Traffic is the lifeblood of any website; it is essential, or you would not be pondering how to increase website traffic. The first stage in growing traffic is having a strong product, and for a web property that means extraordinary content.
Extraordinary content is shareable and linkable, and until things change drastically, links are like online currency. Links are like the popular kids in high school vouching for you. To put it in modern marketing terms, you need influencers to vouch for you by linking to your content.
The more influencers link to your site, the easier it becomes for your website to get traffic from Google.
Google is the biggest cool kid of them all, and you need other cool kids to let Google know you are okay to hang out with. Get links from bad influences, and Google will deep six your website in a second, and you will no longer be sitting at the Google table. It does not pay to try and game Google by getting links too quickly, or getting links from spammy websites.
The best play is getting the cool kids (established, trustworthy websites) to link to our content. That can only happen if they know you exist, so we are going to talk a lot about making a strong introduction.
What we are going to discuss is how to get more people and influencers to know about what you have to offer. The process of increasing website traffic can be broken down to the following process:
Create discoverable, shareable, linkable, and remarkable content
Expand the audience for your content
Let the sharing, and linking begin
Rinse & repeat
How to increase website traffic: Time.
Before we jump right in, let me put two words in the front of your mind. Patience, and persistence. Unless you are willing to pay for traffic, gaining search engine traffic is a marathon, not a sprint. You must commit yourself to a set of consistent actions, and continually execute until you reach your goals. Do not expect instant gratification, or an easy journey. This is not ‘Field of Dreams’. No one is coming unless you go out, and drag them in kicking and screaming.
How to increase website traffic: Create discoverable, shareable, linkable and remarkable content
There is a process to creating discoverable, shareable, linkable, and remarkable content, so here goes.
Understand your audience: Keyword research
The first step begins with understanding your audience, and the best way to do this is by doing keyword research. My first online venture was a user generated content site in the politics space. I had a good amount of traffic, but my traffic exploded one day when a user posted an article with keywords that were in high demand. From that day forward I have studied what my audience wants, and I give it to them. It is not about me, after all. My tool of choice for doing keyword research is the Google’s Adwords keyword tool.
If you are unfamiliar with doing keyword research, here is a good tutorial on getting starting with the Google Adwords keyword tool:
I cannot overstate the importance of doing keyword research. Your audience could be searching for things that you have never considered, and what you are writing about off of the top of your head might be totally irrelevant to your audience. In the past, I found this out the hard way.
Understand your audience, and make your life easier.
Go after the low hanging fruit first: Long tail keyword phrases
It will take time for your site to rank for the keywords that you have researched, and it will take even longer for your site to rank for very popular keywords with the highest demand. The higher the demand, the higher the competition, and the more difficult it is to rank well for them. You are not going to make it to Google’s first page overnight for the most popular keywords.
The primary reason for this is that Google does not trust new websites, or websites that have not produced a lot of content in the past. It is best to start with keyword phrases that have low competition compared to the higher demand keyword phrases. Lower competition keywords phrases will get you search engine traffic much quicker than highly competitive keyword phrases. By low competition I mean keyword phrases that have a lot lower Google searches each month. Go for the low numbers first.
Once your website has gained some traction, work your way up to the higher demand keywords.
Force people to read your content: Yank them in with irresistible headlines.
One harsh reality of the Internet is that for every 10 people that read the title of your posts, only 2 people will actually take the time to click, and read the article.
Quite an eye opening statistic. Improving your article titles can drastically increase the audience for your content. Titles are important.
The most shareable, and linkable content on the web follows a formula. If you check out highly popular websites like Mashable, Buzzfeed, and Upworthy, you will notice a pattern to their most shared content:
Use numbers: Headlines with numbers clue your audience in on exactly what they are getting, and piques their interest. Internet marketing studies have found that odd numbers work even better than even numbers. For some reason, people click on articles that have odd numbers in their headlines more often. Go figure. Try numbers out and see how they work for you.
How to: ‘How to’ is a natural way that people search for help on the Internet, and these types of articles are extremely shareable and linkable. You are helping someone, and usually they know others that could use the same help. Using ‘How to’ in your titles is an ideal way to let your audience know that you have an answer to a problem they are dealing with.
Why: Why headlines are not as popular as ‘how to’ posts, but they also indicate that the post is going to provide an answer to something that they may be thinking about. Why headlines create interest, and curiosity, which are great qualities for headlines.
Lists: People seem to love list posts. In most cases, they are informative, and can be very helpful. Lists are usually a resource that numerous people will share and link. List posts can also be a lot of fun. You can use list posts to highlight some of the coolest people in your industry, or the best blogs, or the top influencers in your niche.
Questions: Question headlines are another way to arouse curiosity because people like, and want answers. Question posts are thought provoking. Hmm, I wonder why.
Be specific: No one wants the runaround, or being misled. Give your audience what they expect, and don’t mislead. Specific headlines are more magnetic than ambiguous tiles that leave your audience unsure of what they are getting. You have seconds to convince someone to click, and read your article. Don’t waste those seconds being ambiguous.
Be brief: Google only shows about 70 characters of your title in their search results, and as I have stated earlier, you have limited time to grab your audience’s attention. Content marketing studies have found that people focus on the first and last 3 words of articles titles, so 6 word titles are ideal.
Curiosity: Curiosity is a big reason I sometimes click on an article, and I am not the only one. Headlines like, ‘Why is your blog failing’, make people wonder why is my blog failing, and then they click on the link, and read through the post to try and gain some insights. Just make sure that you take care of their curiosity. Don’t leave them unfulfilled.
Controversy: Are you a contrarian? Controversial headline are almost irresistible. I just have to see what the person is saying. Would an iPhone owner, or the owner of a competitive phone be tempted to click on this headline? Why do iPhone owners suck? All of them might not click, but quite a few will just to see what the person is saying in the article.
Buzzfeed, and Upworthy come up with multiple headlines for each of their posts to try and come up with the most magnetic headlines possible. They have been known to come up with up to 25 ideas before they choose the final headline. These two site in particular are some of the most viral websites on the planet. They know what they are doing. This is an approach that you might also want to try. Brainstorm multiple ideas for your headlines, and see if you can come up with something viral. Don’t skip this step. There is a reason that Buzzfeed and Upworthy work so hard on their titles.
Vary your content to gain attention and to build multiple traffic sources
The written word is powerful, but images, and videos can be a lot more shareable, and linkable. Don’t limit yourself to just writing. Sometimes a post you have written could also be a great video. You can even create the video first, and then transcribe the audio to get the best of both worlds. Posting videos on a regular basis on Youtube diversifies your traffic, and broadens your brand’s reach.
Diversity your content:
Videos: Video is one of the easiest forms of content to digest on the internet. No reading involved. Many will prefer videos to written content, and videos can create a level of engagement that surpasses the written word alone.
Interviews: Interview interesting people in your industry and you have a powerful piece of content that is very shareable and linkable. People like to feel important and valuable, and interviews give them the opportunity to share their knowledge beyond their normal network. Interviews add credibility to your site, and attract links from the person you interviewed, and their social networks. Interviews are one awesome way for influencers to vouch for you. Interviews are an extremely powerful type of content.
Podcasts: Podcasts create another avenue to expand your audience. One of the tenets of internet marketing is to go where your audience hangs out. Some of your audience will be fans of podcasts, and will consume them while they drive, workout, or just relax. You might be good in the recording booth.
Round Ups: Round ups are where you ask several industry experts to answer one particular question. Once you have the answers, you compile them into one post. Round ups are extremely powerful because you are leveraging the knowledge of multiple industry experts. Also, the experts are likely to share posts that they are feature in with their networks. Use round ups to deliver a lot of value to your audience, and watch the shares and links pile up.
Infographics: Infographics are very shareable, and have gained a lot of popularity on the Internet. We are all different, and some us like to get our content through visuals. When they are well put together, infographics deliver a ton of information in an easily digestible way. If you have an eye for graphics, try your hand at creating infographics.
It goes without saying that you should be striving to create the absolute best content possible. Add magnetic headlines to your toolbox, and write posts that are proven to be the most enticing for web consumption, and you will have the foundation for increasing your website traffic tremendously. The foundation for increasing your website traffic is discoverable, shareable, linkable, and remarkable content. Get started today!
Now that you have upgraded your content, it is time to get social…
How to increase website traffic: Expand the audience for your content
You’ve create linkable and shareable content. Now you have to put it in front of people. Great content is pointless if no one ever sees it.
Where is your audience?
Where does your audience hang out online? Twitter? Facebook? Linkedin and Facebook groups, or industry forums? And let’s not forget about image centric websites like Instagram and Pinterest. How about in the comment section of your favorite blogs? Your audience is probably already hanging out in all of these places. Go hang out with them.
How do you engage your audience? Participate! The key to leveraging these communities is making friends, being useful, and being helpful. You cannot just selfishly join these communities and start blasting out links to your content. Really engage with members of the communities you choose to join online. Interacting with like-minded people should be fun and interesting. The more value you deliver, the stronger your voice becomes, and the more awareness you will build for your brand.
Build relationships and watch your social network and platform grow
Relationship building in critical. If you want good friends, you first must be a good friend, so share others content, write insightful blog comments, and forum posts. When you come across great content, share it on Twitter, Facebook, Stumbleupon or any other online community where you are active. The more you do to help others, the more they will wonder who you are, and the more they will want to work together to build something amazing. It pays to pay it forward.
Start out by following interesting people in your niche. Getting a new follower often makes people curious about who just followed them. They may take a look at your profile, visit your website, and decide to follow you back. Make sure that you have your website link in all of your social profiles, and have fun making new friends.
You can also use tools like wefollow to find the most influencial people in your niche. Check some of them out, and see if any of them are worth following.
To build your own following, you also have to be a follower.
Find Influencers and grab their attention
All of your social activities will help you gain the attention of influencers (cool kids) in your industry. Great comments, sharing their posts, and mentioning them in your posts lays the foundation for strong relationships. If you feature them in a post, mention them when you tweet the post, or share it on Facebook. It doesn’t hurt to send them an email telling them that you enjoy their blog, and that you have featured them in one of your posts.
You are planting seeds, and building awareness for your brand. Being helpful and gaining exposure will lead to partnerships and friendships with the top influencers. Your expertise and usefulness should grab their attention through your commenting, and through the quality posts on your own website.
How to increase website traffic: Share you expertise
Share your own content
Before and while building your social platform, share your content on Twitter, Facebook, Stumbleupon, and Reddit. The more relationships you build on these communities, the more powerful these tools will become in broadcasting your content out to the masses. The point here is that you have to proactively promote your content. Content promotion sometimes will outweigh content creation in importance and in producing results.
Share multiple times
Social media veterans recommend sharing your content multiple times. Lets be reasonable here. Don’t overdo it. As your platform grows, go ahead and share older, useful content that new followers might not have seen before. Change up your titles a bit, and see what works as you promote your content through social channels. Tweeting some of your older content later on is a good way to put valuable content in front of more people.
People are also online at different times of the day, and people are in different time zones all around the globe. Pay attention to when you tweets gain the most attention, and experiment to find out what are the ideal times to share to maximize your content’s visibility. There are quite a few approaches to timing when, and how often to share your posts. I suggest you read some of the online advice, and experiment on your own.
Comment on other blogs
Research your industry and start following the top blogs in your niche. This is a very important way to learn, and improve your blogging. Get to know how, and what they write about, and then start interacting with them through their comment section.
Don’t spam other blogs with your comments. Wait to find posts that you really enjoy, and then write an insightful comment. You are trying to share your expertise in a way that puts you in a positive light. The last thing you want to do is come across as self-serving. If you have a post that is relevant to the topic, be damn sure before you post a link to it in the comment section. Make sure you are really adding value. Seek to first be helpful. Again, pay it forward and you will be rewarded. Great commenting makes people want to see who your are. Be helpful, and useful.
One quick tip; use your real name in your comments, not your blog name. We are trying to build real relationships with real people, aren’t we?
As your profile grows in your industry, branch out and share your expertise on other websites. Why not write guest posts for some of the bigger websites in your niche? You might have gotten used to only writing content for your own site, but guest blogging is a wonderful way to build your audience, and gain exposure. Put a lot of effort into creating your guest posts, and contact some of the power blogs in your niche to see if they can use your post.
Some like to propose posts before writing them, while others like to approach other websites with the content already done. You can play around with approaches, and see what works for you.
Groups (Linkedin, Facebook)
Join some groups on these two social networks that are relevant to your niche. Study them for awhile, get used to what is shared, and how it is shared. Don’t just jump in with self promotion. Participate and be helpful. This is your primary goal. If you find a post where one of your posts is super relevant, then share a link, but be careful not to overdo it. The owners of the groups will quickly grow weary of you if you are constantly only sharing your own content.
Take what I shared about Linkedin and Facebook groups, and apply these same principles to forums. Find forums where you enjoy the discourse. Depending on your niche there may be numerous forums that serve your industry. Try to narrow it down to one or two, and strive to become a leader in those communities. Don’t spread yourself too thin. You are striving to provide super value, and that is hard to do if you are visiting too many forums. I don’t necessarily participate in the biggest, or most popular forums. I go where I feel a part of the community, and have positive interactions with the members.
Quora is another great place where you can share your expertise and be useful. It can also serve as a research tool for your upcoming blog posts. A lot of the questions asked are going to be relevant to your audience as well. The same as for groups and forums, if you have a relevant post that aids answering the question, go ahead and put a link to your post, but, as always, don’t overdo it!
How to increase website traffic: Conclusions
If you want to increase your website traffic you have to master two skills. You have to constantly create extraordinary content, and you have to put your content in front of as many eyeballs as possible. If your content is truly remarkable, the links and shares will follow. As your social network grows, your influence, and reach will grow. This growth will help your content become more shareable and linkable. This whole process all starts with remarkable content. If your site begins to get traffic, but no one is linking or sharing, you have to reevaluate the quality of what you are producing.
Some bloggers give content creation 20 percent of their time, and give the remaining 80 percent to content promotion. It is up to you to find the balance that works for you. In learning how to increase website traffic two main skills must be enhanced: how to create discoverable, shareable, linkable, remarkable content, and effectively promoting both yourself, and your content.
This is a journey that we all are on, and we all learn and grow along the way. If you are blogging about a topic that you truly enjoy, the content creation, the networking, and promotion will come naturally. Be patient and keep forging ahead. You will be rewarded.
Just keep moving forward.