Starting any business can be a challenge. Even more so with an online business where attracting an audience – also called “traffic” – is quite literally the lifeblood of your trade. All methods require some work, and often a budget, but today we’ll cover some of my favorite strategies (and even a few ways to get free blog traffic.)
I am often asked, “What are some of the ways to increase website traffic?” There are a variety of ways to increase traffic, such as targeting high-value keywords, effective SEO, writing quality content, and even tapping into the power of social media.
Let’s break each method down in detail and see how simple it really can be.
Targeting High-Value Keywords
In the Wild West days of the internet, keywords were everything.
And because the algorithms used by the search engines at the time were so rudimentary, often the only thing separating a website from its competition was the number of times a keyword appeared on the page.
This, of course, led to some serious spam issues where the content was written more with the search engines in mind instead of an actual reader.
Thankfully, those days are long over, however this does not mean that keywords are no longer important. They are still one of the best ways Google and other search engines have to differentiate websites.
The difference now, however, is keywords are only one – albeit an important one – of several hundred criteria used in ranking websites. Still, it is a good idea to do your due diligence if for no other reason thn to give you a starting place to begin working from.
SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is one of the easiest and fastest ways to get your website noticed. And combining SEO with the high-value keywords noted earlier can potentially attract hundreds or even thousands of free traffic to your blog each and every month.
So, what exactly is SEO? Think of SEO as a series of actions you take with your website that helps your content really stand out.
The challenge with learning proper SEO is that there is, quite frankly, a lot information out there and some of it is downright awful. There are more methods out there than you can shake a stick at, and much if it is contradictory.
The good news is that modern SEO is nowhere near as complicated as a lot of so-called “gurus” make it out to be. In fact, I will be covering a lot of the basics in a series of other articles.
But first, let’s review the foundation if you have no experience and are just getting started. At its core, effective SEO can be broken down into two primary elements: On Page and Off Page.
On page optimization can be defined as anything you can do on your website itself that helps you increase your chances of ranking in the search engines. Examples of this might be optimizing your post titles, images, subheadings, and even the types of links you are using.
Off page optimization covers, well, everything else. If you are doing anything away from your actual website, it is considered off page. This might include social media, forums, video sites such as YouTube and Vimeo, and so on.
Writing Quality Content
My absolute, number one, most favorite way to increase website traffic isn’t really any kind of trick or technique. It’s just good old-fashioned writing. You can target all the best keywords, optimize your site for traffic, and everything else, but if you content stinks no one is going to stick around.
My first tip for quality content is to keep it tight. If you are writing about bass fishing, you should not be discussing fishing boats. Sure, it’s okay to mention a boat if it’s related to what you’re talking about, but this is not the time to go into detail about what makes a great bass boat, engine size, bilge capacity, etc. Save all that for another time. Stay focused.
Next, your content should be detailed and in-depth. A lot of beginning bloggers have the false assumption that since we live in a nanosecond culture and people’s attention spans are so short, brief content is better. Thus, they crank out a series of 250-500 word posts and then wonder why they aren’t ranking.
Unfortunately, the statistics don’t support this assumption. The reality is that people prefer longer content. And since the search engines are trying to give people what they are looking for, they too prefer (i.e. rank) longer content. Indeed, according to Google, the most successful posts exceed 1500 words or more.
Finally, your content must be natural. This goes back to the old way of writing posts we talked about earlier. While you do want to take advantage of SEO, of course, the days of “beating” Google are behind us. Stuffing a bunch of keywords into your post will just get you labeled as spam. Instead, write your content first without really thinking about the keywords other than a reference. Then, once completed, go back and see where you can edit in the keywords as replacements wherever they fit naturally into the conversation.
Don’t write for the search engines; write for real people. Make your readers happy and I promise Google will also be happy.
The Power of Social Media
There are literally dozens and dozens of social media sites at the time I’m writing. So many, in fact, that I often hesitate to talk about social media in depth because the medium changes so rapidly. Nevertheless, there are a few “big dogs” that we can safely discuss.
Ah, the elephant in the room. Facebook is perhaps the most popular social media site, and basically rules the social media arena.
If you already are familiar with Facebook and already have a viable presence, then creating a business page for your website may be advisable. But there is a catch…
In the interest of full disclosure, I admit that I do not, in fact, use Facebook to promote my business. The reasons are many, but primarily is it due to recent changes Facebook made to their model which essentially forces small businesses to pay them for exposure.
If you post something that Facebook interprets as promotional, not only will it not be shown to the community at large, Facebook is now limiting even how many of your own “friends” will see it. They would rather you pay them an advertising fee to get exposure to your own network.
I have a friend who was generating a ton of traffic to his site prior to the changes. Once Facebook implemented their new strategy, his traffic dried up to less than 1% of overall traffic coming in. This is despite the fact that he was spending as many as 12-14 hours per week promoting there.
Bottom line, until Facebook changes its model, it’s really not worth your time and effort at this point. There are far more productive ways to invest your time.
Twitter is fast becoming the Facebook of the future. It is easy to understand and use, with its limited character Tweets, and people really seem drawn to just how quickly one can get in, say what they have to say, and get out. Moreover, by attaching various symbols – such as the famous “hashtag” – it is extremely easy and efficient to search for content that interests you. I highly recommend it.
I lump Instagram, Pinterest, and other similar sites into the same category because they are all primarily driven by images as opposed to text. This does pose a bit of a problem, however.
Many such sites either outright ban, or at least aren’t very conducive to promoting your domain. For example, at the time of this writing, Instagram doesn’t allow url links inside your content.
There are a few ways around this, however, and entire books and courses have been put together on how to effectively build an Instagram following. For instance, similar to Twitter, many image-based sites utilize hashtags (#) as a way to make different topics and posts searchable.
Video content is quickly becoming one of the most preferred methods of communicating with your audience. Written posts that also include a short video to accompany it generally do very well with readers and search engines alike.
Furthermore, as one of the aforementioned off page SEO methods, YouTube has become a powerhouse on its own. Many marketers create stand-alone video channels with the sole purpose of driving traffic to their website and do extremely well.
By uploading entertaining, yet informational, videos, you can attract an audience that otherwise might never see your website. And by adding links back to related content in the video itself, as well as in the description, you will get all kinds of traffic that is eager for more.
Taking the Next Step
Hopefully I have piqued your interest on just how simple increasing website traffic is. So, perhaps your next question is where should you turn for the most up-to-date information?
My first recommendation is the Wealthy Affiliate training program. Wealthy Affiliate is a fantastic program that will take someone who knows nothing about how to build a website or market products, and guides them through literally step-by-step. Having struggled with online marketing for some time, once I found Wealthy Affiliate I never looked back.
My other recommended source are the guys over at Income School. Although they are for somewhat more advanced bloggers and marketers, they also walk you through how to build extremely successful affiliate websites. Jim and Ricky are two of the smartest guys I know, and they have a proven track record of not only building multiple profitable websites of their own, but teaching their students to do the same. I literally cannot recommend them enough.
And, yes, I am an active member in both programs.
Do I have to use social media to drive traffic to my website?
The simple answer is no. At the end of the day, it’s your business so you can run it how you see fit. However, it is strongly encouraged, if for no other reason that so many of your potential customers are on those platforms every day. It simply works.
Do I have to pay for traffic to my website?
Absolutely not. Every one of the recommended strategies outlined here are designed to bring in what “organic” (meaning free) traffic. You can potentially bring in thousands of visitors to your site every day without spending a dime.