Online Marketing Lesson 35: Traffic Generation Strategies

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In the previous lessons, we covered the techniques and strategies that you can use to build links to your website. By using those strategies you will attract both organic traffic (because your search engine rankings will improve) and referral traffic (because the more backlinks you have around, the higher the number of people who will click on them and visit your site). As a consequence, link building should be an important part of your overall traffic generation plan.

In this lesson, we move beyond link building into general traffic generation methods and strategies.

1. Unique and Valuable Content

Over the long term, no traffic generation strategy is more powerful than publishing unique and valuable content. The only exceptions to this rule are the service-based websites like Google or Twitter, where the traffic will depend on the quality of the service itself.

If you have an online store that sells shoes, for instance, you should produce unique and valuable content for people who are interested in shoes. You could write an article explaining how people should choose a pair of running shoes, or one highlighting the tips that people can use to prolong the life of their shoes.

The easiest way to publish content on a website is by adding a blog to it. For example, you could add the blog on the sub-directory www.domain.com/blog and link to it from the homepage menu.

If you don’t want to have a blog, you could simply create internal pages that will carry the content, and call them “articles” or “information pages.”

This strategy has several advantages. First of all it has lasting results. In order words, you will work on the production of the content once, but it might generate traffic for years to come. Secondly, such content will be a free resource to your prospects and customers, improving the relationship that you have with them because you are giving before you ask. Finally, having a blog or an internal section with articles will enable you to promote your site on social media, and consequently expand its reach.

If your main website is a blog or a content portal, on the other hand, you will just need to publish unique and valuable content on a regular basis.

2. Targeting Keywords with Your Content

There are studies confirming that as much as 80% of the Internet population starts on search engines when looking for specific information. This means that you need to make your content reflect the interests and search queries of your customers and readers.

Let’s go back to our example of an online store that sells shoes. Maybe the store is specialized in men’s shoes, so the homepage could target that keyword. The problem is that “mens shoes”, albeit important, is only one of the many keywords that people use to find those products. Other related keywords include “mens running shoes”, “mens casual shoes”, “mens dress shoes” and so on. That is where the internal pages and articles come handy, as they could be used to target each of those keywords individually.

If you have a blog or a content site, on the other hand, you could use keyword research to brainstorm topics and titles for your blog posts and articles, and target those keywords in the same fashion.

3. Blog Comments

Under the Linkbuilding lessons, we explained that leaving comments on dofollow blogs can be used to build links to your site. If your goal is to generate traffic and not necessarily to build links, though, you should also comment on blogs that use the nofollow attribute on comment links.

Here are some tips that you can use to maximize the traffic coming from your blog comments:

  1. Comment on large blogs: the larger their audience, the higher the number of visitors who will click on your comment link.
  2. Comment on related blogs: visitors coming from blogs inside your niche will have a higher chance of liking your content or service and sticking around.
  3. Be the first to comment: the higher your comment is placed, the higher the chances of people reading it and clicking on your link.
  4. Post insightful comments: if you say something interesting, people will want to read more from you.
  5. Become part of the community: if you leave a comment on every single post of a blog, people will notice it and see you as part of the community, which will lead them to want to know more about you.
  6. Comment on many blogs: the higher the number of blogs where you comment on a regular basis, the more visitors you will get.
  7. Add links if relevant: if you wrote an article on the same topic, add a link to that article inside your comment and explain why you think it adds to the discussion.

Keep in mind that blog comments are not a silver bullet of traffic generation. If you are lucky you might get hundreds of visitors from a single comment on a popular blog, but more often you will end up with a dozen visitors or so per comment. If you want to make this strategy work, therefore, you will need to be consistent. You could set a goal of leaving 10, 20 or 30 comments every single day, for example. Over time, you should analyze the blogs that send the higher amount of traffic and focus your efforts on those.

4. Spreading Your Website URL

If you want to maximize your traffic, you will need to spread your website URL wherever possible. Here are examples where you can use it:

  • email signature,
  • online profiles,
  • instant messaging description,
  • offline stuff like t-shirts and business card, and
  • avatars.

You could also use your domain as user name on the online services where you will need to create a user account. When registering an account on Delicious, for instance, instead of using your name you could use domain.com (or some variation of your domain depending on the user name limitations of the service in question).

This technique might generate traffic in two ways. First of all, some people will directly click on your URL or copy and paste it to see what the website is about. Secondly, spreading your URL everywhere will increase your brand awareness and make people remember the name of the site.

5. Social Media

If you want to generate traffic to your website, you need to go where people are gathering, and social media is where that is happening on today’s web. It is essential to explore all angles of it, from social bookmarking sites like Digg.com and StumbleUpon.com to social networks like MySpace.com and Facebook.com.

Under the “Social Media” lessons, we explain in detail the strategies that you can use to promote your business through these channels. The important thing, though, is that you register an account on these services and websites and experiment with them. The social media phenomenon is still in its infancy, so there are no rules or answers. We will need to figure it out along the way.

6. Images

Remember to add images to your posts, articles, and pages whenever possible. They can help with traffic generation in several ways. First of all, images make your blog posts and articles visually appealing. Secondly, they might capture the attention of some people and lead them to read your content. Finally, they can also help with the search engine optimization of your posts (e.g., if you use your main keyword in the image name and ALT tag) and drive organic traffic via the Google image search.

If you are willing to spend some money in exchange for variety and quality, iStockphoto.com is a good choice. The small images cost $1 each, and they are usually large enough for blog posts and articles.

If you prefer to find free images, try morguefile.com or sxc.hu. Finally, Flickr.com also has a wide range of images that carry a Creative Commons license, meaning that you can use them free as long as you credit the author.

7. Audio

Podcasts exploded in 2005, and over the last couple of years their popularity flattened. Despite that, they still represent an efficient way to attract visitors, as many people love the flexibility that you have with audio content (e.g., you can listen to podcasts while you walk or workout, on the commute to work and so on).

The main advantage of publishing a podcast is the low competition that you will face. Most niches only have a handful of quality podcasts available, so creating a popular one in a short period of time is not impossible.

Secondly, producing a podcast is not that hard. If you have some technical skills, you could purchase a USB microphone and use an open source program called Audacity. If you just want to produce the content and talk it out, you can use hosted solutions like BlogTalkRadio.com or TalkShoe.com. Those services basically give you a number where you and your guests can call, and they will do all the work. Once the recording is done, they will send you a digital MP3 file, and you can even make it available on your website or on iTunes.

8. Video

Video is undoubtedly the next big thing on the web. Comscore revealed that in January of 2009, Internet users viewed more than 14 billion online videos. Yes, 14 billion! It is easy to see that getting even a small piece of that pie means a lot of traffic and exposure.

Once again the important thing is to experiment. Every day people are managing to generate millions of views on YouTube with all sorts of weird ideas. You could experiment with screencasts, video podcasts, how-to videos, interviews and so on.

One tool worth using for your video experiments is TubeMogul.com. It basically allows you to upload and distribute your videos to 23 online video sites automatically. Moreover, it has an advanced analytics platform that will provide all sorts of statistics regarding your videos.

Action Points

  1. If you have a product based website, consider adding a blog to it. If you have a blog or content portal, remember that publishing unique and valuable content on a regular basis is paramount.
  2. Perform keyword research and create internal pages or blog posts that will target popular keywords in your niche.
  3. Leave comments on the most popular blogs inside your niche. Comment on as many of them as possible, and comment frequently on the blogs that send the highest traffic.
  4. Register an account on social media websites and start learning how they work and how you could use them to promote your website.
  5. Remember to add images to your internal pages, articles and blog posts.
  6. Consider publishing a podcast or creating online videos.

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