Here’s the advice I would give to anyone looking for more traffic to their site. This is a follow on post from my earlier post on tips for building traffic – and covers a few things I didn’t get a chance to squeeze in.
Search referral is the source of the majority of traffic.
Or as my mother always used to say “know where your bread is buttered”. Referrals are nice, but search engines will undoubtadbly send you the majority of traffic. At time of writing Google was providing me with over 65% of all my traffic, so working out what you can do to side with the beast, is important. Get basic on page SEO factors right first, following our SEO guide for Google – then concentrate on writing good content. One day at a time, one page of content at a time.
If you are comfortable with it, doesn’t hurt to do some keyword research around your chosen topic, and learn what keywords are more likely to send you a decent amount of traffic. This kind of only applies with established sites that have decent pagerank. If you are new to all of this, your site may be picking up a penalty, as it will still be in the Google sandbox.
This can be discouraging at first as you will be seeing very little gain for your efforts, but if you hang in there and keep adding content you will both pick up links, (with their own associated referrer traffic). It’s also extremely important to link out to other people when you are getting off the ground. At the very least, you’ll appear in their referrers data in their weblogs. Most implement trackbacks and pingbacks, and whilst these aren’t followed by the search engines, can still give you traffic.
Most web masters are pretty obsessive with checking their stats and figuring out who is saying what about them. Discuss their stuff positively, and you may even get a backlink from them, perhaps not immediately but further down the line. Don’t aim too high here, if you go for major bloggers, with major traffic, you’ll probably just get ignored as small fry. Communicate, Comment and Network with the people and friends in the same or similar niche at the same level or slightly ahead of you, and rewards will come.
Engaging and Networking
How do you find out who you should be talking to? This comes naturally over time, but if you want to speed the process up, and get in touch with other bloggers and webmasters – you should find out where your audience resides, and indeed where other people within your chosen Niche reside online.
What forums do they frequent? Where do you need to be seen to be seen? What are the major blogs within your sector? (Hint Technorati search should turn up a couple). I’ve seen a couple of posts from various bloggers on the people you should be following on Twitter within different Niche’s. These are invaluable to find and communicate with the people who obviously have some clout. All you have to do is be there, and be personal. Twitter can be a great traffic driver, but if you abuse the priviledge folk will drop you like a hot potato.
I guess the key thing is, that you should engage online as you would a conversation at a network meeting. You wouldn’t sit around waiting to shove your website down someones throats, instead be polite, talk a bit, find out about people’s interests, and if you can – even tailor web content for the people you know are regularly visiting. These people will become brand ambassadors for your site, and are the ones that normally seed the viral content that you will use to lift your site up from obscurity.
It’s almost more important to build relationships with the people around you than it is to work on traffic generation methods. Embrace the visitors you do have, make them loyal followers and give back to them. The result will come back to you tenfold. Link love is something if you give it away.
Content is the most important part of your site. Not the design, not the webhost, not the developer. Content. If you think that you can get away with just building a service or product, and not added content, erm. You are already dead in the water. I’ve yet to see a business online, that couldn’t benefit from hearing musings from the trenches or opinions of the staff.
Yeah, I’m talking about blogging.
Regardless of what it is that you do, whether it is retail or as trivial as selling toothpicks online, there’s scope for creating great content around your site. Some content will work better than other, figuring out what sort of things turns your (desired) audience on, at this stage is really important.
Drip, drip, drip and eventually you’ll have a small stream of traffic, which has the opportunity to turn into a river.
Think of it this way. If you provide one piece of new content a day on your website, regardless of how good or bad you think it is – thats 365 pieces of content. If you get all of this indexed in Google, and pick up on average two new Google visitors for each new piece of content, thats a base level of 730 visitors every day. or 21900 uniques a month. Sometimes winning is just as much about playing the numbers game as it is about marketing. Once you are pulling in those sorts of numbers, it becomes much easier to leverage your site to the next level via competitions, and viral content. Remember traffic builds traffic online, and you will start to grow exponentially.
There are a couple of other ways to get yourself out there, and in front of an audience. Basic stuff like Email signatures can prove effective depending on how many emails you send each day. Commenting on other people’s blogs is important, as is being active within forums related to your niche. Forums also give you the opportunity to provide a signature in places, and this is an additional way of getting noticed. Guest blogging is also a great way to show people who you are, and what you stand for, particularly if you are able to find established blogs that you know already have traffic.
Being a resource
Take a look around, people unless they are emotionally moved, do not link to content. They link to resources. You have to work out in your own head which you want to be. Can you engage a visitor passionately through your writing? Will this invoke an emotional response? If not, then you may be better concentrating on being a resource. People love to link to resources, and better again they enjoy sharing that resource with others – which gives you a good shot at going viral.
About going viral.
Just as a bit of background, for those of you who have NO CLUE about content going viral. There a couple of social websites dotted around the web that if you get onto their homepage you get a shed load of traffic. Its not uncommon to see Digg traffic reaching 12,000 uniques in a 24 hour period. There are also a selection of niche social bookmarking sites out there, which may fit a particular site or blog better. Knowing the profile of the users who frequent these sites is also important. Digg users are different from DZone visitors. Delicious users are different from Stumbleupon users. Will your content suit them? Promoting your content on these sites is one vein of social media marketing.
That traffic is temporary however, and although it gives you a fuzzy feeling inside, won’t result in lasting traffic. To get that you have to attract secondary links by using the exposure you receive from the social site. E.g. when you hit the delicious homepage, you get in front of ALOT of eyeballs, particularly people who blog, and own a site of their own. The chances of them linking back to you increases, due to the sheep effect, and social proof. Well thats part of the psychology behind links.
You should however keep an eye out for places to start a viral chain off. Any other site within your niche that receives good traffic, and allows for user submitted content should be added to your link building list – in much the same way as I’ve shown in this post.
Creating viral content and creating buzz.
Sometimes, its possible to get off the ground, with nothing more than one great page on your site. But its on the whole the exception rather than the rule, so starting out with a good baseline of content is important. No point in getting all that traffic, but not having many other things for visitors to see. You’ll find it easier to convert a visitors to an rss subscriber, if you can prove your worth – and this kind of links back to social proof that I mentioned earlier.
As for the content itself that you create there are a few options, but when I’m starting out with a new piece of viral content I go through a process in my own head.
Would this be worthy of someone else saving, sharing or bookmarking?
Is it useful?
Is it too long to read in one go, but yet gives good information?
Does that headline really grab my audience and encourage interaction?
Is it exhaustive?
Is it topical?
Is it an area which will encourage debate?
Does it tear down any sacred cows? Is it controversial?
Concentrating on a killer headline, and indeed on killer content will come back to you tenfold. Be an ideas person that is always thinking about the next piece of content, and how it is going to flow together. If you can answer yes to alot of the questions posted above, then you stand every bit as much a chance as the next guy.
Traditional marketing concepts
It’s all too easy to concentrate on internet marketing methods, without realising that there are cost effective ways of promoting a site offline too. As I’ve mentioned before, you could donate business books that you’ve read to a public library, and leave your business card inside the front cover – or indeed run a full scale advert for your website domain in a relevant trade publication.
But in essence if you are on a budget, and you want to market an online “property – i.e. your www.” then the best place to do it is where your fish are. Online.