Lately I’ve been able to increase web traffic despite a recent Google Panda update. I wasn’t noticeably affected this time around (I’ve only been ‘hit’ once, and temporarily at that). So what’s my big secret for increasing web traffic despite a bad shakeup?
Increase Web Traffic With AND Without Google
This is an imperative for my business – learning other non-SEO forms of traffic. This is the only protection anyone has against the worry caused by the words, “Google Algorithm Update.”
Oh no! Not again!
Yes, it happens and happens faster than any one single business owner can keep pace with. But SEO isn’t dead, just challenging as ever (i.e. business as usual, welcome to planet earth).
I have an SEO system I use already, my book Duct Tape SEO lays it out: a solid foundation for free traffic from Google and all the major search engines.
SEO traffic is the first thing I plan for when building a new site or improving an older one, I suggest the same for anyone online (unless you have another method that’s working, that’s fine, too) – but now I’m adding more deliberate means to get traffic in addition to Google.
I am not suggesting ignoring SEO. Far from it! I think it’s a mistake not to target SEO at some point in your online business.
The ROI (return on investment) on planning for search engine traffic is unheard of – few alternative means of traffic come close to long-term SEO campaigns in terms of getting the right traffic to your pages versus tire-kickers or lookie-lou’s.
In any business, leaning too heavily on any one income stream – or any one form of getting targeted ‘customers’ – is going to become a noose choking out your profits.
Don’t Be a Web Traffic Jack of All Trades
One of my recent posts talked about the death of 1,000 ideas when it came to diversifying your profit streams prematurely. My main point was simply to say that you can’t (shouldn’t) jump from one idea to the next and then the next, expecting to make money.
Jumping from idea to idea without follow-through is a horrible idea.
It’s the opposite of a business strategy, when real money is made by focusing on what works long enough to actually work the plan.
That assumes the business idea is a valid one – but the same is true for traffic.
People say silly things like “SEO is dead,” meaning they have no idea what they’re doing from the get-go. Maybe they built really embarrassing sites that nobody wanted to land on in 1,000 years…so they ranked really well…then something happened.
Google got smarter. They built a business of thin spammy sites and it was “Google’s fault” their house of cards came down. But “SEO is dead…”
Right.My point is that SEO is not dead, but it should NOT be your only form of traffic in the long haul.
Warning: what you don’t want to do is jump from traffic idea to traffic idea (i.e.: reading 80 different methods of traffic generation but never acting on anything long enough to enjoy or measure your results – bad idea!).
I am not a Jack of All Trades when it comes to traffic: I do SEO really well, now want to add to that some other resources.
If you’re with me so far, then here’s what happened to me recently and some other ideas I’ll be chasing down soon.
If you’ve been living under a rock, you might not know what social media is all about. One good place to start is this post by Mavis Nong on Twitter marketing for business. It’s a simple plan she lays out to leverage Twitter for business, just to illustrate the opportunity you may be missing.
Why Social Media?
Let’s put it this way:
The Biggest Search Engine Spent Millions on Their Own Social Media Platform for the THIRD TIME in 2011
OK. I admit it: I can’t recall how many social platform attempts Google has had – Orkut? Google Wave? Buzz? That’s three…but I’m not a Google historian, there could have been more…
Google created “G+” or “Google Circles” to combat Facebook. The search engine 800-pound gorilla is taking on the social media T-Rex…
Google did that even though they own the 1st and 3rd most-trafficked sites online: Google and YouTube. Facebook sits at #2 (as I write this – at least according to Alexa.com)…
Notice that of the top 3 sites on the planet (according to Alexa) – 2 of 3 are social websites: YouTube and Facebook.
Er go: social media is pretty cotton-pickin’ important.
How My Web Traffic Tripled Recently
First of all, I’m experimenting and learning. This is all fresh in my mind, I’m not a guru on web traffic generation.
The real gurus are Kim Roach, Ana Hoffman, Paula and Wanda (all 3 have a free ebook on traffic if you opt-in to their lists, I’ve learned a lot from them), Corbett Barr at ThinkTraffic knows his stuff…
But me: just sperimentin’ here.
When it comes to traffic, I’m an SEO guy first, the rest is a work in progress. What I found works incredibly well is the following.
Finding people in my niche that are actually traffic mavens and who have more or less dominated social media platforms like Twitter, FB, G+, LinkedIn and StumbleUpon – that’s one method that had a huge payoff.
I’m only guessing here that this has had some impact.
Here’s a screenshot of a recent reader with a massive StumbleUpon influence that sent me around 2k visitors by simply sharing my content with her network:
Wondering how to network?
I had little idea it was even worth doing until I bought and read Kristi Hines’ book The Ultimate Blog Post Promotion Guide.
This is more than enough to get started. An eye-opener for me, and highly recommended if, like me, you’re wondering how the truly connected get truly connected (Kristi is a traffic master, I’ve had a lot to learn from her book and blog).
[That last one's a tough one for me, but it pays off.]
Networking has to be strategic if you expect it to pay off in increased web traffic, though. Some key points to keep in mind:
- Is this person well-respected or pond scum?
- Does the person have followers on Twitter, FB and LinkedIn, etc. that are targeted for your market?
- Does the person’s blog or site actually attract an audience?
Trying to break into the “A-list” of bloggers in a niche is usually a frustrating endeavor – until you’re ‘somebody.’ I’m still working on that part, so what do you do?
Go for the B-listers.
People who have a presence online but who aren’t going to have their names dropped in a name-dropping contest at SMX or BlogExpo, etc. They may have thousands of people following on Twitter – or they may just have a few hundred.
Maybe their blog gets 20 comments regularly per post – or their RSS feed stats are somewhat impressive…you want signs of life, but maybe the person’s not Aaron Wall or Rand Fishkin in their market just yet.
These are people who have some network that shows they care, and they’re more approachable. People know who them in their circles.
They’re more open to being approached, and with just a small group of like-minded people in a market, you’d be surprised how well simply sharing your posts on social media works for traffic.
Posted More Informational Articles
This is especially noticeable on one of my niche sites (and this blog) – but I decided to ‘beat Panda’ by upping my on-site quality for readers (go figure). This is another deliberate choice, especially for niche marketers to pay attention to: writing for your market.
On these ‘support pages’ I’ve simply tackled topics that my market was interested in, but these posts have no form of profit to them other than internal links and SEO traffic.
For the reader – these posts answer some of their questions, address some of the most-sought-for topics, and help build trust when they’re on my site. Google ranked these posts highly since my site is focused in its scope: my site has relevance overall for these terms and has built some authority.
But what I’m doing runs counter to what a lot of niche marketers do, where we normally would write tons of reviews (aff link here, aff link there), or would have AdSense on the posts that bleed traffic out like a sieve.
What I’m seeing in my traffic stats is that more people are coming through these support articles and so far I’ve made some sales as well.
So the lesson for me is simply to add value to my site, and get more traffic from non-profit pages…and OK: it’s SEO traffic, but not a ‘direct route’ to my affiliate links.
Steal Facebook Traffic
This is something I’m experimenting with, but I’ve noticed in my own research that plenty of Facebook “Notes” are getting indexed in Google. I can only assume they rank well in search due to the overall trust of the FB domain as a whole – but let me tell you they rank incredibly easily.
So for FB, I’m doing and suggest the following:
- Create an account for your sites.
- Create a fan page for your sites.
- Join groups your market would be interested in, and build connections and visibility through participation.
- Write FB ‘Notes’ that have links to your blog (not directly to your affiliate offer).
Notice that’s “what to do” and not “how to do it,” more on that in another post dedicated to Facebook traffic generation (when I have something more substantial to report).
All I know at present is that a Facebook Note will rank with little promotion, and that fan pages are easy to create if you have Flexsqueeze or the MaxFBPage plugin (I have both) – or if you just learn how from Pat Flynn’s series and video on fan page creation.
The point is: Google doesn’t own that traffic, and it’s not too hard to get started at FB to get people interested in your offer.
I’ll later be advertising on FB but that’s for another post altogether, right now I’m using them for free traffic and I’ve seen spikes of it when I’m active.
I used to use HootSuite (at around $6/mo) and actually recommended it in my book, but I don’t use it anymore. The reason being, I found MarketMeSuite.com to be a much better tool.
What it does is manage your social media accounts (including Ping.fm which I use) in one dashboard like Tweet Deck. The catch? It’s 100% free to use. I had no idea – the tool used to be around $90 or so and I’ve never used it until just recently.
For a full MarketMeSuite review, read what Brankica had to say on it.
What does this have to do with increasing your traffic? It makes managing your social media much easier to do, including scheduling and auto-following on Twitter…I’ve not even used it for 3 days as I write this so I’m not an expert, but read the post I linked at Brankica’s blog.
The point is to use it to strategically follow those accounts you want an “in” with; build an audience in social media; pin-point opportunities to network and/or guest post at; develop your network of like-minded people that can help you build an actual presence online.
Don’t Over-Complicate Traffic Generation
Like my “Death of 1,000 Ideas” post – it’s easy to try too many things at once. I’m only working on a couple of main traffic generation ideas at a time.
What I don’t want to do is inspire some frenzied “let’s try it all” types out there – mastering 2-3 traffic methods you can hedge your bet against any sort of Google goofiness that makes mad headlines.
Though I listed a handful of ideas above, the main things that have boosted my traffic are:
- Networking with others in my niches that have an established social network of their own. (Giving them some link love and not just hogging it all, by the way.)
- Posting SEO-focused informative posts that are helpful to my readers, not directly profitable. These posts, by the way, gain their own natural links and social activity…
- Began to use MarketMeSuite to organize my niche site social promotions (it works better than HootSuite if you’re familiar).
I’ll have more details in what works out best, and more specifics on Twitter, Facebook and Google+ as my plans develop some measurable results…right now suffice it to say: I hope you’re adding to your traffic resources a heavy dose of social media.
Hopefully I can get as good as my wife is on Twitter, but I’m not there just yet. :)
What About Your Traffic?
So enough about me already – what about you? Any good non-SEO methods you’ve been using to increase web traffic you want to share?
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