For most online marketers, web traffic is everything.
The more web traffic you can earn, the more visibility your products will get, the more conversions you’ll see, and the more revenue your company will make.
Content marketing, social media marketing, and other inbound marketing techniques are all developed as ways to increase this volume of traffic, but unless you have a way to objectively measure your increases and determine which strategies are effective for increasing them, you’ll be operating blind, with no real insight into what makes your campaigns tick.
There are four main types of traffic that will be coming to your website, and it’s important to familiarize yourself with all of them: direct traffic, referral traffic, organic traffic, and social traffic. By segmenting your efforts and measuring them against each other, you’ll be able to figure out the core strengths and weaknesses of your business and make the adjustments necessary to keep growing your revenue year after year.
Direct traffic is composed of users who found your site by plugging in your URL directly into their browser. People who found you this way must have had some prior knowledge of your brand—otherwise, they wouldn’t have known to plug in a direct URL. Oftentimes, this is the result of a previous website experience, but it is possible to get new visitors in the direct traffic pool, especially if you use printed advertising to advertise your domain.
Few digital strategies can optimize for direct traffic, since the main sources of online traffic are from search engines, social syndication and referral links. However, repeat traffic in the form of direct visits is a good indicator of whether your website is impressive enough to encourage visitors to come back for more. Even if you don’t use printed advertising, monitor your direct traffic closely, especially in comparison with your other traffic sources. If you find that you’re getting insufficient repeat traffic, you might want to step up your efforts to encourage revisits.
Referral traffic is based on users who found your site through external links, such as affiliate links or links from external press releases. Obviously, not all external links are equal, so it’s important to pay close attention to which link sources are earning you the most traffic. For instance, if you notice the bulk of your referral traffic is coming from one specific guest posting opportunity, you should consider stepping up your efforts accordingly. Or, if you notice one of your affiliate links declining in popularity, you might want to find an alternative source of traffic.
Some of your referral traffic might be out of your control—such as links that your infographics or viral content attracted naturally—but for the most part, you have strict control over which of your links are syndicated and where. Keep a close eye on your link profile as well to ensure that your links are getting the greatest possible visibility.
Your organic traffic is the traffic that finds your site after performing a search, either using branded or non-branded terms. If you’re running a search engine optimization (SEO) campaign, you can consider it responsible for the size and relevance of your organic traffic. The more effort you put into optimizing your site for search engines, the higher you’ll rank, and the more organic traffic you’ll begin to see as a result.
If you’re just starting an SEO campaign, it’s normal for your first few months to see only minimal activity. It isn’t until a few months into a campaign that your momentum truly starts to build. However, for as long as your efforts remain consistent, you should see exponential increases in your traffic, month over month. If you notice a sharp drop in organic traffic, it could be the result of a soft penalty from Google or a negative backlink that’s dragging you down. Keep an eye out for such anomalies, and use them as launch points to perform thorough campaign audits and recover quickly.
Paid traffic is a “push” marketing technique that invests in a particular demographic to create demand via broad advertising to a specific segment of a population. You pay a publisher or search engine or social channel, and they drive traffic to your site based on impressions, clicks or some combination of the two.
It is a reliable way to build interest for your website quickly, but it doesn’t make use of “pull marketing” techniques like SEO. SEO can take that traffic that you buy and create even greater exposure for your online content with techniques like keyword targeting, a/b testing, content marketing, and social media publishing.
Finally, you’ll take a look at social traffic. As you might suspect, this is all the traffic that is generated from your and other social media profiles, such as your Facebook page or Twitter account. It’s worthwhile to take a look at the individual links and posts that led to the greatest percentage of social visits—if you notice trends, such as post subject matter or time of day, pursue more posts that follow suit to increase your numbers.
Like with organic traffic, you can expect this number to grow slowly at first. However, if you ratchet up your efforts consistently, you’ll see explosive growth, month after month. Adding more social media profiles to your repertoire and focusing on positive engagement with your core audience can lead to greater following numbers and eventually more traffic as a result.
Dare I say it?
SEO is not the be-all-and-end-all of online marketing. There are sure-fire ways to drive traffic to your site even without Google’s help.
You don’t always have to be at Google’s mercy, if you make use of all the Internet marketing tools that are readily available to you.
Webmasters agree that it’s important to diversify your organic website traffic sources. The real question is, how do you do it? If you’re wondering this, we invite you to check out the following list of real-world ways to drive organic traffic from a variety of search and non-search referrers.
Privately-owned websites offer ample opportunities for attracting non-search traffic to your website. Topic-specific forums and community websites are particularly useful for this purpose, although many different websites could become referrers.
To get the most out of a community or forum, you’ll usually want to be an active member of the forum, contributing ideas and insights to the discussions that take place there. The goal is to become a trusted and valued contributor, rather than just being a spammer who drops links and disappears without adding any value to the community.
You can use the same approach by regularly commenting on any blogs you find interesting, adding fresh insights to the discussions there. Many blogging platforms allow you to enter both your name and website URL when you comment on a post.
Other sorts of websites could also become valuable traffic referrers. There are two keys to maximizing your inbound links from privately-owned websites:
1. Develop relationships with other website owners and bloggers
2. Offer interesting products, services or content that would appeal to that website’s visitors.
Most of the time, when a webmaster posts a link to a resource, it’s because sharing that link in some way reflects well on the webmaster. It’s a resource that s/he knows his or her visitors would find valuable. With that in mind, it’s important to create resources that other webmasters perceive as being interesting to their audiences.
Back in January of 2014, the head of Google’s webspam team, Matt Cutts, famously proclaimed, “Stick a fork in it. Guest blogging is done.” However, I invite you to pay careful attention to the updated title of his blog post: “The decay and fall of guest blogging for SEO” (emphasis added.)
After writing this post, Matt had to backtrack and clarify what he really meant: that spamming in the form of guest blogging is the problem. Google is trying to fight the practice of spammers disguising paid links as guest blog posts. So, you definitely want to avoid that, or you risk jeopardizing your website’s organic rankings in the Google search engine results pages.
Guest blogging to attract organic traffic is, however, alive, well and still a best practice. This is the kind of guest blogging that we recommend. It has the potential to bring numerous new visitors to your website, and it can be beneficial to everyone involved.
One possible approach to guest blogging: Develop relationships with webmasters who run websites similar to yours. Write some informative, interesting posts that would appeal to visitors of the target websites, and potential visitors of your own website. Include a nofollowed link to your website in an author box at the bottom of each post. Then submit the posts to the target websites’ webmasters for publication. If your posts resonate well with visitors, perhaps they will click through your link and visit your website to learn more about your website’s content, products and/or services.
Social media sites offer significant potential for diversifying your website’s organic traffic.
Google+ is a social media site owned by Google. It can provide valuable exposure and traffic for your website.
Twitter is a social media site where people share ultra-short posts known as “tweets.” Tweets can be sort of like blog posts, only they’re shorter.
Pinterest is a social media network that’s well-suited for sharing pictures, infographics or similar visual content. If you own the copyrights to some interesting photos, you can share them via Pinterest in hopes of driving some of Pinterest’s traffic to your website.
Facebook — In the past, Facebook has been a viable source of unpaid organic traffic. As Facebook pushes its paid advertising platform in front of users, it is uncertain whether this situation will remain the same in the future. However, Facebook is an option that many webmasters are still using to diversify their organic traffic sources. If you invest your time with Facebook, do be prepared to have to pay for Facebook ads to reach your target audience in the future.
Additional Social Media Sites: With social media being one of the hottest buzzwords on the Internet, there are new social media sites and networks cropping up constantly. Take a look at sites like Tumblr, Medium and others.
Regular blogging opens up numerous possibilities for attracting organic traffic to your website. For each piece of content you create, you are creating a new potential entry point and landing page to your site.
As an extra bonus, inbound links you create from your blog to your website could potentially bolster your website’s organic search rankings.
An important part of attracting diverse sources of organic traffic to your website: optimizing your content to make it compelling, clickable and shareable. Here’s a quick checklist of 5 things you can do to maximize the chances that people will share your content with their networks:
1. Optimize your titles: Write catchy, keyword-rich titles that either tell an interesting story or promise the reader some sort of payoff. Be specific. Don’t leave the reader guessing what the page is about.
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2. Deliver on any promises you make in the title.
3. Make the content as fresh, interesting, authoritative and relevant as you possibly can.
4. Include pictures.
5. In each page or piece of content on your website, include multiple links to other pages on your site that would be of interest to visitors. That way, they may become interested in other products, services or articles on your site and keep clicking to find more of your offerings.
The following is a list of additional ways to drive targeted traffic to your site effectively without using SEO.
Focus on building a brand
If you focus your energy on creating a site that is SEO-compliant, you could end up wondering why nothing much happened.
But when you shift your mindset to creating and building a distinctive brand, you have an opportunity to ensure that your reputation and influence grow over time. Don’t forget that creating an online marketing campaign is a long-term process, not a get-rich-quick scheme.
You should focus on starting small and smart, and save your energy for growing big and rich for later.
Create an email list
The money is in the list. That’s still true today.
Once you have an email list, you have a highly targeted audience to whom you can market new concepts, products, or services over and over again. By implementing an email marketing strategy, you will create for yourself a collection of loyal customers who trust you as an authority.
Hit the Question and Answer sites
I love working the Q&A sites. Reading the interplay and getting involved is actually one of my favorite marketing tactics, and not just because it has proved to be an extremely effective way to drive incredibly targeted traffic to my sites.
By responding to questions on Quora or LinkedIn Answers, you will not only provide value to thousands of strangers by offering them solutions, but you will also steadily establish yourself as a trusted expert in your industry. As people discover you, they’ll gravitate to your site as well.
Attend networking events
If you take the trouble to get involved in offline marketing activities such as networking events, you will also drive more traffic to your site.
Go to trade shows and other opportunities for face-to-face interactions with people involved in your niche. There’s hardly any better way to find appropriate prospects who might find your site useful.
But don’t forget to bring lots of business cards along with you that spell out your site’s address!
If you’re not using articles for your Internet marketing campaigns, you could be missing a lot of opportunities.
According to SEO-news.com, article marketing is alive and well. That’s contrary to what many gurus would have newbie Internet marketers believe: they’ve been claiming that the explosion of social media has made writing articles to boost traffic irrelevant.
But the truth is, consumers still place value on high-quality, extremely relevant, and thoughtful articles — articles that provide them with sufficient information, back to which they can refer whenever they need to.
Above all, from an Internet marketing standpoint, whether they are posted on blogs or in article directories, Google and other search engines still give weight to well-written and properly optimized articles.
If you have a blog, an e-commerce site, or a YouTube video, you can use article marketing to your advantage. It remains a valid long-term tool that usually drives highly-targeted traffic.
Let’s take a look at how article marketing, if carried out properly, can drive highly targeted traffic to your site.
Gunning for the right keywords
The benefits of keyword optimizing an article are twofold. First, it alerts the search engines as well as readers as to the content of your article. Second, it’s a proven strategy for off-page optimization, which positively influences the popularity and page rank of your main site.
The following are best practices for optimizing an article:
Avoid overstuffing the piece with keywords.
Create high-quality content that gets snapped up by readers
Content is great, but only if it’s high-quality.
High-quality content creates interest and delivers value by addressing the reader’s needs. It’s best to use an attention-grabbing headline that promises either to ease certain pains or increase pleasure.
The promise or bold claims in the title should then be properly met within the body of the article.
Avoid fluff when writing the body content. Instead, only include information that is succinct and concise.
To help your readers grasp the most valuable points and not feel overwhelmed, cut the article into small chunks. You can do this most effectively by using subheaders, bullets, and ordered numbering.
Be seductive but don’t reveal too much
Try to keep your readers’ interest high, but don’t reveal too much. The goal of article marketing is to write pieces that provide just enough useful or interesting information to leave the reader wanting more.
In other words, provide helpful information, but save the best for your own website, to which you should direct the reader for more information. One popular way to do this is to write a “top 10” list that covers some topic in your niche, and use the article to count down the top 9. If the reader wants to see what the top #1 item is, direct them to a specific page on your website that has the information.
Entice readers with an effective call to action
In pieces composed for article directories, the resource box generally serves as the call to action. Don’t just tell people where your main site can be found; instead, entice them by telling them what else they’ll learn at your website.
Use this opportunity to get readers to click on the link. Article marketing is still a viable online marketing tool that, when used properly, can feed high-converting visitors to your website.
Just remember to write only high-quality, well-optimized and highly informative content; nobody wants to waste their time reading lame articles!