Increasing traffic is one of the biggest challenges for anyone who has a blog, website or online business. Whether you are trying to sell products, build a mailing list or increase brand awareness, you need more visitors and need to Increase website traffic. Of course, when you say “my website needs more traffic,” what you really mean is quality, targeted traffic – visitors who are really interested in what you are offering. It’s possible to purchase low cost, low quality traffic if it’s only your website’s hit counter that you want to move. This type of traffic won’t do any good, though. You must find a way to attract the right kind of audience to your site.
Website traffic can be split into two main categories – Paid traffic and Free traffic. Advertising is the quickest way to get traffic, but it’s also risky. It can take quite a bit of testing to be able to create profitable advertising campaigns. The other problem with paid advertising is that as soon as you stop advertising, the traffic stops. Free Inbound traffic, while requiring more effort, has the potential to be more self-sustaining than paid. You wouldn’t want to stop all of your efforts, but at the same time your past work can reap rewards well into the future. For example, an article you published two years ago can still bring you traffic today. Here, I’ll be focusing on inbound and free traffic strategies.
Content: The Foundation of Your Website
The familiar online marketing adage “content is king” may be a cliche, but it’s still true. When you think about it, how could it be otherwise? Your content simply means the articles, blog posts, videos and other material you publish to your site. When visitors come to your site, your content is what they are coming to see.
There are other important considerations for your website, such as the design, layout, navigation and page loading speed. These, however, are all secondary to the content itself. Whether you have a blog or static website, the more content you publish, the more chances you have to attract visitors. You will also have more material for the search engines to index. That’s why it’s a good policy to publish content on a regular schedule. This is true whether you’re creating the content yourself, or outsourcing it. There are some marketers who don’t rely quite as much on content in the traditional sense. If you have a one page website which is a sales or opt-in page, you can still generate traffic to it. Even in this case, however, the limited amount of content you do have must be extremely compelling. Your content should be:
- Original – You should have plenty of unique content on your site. Copied content will never rank on search engines, can result in a lawsuit and even worse, won’t help you create an online authority.
- Relevant – Stay on topic as much as possible. This helps you rank better with the search engines and also gives your visitors what they came for.
- Interactive – Encourage comments and participation. Ask questions, reply to feedback promptly. You can run polls, surveys and contests to make your site more interactive as well.
- Reader Friendly – This has to do with the UI of your website and how easy it is for readers. Use images and videos for variety. For long articles, use sub-headings or bullet points. Avoid long paragraphs.
- Helpful and/or Entertaining – Some content is meant to educate, some is meant to be funny or interesting. Either way, keep your reader in mind and don’t just publish something to fill space.
When creating content you should make sure it’s going to be relevant and interesting to your audience. We will be looking at keywords shortly, but before that let’s look at how headlines and tiles can help Increase website traffic.
Titles and Headlines: The Key to Getting Your Content Read
One of the most important parts of any blog post or article is the headline or title. This is what will determine whether or not the visitor will actually read the content or not. That’s why you should give plenty of thought to your headlines.
In addition to having popular keywords, your headline should be catchy and compelling. There are a few ways to accomplish this.
- Ask a Question – These type of headlines make the reader want to find the answer.
- Create a List – There’s a reason so many articles have titles like “5 Ways to Save Money, or “The 10 Best Snacks to Help You Lose Weight.”
- Identify a Problem – Mentioning a problem and promising a solution will capture your readers’ interest right away.
- Make the Reader Curious – If you can think of an unusual or quirky headline and tie it into your subject, you can make readers want to know more. For example, “FROM NOW ON I’M GOING TO BE A DICK TO EVERYONE I MEET ONLINE” is a super Title by Marc Ensign.
Making Best Use of Keywords
Keywords have always been a major part of search engine optimization. They are relevant whether you are placing content on your own site or publishing articles, videos or even images on sites. Yet the right was to use keywords, like everything else related to marketing, has been changing in some ways as Google and other search engines change their standards and algorithms.
There are many free ways to do keyword research. Google itself provides some of these, though as of this writing Google is preparing to make changes to its keyword tool. Regardless of this, you can still find free or low cost software that helps you determine the popularity of keywords. For some free keyword resources, read this article by Jenny Halasz. One thing you should be careful about is overusing your keywords. The best approach is to use keywords in a natural way without worrying about keyword density. If you want to rank well for a keyword, you should focus on long tail keywords rather than ones that are too competitive. These are terms that people are searching for, but that aren’t too difficult to rank for. For example, if you are in the weight loss niche it would be extremely difficult to rank for terms such as “lose weight”, “diet” or “weight loss”. Long tail keywords would be ones that focus on a more specialized aspect of weight loss, such as “weight loss for seniors,” “the best low carb diets” or “how to lose weight after the holidays”. Keywords should be kept in mind when writing blog posts, publishing articles or writing descriptions for videos or images. They are an essential aspect of SEO that can help you get more targeted traffic.
Using Google Authorship on your Content
Before we leave the arena of content marketing, it’s worth talking about leveraging your Google+ profile by claiming Google authorship for your web pages, blog posts and other content. This is a way to connect your website to your Google account and the best part is that it helps you get better rankings! Yes, the Authorship Tag is very useful and will have even more value in the near future of search ranking. It can also help you widen your circle by linking your content to your Google+ profile. You can encourage people to join your circle, making it easy for them to share your content.
To do this, of course, you must have an active Google+ profile. If you don’t have this, it’s simple and free to set it up. If you are using social media at all (and you should be!), it only makes sense to include Google+ along with Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. All you need to do to make this work is to add links to your Google+ profile. This can be done manually or, if you use WordPress, using a plugin such as All in One SEO Pack. For detailed instructions on how to claim Google authorship for your content, read this article by Matt Morgan on Blogging Bistro.
Basic On-Page SEO
Along with keywords, it’s also important to be familiar with the basics of on-page search engine optimization. This simply means setting up your website or pages so that the search engines consider your content valuable and relevant. Majority of Ranking is governed with off-page factors, which mainly means backlinks and social signals. The way your pages are set up, however, is also very important for getting higher rankings. Here are some tips to keep in mind:
- Make Sure Your Pages Load Quickly – Search engines, as well as visitors, like speed. Slow loading pages can get you penalized and it will also cause you to lose visitors. Make sure your site isn’t loaded with too many ads, plugins, high resolution images or other elements that slow it down.
- Internal Linking – This is also a simple way to improve on-page SEO. Additionally, linking from one page or post to another is a way to keep visitors on your website longer and reduce bounce rate. You can do this with existing content and also make sure you do it with anything you publish in the future.
- Link to Authority Sites – Another way to make your page look more valuable to the search engines is to link to authority sites. These may be Wikipedia articles or any high ranking site in your niche.
- HTML Tags – Make sure your keyword is mentioned in the <h2> tag and the <title> tag.
- Optimize Images – Images can be ranked in the search engines if you use the right keywords and descriptions. For example, if your page is about dogs and you have a picture of a border collie, make sure you don’t keep the original image name (which is likely to be a random string of numbers and letters) – change it to “border collie” or whatever the keyword might be. Helps the page in ranking better and gets you traffic from the image searches too.
One reason that article marketing seems outdated (We’d be covering it in the later part) is that video has become so popular in the recent years. The amount of new content uploaded to YouTube every day is staggering, and that doesn’t even take into account all of the other video sharing sites like Vimeo, MetaCafe and others.
Making videos is easier than ever. You don’t need expensive technology, and you don’t even have to appear in front of the camera if you don’t want to. Here are just a few of the ways you can make videos:
- WebCam – Create a Video or Podcast for your visitors. Youtube videos rank well on search engines too. A link from the video page, can bring traffic to your website as well.
- PowerPoint – Slideshow based videos can be useful for sharing content too. You can improve them with voiceovers.
- Animoto – This service lets you make simple videos that have images, text and music. There’s a free version and upgrades for longer and more feature rich videos.
- Cartoon Videos -These are getting popular and there are a few sites that allow you to make these easily. One such service is Go Animate.
- Outsourced Videos – If you want a short and simple video, you can get someone on Fiverr.com to make one for $5. For additional fees, you can get longer and more detailed videos.
You can edit your videos using free or inexpensive video editing software such as Windows Movie Maker or Lightworks. If you’re going to make video marketing a part of your traffic generating arsenal it’s good to mix things up a little. If all of your videos are made with PowerPoint or Animoto, your visitors may eventually find this a little boring. Webcam videos, on the other hand, have limitless potential because you are actually talking into the camera. The same goes for outsourced videos, of course, though this entails spending a few dollars. Remember that videos have to be optimized in a manner similar to written content. Use titles that will attract the type of viewers and website visitors you want. Do keyword research to find out what topics and words people are searching for. On YouTube and other video sharing sites you should take full advantage of the description area, where you can include lots of information along with a link to your site. Another powerful thing about videos is that they are very easy to share on social sites. You can make one video, upload it to your own site, YouTube and then share it on Facebook, Twitter and any other social media sites you use. This makes it possible for people to share your videos, bringing you even more traffic. Like other forms of traffic generation, video marketing works best when you use it consistently. Not every video is going to be a huge hit. If you make enough of them, though, some will probably be popular and get shared. Like articles, a video can bring you traffic forever.
Blog Networking and Guest Posting/Blogging
This is another established traffic building method that still works well. It’s another one, however, where they key to success is consistent effort. At first you will have to do some research to find some appropriate blogs to comment on and/or write guest posts for. Let’s start with the simpler of the two, blog commenting. You can find blogs simply by searching under Google Blogs. You don’t want to just pick any blog, though. It should be one that’s either in your niche or a closely related one. It should also be an active and fairly popular blog. If you see that a blog hasn’t been updated in a year, there’s no point commenting on it. You may as well start at the top, so look for authority blogs that accept comments. You should then leave comments that are relevant and helpful. You might answer a question, express your opinion or raise an interesting point about a certain blog post. Never leave short, spammy comments on blogs as these will only get promptly deleted. You should always say something specific, as even a comment like, “I really enjoyed that post,” is likely to get categorized as spam. Remember that you are trying to make a good impression here so that people will want to check out your website. Of course, you can also gain a backlink as well. Some people who do blog commenting try to focus on “do follow” blogs to ensure that they get a backlink when they leave a comment. This is not necessary, as long as the blog allows you a space to put in a link to your site. On a popular, high traffic blog this alone makes it worth doing.
Your goal when commenting should be not to merely leave a comment, but to engage the blog’s readers. To do this, you should spend a few minutes looking at the blog and the comments that are already there. If you can get involved in a conversation that is already popular, you can putting yourself in the middle of it. If there’s a debate going on, you can weigh in on one side of it. On the other hand, it can also be advantageous to be the first to comment on a post. Again, we’re talking about an active blog – some blog posts have no comments because the blog hardly gets any traffic. But even a popular blog will have a time lag between a new post appearing and comments. By being first, you’ll have more people seeing your comment and link. You may find that certain blogs are worth visiting regularly. You can use these like forums, as a place to discuss various issues and give people a chance to click on your link.
Guest blogging is another worthwhile strategy you should pursue. For this, you have to contact the blog owner and ask if he or she would be interested in accepting an article from you. It’s best if you have an idea in mind. They will probably want an original article, so don’t offer one that’s already been published elsewhere. The great thing about guest posting is that you might find blogs where you can become a regular contributor. This is similar to the benefits you get from article syndication – your name and link are put in front of all the blog’s readers. You get high quality relevant links, traffic and take another step forward in becoming an authority in your domain.
This is another tried-and-true yet still underused free tactic for building traffic. There are discussion forums on just about every imaginable topic. As with blogs, you have to choose the right forums. You want to choose forums that are not only relevant to your own site’s topic, but also popular. Some forums only have a handful of members and get little traffic. Others, however, get thousands of visitors per day.
You don’t have to join dozens of forums, as this would be difficult to keep track of. Being active on a few, however, can put your website link in front of a whole new audience and get you helpful backlinks. The typical way you gain this benefit from a forum is with your signature. To get the most out of forum marketing, you have to be active on forums. It’s not enough just to join. Indeed, if you join and never post, your membership will be worthless. Since your signature will be visible with each post, this gives you a good incentive to be active. Don’t just post for the sake of it, though. Contribute to the discussions and start some threads of your own. This will make it more likely that other members will want to visit your site. There is a whole science to interacting on forums. Here are some of the main points to keep in mind:
- Always Follow the Rules – It’s easy to get banned in many forums, especially when you are new. Be careful to post in the right sections, not to be too controversial and not to promote blatantly. Usually you can only use promotional links in your signature, though some forums have areas where advertising is allowed.
- No Trolling – Make sure you don’t waste your time trolling or participating in trolls. This is a complete waste of time and will show other members, thats you have nothing better to do.
- Answer Questions – This is a good way to make yourself useful in a forum. If you know the answer to a question, don’t hesitate to give it. Write long detailed answers and you’ll start building reputation.
- Ask Questions -The other side of the coin is to ask questions. One precaution here – first do a forum search and make sure the question hasn’t already been asked a hundred times! If this is the case, the question will only annoy other members. Try to think of original questions.
- Provide and Share Information – People in a forum are always glad to learn something new. Again, look around and don’t repeat what’s already been said. If you’re an expert in a certain area, though, you may be able to provide a unique and valuable perspective on something. This is a great way to get people to check out the link in your signature.
Social Media Marketing
Social media has become one of the fastest growing aspects of the internet. Many people now spend most of their online time on sites like Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter and others. There are new social sites springing up all the time, and this is sure to keep growing. You can’t join all of these sites, but developing a strong presence on a few can make a big difference.
Having a Facebook page makes it possible to reach out to a wider audience without investing any money. You could promote your page with Facebook ads, but you can also get plenty of new friends and likes by joining groups and promoting your page organically. When you join social sites, make sure you make the most of your profile. Aside from your website link, take the time to tell people about what you do and what your site has to offer. If you want more people to check out your profile, you should also have a photo of yourself rather than a company logo. The way you use social media will depend on your goals. Some businesses use it mainly for customer service or brand awareness. You can also use your updates to let everyone know what you’re doing. Make sure to keep your posts friendly and social and any promotion should be subtle. It’s important to monitor your social media pages and answer any comments that people make. You want to be as accessible as possible to your audience. You should also share interesting and worthy content such as images, memes, videos and infographics. This type of content is widely shared on social sites. Your social sites and website can send traffic to each other. Placing social media buttons on your site allows people to share your content.
Article Marketing – Still Powerful With the Right Approach
Article marketing was once widely considered to be the best free method for generating targeted traffic. With the Google Panda and Penguin updates, however, article directories lost quite a bit of their authority status. This means that an article published on Ezinearticles.com or another directory is not likely to rank well. Does this mean that article marketing is dead, as some people believe? Not quite. If you have a blog or website, you are probably going to have articles published on it. No matter what else you do with your articles, you should always publish them to your own site first. Your main goal should be to build traffic and authority for your own site.
Once you’ve placed an article on your site, however, there’s no reason why you can’t also publish it elsewhere. This takes very little extra effort, and it still has the potential to create traffic and backlinks for you. One common overlooked advantage to publishing articles in leading article directories is that they may be republished by other websites. I’m not talking about people who steal your content, but those who follow the rules and include your resource box with a link to your site. If a popular website does this, it can result in a great deal of traffic for you. This is known as article syndication, and is one of the major benefits of circulating your articles. Even one article published on an authority site can bring you traffic and backlinks well into the future. This is why you should always focus on creating interesting, high quality articles and not just space fillers. A high percentage of the articles on sites like Ezinearticles.com are poorly written, so good ones have the potential to stand out and get noticed. If you make a habit out of publishing articles first to your own site and then to a few of the leading article directories, you are not only building content for your own site but increasing the chances of syndication. To make this even more effective, you can upload longer articles to document sharing sites like Scribd and Docstoc. Finally, you can convert your articles into other formats. Slide Sharing sites such as Slideshare can also be good sources of traffic. You can also make audio files out of your articles and turn them into podcasts. Some people like to do it the other way around – create the audio first, and let get it converted into Text. When writing articles, remember to optimize them as much as possible. This means choosing popular keywords for the titles and in the text itself. At the same time, practices such as keyword density are no longer as relevant as they used to be for SEO. You should use some primary and secondary keywords, but don’t overuse them. It’s best to be natural about it. The same goes for anchor text. Some of these techniques go beyond the scope of traditional article marketing, but you have to keep up with the latest trends and use what is working now. Even if article marketing doesn’t work the same way it did ten years ago, articles can still be a powerful source of traffic if you leverage them the right way.
This is another simple way to get more leverage from all of your content. There are many social bookmarking sites, and you should make use of at least a few of these. Bookmarking or submitting items on Digg, Reddit, StumbleUpon, Delicious and other such sites only takes a few minutes and it can bring a lot of traffic your way.
There are automated tools to make this even easier. If you use WordPress, you can install a plugin such as Sociable that allows you to post to many sites at once. It can be beneficial to build relationships on these sites.
Press releases are another trick you can use to get a surge of traffic every so often. Press releases have been around a lot longer than the internet, but now it’s much more efficient to send them out.
The main point to remember with press releases is that they must be written in the format of a news story. You can, however, indirectly promote a business or product in this way. You just have to do it in a subtle way. So if you want to tell people about Product X, don’t say, “Product X is the greatest product ever..buy it now!” You would write it like a professional press release, in the third person. For example: “(Your Company) is releasing Product X, which is designed to (list features)”. You can find many press release templates online that show you exactly how to format your press release. Distributing your press release can be free, though most sites that offer free press release distribution will try to get you to upgrade to a paid package. You can get quite a bit of traffic from even free press releases, though. You can get direct traffic from people who read the news story and also backlinks from high ranking news sites. Here a list of free press release distribution services.
The Secret to Long Term Traffic: Build a Mailing List
All of the techniques I’ve discussed so far are very effective for building traffic. When it comes to building ever increasing traffic practically on autopilot, however, you should be thinking in terms of building a list. This is the secret weapon of the world’s most successful marketers and bloggers.
With a list, anytime you want traffic all you have to do is send out an email. Building a quality list takes time, but if you go about it the right way you can make fast progress. You need a few basic elements to do it:
- An Opt-in or Squeeze Page.
- A Compelling Offer – to get people to give you their email addresses.
- Email Service – a service that makes it easy to send out large numbers of emails.
A squeeze page can be a separate site or it can be a page on your existing website. This is where you collect email addresses. You can also include the signup widget right next to your content, without creating a separate page for it.You must give people a good reason to sign up for your list. A common tactic is to give away a free gift. This may be an e-book, video course or other material related to your topic. You may also set up a partnership with someone who has some type of software or perhaps a membership site. You could offer people a trial version of the software or a free product (like an ebook) in exchange for their email address. You don’t necessarily have to give something away. You could market your free, information packed newsletter as a good incentive for people to part with their email addresses. Once you start building a list, however, you have to stay in touch with your subscribers. You don’t want to spam them with offers every day, but you do want to contact them on a regular basis (Twice a week at most). The best attitude to have about your list is that it’s an investment for your future. As it grows, you will have a stable source of traffic that won’t depend on things like SEO or paid advertising.
Conclusion: There are Endless Ways to Increase Traffic
There is no shortage of ways to increase traffic to your website. The main problem most people have is that they procrastinate or don’t follow through on the methods they try out.
For example, it’s not enough to simply build a Facebook page. You have to work on widening your circle of acquaintances, monitor the page and add updates to it regularly. The same is true for blog commenting, video and article marketing and all of the other methods listed here.
You don’t have to implement all of these techniques at once. It’s best to use a couple at a time and create a schedule for completing your traffic generating tasks. Most of these actions don’t take much time, but they do require consistent effort. Once you build some momentum, you’ll find that your traffic starts to grow exponentially. That’s because you will continue to reap the rewards from actions you took in the past (e.g. posting articles and videos), while your current efforts will create more traffic in the future.
All you need is a certain amount of determination and focus to make it happen!