Late last year, it was announced from an Internet traffic tracker that the total number of websites on the World Wide Web officially exceeded one billion. That’s right: one billion (and counting) websites are now on the Internet. Moreover, it is estimated that approximately two million articles and blog posts are published every day.
When owning and operating a website, these figures seem both quite impressive and unimaginable. Think about it: your website can be likened to a needle in a haystack. How would your website ever compete with a billion other web portals? It seems like an impossible endeavor.
However, through the power of social media, search engine optimization and high-quality content, your website can definitely attract eyeballs without breaking the budget and dipping into your purse strings. Of course, it should be noted that it does, in fact, take time to generate large amounts of traffic and create long-term visits.
Before we begin, it is important to remember that there are four types of website traffic:
- Direct Traffic: Visitors come straight to your website.
- Organic: People arrive at your website by typing in phrases or keywords on search engines related to your domain.
- Paid: Individuals go to your website through online advertising.
- Referral: Someone finds your website by clicking on a link on another webpage.
Here are eight free ways to drive traffic to your website today:
1. The Old Adage: 'Content is King'
For any digital marketer, webmaster or blogger, the catchphrase "content is king" has become rather nauseating. Indeed, we all understand the importance of content, even more so today thanks to the Panda and Penguin updates of our beloved search engine juggernaut Google. With that being said, it’s still imperative that website owners focus on the content creation before anything else. It’s the content, and content alone, that will drive traffic and keep visitors fixated on your website.
Here are seven ways to enhance your website content production initiative:
- Write compelling headlines (insert numbers, add questions, use case studies and/or take advantage of free digital headline tools).
- Produce varied content: shorter, to-the-point 500-word blog posts and longer, more detailed 1,200-word articles. Be the source of informative and colorful data.
- Be consistent in content creation. This means write articles on a regular schedule.
- Try to blend evergreen content with what’s currently trending on Twitter and Google.
- Interview professionals in the industry that you’re focusing on (a business website interviews a CEO; a wrestling website interviews a wrestler).
- Create categories of articles, such as top lists, how-tos and infographics.
- Pen a controversial piece that relates to a newsworthy subject.
2. Socializing on Social Media
As often has been noted by social media experts, brands do not socialize enough on social media. In other words, a brand may establish a social media account and then neglect it as it collects dust and spiderwebs. Small businesses, reputable brands, and websites must stay active on social media if they wish to develop a successful and popular reputation with the consuming public.
Here are five ways to drive traffic to your website through social media:
- First, create accounts on the major social networks and share your content as well as others’ on these social media venues.
- Take advantage of scheduling social media software to automatically post content throughout certain times of the day.
- Install social media buttons at the top and bottom of all of your content pieces.
- Engage with your readers through social media by asking questions related to your content.
- Start posting content on a weekly basis on LinkedIn with a link to your website.
3. Guest Posting = Quid Pro Quo
Google’s Matt Cutts regularly opines that guest posting, or guest blogging, is dead and isn’t an effective tool anymore for SEO. However, it still remains a popular method for online marketers. Guest posting is quid pro quo meaning that the guest author gets more eyeballs and a link while the host receives content and a favor in the future.
Here are four ways to drive traffic to your website through the technique of guest posting:
- What is your goal of guest blogging? Determine if it’s to expand reach, improve your brand image or building connections with other bloggers and linkers.
- Write compelling and engaging blog posts and contact a new blog each week to find out if they wish to post this article on their blog. Be sure to include a link at the bottom of each article.
- Invite others to guest post on your own blog because they’ll send traffic your way.
- Stick around after you publish the guest blog and speak with some of the commenters.
4. Launching a Link-Building Campaign
It may seem like a black-hat or antiquated system, but link-building is still a very popular form of marketing. Of course, it has become a lot more intricate than in the past: before authors would insert a link in the middle of an article without websites detecting them. Nowadays, there is a stringent process that editors go through to ensure their websites aren’t used for any link-building campaigns. With that being said, there is still plenty of white-hat tips for generating links.
Here are four ways to drive traffic to your website through an effective link-building campaign:
- Always have your website’s link in your email signatures.
- Post helpful information on forums and blogs with your website’s link in your messages.
- Add your blog to Technorati, syndicate your blog on Amazon Kindle and submit your articles to blog directories.
- Finally, utilize link inspection tools like Open Site Explorer to research where and how visitors are detecting your website.
5. A Responsive Website
Visitors will often shun your website if they believe it’s unresponsive, slow and isn’t able to be viewed on mobile devices. The solution? Ensure that your website is responsive, fast and capable of being read on smartphones, tablets and phablets. Ostensibly, there are three numbers that webmasters have to be aware of when maintaining a website:
- 0.1 Second: instant response makes the user feel out of control.
- 1 Second: a fast response but the visitor will still feel in control and browse around.
- 10 Seconds: individuals will notice the delay and leave the website immediately.
6. A Stellar Website Design
The design of a website is just as important as the content being written. There have been studies that have shown how visitors will focus more on the layout, buttons, colors, multimedia and other aspects than on any other facet of the webpage. This means that your website should maintain an immaculate design. Here are three tips to consider:
- Do not use stock photos as reports have suggested they actually turn away readers.
- Do not use pop-up and splash advertisements as they will irk visitors instantly.
- Do not use automatic video startups because this is the biggest pet peeve today.
7. Hone in on the Data Analytics
Want to know the bounce rate of your website? Want to know the open rate of your marketing campaign? Want to know where your traffic is coming from? Well, instead of just using WordPress statistics to gather the rudimentary information on your website, try to take advantage of the various data analytics platforms available today, like Google Analytics, for instance. By understanding the who, what, when, why and how of your website, you can improve your failures, enhance your successes and boost traffic.
8. Old-Fashioned SEO
Finally, maybe what your website needs is the good old-fashioned SEO campaign. Although it has often been said that SEO is dead, it is actually alive and well and is something that every website has to ensure it is excelling at. Without a proper SEO plan, you may as well close up shop now and save your time and money on maintaining a blog.
Here are four ways to use SEO to improve your web traffic:
- Interlink your blog posts and link to authoritative websites.
- Establish a Google+ authorship because it helps in the search engine rankings.
- Install SEO plug-ins and optimize your website for search engines.
- Use - but do not overuse - keywords in your page titles, web copy, post titles, subheadings and images.
Getting noticed is one of the hardest parts of owning a website. However, once you have been noticed, the next tricky part is to expand upon that little bit of momentum. By incorporating these free strategies into your website’s business model, you can drive traffic to your website as time goes by. Who knows, you may become the next BuzzFeed.