Traffic tactics are indispensable for all bloggers and webmasters who want their sites to be visited each month by a significant number of people. In today’s fierce online environment, traffic tactics, together with other improvement strategies such as search engine optimization, are what makes a website stand out. A successful traffic tactic, coupled with in-page and off-page search engine optimization can boost a site’s reputation in a relatively short period of time and generate those much needed extra hits, which are needed for a long-term survival.
Traffic tactics comprise of all the practices a webmaster can perform in order to build traffic on a particular website. They can be quite diverse, ranging from the manual optimization of various aspects of the site for the improvement of its overall quality and ranking in search engines, to paid marketing campaigns that promote the site through banners and contextual ads on other websites or popular listings.
Sometimes, website owners try to generate more traffic through less conventional ways, such as spam emails and false links. Websites that employ such methods to increase their traffic are rarely serious about what they’re trying to get across and for the most part don’t manage to survive for long. This kind of practices will not be covered here.
Overall, regardless of how traffic tactics are carried out and of what they imply, they always aim at bringing more users to a website. Broadly, traffic can be generated in three ways: manually, by advertising, and by borrowing.
It represents all the traffic obtained organically after properly optimizing a website and boosting its position in search engine rankings. It also includes the promotional practices you can carry out yourself, and for which you usually don’t have to spend any money.
You can generate manual traffic by:
- creating quality text content that is optimized for search engines, i.e. uses the right keywords, is unique for each page, and has an adequate keyword density
- optimizing the keyword tags and meta tags, which most search engines take into account when displaying search results
- promoting the website yourself by making it known on popular social bookmarking websites and on social networks such as Facebook or MySpace
- sending regular emails to your list of subscribers
Manual traffic is at the core of every flourishing website. It’s by far the most relevant method for increasing the number of hits received every month. In the long run, manual traffic will have the final say on whether your site will be successful or not.
It refers to the traffic generated as a result of aggressive marketing campaigns you pay for. By buying traffic you can try to avoid to some extent working directly on your website to optimize it for search engines or improve its content; instead, you bombard a particular group of users you’re interested in with banners and ads about your website until you get them to visit it.
You can also purchase traffic to complement the manual traffic you generate, after you’ve optimized your site. This is usually much more efficient than to skip SEO work altogether and to rely exclusively on marketing.
A common way through which you can buy traffic is paying online advertising companies to promote your website, which can be done either via Pay-per-Click ads or banners. Buying traffic is particularly profitable if your website is selling a product or service. It helps you to quickly reach a particular group of users.
Even though there are many advertising companies out there at present, finding the one that brings you the best results for the money you spend can be difficult, especially if your website has not been around for long. It’s usually better to get some advice from an expert before signing a marketing agreement, but it can be costly. As an alternative, you can ask other website owners you happen to known for advice; depending on your niche and of your competitors, marketing may or may not bring sufficient traffic to make it worthwhile.
Banners work best for some websites, Pay-per-Click for others. Be prudent: don’t start a marketing campaign without doing some research beforehand.
It represents all those practices you can perform in collaboration with other websites to mutually increase your traffic by redirecting visitors. This can be lucrative for all websites covering a similar subject but that are not direct competitors. It can be done in a variety of ways, including direct links on websites and email newsletters that inform the subscribers of the offerings of a partner website.
If you want to borrow traffic you’ll need to be in good relations with other bloggers or webmasters. It requires a certain trust between the parties involved before it can run efficiently, with good results on both sides. Borrowing traffic is something you should think about only after you’ve done everything you can to increase the number of visitors to your website manually. You’ll need a certain reputation before other sites will agree to link you out.
To borrow traffic get in touch with a blogger or webmaster you know and make him a good proposal. You’ll need to promote other websites too if you’ll want others to do the same, so be reasonable.
Low-cost tactics to generate traffic
The more visitors you get on your website, no matter what you’re trying to get across, the greater your chances of surviving online are. Traffic tactics can help you in this respect, by increasing the number of monthly hits your site receives. While some methods of generating traffic involve significant expenses, especially if you’re into a competitive segment, the following can be applied with low to no costs whatsoever. Besides, they’re so accessible that with a bit of research you can implement them all by yourself.
Use plenty of backlinks
Write some informative articles that are related in some way to your website, making sure they directly refer to it. Also, make sure you insert in them a noticeable link to your site. Submit them to one of the many popular online article directories out there.
The articles should not be lengthy, preferably not exceeding five hundred words. They need to be accessible; Internet users tend to skim through articles in search for the essential information. They should contain the main keywords occurring in the pages of your website in a density of usually less than 3%, so that they will pop-up when a relevant online search is performed. Each article database has its own guidelines so don’t forget to check that out before submitting your articles.
Promote your site in forums
Spread the word about your site in forums that are related in some way to the topic you cover to reach interested users. It tends to be a less efficient way of promoting your site than other techniques, but it’s entirely free.
Don’t just spam forums with links to your site because it will not work, and besides, you’ll be likely to get a ban. Instead, be discreet and interact with the members of that forum. Contribute to discussions you are interested in yourself, even if they’re not related to what you’re trying to sell. Before you can promote a site efficiently on a forum you need to become a member of that community.
You should also try to make friends with the moderators of the forum you’re active on because they may let you create a sticky topic showcasing your website.
Optimize the meta tags
This is SEO work but it’s not that difficult to perform. If you’re managing the website all by yourself then you should not have many problems doing it.
Search engines take into account meta tags when listing sites in their search results page. With a little work on these tags you can generate more traffic without any costly promotion. It’s all about putting the right keywords in your website’s code.
There are quite a few free tools around known as keyword managers that can help you take care of the meta tags.
Submit your site to directories
If your website’s content is of good quality and navigation on it is smooth, then you should submit it to as many website directories as you can. A directory is a good medium through which you can gain some free exposure. Besides, because of the way sites are sorted in directories it usually brings you visitors who are interested in the segment you’re into.
Check out http://www.dmoz.org/.
Do a survey
While not a direct way of generating traffic, a survey held on your site can help you discover what your users think about you. It’s an excellent method to assess the quality of your site and to learn what visitors consider to be its weak spots.
With the results of a survey serving as an inspiration, you can then proceed in making the appropriate improvements.
One of the tools that can help you: http://www.surveymonkey.com/.
Spread word on Twitter
As one of the hottest social sites out there, Twitter can help you bring targeted traffic. It’s incredibly popular, meaning that you can reach truly all kinds of people. Also, compared to other social networks, Twitter is easier to use and manage, making it the most accessible of all social mediums for promoting your site.
People like to get regular updates about the sites they visit the most. If you’re on Twitter you can keep your users up-to-date with everything that’s happening. This continually reminds them of your site and encourages them to check it out more often.
Set up a free account and use your mobile device or computer to send “tweets” to your followers. Successful promotion on Twitter depends on your involvement in the community. Be active and try to enlarge your circle of followers. However, don’t be an annoyance. Direct promotion is not going to work; you have to be patient and advertise with discretion. Respond to other peoples’ “tweets” and don’t be all about business. Be personal because in this way you’ll be more likely to win users over. Start the promotion only after you’ve built your audience.
Generating traffic with a blog that complements your business site
One of the most effective and accessible traffic tactics available at present revolves around the creation of a blog to complement the business site. It doesn’t require much effort to maintain and comes with quite a few benefits, the most significant one being that it will keep your users up-to-date with what’s going on with your business. In addition, since search engines tend to rank higher websites whose content is frequently updated, a blog may also boost your website’s position in search engines.
Setting up and maintaining a blog is a fairly easy matter nowadays because of the wide range of open-source tools available. There are, however, some points you should take into account when setting up your blog, in order to guarantee its success.
- Build your blog with a custom software for best results
Typepad, Blogger, or WordPress are all good solutions that can help to build your blog without much trouble; but a custom software solution is in almost all ways better if you target a specific audience— it’s flexible enough to allow you to personalize it according to your needs. The downside of building a blog with custom software is that it will require quite a lot of tweaking and work, which is unnecessary if you use free offerings like WordPress or Blogger.
If you’re not sure where to start, check http://php.opensourcecms.com/.
- Host it on the same domain with your site
Businesses that host their blog on a distinct domain than that of their website are making a major mistake. They not only make things less accessible, but also lose links, promotion, and search engine ranking.
By far the best solution is to host your blog in a page of your main site. It makes access easy, encourages visitors to check it often, and offers additional content to search engines, which will considerably boost your search results position.
- Be active in blogs and forums that cover your segment
Besides the traffic you generate through the quality of your own website’s content and through marketing campaigns, you can also reach people by getting involved with the online communities that are interested in your segment. Regardless of what business you’re in, there is already out there an active community devoted to it.
You can discover these communities by searching for them on http://technorati.com/.
- Disable comments in the first few weeks of your blog
A blog whose posts receive no comments tends to be perceived as unpopular. When first time visitors access your blog and notice that there is not a single comment on any of its pages, they instantly form a bad opinion and never return again. It’s best to conceal the lack of activity on your blog in the first few weeks after its release than to depress your few initial visitors with the obvious signs of its inactivity.
Disable comments when you first launch the blog and keep them so until you have a few hundred unique visitors each day. You can then enable them and notice how comments pop-up here and there. After those initial comments that are the toughest to get, things will gradually improve.
- Don’t cover news exhaustively
The chances are that when you launch your blog there are already at least a dozen other blogs in your niche that discuss majors news from their own point of view. To get visitors and survive online you need to demonstrate that you can offer something different from what’s already available.
When multiple blogs cover the same news item, the bulk of users is much more likely to visit the well-established and renowned blog to access that information than the newcomer because they know it’s a source that can be trusted. This doesn’t mean you have to avoid talking about interesting things that make the headlines altogether. Refer to them now and then, but don’t focus on them.
- Ask well-known people in your niche to make a guest appearance on your blog
Having a popular person contributing to your blog not only boosts its image, but also wins over at least a few new users. In addition, if the person you’re asking to write on your blog represents another blog or an organization, then the chances that his or hers group will link you on their website are quite high.
The person you should ask to make a guest appearance must be someone who is known in your niche. Avoid getting someone who, even though a hero for many has also a lot of critics; it can damage the image of your blog.
- Shun away from ads until you’re established
In general, ads, whether we’re talking about AdSense or banners, tend to have a negative impact on visitors for a newly-launched blog. Ads can suggest that the blog in question is just there to generate traffic and make some quick money without having any considerations for the quality of its content. They can discourage visitors from returning, especially those who are hardcore blogging fans—those on which you typically rely on to form your base of loyal followers.
Contextual ads on a new blog in particular say a lot about the owner’s intentions. They can easily hinder developed, and sometimes even prevent it from taking place altogether. Currently, almost all top blogs out there don’t advertise directly on their pages, or if they do, they handle it discreetly, by carefully blending their ads and banners into their content.
Avoid at all costs “Click here to find more about…” ads or banners in the beginning because they will affect your reputation, sometimes irrevocably. Instead, keep your blog free from advertising in its first months and only after you’ve built a reputation implement ads that don’t interfere with the user experience.
- Add images and videos to your posts, besides the text
While text is the backbone of your posts, sometimes, especially if you prefer to write lengthy entries, it can be tedious to read. This can easily discourage new visitors from staying for too long.
Try to insert images constantly to your posts, and, when possible, videos and other multimedia content. It adds a special flavor to your blog and overall it makes it more accessible and interesting.
- Use analytics software
By running analytics software on your blog you’ll be able to track your users’ activity in detail and discover which areas are most liked and which need to be revamped. You’ll also find how most traffic comes, which is invaluable information you must take into account before doing SEO work or launching a marketing campaign.
If you want your blog to be successful, you’ll need to be aware of the activity patterns of your users. Analytics software can help you with this.
Find more at http://www.google.com/analytics/.
- Share private information openly
If your entries treat visitors formally, you’re not going to get far. People like sensitive issues to be discussed openly online because it makes them feel like the Internet is an open source-place, just the opposite of the corporate world with which they have to deal with in real life.
It doesn’t matter what your business website is about, just be personal on your blog and you’ll gain a lot more followers than if you treat others from a distance. Also, don’t shun away from revealing useful information about your niche that usually doesn’t come free. People really appreciate when you do that.
Traffic tactics help you gain an advantage over your competitors. Sometimes they require some extra work over an extended period of time, as with a blog that complements your website, and other times they are costly, as with a marketing campaign. However, almost always they are well worth the effort invested in them because they will considerably increase the number of visitors your website receives.