SEO is awesome.
If you want to increase website traffic, you should probably learn how to do it.
That being said, optimizing your site for a search engine is not the only way to get new viewers on your webpages. In fact, it might not even be the best way to get your website exposed to a wider audience.
With all the resources available to teach you about good SEO habits, we thought it would be helpful to take a look at all the ways you can boost your blog traffic and increase your web presence without relying too heavily on search engines. Use this guide to generate more traffic on your website with a well-rounded, intelligent marketing strategy.
Good Habits Pay Off
If blogging is part of your marketing strategy, or if you consider yourself a serious blogger, building these few basic habits is non-negotiable. No matter what else you do, neglecting any of these foundational points will seriously hurt your traffic.
Consistency is everything.
Post often, but more importantly, post regularly and on a consistent basis. There is no magic number of blog posts per week that works for everyone, but as a general rule, more is better. If you have the time and the discipline to release new content daily, by all means, do that! But if you know you can only create one high quality article each week, just do one per week.
There will be days when you have extra time or an abundance of inspiration, and you’ll go on a writing spree. Don’t waste that! Instead of posting everything as soon as you’ve written it, use the scheduling tool to plan ahead. It will save you from scrambling at the last minute to come up with something on your regular posting days. If you do ever find yourself stumped at the last minute, don’t panic. It’s better to post a day late than it is to post subpar content. And, when in doubt, do a listicle.* They’re quick to write and connect well with readers.
*A listicle is an article in list format, like “10 Reasons I Love WordPress.”
You have analytics for a reason.
Keep track of where you’re getting the most traffic and interaction from your readers, and figure out why. Do longer posts get more views? Are your most popular pieces the ones with lots of pictures, or the ones with certain types of content? What kinds of posts does your audience share most frequently? You don’t need to spend hours studying your statistics, but check regularly to see what’s working, and then do more of that.
Once you know what’s working, 80% of your content should look like that. The other 20% will be a mix of experimental posts to see if you can find something to work better, and formats that aren’t quite as effective but still see some results. Basically, the majority of your time should be devoted to doing what you already know works for you, and that’s going to look different for each individual business or website.
You get comments. You should answer them.
Most bloggers never get comments on their posts at all, so if you do have an audience of people who interact with you, don’t waste that! Having discussion on your blog post encourages people to read what you’ve written, and it gives new visitors the impression that they’ve stumbled into a thriving community instead of just another website. Respond to every (real) comment you get, and make sure that you’re contributing something to the conversation. Ask questions, encourage participation, and make it very clear that you appreciate that very small percentage of readers who add to the discussion.
Fast sites keep more readers
If your webpage takes too long to load, you’re losing valuable traffic and pageviews. This is the age of high speed internet and instant gratification. Pay attention to the user experience, and you will be rewarded.
Use your email list
If you don’t already have an email newsletter, you need to start one immediately. Email marketing is still one of the most effective avenues for driving traffic, sales, and participation among your audience. Your email list is a paying asset, so don’t neglect it.
Remind your followers why they started following you in the first place by keeping up stellar writing habits in your emails, and absolutely give your mailing list exclusive content, but don’t forget that all roads should lead back to your website. Whether you offer a preview of your most popular blog content, a coupon code for your online store, or a teaser for a new interactive feature you’re offering, there should be at least one call to action that brings users out of their email and into your online territory.
Whether you’re a new blogger, a hobbyist planning to transition into professional blogging, or you’re a seasoned pro, the tips shared above should be the foundation for your traffic building strategy. Even as your following grows and you expand into other areas, maintain your good habits. They’ll take you far.
How To Generate Website Traffic For Free
Before we discuss paid traffic sources, let’s discuss how you can boost your website traffic for free.
Free website traffic is essentially a side effect of great content and a little bit of networking knowhow. The best way to attract readers is by writing what they want to read – and structuring it in such a way that it’s attractive, concise, and shareable. That formula is going to be a little bit different for every audience, but the basics will stay the same.
Also keep in mind that your strategy should vary depending on your readership and niche. Some of these ideas may not apply to you, and that’s okay. Draw inspiration where you can, and ignore the rest for now.
Rule number 1: don’t ever post substandard content
Just as we mentioned earlier, it’s better to post late than to post something that’s difficult to read or poorly written. As your skills improve, it’s wise to revisit and update old posts. Remember that your blog is the place where potential clients and customers meet your brand, and they’re going to form an opinion of you and your business based on what they see there. Everything you put on the internet should be a stellar representation of who you are and what your brand stands for.
A byline is a wonderful thing. By guest blogging (writing posts for other people’s websites) and selling your freelance work, you have an opportunity to put your name in front of more people and lure them back to your own page. Having content published in multiple places around the web also sets you up as an industry expert, which increases the value of your brand. Remember to ask ahead of time if it’s acceptable to include a link back to your own blog in your byline to avoid confusion or conflict later.
Get out there and be a human
The internet and the real world are not separate and individual places. Behind every blog post and website, there is a real human being, and it’s real human beings that go to those pages and read them. Don’t be afraid to tell people about your website, and carry business cards with you that have your web address on them in case they ask for the URL. Even simply carrying a small pad of paper and a pen so that you can write down your web address can be effective, and while most people probably won’t visit your site even with the business card in hand, it’s nearly guaranteed that nobody will remember you or your blog if you don’t give them something in writing.
Share your expertise
While you’re being a human, consider speaking at seminars, hosting classes, or even providing a free webinar or podcast to share your knowledge with others. You’ll notice a gigantic spike in traffic for a couple of weeks every time you make a live presentation to an audience of at least 100 people, and you’re likely to make connections that will lead to exciting opportunities in the future. Encourage your listeners to live tweet during classes and presentations, and you might even offer prizes or exclusive content to participants who post about their experience on social media. And on that note…
Offer your readers access to exclusive content or downloads, or a chance to win a prize if they share your content or sign up for your newsletter. Giveaways often operate under this principle, entering readers for a chance to win some kind of prize in exchange for comments, Facebook shares, Tweets, or some other desired action. You don’t have to offer a product as a prize, though. Sometimes, a short .PDF guide or a special members-only area on the website is enough to entice readers to participate, and to attract new users.
Other bloggers are your friends
If you’re considering using giveaways as a method for growing traffic (they do work, by the way) you can amplify the effect by working with other bloggers or businesses that have an existing audience similar to the type of people you want to attract. Many businesses will donate their own products, gift cards, or other free stuff specifically for you to give it away, and then they will promote your page to their own readers. The same concept applies for product reviews, interviews, and other promotional posts. Any time you write something that makes another blogger or business look good, they’re likely to share that post with their own readers, which sends those readers to your website. It’s a beautiful relationship, and you should absolutely try it.
Embrace group projects
Working with other bloggers is a brilliant way to share traffic, as long as you both benefit and your audiences are the same types of people. Essentially, you’re going to both post on your own websites about some topic – for example, a discussion of a business book – and then you’ll each link to the other bloggers who are participating. Get creative with this concept and you’ll have lots of fun while your website’s traffic grows. Perhaps you’d like to have a virtual book club, or an online birthday party where each blogger contributes a fun story about the birthday boy or girl. The only limit is your own imagination, and your ability to work with other people.
Join the discussion.
If it’s appropriate for your audience and your brand, weigh in on current events and breaking news in your industry. Keep track of trends and participate. An extra benefit to this is that you won’t run out of ideas if you regularly join in the global conversation. Offer a new perspective, or even just host an opinion poll, which brings us to the next idea:
Add a forum or discussion board on your website.
Give your loyal visitors a place where they can communicate amongst themselves. Not only will you see more traffic as people come to your website to be a part of the active community there, but you’ll have a direct connection with your readers. They’ll tell you what they want to know, and you can see their reactions to the world in real time. The more powerful you can make your community, the better results you’ll see from all of your marketing campaigns.
Comments are a wonderful thing – we’ve already mentioned that you should be responding to every comment you get, but you’ll get far more interaction if you just ask for it. Something as simple as ending a post with a question and/or encouraging readers to share their own opinions and experiences will make a huge difference in how people respond.
You can have a web presence outside of your own website. Start a YouTube channel, participate in social media trends on Snapchat and Instagram, post additional content on LinkedIn, release podcasts…just make sure that your extracurriculars are appropriate for your message. Pay attention to where your audience spends time and invest some effort there. Make sure that your brand is consistent and your additional content always steers back to your website, and keep track of your analytics. If you’re not getting results, don’t waste time trying to force it. Focus your effort where you’re getting the best return.
Clickbait is annoying, but it works.
Some brands are committed to staying away from clickbait titles (Banks Hate Him – Here’s Why) but even though readers recognize instantly that “10 Weird Ways To Boost Your Search Engine Standing – Number 10 is NUTS!” is basically a gimmick, statistics prove that the format still works. Structure your titles in such a way that they spark curiosity and encourage clickthroughs, and you’ll see more visitors from social media. These probably won’t be readers that are going to subscribe to your blog and become committed fans, but if you need a serious numbers boost in a short amount of time, clickbait might be perfect for you.
Leverage social impact
Build your social media following on sites like Facebook and Twitter, and then write content specifically designed to encourage sharing. The secret here is emotional impact. Readers are more likely to share your posts – even advertisements – if those posts touch on some deeply felt emotion. If you’re doing a good job of building an audience of the right people, this will come easy. Take a look at the types of things they’re already sharing and use it for inspiration.
Every business is unique, and every audience has a distinct an individual culture. When it comes to driving traffic to your website, your imagination is the limit. Savvy businesspeople and sharp bloggers come up with new ways to connect every day, and you can do that, too.
Paid Traffic Sources
If it’s within your budget and makes sense for your business model, you might consider paying for traffic to your site.
Even if you’re buying clicks, though, it’s important to keep up those good habits we talked about earlier in this post. To get more traffic on your website, you still need to have content that people want to read. Don’t neglect all those free sources of internet traffic just because you’ve decided to buy some of your views.
Most blogs that use paid advertising use multiple sources to accomplish their traffic goals. Here are a few places you might consider when you’re thinking of buying website traffic:
Social media ads
Facebook ads are by far the most popular because of the smart targeting system, but you can also promote content on sites like Twitter, Google Plus, and Pinterest. How do you decide? Advertise where your audience spends the most time.
We’ve mentioned StumbleUpon separately from other social media, even though it’s similar to Pinterest, because the format is so drastically different from anything in the same category. StumbleUpon works by giving users the chance to quickly browse through certain types of content – it’s known for driving big numbers to blogs that advertise there, but the bounce rate is ridiculously high for most of those views. Your strategy with sites like StumbleUpon will differ greatly from your other social media plans.
It’s not used as frequently as other paid advertising methods, but you can purchase airtime on radio, television, and other traditional sources. This route can be very expensive, and it tends to be difficult to measure direct results, so it’s recommended that you work with a professional and carefully consider whether it’s appropriate for your business.
Odds are, you’ve seen a banner ad at some point today already. Whether you use a service to place your ads on other sites or you work directly with web admins to negotiate your ad placement, a well designed banner can drive major numbers to your site.
Pay per click
Search engines like Google often offer PPC advertising, in which you agree to pay a specific amount of money each time someone clicks through a link and comes to your website. Cost varies greatly depending on how specifically you target your audience, and you can easily set a budget. After enough people have clicked that your maximum budgeted amount has been reached, your ad stops displaying until you’re ready to buy more clicks.
Sponsored and underwritten posts
Some bloggers will allow you to sponsor posts – this means that they write a post (or use something you’ve written) on their own website that promotes your brand in exchange for payment. Generally, if the blogger has a significant audience, you can expect to pay them anywhere from $100+ for this service, with higher prices for popular writers that are good at marketing. You can also pay to underwrite a post – the blogger will write their usual content, and include a notation saying something like “this post was brought to you by 34SP.com Hosting Services” where their readers will see it. Underwritten posts are generally in the $50-$100 range, but can vary tremendously depending on the blogger.
Get your products reviewed
Blogging has become an integral part of most major businesses’ marketing strategies because it’s so effective, and you can take advantage of that trend by offering free product in exchange for blogger reviews. Most bloggers will post reviews in exchange for free product, but some might request payment as well. It’s perfectly reasonable to ask about the blog’s traffic numbers, and how often readers generally click through to external links before you decide to give away free product or pay for a review.
Keep track of your return on investment, try a few different methods, and give them enough time to work before you make up your mind. Only you know what’s reasonable for your budget and traffic goals.
Make It Work
This post is meant to be a starting point, a resource to give your creative juices a boost.
To see success with any one of these tips for generating more website traffic, focus on only a few things at a time. There’s a tonne of information here, and it’s tempting to dive in and try to do everything at once.
DON’T DO THAT.
Choose your top 3, the ideas that you think will be most effective for your website, and apply yourself for at least 30 days before you make a decision. After a month, take a look at your statistics and decide whether you’re going to keep doing the same things, or if you should stop and try something new.
Growing website traffic is a slow process, and it takes steady effort to see success. Keep at it, and by this time next year, you’ll see explosive results
What did we miss? What are your favorite tricks for getting people to your site? Share your ideas in the comments! We’d all love to hear from you.