It’s pretty common knowledge that getting traffic to your website, landing pages & offers is crucial when it comes to running successful digital marketing campaigns. But judging by the monthly search volume for the phrase “how to drive traffic to your website,” it’s pretty clear that efforts to increase website traffic can be difficult. The real question people should be asking is: “How do I drive targeted traffic to my websites & offers?”
Traffic is Everywhere
It may seem like traffic is difficult to obtain. Fortunately, it’s not. There’s no shortage of traffic, and as the global population continues to grow, and as more people get access to the internet, overall traffic volume will only continue to increase. Huge companies (Google, Facebook, Bing, Yahoo, native ad networks, etc.) have all the traffic you could ever need, and they’re more than happy to send some your way.
There are plenty of ways to get “free” traffic through content marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), organic social media campaigns, viral giveaways, forums and Q&A sites, and much more. However, these “free” methods will cost you a lot of time to implement, and (usually) even longer to see results (with viral giveaways being an exception). That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t utilize these methods… quite the opposite, in fact. Producing high-quality content on your site can not only bring in visitors from search engines and from others who link to your high-quality content, but it can also help in establishing your brand as an authority in your market.
Before you start setting up any traffic campaign, free or paid, you need to ensure you know who you’re targeting and how to market to them. The best way to do this is to perform market research, keyword research, create customer avatars and create each campaign with a specific buyer persona in mind.
Increase Website Traffic – Free Approaches
Let’s start with some free traffic strategies. One of the benefits of these free traffic approaches is that, when done properly, they can produce leads and sales for a long time to come, without much maintenance. With that being said, they can take a while to set up, and take a while to start producing results. In addition, you should never *stop* working on these, as the results from your efforts tend to compound over time.
There are a number of ways to obtain traffic from free approaches, though just about all of them will take a while to produce decent traffic numbers. Many people get discouraged due to the effort-to-reward ratio at the beginning, which is why paid traffic is so appealing – it’s much more instantaneous, and you know quickly which approaches are working, and which aren’t. With most free approaches, it takes a lot of work to start to see any results, and the results you get may not be what you were hoping for.
With a solid content marketing strategy, You can reverse engineer your competitors’ content marketing strategies to figure out what’s working while cutting back on trial & error and hoping that whatever you’re publishing pulls in traffic. If you’re struggling to come up with ideas for new content & blog posts, check out this handy guide for blog post format ideas.
Between looking at what your competition is doing as far as content creation, and doing keyword research to figure out what topics & keywords to target, you can set up an effective plan with cornerstone content to build around and link to, which can move visitors to key sections of your website so you can present targeted offers based on their interests.
Search Engine Optimization
On-page optimization plays a crucial role for getting found in search engines. More visibility means you can increase website traffic. Without proper targeting, your site will rarely get found in organic search results. If you’re working on building links, or any kind of content marketing, it’s important that you have your on-page content set up to be as optimized as possible. There are a number of factors to consider and tweak, including:
- Title Tags & Meta Descriptions
- Proper Use of Keywords in URLs & Header Tags
- Keyword Density & Use of LSI Keywords
- Internal & External Linking
- Page Speed
And many other factors. On-page optimization is not enough in most competitive markets, but it’s an essential step to take. It almost doesn’t matter how much effort you put into off-site optimization in the pursuit of building authority if your on-page optimization is weak – it’s like trying to push a boulder up a hill.
Local Citations & Business Listings
If you offer local services, having your correct business information and website present in the top local directories is crucial. These citations play a large role in your overall presence in local search results, so it’s important to audit your current presence across these top directories.
Blogger Outreach & Partnership
Organic Social Media Marketing
Organic social media marketing is a great way to interact with those who are interested in your brand, products, and services. When done correctly, you can generate new traffic and leads through organic posting on the top social networks. However, there are two things to keep in mind:
- Visitors from social media sites are less likely to buy
- You need a lot of fans to generate buzz, traffic & leads
As far as converting your fans into buyers, you can fairly easily remedy this problem if you have solid marketing funnels in place. It’s not too difficult to interest fans on your page to opt-in for free content, at which point you can work on moving them through your funnels. On the other hand, it can be very difficult to gain traction and get people into your funnels in the first place if you don’t already have a lot of fans. This is especially true as social networks clamp down on your page’s overall reach–just because you have 10,000 fans, it doesn’t mean all 10,000 of them will see your post; it’s actually a much lower percentage. You can work on adding new content and encourage friends & family to share, but it’s usually a much quicker route if you at least start by paying for some reach… then as you gain traction with your page you can ramp back down.
Viral Promotional Giveaways
Viral giveaways may not technically be “free,” as you’re giving away something of value, depending on your offer. If you’re giving away a virtual product that you normally sell, it’s easy to swallow the cost since it generally doesn’t cost much to give the item to the winner of the giveaway.
The exception to this is if you’re giving away, for example, lifetime access to a cloud-based SaaS tool or something–since that requires an ongoing cost (though it’s usually negligible compared to how much traffic & the number of new leads you can generate). If you’re interested in running effective viral giveaway promotions be sure to have a giveaway that inspires others to enter & share (see the blog post linked for a comprehensive overview). The best part about viral giveaways is you only have to put in a small bit of effort to get the momentum going to promote your viral giveaway, and it takes on a life of it’s own.
Forums & Q&A Sites
Forums are an excellent place to generate awareness about yourself and your brand. There are forums dedicated to just about any niche or industry you can think of, from online marketing to plumbing, car repair, HVAC, roofing, etc. Many forums allow you to place a link to your website in your forum signature either with a free or (usually inexpensive) paid account, and some even allow banners in your signature.
The more you interact with other members on a forum, the more your signature appears across the site, which means more exposure for you. The more helpful you are, the better your reputation can become on the forum, and the more likely you are to generate new leads and opportunities for sales & partnerships. Building a presence on niche forums can be quite a task, but it can prove to be a fruitful endeavor when done correctly – just don’t expect a lot of traffic to start pouring in from day one.
Yahoo! Answers used to be a great source for driving traffic. It can still be useful, though Y!A pages show up far less often in the top spots of Google than they used to. That doesn’t mean it’s not worth investigating, but there’s a Q&A platform that has gained much more traction and is proving to be a very valuable resource for many: Quora.
Quora is a place where people go to ask questions, and experts in any given field can weigh in with responses.
Increase Website Traffic – Paid Approaches
Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Advertising
Paid Social Media Advertising
Social media advertising, especially on networks such as Facebook and LinkedIn, allows for unique targeting abilities not presented in traditional PPC advertising. On these platforms, you’re more easily able to target & display your ads to people based on age, gender, job title / industry, interests, and more. Because of this, you can quickly launch new campaigns based on specific demographics, test these campaigns against each other, and see which targeting converts best.
The downside to advertising on social media is that your doing essentially what is called “disruptive advertising” – you’re interrupting their experience on the social network with your offer. That means your offer has to be extra compelling, and targeted properly to have any decent interest. This is a stark contrast from PPC advertising because when your ads are triggered by a search, people are actively looking for a product or solution that you offer.
Social media traffic often converts at lower rates, but with proper testing and optimizing, you can get very high response rates at low prices.
The exception to this is retargeting on social media platforms. If you have a Facebook Pixel on your site, you can (and should) be building an audience to follow up with via ads. Many visitors won’t convert on your website during their first visit (and many won’t ever come back for one reason or another), so if you can reach out to them through Facebook advertising, you know they’re already the ideal target because they were interested enough to visit your website in the first place.
Using Native Advertising is a great way to amplify your content marketing to drive more visitors to your website, collect leads, and make sales.
Capitalizing on Your Traffic
Facebook & Google Retargeting