You’ve put a lot of work into you’re website, so it’s a shame if it doesn’t work for you. And it won’t work if you don’t get website traffic to it. Regardless of what the intensions of your website are, they won’t be achieved if no-one sees it. Traffic is the lifeblood of a successful website.
Website traffic essentially falls into two camps,
- Free, otherwise known as organic traffic, and
- Paid traffic
Here I’ll take a quick look at some of the strategies you can adopt to get eyeballs to your site.
Arguably the most important thing you can do to attract free traffic to your site is to optimise it. Search engine optimisation, SEO, is all about configuring your site, both its structure and content, so that it gets noticed by the search engines. Once indexed, you can work on improving your sites search engine ranking.
If you’re using WordPress you can reduce the time it takes the search engines to recognise (index) your site by installing the Google XML Sitemaps plugin. You can check that it’s installed properly here.
If you’re using video on your site, install a video sitemap.
The amount of traffic each website receives from search engines is unique to that particular website, but search engines can generate a significant amount of traffic. The largest search engine by far is Google.
It’s been estimated that approximately 42% of Google’s traffic, for any given search term, is won by the site ranked first. The second ranked site picks up about 12%, with the third ranked site obtaining about 8%. Therefore you can see how important it is to not only get ranked by Google, but to get a first page ranking, and ideally the top spot.
So how do you achieve these rankings? Well, as mentioned above, it all comes down to SEO. This falls into two categories,
- On page SEO
- Off page SEO
On Page SEO
There’s a host of different things you can do to enhance the on page optimisation of your site. The most important things to consider are,
- Keywords. You don’t want to excessively use your keywords. This is known as keyword stuffing and you’ll be penalised for it, but you do want to include your keywords in key areas. These include the title, description and keyword tags, URL, and image file names and alt tags.
Some people argue that you should try to include your main keyword in your domain name. Obviously if you do this you’ll always have a keyword in your URL. However, if you don’t, then by setting your permalink structure to /%postname%/ and including keywords in your post titles, you’ll also see the keywords in your URL.
- Content. Search engine bots are sophisticated things and when they crawl your site they can interpret how users interact with it and therefore draw conclusions regarding it’s usefulness. They consider things such as,
- Content to advertising ratio
- How long a user spends on your site
- Whether other pages are visited
- Reports of spam
- Popularity, e.g. likes, +1 and other social media votes
Therefore you also need to ensure you have high quality content, presented in a logical layout which is easy to navigate.
- Links. Internal linking can help the user to navigate through your site. You should also include some links to external sites, but make sure they’re authority sites relevant to your content.
If you’re using WordPress, there a numerous plugins available which will help you see how well your post is optimised. I recommend WordPress SEO by Yoast.
Off Page SEO
The main element of off page SEO is backlinks. These are achieved when a site links to your site. Of more importance than the number of backlinks is the quality of them. Links coming from a site with a high pagerank, for example .edu sites, are more valuable than links from a site with low pagerank.
A number of strategies can be adopted to increase the amount of backlinks to your site. Some of the most popular ones are,
- User Profiles. When you sign up for accounts at sites such as Facebook, Twitter and forums, you should include a link back to your site in your user profile.
- Article Marketing. Distribute articles to various article directories such as ezinearticles and include a link back to your site in the resource box provided below your article.
- Content Repurposing. You can take an article and convert into different formats such as pdf, audio, video and slideshows. Then submit it to numerous directories which cater for these outputs such as Scribd, iTunes, YouTube and SlideShare.
- Social Bookmarking. Submitting your content to social bookmarking sites increases both there visibility and your backlinks. OnlyWire can help here.
Links can also be created via video marketing, blog commenting, forum posting and guest blogging.
Also of importance is anchor text, especially following the recent Penguin update. It’s important to not only use a variety of words in your anchor text, but also to ensure that a significant proportion of them are not keywords but are more natural terms such as “click here”.
If you want to learn more about search engine optimisation, check out the seomoz beginners guide.
There are essentially two types of paid traffic,
- Pay per Click (PPC)
- Cost per Impression (CPI or CPM)
Pay Per Click
PPC is most commonly either text or banner ads. When someone clicks on your ad, you’re charged. The most well known type of PPC advertising is Google’s Adsense program.
PPC campaigns attract highly targeted traffic because the visitor has to be interested in your ad to make the click. However, it can get very expensive. Whether it’s the way to go largely depends on what you’re trying to achieve. If you’re trying to increase sales, it could be more successful than organic traffic, but if you’re providing a freebie, organic traffic may be a better approach.
Cost Per Impression
Here you’re charged for every 1000 times your ad is displayed. If there’s a good match between your ad and the target market of the site displaying it, it can be an extremely cost effective method to employ. However, if it’s simply being displayed on sites that get high traffic volumes, or are not really relevant to your offering, it’s unlikely to attract many clicks. Hence results will be poor.
Just like everything else, it’s wise to utilise different advertising methods in your marketing mix, but you should match them to your end goal, i.e. sales or action taken.
If your objective is to achieve sales, you should always measure your return on investment (ROI). Knowing this allows you to make changes in an attempt to improve it. However, don’t fall into the trap of thinking that an ROI cannot be determined for free traffic. Free traffic takes time to generate, at least until it’s established. Put a value on your time, cost your efforts and calculate a notional ROI. Compare the two. You might be amazed.
Over To You: How do you generate your traffic? Do you avoid paying, fearing it’s too expensive? Maybe you’ve tried paid, and now consider organic traffic a waste of time?