Marketing is undoubtedly one of the most crucial success factors for new online businesses and should be a primary emphasis early on. But if you only focus on traditional traffic generation strategies like link building you’re missing out on lots of potential customers.
The following strategies can easily help you increase your website’s traffic – even double it – without having to do an ounce of marketing. Here’s how:
Method 1 of 4: Writing Quality Articles
1. Develop good headlines. Headlines are the first thing readers see, and are typically the only thing they see if the article is shared. Your headlines should jump out at the reader and quickly draw their attention. A good headline can dramatically increase your views when shared on a social network.
2. Write articles rich in content. Quality articles will get ranked better in search results. Make sure that your articles address the needs of your readers, and that they can find all of the information they need in one spot. This is the most effective means for increasing traffic to a website; offering people something that they cannot obtain elsewhere, or at least, not to the level of quality that you are offering it.
- Create content taht is helpful and useful. Simply cobbling together information from another website will not generate traffic. You need to offer visitors the information they need to achieve a goal, solve a problem, be entertained, find out quality news, or just have a good laugh.
- Avoid content generators. While these were once the delight of a fledgling web industry, they are no longer useful. Putting your own team’s creativity online is what is useful.
- Never copy and paste from another website – Google, Yahoo, MSN and other search engines are too smart for this nowadays and will detect copied and unoriginal content, sending you to the bottom of the pile.
- Address a niche. Good sites address a specific niche or audience and then become an expert in that field. You want your site to be the one resource that your readers go to first. Either start a site based on an interest of yours, or examine the market and find a niche that hasn’t been addressed well. Turn that niche into your expertise.In the world of social media, sharable content is king. Your content should be easily sharable so that your readers can spread the word for you. This is a combination of a good headline and an interesting image, as well as a captivating lead-in. All of this creates a perfect bite-sized chunk of your article that others can share through Facebook, Twitter, and other networks. Lists are incredibly popular for sharing on social networks right now. Sites such as Buzzfeed and Mashable make great use of list headlines, such as “10 Ways to…” or “21 Signs That You’re…”. These quickly draw the reader’s eye, and are a great way to deal with shortened attention spans.
- Vary your article length. You should have long, comprehensive articles as well as short and to-the-point articles. Let the content dictate the size; don’t spend too long belaboring a simple point, but don’t be too brief when detail is called for. research suggests the average length should be around 1,600 words, though feel free to vary as you see fit.
- Write articles frequently. Your blog will be more successful if you have a steady stream of content. Aim for at least six articles per week. Whatever you choose, pick a schedule and stick to it as best as possible. For repeat visits, it is crucial to provide regular updates to the website, especially in frequently viewed zones. Add fresh content every few days if possible; at a minimum, weekly.
- Consider outsourcing article writing. If you hate the thought of generating content yourself, or your team is not writing-savvy, consider outsourcing this end of the task. Deending on the length, content, specialization and quality required, prices can start
- Tag and describe your articles appropriately. The tags, description, and metadata of your article will affect how well it shows up in searches. It also helps people find the articles they need.
- To have a fully functioning and successful website, you need to make sure your tags are in place and your links are not broken. You also need to submit a sitemap file to Google to have your website show up in Google’s search engines.
- Use keywords effectively. This is called search engine optimization and will help people find your website when they’re searching the Web. Make sure the keywords flow naturally with the text and when you are brainstorming for good words, askaround for words that come naturally to people of all ages when looking for your type of site.
- Keywords not only go into headings and page names but also into “meta tags”. “Meta tags” are the software code that website visitors do not see but search engines do.
- Don’t overdo the keywords; over-stuffing keywords will result in a very low search ranking for your website. Also, be very careful not to place key text inside graphics; search engines cannot pick up graphics.
- Build good links. Link building is incredibly important for websites. This is the process of creating links that point to your page from other pages. This will happen naturally as you create quality content, but there are some things you can do to help build links yourself:
- Trading links with other websites that are closely related to the subject of your website can bring you more website traffic. These are two-way links because you must provide a link to them, too, and linking to low-quality websites can threaten the credibility of yours. Only link to sites that are dead on topic, and truly help your visitors.
- Link back on related blogs and forums. Find communities that relate to your niche and create a user profile there. Enter in your site information in your profile and make quality posts. This will draw people to your site through your profile links.
- Contact companies that relate to your niche. Getting a company to link to your site for a how-to article, or a blog post related to their product, can significantly increase your traffic. Try to build some links with companies in your niche.
- Set up an RSS feed. An RSS feed allows your articles to be easily linked in a variety of other places. Submitting your RSS feed to directories can really give your links a boost.
- See this guide for more details on building back links.
3. Link to old posts on your own site. Make sure that you are linking to related articles that you’ve already written. This will help new users find interesting articles from your backlog, and will keep people on your site.
- Add links on old posts to new ones. If you write an article that relates to an old article that you did, make sure to go back to the old article and link to the new one.
- Organize your content into categories. A well-organized site is much more useful for readers, and will lead to better retention. It can also help increase the views on your older articles.
4. Give freebies. Who doesn’t like a freebie?! Online freebies are commonplace and they leave the visitor wanting more when they are well written and informative introductory materials. Consider such freebies as:
- Giving away an eBook with your ad on it. Allow your visitors to also give the freebie away. This will increase your ad exposure and increase web traffic to your website at the same time;
- Holding free online classes or seminars. They could be held in your website’s chat room. The idea of “live” information will definitely entice people to visit your website. You will become known as an expert on the topic.
- Giving visitors a free entry into your contest or sweepstakes. The prizes should be something of interest or value to your visitors. Most people who enter will continually revisit your web site to get the results.
- Letting visitors download free software such as freeware, shareware, demos etc. You could even turn part of your site into a free software directory. If you created the software, include your ad inside and let other people give it away.
- Targeting specific groups who might worry about using the internet with free classes in using it on your site – senior citizens, busy workers etc. might find these convenient and alluring.
- Offering free online services or utilities from your website. For instance, they could be search engine submitting, copyrighting, proofreading etc. The service or utility should be helpful to your target audience.
- Giving free consulting to people who visit your website. You could offer your knowledge via e-mail or by telephone. People will consider this a huge value because consulting fees can be very expensive.
- Offering a free start-up package that has a finite time; enough time for the customer to practice with your online product and like it enough to pay for continued use.
- Sending out free CDs, DVDs etc. that contain starter packs or teasers to encourage the customer to use your site more.
- Offering free screensavers or templates for business cards, cards, writing paper etc., anything that a customer can print out.
Method 2 of 4: Creating a Social Site
1. Use calls to action. Ask your readers to get involved. If the readers feel like the site owner is interested in them, they will be more likely to continue coming back. Calls to action engage the reader, and helps keep them on the page. Calls to action may include asking the reader to write in with responses, sound off in the comments, or visit a site.
2. Interact with readers through comments. Comments are a great way to stay in touch with your readers. Respond to good comments on your articles, and use the comment space to ask questions. Taking a few minutes each day to respond to the most well thought out comments will do wonders for your community.
3. Follow and interact with other sites and blogs. Stay connected with other blogs that relate to yours. Leave comments on their posts and interact with the communities. Don’t hawk your site, but allow people to find their way to it.
4. Guest post on other blogs, and invite other bloggers to guest post on your site. Guest posts are a great way to drive traffic between related blogs, and allow you to gain readers that might not normally make it to your site. Be sure to allow any guest posters to link back to their own site, and share any guest posts the same as you would your own posts.
5. Start a forum. A forum is a place for your site’s community to gather together and discuss everything from your site to anything else. Active forums are also a great way to become more visible in searches. See this guide for details on creating your own forum.
- As your site grows, you may need to appoint moderators to your forum. If a community grows toxic, it can have a negative effect on the traffic to your site. A good moderation policy is always important for online communities.
6. Advertise your site. Besides using links, you must make use of numerous other ways to increase web traffic. There a lot of ways you can advertise your site, both online and offline:
- If you have money, consider pay per click. The big search engines like Google, Yahoo, Microsoft provide advertising packages. But find out first how to limit your expenditure to the level you want.
- Go beyond the electronic medium and into the print medium. Advertise in local newspapers, business brochures, magazines, nationwide publications and mail-drop literature. And don’t forget the perennial favorite, the good old Yellow Pages™ – printed version naturally!
- Small business cards left in cafés, on signboards, exchanged at meetings etc.
- Use local resources such as clubs, libraries and community centers for non-profit website awareness raising.
- Use word of mouth. Tell everyone you know about your website, give out business cards to passers-by in the street, and so on. You might even want to run a guerilla marketing program!
- Use your car, especially if your website is area-specific (e.g. a website detailing local events or selling local services). Get some vinyl decals or bumper stickers created and turn your car into a moving advertisement, literally driving traffic to your web site!
Method 3 of 4: Using Social Networks
1. Use social networks to expand your reach. Social networking is hugely important, and ensuring that you have a solid presence will have a large impact on your views. Post compelling content and you’ll soon build a loyal following. Follow and share with other users, who may reciprocate and follow you. There are a variety of ways that you can use social networks to extend your online presence, depending on the needs of your site.
2. Create a Facebook page. Facebook allows you to create a page for your site or company. This allows you to quickly share new articles with your Facebook followers, as well as share other related articles. A Facebook Page is also a good way to advertise your site to a large number of people.
3. Post new articles on Twitter. Create a Twitter account for your site or for yourself, and post the headline and link to each new article you publish. Many blogging software packages allow you to do this automatically. Make sure you have a link to your Twitter feed on your site.
4. Use Tumblr to gain followers. Tumblr is a blogging service that allows you to easily link to content around the web. Use Tumblr to post links to your articles as well as related content.
5. Set up a Google+ Page. Google+ is Google’s social network service, and like the others, allows you to easily post links to your published articles. Google+ has a very large potential audience, since all Google users have access to it, though a far smaller percentage actually use it.
6. Pin your articles on Pinterest. Pinterest is an image-focused social sharing site. it started as a crafting and recipe service, but has since grown to cover a broad range of categories. Make sure that your blog posts have good, clear images if you’re going to pin them on Pinterest.
7. Take photos with Instagram. Create an Instagram account for your company or site and take some pictures related to your niche. Be sure to use hashtags to advertise your blog on the photos, and have a link to your site in your profile.
8. Submit your articles on Reddit and Digg. Reddit and Digg both have large communities of active users. Posting your article can result in a lot of good traffic and sharing, as long as you are posting in the correct place and following submission rules.
Method 4 of 4: Drawing the Eye with Good Web Design
1. Build a cohesive, modern design for your site. If your site is hard to look at, you won’t retain many visitors. Make sure that your style matches your niche, and that it is modern enough to be pleasing to the eye and easy to navigate.
2. Balance your page. To improve your website, balance your page because when users enter a website, their focus first starts at the top left of the page and hovers there before slowly tracking to the right. The web user is focused more on the text of the page, rather than images or graphics. This is where balance comes into place.
- Balance will not only make your page more visually appealing, but it will make your page easier to read and items easier to find. A good object will help the objects on your page flow.
3. Keep it simple. If you clean your website up by removing all the unnecessary visual elements, it will allow important items to stand out. You should leave some white space on the page so the illusion of the space is visually pleasing, as well as easier to navigate.
- Use clean backgrounds. The background textures and color you choose have the ability to drastically affect the overall appeal of the website. Lots of texture and graphics in the background can be distracting. If you are going to use a color on the background, you should make sure there is significant contrast between the background color and the text. Be careful when using brighter and darker colors such as red or yellow. They cause visual fatigue (temporary loss of strength and energy resulting from hard physical or mental work) and the reader will lose their focus on the text.
4. Take clear, high-quality photographs. If you are using photographs on your site, ensure that they are as high-quality as possible. This may mean investing in a better camera if you take your own photos.
5. Create a navigation menu. For easy navigation, you should create a toolbar with links that are easy to navigate and position the toolbar in an area that makes sense. Web users often look for the toolbar across the top or down the left the left hand side of the page. You shouldn’t forget a link to your homepage. It’s often forgotten but very important to point your users to your homepage.
6. Commission art for your site. If you don’t have much artistic flair, you can commission art for your site to give it a professional look. This can cost a little money, but can have a big impact on the feel of your site.
7. Create infographics. These are very shareable, and dominate social media feeds. There are sites online that can create infographics for you based on your data and template choices.
8. Start a podcast. Podcasts are a popular way to share your thoughts and views with your readers. They can listen to your podcasts on the go, and you can even earn money from them.
9. Create a YouTube channel link it to your site. If your suite lends itself to video, consider linking a YouTube channel to it. You can embed YouTube videos in your blog posts and send YouTube viewers to your blog for more details. You can even monetize your YouTube channel for additional revenue.
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Chandreyi is a Content Marketing Specialist and Social Media Manager at Skyline. She specializes in building engaged online communities and sparking conversations about business-to-business marketing trends.