Attracting free targeted traffic is one of the key factors that all successful websites have in common. Since there are so many advice about traffic growth and the avoidance of Google penalties out there, I'm going to present my 4 favorite traffic strategies to you. Please be aware that non of those strategies is a failsafe way to increase to traffic. But used in combination you're on a pretty good way to build a consistent stream of visitors.
Those strategies can be used by anyone and they're used by thousands of website owners all over the world. I recommend implementing those strategies one at a time, so that you can really focus on the specific aspects. I'm not saying that you should use only one of those methods - if you can, use them all! But only start with one at a time to stay focused.
But before you start implementing any of these strategies I want you to visit Quicksprout and check the current SEO status of your website for free. Quicksprout is a blog run by Neil Patel, who optimized websites for Amazon, Microsoft, Techcrunch or General Motors. So there's definitely value in using his free report to analyze your website.
On-Site SEO Optimization
This optimization techniques should be used on any website. It's probably the most basic optimization technique and the most controversial technique at the same time. I'm talking about keyword research and optimizing your content so that it can rank for the targeted keywords.
You're using keyword research tools like Long Tail Pro to find keywords that are relevant for your business. I'll write another post about developing a keyword strategy, it would be too in-depth for this post.
I used keyword research to get started with MyGreatOnlineBusiness and I'm still relying on it when I'm generating new content. One of the most popular ambassadors of this technique is Neil Patel, Mr. Traffic himself. He's probably the most popular SEO expert and has optimized websites for some the most popular brands.
Haters say that this technique is slowly dying, since content should always be generated for your audience and not for search engines - and I agree 100% with the latter part of that statement!
Content that's hard to read because it includes keywords in grammatically wrong context will only harm your site. But if you find a way to include relevant keywords in your articles and those keywords have low competition, you'll attract free traffic from Google to your site.
But what does optimized content look like? When you're using WordPress as your platform, I recommend that you use the free YoaST plugin for search engine optimization. This plugin makes it easy to follow along with the site elements I'm going through next that can be optimized.
The most important piece of content in terms of SEO is your title tag. This is the title in your site's snippet the search results page and the title that's shown in the tab of your browser. It's not necessarily the title of your post.
You'll definitely want to include your keyword in your title and give the person seeing the search results page an irresistible reason to click on your title, and not on the result above or below your snippet. The title length should not exceed 70 characters, otherwise Google just cuts it off.
Another part of the snippet on the search results page is your meta description. The meta description is for your user, not for the search engine. As Neil Patel states, it has NO direct effect on the ranking - BUT it's your chance to convince the user to click on your site instead of clicking on any other site.
So it's a good idea to include something unique like your unique selling proposition, unique value proposition or any other unique specifications in there. Anything longer than 150 characters gets cut off.
XML sitemaps or HTML sitemaps can be used to ensure that websites have indexed all of your posts and pages. You can generate them automatically using the YoaST plugin I recommended above and submit them to Google Webmastertools and Bing Webmastertools.
The submit encourages the crawlers of Bing and Google to visit your site again and to check whether there's new content or whether the existing content has changed.
Images and Outbound Links
Images are very important when it comes to ranking, since Google assumes that images add value for the user. They come with an alternative tag, the so-called ALT tag. Do yourself a favor and always add information in the ALT tag, since Google can't recognize what's on the specific image.
Add relevant keywords that describe what's shown on the image, so that Google knows the image is relevant for your content.
Another benefit of using the ALT tag is that screen-readers can use it when they go through your text. Especially blind people (yes, they are using the Internet) rely heavily on screen-readers and you're doing them a disfavor when you're leaving ALT tags or image titles empty.
Outbound links are those links that go from your site to another site. Those are important because they provide value to your visitor (assuming you're linking to relevant sites) and they show Google that you're not in your own little universe but pay attention to other sites as well.
Again, the YoaST plugin will help you to keep track of the outbound links in your post. Another awesome tool to use is Zemanta, which is a handy WordPress plugin that suggests articles to link to and images to use in your post.
Page Load Speed
The speed of your website is important. At the moment this is a problem on my site as the average load time is 2 seconds. I'll need to find ways to get that under a second and I'm already working on the solution.
Google loves fast websites and that's why you should optimize your site for loading speed. You can test your website for free and then decide what things you can do to make it faster.
Some plugins I love are Use Google Libraries, WP Super Cache and WP Smush.It. Those are a pretty good setup to start with, tweaking your images, caching your files and reducing the amount of scripts loaded.
It's also important that your theme is coded to load fast. That means no unnecessary scripts should be loaded in the header, so that the content is loaded as fast as possible. Also it should be coded in valid HTML 5 and compatible with minifying functions, which extract whitespaces and line-breaks out of the files to reduce their file size.
This is a short insight on how you can do on-site SEO optimization. Obviously there is a TON of more opportunities to improve your site, shoot me an email if you'd like to have me analyze your site.
Backlink building is a part of off-site optimization, the counterpart to on-site optimization. Backlinks are a sign for Google that people value your site and that they like your content.
Assuming that you didn't purchase backlinks, people link to your site because they appreciate your content and find it worth sharing. That's why backlinks have such a massive impact on your ranking and that's why so many scammers offer backlinks packages that you shouldn't purchase, since they'd only harm your site.
Here are four different methods how you can earn backlinks in an ethical way that will increase your rankings and drive traffic to your website.
Probably the most popular method to earn backlinks is commenting on other blogs that are relevant in your niche. This means that you're visiting other blogs and leave a comment on the posts.
My good friend Navid Moazzez has built his reputation with extensive commenting on other blogs and now he's building relationships with Internet entrepreneurs like Natalie Sisson from SuitCase Entrepreneur, John Lee Dumas from Entrepreneur on Fire and more equally famous people.
This method is very time consuming, since you need to find something valuable to say in your comment. If you can't add any value to the discussion, don't leave a comment at all!
But this method definitely has more benefits than earning backlinks to your site. Most blogs allow no-follow backlinks in their comments section anyway, so you'll won't get any link juice from those links.
Though what you do get is credibility and traffic from the readers of the comments. The host of the blog will notice when you're constantly engaging by leaving valuable comments. It's a sign of respecting the efforts and valuing the work from the blog host.
Also the other commenters will notice that you're constantly leaving relevant contents and sharing your expertise with others. So some of them will visit your blog and consume your posts as well.
So you're not only building relationships with the blog host but also with the readers of the other blogs. It's not about competing with other bloggers but about engaging with a part of their audience and adding value to their sites.
Make sure that you add relevant information with every comment you're leaving! Otherwise you'll quickly be known as a spammer.
Guest posting is another popular method to build relationships and earn backlinks. Successful entrepreneurs like Henri Juntilla from Wakeupcloud.com and Brendan Baker from StartOfHappiness.com used guest blogging to build credibility and now they're running highly successful Internet businesses.
Since they're friends of mine and agreed to provide some content for this post, I will let them speak instead of myself. I have only little experience with guest posting and I want to online provide information that are verified by real business successes.
Guest posting Strategy by Henri Juntilla
The name of Henri's business is Wakeupcloud and he used guest blogging extensively in the first days to grow as fast and sustainable as possible. During hours and hours of writing guest posts and approaching countless blogs he found some common principles that you can use as guidance to maximize your success with guest blogging.
There's no need to be turned down by blog hosts who don't want to publish your guest posts. In fact, if you're following Henri's very detailed guest posting guide you'll recieve all information you'll ever need to get started with guest blogging or to take it to another level.
Another very interesting case study is how Henri grew Wakeupcloud from 0 to 1.012 blog subscribers within 101 days. This shows the power of guest posting - you can see how much credibility he build up in his target market.
We've all heard that the money is in the list, and guest posting definitely paid off for Henri!
Guest Posting Strategy by Brendan Baker
Brendan is a friend of mine and the host Startofhappiness.com. I asked him via email whether he has a specific strategy for guest posting and this is his awesome response:
Although I'm not currently too active in the guest posting arena (mainly due to time commitments), it has certainly helped to generate quality email subscribers at a faster rate.My strategy for guest posting is pretty simple. Target the biggest blogs I can, write quality content and send it through for review 🙂 Even when the site owner asks to send an email to discuss a potential topic idea, I would simply write the full article, submit it with my bio and picture and let them decide. I figure that this saves time for the person reviewing as we don't have to send emails back and forth, they can simple come back with a 'yes' or 'no'.Usually when I get a no it comes with some good feedback. I would then either make some edits based on the feedback or (if it's a hard 'no') simply use the content for another pitch elsewhere or use it for my site. In saying that, if you have an idea that is a bit left-field or you're unsure whether the content could be used elsewhere, I would recommend checking with the website owner.The key to guest posting is to make sure that the content is relevant for the target audience where you're pitching. It's useful to browse through previous posts on the blog and get an idea. Even better, take a look at the 'top posts' or 'popular posts' to see what kind of content works best.When it comes to linking, think about the keywords and pages you want to target. If the site your pitching to allows links in the content area then make full use of it and get one in back to your website. Your bio is critically important to get click-throughs. Test your bios out for conversion. What kind of text works best? Also think about what text anchors you use when linking to help with your SEO.A hugely important part of guest posting is to read the contributor guidelines if they have any. It may seem simple, but there are so many website owners (including myself) who receive submissions that do not conform to the guidelines. It's an instant no-go as it shows the guest poster is a) careless, b) can't read and c) doesn't really care for quality.Other than that, quantity is the name of the game when guest posting. If you can produce a huge amount of guest posts you'll be sure on your way to some good traffic (assuming they're quality too... but I don't need to tell you that 🙂
Those two examples show the power that lies within guest posting, especially when you're starting out or haven't submitted any guest post before.
Don't be intimidated by other blogs and the size of their audience. If you follow the principles outlined in Henri's and Brendan's advice, you're set up for success! As always, the key is to get started and to continually work hard to submit only high quality posts. There's enough noise out there, so don't become a part of that.
I think that Henri and Brendan did a terrific job in explaining their guest posting strategies. Thank you guys for your efforts!
There has been a huge discussion about directory submissions, but still they do work and can help to rank your website if you consider the following advice:
- Submit to high quality directories
- Submit to directories relevant for your niche
- Avoid directories that accept every link
Let's say that you're in the marketing niche and you're searching for directories to submit your site to. You can use this Google search to find directories easily:
This gives you sites with titles containing "marketing" and "directory". You can also utilize other advanced search operators for this (and other) searches.
The Shout-Out Strategy
The Shout-Out Strategy was originally created by David Siteman Garland from The Rise To The Top.
Basically you're creating posts where you give shout outs to popular people in your niche. Share information about them, for example explain to your readers why those people are providing so valuable content that everyone should know them.
David describes those posts as follows:
A specific post that gives love to key people in your niche.
Awesome traffic builder & excuse to reach out to them (and if you want to do interviews great way to build relationships).
Can be a huge opt in beast.
So you're recieving several benefits by following the Shout Out Strategy. So what are the reasons why this strategy works so well?
People love recognition. - David Siteman Garland
Everybody loves to be mentioned in a positive context together with other great influencers. No matter how big you are, you're humbled when somebody says good things about you and compares you to other popular people in your field.
So what you need to do to create a successful shout out post is to find an angle that's interesting for your target market. People see the title at first, so you need to make it interesting enough for people to read the whole post.
For example my good friend Navid Moazzez wrote a post about 35 Lifestyle Entrepreneurs You Need To Know. This post got 54 comments at the moment I'm writing this and allowed him to build relationships with some of the people mentioned - like Natalie Sisson from SuitcaseEntrepreneur.com.
Find a list of at least 10 key people in your field and aggregate them into a list. What makes every single one of them unique? What part of their work is worth being mentioned? How can others benefit from paying attention to them?
Those are the basic principles to write a shout out post, if you want more, head over to David's original video.
You may wonder how you get in touch with the people on your list. It's as easy as sending them an email or tweeting them and thanking them for the great work they're doing. Don't ask for anything, just thank them and include a link to your post in your message.
If they respond you've successfully established a conversation that may lead to a deeper relationship over time. And having a network with the key people in your niche can't be valued high enough.
Thanks David for coming up with this awesome traffic building strategy!
Write Epic Shit
This strategy is originally coming from Corbett Barr, co-host of ThinkTraffic and Fizzle. He has built several blogs and earned six figures after 18 months with his first two blogs (one of them is ThinkTraffic).
Write epic shit is totally independent from any kind of optimization technique mentioned above. The goal is to write epic content that get's so much organic attention that people find it naturally via social shares, word of mouth or any other method that can be used to forward a URL to a post.
While Corbett writes detailed advice about how to write epic shit, I'm outlining some of the most important aspects of this strategy.
In every conversation I’ve had with wildly successful entrepreneurs and bloggers about building website traffic, promotional tactics only make up 20% of our talks.
So, what is the other 80% of building a popular site about?
Building a raving audience online all starts with writing epic shit. Period. Hands down. End of story.
(If you aren’t building a blog, substitute the word “create” for “write.” Create epic shit. Either way, the formula is the same.)
Write things that make people think. Inspire people. Change lives. Create value. Blow people away with your usefulness.
- Corbett Barr
This is right to the key of writing epic shit. It doesn't have to mean that you're publishing those crazy long articles as you're reading right now.
In fact, one of Pat Flynn's most successful posts has only 100 words. Ok, I'm violating this heavily with this post, but you get the principle.
Pat's post get's people into thinking what step they need to make next. It kicks people out of procrastination mode - that's why it's epic.
I'll be updating this post as I learn new strategies to attract traffic, that's why this post has a light flavor of being epic to me. But that's just for me, after all it's you deciding whether a post is epic or not. (If you think it's epic, please leave a comment and tell me about your opinion 🙂 ).
Is one post by Pat Flynn the prove that epic content works? No.
But entrepreneurs like Gary Vaynerchuk, Seth Godin, Clay Collins or Danielle LaPorte are.
Writing epic shit is definitely worth the efforts, but it's hard to do when you're just starting out. So please pay attention to the quote from Corbett Barr mentioned above and stand your ground. Don't be too shy to ask questions that may shake the universe in your niche. Don't get quiet when sharing your opinion, especially when it's conflicting with the general attitude. Be yourself and try your best to improve the lives of others.
I'm trying to maintain a high standard in my posts, I'm always doing the best I can for every single post. That's why I'm not publishing at the standard 2 or 3 times a week schedule. It's just not possible for me to keep the quality if I'd do that.
And I'm not alone with this mindset. Derek Halpern from SocialTriggers is also doing very in-depth research for every single post and thus he's releasing new posts every two weeks or so. But they are so incredibly high quality that it's totally sufficient. As I said in the guest posting section, try not to add more noise to the Internet.
You can attract traffic on many different ways and especially beginners have no need to be scared of some new vocabulary.
In the end it's not about technique, but about building relationships, writing content for your audience (thus you need to know your audience) and trying your best to provide high quality information every time you post.
I hope that you've found this line up of traffic strategies helpful and I'll try my best to keep this article up to date when I see a new strategy that's working well.
Some of the next things will be social traffic, and I'm excited to dig into that 🙂
Keep up your great work and don't forget to implement the methods you're learning!