mouth, or personal recommendations. I’ve had loads of people suggest sites like Mashable, or Freelance switch – just through word of mouth. Obviously the bigger you are, the easier this is.
Creating brand ambassadors around your website, or loyal visitors that you reward, is a great way to start. Talking to people about your site, in the pub, and at conferences is another place to start. This is a great post on Word of mouth marketing that is well worth a read.
Video in general is the place to be in 2009, tv is dying and the abudance of other industries being affected by the web is all too apparent. If you are working with an idea for video, get it out there. Video will gain importance on the web as a whole, as content becomes easier to create, and whenever Google figures out how to work out what content is inside them. Which they are doing effectively to a degree with Youtube advertising.
There are two schools of thought on using Video promotion to promote your site- you can disperse the video you’ve created with a service such as TubeMogul – benefit being maximum exposure. The problem with this is that your incoming links are dispersed across the web, to a multitude of video hosting and syndicated sites. The alternative, depending on how strong and viral your video is, is to host it yourself, and gain all of the incoming link juice on your own site.
Once you’ve created your kick ass content or video, its time to expose it to other people to bookmark. I’ve already mentioned some of these in my beginners social media marketing post. The main gist of promotion via social bookmarking is to create content along the lines of the below
1. Something that no one else has written about
2. Something that is useful to others
3. Something that is research based or scientific in its approach
4. Something that extracts, combines and organises similar websites
5. Something that provides reference material all in one place
6. Something that educates or teaches (think tutorial material)
7. Something new (a service say)
8. Something relevant to the time of year
That is the essence of the material you see on the delicious home page every day. If you bookmark it yourself to give it a head start, then you are well on your way to gaining numerous links from around the web.
Anyone think of anything else that I’ve missed?