Too many businesses focus on having a beautiful website without considering the fundamental question; who will see it? I have worked with business owners that agonize over every part of a website project from the colors to the images, but never ask how they get visitors to the site.
A fantastic looking site with nobody to see it is like building a state-of-the-art movie theater on a dirt road in Nowhere USA. It might be impressive and have unrivaled technology in it, but it is a giant waste of money if nobody walks through the door.
To help you get the most from your website, here are some strategies you can use to build quality website traffic. Don’t make the mistake of assuming people will “just find it” on their own. Most people won’t, and those that do are probably not your ideal customer and will quickly leave.
Building traffic for your ideal customer to come and consistently engage on your site takes a plan and well-executed strategies. Here are 7 of them to start you off:
Website Traffic Tool 1: Pay Per Click – PPC
The simplest and fastest way to generate traffic to any website is to pay for it. Using digital advertising platforms such as Google and Facebook can bring a lot of qualified traffic to your website quickly.
Pros: This strategy is fast and easy to set up. You can target the exact people you want to visit your site very quickly. Google will allow you to target based on keywords that your visitors are using to find resources. Arguably, this method targets potential buyers more ready to buy since they are actively searching for help with a problem. Your second main option is Facebook, which is ideal for targeting potential customers based on demographics, i.e., who they are, but not necessarily how motivated they are to buy something.
Cons: This strategy can quickly become very expensive. It can also be complicated to get good results that move the sales needle. It involves a decent amount of research to do keyword or audience research, develop ads, write copy, build a sales funnel, and make the strategy useful. So, setting up the platform and running ads is easy, but getting good results isn’t necessarily a given. Without these things being in place, you might spend a lot of money and get very little return.
Website Traffic Tool 2: Social Media Engagement
Think of social media as networking online. If you have spent time in person at networking events for a Chamber or business association, you are familiar with networking. Social media is a very similar process, but it is online. Anyone who has used social media knows it is also very easy to spend a ton of time and get nothing in return.
Pros: This approach is simple but not necessarily easy. It can be done on a meager budget, in some cases, free. It can be useful if executed well.
Cons: It requires a strategy; otherwise, you are merely wasting time and getting very little return. It also requires a considerable amount of time to create content, share it, and analyze what is working and what isn’t. It also takes time to build a network of potential customers. Merely going on Facebook or Twitter with all your family and friends and posting cat pictures or telling people what you did last weekend is almost a complete waste of time.
An effective social media strategy involves developing an audience and sharing with quality content that engages people and generates interest in what you have to say. For example, I belong to a few groups and follow some people on the topic(s) of personal finance and investing on social media platforms. The people who do this strategy well generate blog posts, videos, tip sheets, podcasts, and other great content on multiple topics surrounding personal finance and investing. They share this with people frequently.
People will engage, read, and watch this content and eventually come to trust the source. As customers move through the sales funnel by engaging this content, some will become a paid customer. It can be a sure and steady way to build a brand and generate sales but is not necessarily fast or easy.
Website Traffic Tool 3: Email Marketing
In the early days of the Internet’s commercialization, email quickly became a “killer app.” That has not changed and likely never will. Email has become a crucial part of our overall business communications. It is a very effective way to keep your business in front of your customers and generate sales on a steady and consistent basis.
Pros: Email targets specific people, gives you a channel to share excellent content, and engages your list regularly. It can be either a soft or hard approach based on your goal. A soft approach is merely sharing information and resources while keeping your name in front of them. A hard approach is putting a specific solicitation in front of them, such as a sale.
Email lists and messages can be segmented very well. By putting the right message in front of the right people at the right time you can generate sales and leads effortlessly.
Email lists are names you generate, so these are people who have at least given you implicit permission to communicate with them. This implicit permission moves them from being ice cold prospects to at least familiar or possibly warm prospects.
Cons: The biggest issue with email marketing is that you must build a list before you can start using this strategy. Fortunately, there are several strategies to create a list. The easiest way to begin building a list is to use a lead magnet on a landing page and drive traffic to the page, possibly with PPC (see above). You need to provide quality content to a list in addition to asking for sales. A company that builds a list and only pitches to it without ever giving any value back will quickly deplete it and use up any goodwill they have with subscribers.
A well-cultivated email list, segmented, and managed can be one of the finest marketing assets a business can have. Many small eCommerce sites find their email list is the lifeblood of their business and a way to generate quick sales. Email marketing will work but does require an upfront investment as well as offering value to subscribers.
Website Traffic Tool 4: Blogging
A blog is simply a page on your site that has links to articles that your potential customers would find valuable and useful. Blog articles are NOT content that other people have generated or links to content outside of your site. These are articles that your business must create and have on your site. They need to be unique and useful to your customers.
Some of the easiest articles to create answer all the questions customers have about your product or service. For example, a pool installer in North Carolina wrote several articles about the questions people asked him regarding installing and maintaining pools. He went on to add other articles about outdoor entertaining, landscaping, and architecture. His customers loved the content and he became one of the busiest contractors in the area.
Articles can be a variety of different lengths from short too long. Your audience and the specific topic will determine how long articles should be. The average for many articles is between 450-650 words. Some are longer but shouldn’t be much shorter or you risk not really putting much useful content in front a reader.
Pros: If you post quality and original content on your blog that your audience wants to read, it can do amazing things for your SEO (Search Engine Optimization). A good article can rank very well in Google and bring a ton of targeted traffic to your site. These pages can continue to deliver free traffic to your site for many years and keep people engaged on your site and interested in what else you have to offer.
Cons: It takes time to do the research and write the content to make up blog articles. Fortunately, there are many talented writers and marketers that can generate this content for you. This strategy will also take time. You won’t be able to post a handful of articles and expect to get gobs of free traffic forever. Many articles, despite your best intentions, will fall flat and not engage your audience. It involves trial and error. You will need to see which themes resonate with your audience and produce related content. You can evaluate how well articles do with analytics installed on your website.
Valuable, useful, and original content on your website is one of the keys to effective marketing. Too many businesses ignore this strategy because it is time-consuming and not necessarily fast. Well executed blogging is promoted with email marketing, social media, and PPC and can become a powerhouse traffic producer.
In addition, blog articles accumulate over time on your website and create a type of “compounding” like a rate of return on investment. It can also become a vital part of a well-designed sales funnel that can bring in cold prospects and eventually turn them into hot leads or customers.
Website Traffic Tool 5: Video Marketing
Online video has become one of the hottest ways for businesses to engage an audience. Video can be used on your website or combined with blogging. It can engage people on social media. Finally, it can be used and promoted via email and PPC.
A good video can get thousands of views and draw in countless new customers, as with blogging, a good video will continue to live on the Internet and produce results for you long into the future. You can also use video to create video-based ads in a PPC model. Video-based advertising can be both cheaper and more effective than old school television ads. Video can work for a business of any size and budget.
Pros: Video is some of the fastest growing and most engaging content on the Internet. An engaging video can quickly launch a business from obscurity to door-busting sales in almost no time. It can produce incredible results very quickly. If you take the time to make your video evergreen, which means the content is timeless, it can live on the Internet and produce results long into the future. Videos are easily shared with people. An entertaining and engaging video can go viral and put a business on the map overnight.
Cons: Online videos can be expensive to produce. There are ways to do some of it cheaper, but probably not all of it. The equipment and software to create a good video can be costly and complicated to use. While you can get decent video content with a phone, it might still require editing and polishing to make it usable. To produce quality video requires a budget and some resources.
Videos can also fall completely flat after you produce them, meaning nobody will watch or engage with it. As with all content, it needs to be engaging and useful and pull in an entertainment element to draw in people.
New businesses and online personalities have been turned into overnight sensations and generated millions in sales with online video. Some companies have gone from obscurity to growth with a well planned and executed video strategy. It can produce significant traffic to your website and become great content for the people that visit your site.
Website Traffic Tool 6: Search Engine Optimization – SEO
Search engine optimization has been around as long as we have had search engines. It is quite possibly the most misunderstood tactic in digital marketing. It is also fertile ground for con artists that want to charge you an obscene amount of money each month for “SEO Services” that produce dubious results. Effective SEO is a complex process that can produce incredible results but also miss the mark very easily. It is part science and part art but is worth pursuing.
Pros: A page-one result in Google for the right keyword can bring a literal tidal wave of targeted traffic to your website. It can continue to produce free traffic to your site for years. The people that visit from a search engine result will also view your site with a bit of additional credibility merely because it wasn’t an ad, but a search result of something they were trying to find.
For example, I have a manufacturing client that we started an SEO and content marketing strategy for. When I started their average monthly traffic was around 10,000 visitors per month. We started by optimizing the site and building quality content. As a result of this work their traffic numbers now consistently hit 40,000 visitors per month and growing, a four fold increase and all of it occurring organically.
Cons: Unfortunately, the cons for this are lengthy. SEO can be very complex to execute well and not produce results for several months or possibly years. Despite the emails you may get promising instant and excellent results for a monthly fee, quality SEO is expensive and time-consuming. It often involves a lot of trial and error to get it right.
If you are trying to target very competitive keywords, you can easily be outranked by high dollar competitors. For example, if you are an attorney and hope to rank on page one of Google for “personal injury attorney,” you might have a better chance of walking on water.
It is a multi-tiered strategy that involves technical expertise to make sure your website is designed and maintained correctly and incredible content generation by a consultant that understands SEO. Contrary to the promises you receive in an email, there is no magic bullet here. Web designers can’t just “make a few adjustments” to your website, and it streaks to number one in Google. These are all myths with no basis in fact or real SEO.
Good quality rankings in search engines like Google for the right keywords should be the goal of every business. If you have pages on your site that score well, these pages could be worth their weight in gold. As previously mentioned, good search engine results can bring in large amounts of continuous and free traffic to a website, but not easily or quickly.
Website Traffic Tool 7: Google My Business
Google My Business is a free (for now) listing service on Google that allows a business or organization to be listed on Google. It will enable companies to collect reviews, post business hours, photos, videos, and content for free. Think of it as a mini website.
Because Google offers the service, the listings often get preferential treatment in search results. Many times, My Google Business Listings are the first results listed in Google. For example, if you are looking for an auto mechanic in Nashville, Tennessee, and type in something like “auto mechanic in Nashville” you will see several listings pop up as the first Google result. You can browse through these listings to find a suitable mechanic. The strategy can be a fantastic boon for a local company.
Pros: Straightforward to set up and is (for now) free. As a small business owner, if you don’t have a Google listing put it on your to-do list today. It doesn’t take any real technical skill. You can post a lot of material about your business quickly and easily. Companies with positive reviews and useful content can be in the top Google results.
Cons: There have been some rumblings that Google may begin charging for the service or possibly offer an enhanced version of the service for a fee. You don’t have a lot of control over the format or type of content that goes in. While there are areas to add photos, videos, blog posts, and a lot of other information about your business, you don’t control how it displays.
Your business will also appear next to your competitors. How Google chooses to rank, or in some cases list, a company is a bit of an opaque process. If you end up racking up many low reviews, it could quickly hurt your reputation and sales. You will want to carefully manage your reviews and encourage satisfied customers to take the time to post them.
The service essentially takes the place of the Yellow Pages that existed many years ago. The service is free (for now), but Google has taken heat over its results. You could pay additional money to have a larger or color ad in the old Yellow Pages and didn’t have to worry about how you were listed. It was by service and alphabetical. With Google My Business, every listing is generally the same, but with a little creativity there are ways to make your listing standout.
Some have accused Google of hurting local businesses with their listing process. However, the service has many advantages for local companies, and the strategy can easily work for larger firms with a big geographical footprint. It isn’t difficult to set up and can bring in free traffic to your website.
Content + Strategy + Consistency Yields Good Results
These seven strategies will deliver quality traffic to your website. You will need to invest some time, resources, and a budget to realize those results. These seven strategies are the primary ones used by digital marketers and businesses across the globe. To wrap this up here is some key take away points you should realize.
These strategies work because they use unique and quality content. While you can attempt to use some of them without first building a robust content marketing strategy, understand that you will probably receive lackluster results. Every one of the above methods should revolve around quality content.
These traffic generating techniques can’t be haphazard if you expect to get results. You need to develop a plan. You will need to create a content marketing strategy first. Next, build a promotion strategy with the channels presented here to get the content in front of your target market. The plan should work together seamlessly and build off and intertwine with each other to create a comprehensive web presence.
Developing content and promoting it when you have time or resources will not generate good results. A content marketing and promotion strategy require discipline and consistency. Don’t start it unless you plan to put a genuine effort and budget behind it. Execute the strategy on a continual basis over time when business is good and when business is down. Think steady and consistent.
Start Small and Expand
Some of you may feel overwhelmed and wonder how you could ever develop enough content and utilize all seven of these strategies. Don’t feel like you should. You can start small and slowly build a body of content and add promotion channels as it makes sense.
We often recommend to clients to start with a blogging strategy first. Writing articles is relatively easy. You can then easily promote those articles using PPC, Social Media, and Google My Business Listings. Once people find your articles and engage, you can offer a lead magnet for an email address. As you build the email list, you can deploy email marketing. Finally, as sales and content grow, you can add in video marketing.
Don’t feel so overwhelmed that you don’t do anything. I speak about this topic in various business groups. As I am presenting, I can see some people get a faraway look in their eyes that tells me they are getting overwhelmed with how to do everything. Take it slow and plan well from the beginning.
An old Chinese proverb says a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.