There are easily dozens of ways you can drive traffic to your site, ranging from old-fashioned direct mail to the most modern utilization of Facebook’s PPC or the micro-social media networks popping up around shared interests. Here’s a look at five of our favorites.
1. Guest Posting AKA Off-Site Contributions
What is it? Guest posting has something of a bad rap. Ever since bloggers started using it solely to accumulate links back to their site, the idea of guest posting has gotten dirtier. When Matt Cutts declared guest posting dead as an SEO technique, most webmasters dialed back on the concept, and that’s a good thing.
What we like to do for guest posting could perhaps be renamed. Off-site contributions is a reasonable enough descriptor. The idea is not to guest post for links, not at all. If you’re going to get a link, in your byline or an introduction, or even organically in your content, so be it. Is it nofollow? Who cares! The link is not the point.
Off-site contributions are high quality blog posts we write that could be posted on our site, but can fit on another site. They can be tailored to the host blog to some extent, but they never lose our voice or our opinions just to fit in.
How it drives traffic: links and reputation. Rather than a guest blogger, we take the role of an infrequent contributor. We write good content of interest to both the audience of the host blog and our audience. We promote the post, as does the host blog, and our combined audience gets a good look.
Anyone who isn’t already our reader is a potential convert, following a profile link or an organic content link, or even just looking us up afterwards. Even if the posts don’t have links back to our blog, they have the author’s name attached. Over time, name – brand – presence begins to saturate the industry blogs. Name recognition alone lends us further credence and helps us build more traffic.
Words of advice, words of warning: off-site contributions need to be of the highest quality. It’s like the difference between wearing a casual outfit at home and dressing up to go out. When you contribute to a blog you don’t own, you need to put on your Sunday best and put your best foot forward. Posts at “home” on your blog can slack a little, but you can’t afford such a lapse on a blog run by someone else.
2. Regular Newsletters
What is it? Newsletters are powerful because they’re perhaps one of the most intimate forms of impersonal communication available to you. People jealously guard their email addresses, for fear of spam and unwanted messages from, well, marketers. When they sign up for your newsletter, they’re telling you that they actually want to know what you have to say.
Newsletters are especially potent because they aren’t controlled by an outside force. There’s no Google penalty that makes your newsletter less effective, or any such nonsense. It’s just you and a list of contacts.
How it drives traffic: The first and most obvious way a newsletter drives traffic is through the direct messaging. You send out a message, “Hey, we published this new blog post, it’s about newsletters, you should come check it out.” They come check it out, and you bring in traffic.
You can also create segmented newsletters. You can have a set of contacts for people who regularly click the links in your newsletters. You can have a set of contacts for people newly registered, with a dedicated new user follow-up sequence. You can gradually move contacts to a secondary list as they fail to click, so you can ask them why they’re not responding and try to entice them back.
Words of advice, words of warning: newsletters are a direct, intimate form of communication. They’re also an implicit bargain. You’re claiming you will give your users information they want to see, and that you won’t spam them. You need to make sure you never send too many messages. Conversely, you need to send messages regularly, or else your users will forget about your message and may forget they signed up.
3. Forum Posting: The Forgotten Social Networks
What is it? It’s incredibly easy to set up a web forum, and they attract a surprising amount of traffic despite large conglomerations like Reddit attracting so much traffic. It’s a good idea to look around your industry to identify any forums with a reasonable and active population.
How it drives traffic: when you register and become a member, you’re joining a community. Much like Reddit or any other collaborative social network, you’re agreeing to follow the rules. In many cases, this means moderation and strict limits on direct advertising. Forums don’t like businesses stepping in to post links and disappear. On the other hand, they’re often fine with a valued user sharing a link in their signature and profile.
Think of it like off-site contributions on a smaller scale. Forums are informal, so you’re not limited to high quality, lengthy, sourced and linked posts. Instead, you’re providing short, valuable comments on ongoing discussions. You’re building more of a presence and reputation than you are any valuable links.
Words of advice, words of warning: follow the forum rules and learn the lay of the land. Breaking the rules can lead to a ban, and these are your industry peers; you don’t want to be seen as ignorant or arrogant.
4. Facebook’s PPC, Now with Atlas
What is it? It’s pay per click advertising using Facebook as a platform. If you don’t know what this is by now, you’re got a lot of learning ahead of you. Suffice it to say that, with creative use of Facebook audiences, retargeting and the new Atlas platform, you can turn a handful of dollars into a massive ROI.
How it drives traffic: links on Facebook with compelling text and images. What more could you ask for? As long as you target your ads appropriately, they’ll be squarely in front of everyone who might have an interest in your product.
Words of advice, words of warning: keep your budget small until you know what you’re doing works, and then crank it up. Until you have a proved positive ROI, you don’t want to waste money.
5. Content, Content, Content
What is it? Blog posts, and lots of them.
What, you wanted more? Alright, blog posts of a sufficient length, typically hovering a bit over 1,000 words. Blog posts with little conscious emphasis on keywords, but with a natural affinity for covering popular topics. Blog posts with links to valuable resources. Blog posts uploaded frequently, every day in fact, giving you something new and interesting to read every time you check back.
How it drives traffic: blog posts are opportunities. Every post serves a dozen purposes. They contain valuable information and actionable advice. They contain links to valuable sites that may notice and link back. They’re landing pages for organic search and for other sites linking in. They’re proof of our knowledge. They give users a reason to check in and a reason to come back.
Words of advice, words of warning: Google has high standards for quality on the web these days. Failing to meet those standards can be very detrimental to a site. Likewise, failing to maintain a content schedule can be hazardous as well. Post content frequently, on a schedule. Maintain high quality content and you’ll be rewarded.
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