If you have a website, you are likely aware of the importance of online traffic.
Companies who have figured out how to drive traffic to their sites and convert it, are those who are making 5, 6, and 7 figure incomes. As for those who don’t quite figure out the traffic formula…they are more in the 2, 3, and 4 figure range. So as you can see, traffic is a crucial piece to the online business puzzle.
Knowing how important traffic is business owners, we have created this guide to teach business owners new to the online marketing realm, how to drive it to their websites. We will introduce you to online traffic, how it works, and will give you specific strategies that are tried-and-tested. There will be 2 parts:
- Part 1 you are reading now which will teach you the methods of driving free traffic
- Part 2 which will teach you about paid methods of driving traffic
So let’s get started!
What is online traffic?
Online traffic or web traffic is the data that moves between online visitors and a website. Whenever a person types in a web address and the page loads, they are receiving information from that site. When they interact with it, visitors are sending information back.
Since the traffic is trackable using an analytics tool, we have an ability to gauge performance.
Why is online traffic important?
For one, online traffic is the people who are coming to your website which is the equivalent of people coming into a physical store. The more people who come, the more opportunities you have to close sales. More sales mean more revenue and who doesn’t love that?
Online traffic also provides great data which can be analyzed granting insights into a website’s performance. For example, an organization can see where traffic is coming from, allowing them to invest more into the channels with the highest ROI.
How is online traffic measured?
Online traffic can be measured very simply. All web servers generate a log file where traffic statistics are kept. This data can be easily viewed and managed for free through Google Analytics, or can be managed through user-friendly dashboards like ClickPerfect.
When looking at online traffic statistics, the key metrics which you can learn from include:
- The number of visitors pages receive
- Average page views generated by each unique visitor. Higher page views indicate a visitor showing an interest in a site and looking at the various pages it offers.
- The duration that each visitors stays at a particular website. Again, the longer they stay on a website the more interested they are.
- The duration they spend on each particular page.
- Times when most traffic is generated.
- The most popular pages.
- The pages first viewed. This helps to show which pages are attracting people to your website.
- Exit pages. Those that cause visitors to leave a website.
- Paths. How visitors navigate through your site.
How do websites gain traffic?
Earning traffic can be done in numerous ways, some of which are free and others which are paid. In this part of the series on driving traffic, we will take a closer look at the following free methods you can and should be utilizing:
- Social media
- Email marketing
First up is blogging. You probably read a few blogs regularly but may not know they are a key tactic for increasing traffic to a website. Research shows blogging can increase traffic by 55%. It provides an opportunity to inform potential customers about your company while providing information that is useful and interesting to them. Blogs work to drive traffic through SEO tactics and links like in the Macy’s blog example you’ll notice they have a link to shop now.
When writing blogs you want to think along the same lines as you use on social media which means quality, engaging content. People want to be informed, entertained, or inspired… not blatantly sold to.
So write about topics related to your industry that customer want to know about and that they will find interesting. For example, if you’re selling the cute dining set above, you could write a post on ‘5 essentials for a perfect summer dinner party’ and one point could highlight this dining set.
You want to show users how your products or services can be used in daily life, and guide them through FAQ about them. Once they are interested in the actual messaging in your blog posts, they may find subtly included links to your products and services helpful.
As far as optimizing blogs, keywords will come into play and long tail keywords are helpful. You will want to optimize all posts with keywords, tags URLs, and Meta descriptions which work like the directions for search engines to find them. Also, Google looks for active sites that are providing consistent content so you will want to plan a blog schedule with at least weekly posts and stick to it!
Next up is social media. With such a large portion of the population on social media nowadays, it is a great source for traffic. In fact, you’d be missing a huge opportunity if you didn’t make efforts on the different platforms (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, etc.).
To use social media channels effectively you will want to post content that your followers see as relevant. This should also include links to your website, as the example below shows in red.
Most importantly, social media shouldn’t be used just to promote your website but should have content that will interest your followers. For example, share relevant blogs, free eBooks, videos, online courses or webinars that will draw followers to your website. Post on a consistent basis about stories, thoughts, photos, and videos that relate to your business but are not just about your business.
Remember: People don’t go on social media to be sold, they want to be entertained, engaged, and are looking to interact socially. It is important to humanize your brand and post content that people will find helpful.
As we said, social media is a place to engage with people and it offers a broader reach than most any other marketing medium. (1/5th of the world’s population is now on Facebook!)
One of the best ways to reach a broad audience of people who will likely be interested in your business is to look to influencers in your industry. Who is making big waves and generating a lot of attention? You want to target their audience and build relationships with them.
To do this, you can begin engaging with the influencer’s page with likes, comments, and shares. You can also create infographics, tutorials, or whitepapers that offer value to others in your industry (not just your customers), add your name and link to them, and send them to influencers. This can be a great way to get more exposure and build your network as others share your work. After some rapport has been established, you can ask if you would be able to guest post on their page, channel, site, or blog, or if they would like to work out another type of collaboration.
Furthermore, you want to become known in your industry yourself and can do so by joining groups and participating actively. Remember you don’t want to go in with a mindset of sales, but of positioning yourself as a thought leader in your niche with helpful and relevant information. Comment on issues, reply to any messages, and participate in conversations. This will build trust and credibility.
Once your audience starts to flock, be prepared with a call to action button on your page for those who are interested. Also, continue to nurture your relationships with consistent valuable content. A good practice is to provide 80% engaging content and 20% promotional on social media.
Next up is SEO, which Google in particular has made very important for businesses. “Google it” has become a common saying because the majority of the general public makes inquiries every day to search engines. These inquiries range from random questions to searches for specific products and services.
Having your website featured on the first page of search engine results is paramount! It takes time but the first 3 search results account for about 65% of clicks! People believe that the top results are credible and that they will offer quality information. Organic search results also retain their position longer than paid results. Even if you stop SEO efforts, it takes about 3-6 months to drop off.
To improve search engine rankings for a website, you need to make sure your website includes a number of SEO techniques. Of course, you need to start with quality content, but others include the use of keyword targeting as well as inbound link building amongst others. In the screenshots below, you can see the landing page for Macy’s women’s dresses. This page ranked #1 for women’s dresses so let’s take a look at what they are doing.
They display all of their dresses for sale first and then accompany the page with a keyword-packed piece of content at the bottom of the page. These keywords shows search engine crawlers what the page is about and help it come up for a variety of searches. This page would trigger results for cocktail dresses, little black dress, bridesmaid dresses, and more.
If you are unsure of how SEO works, you can research Google’s guidelines, or hire experts who understand how to make your website hit all the marks.
While SEO is a very detailed topic that experts take years to understand and perfect, there are a few best practices that can help. First, keywords are the bridge between seekers and results. You need to perform an in-depth analysis of what words your audience uses when looking for your products or service.
Tip: It’s likely not industry jargon!
Over time, you can track, test and optimize your keywords.
Also, functionality is very important as web consumers these days will leave after mere seconds of waiting for your web page to load. This means anything that causes slow loading (rotating banners, clunky media, etc.) needs to be trimmed. On the same note, mobile friendliness is a major ranking factor now so you need to be sure your website is responsive and designed with mobile customers in mind. Build your site for speed, this not only means fast loading but easy navigation, content written for easy scanning, and have the most pertinent information prioritized.
Lastly, your website is on the world wide “web” and the more connected it is, the better. Links are the connections and should be used to direct visitors deeper into your own website, as well as from other sites to yours. The more high authority sites that link to your site, the more valuable you will look to search engines.
Last but not least is email marketing. Email marketing is another key way to drive traffic by getting previous visitors to return to your website through emails that contain links and enticing messaging. It involves getting your website visitors and customers to subscribe and then sending them emails regularly.
These emails are usually (and should be) personalized and relevant to where the recipient is in the buying cycle (i.e. new visitor looking for information, has shown interest in specific products or services, has made a purchase, long time loyal customer). They help to engage people and nurture them further through the buying cycle.
How effective is email marketing? It has shown to offer the highest ROI of any online marketing tactic! Below is an example of the first email Macy’s sends after subscribing to their email list. Note they thank you for signing up and offer you a 15% off coupon in order to entice new subscribers to go back to the site and shop. Sounds tempting to me!
Macy’s does a great job of trying to convert new subscribers right off the bat by giving them the 15% off incentive. Emails are a great opportunity to entice your audience with promotions. A key to successful conversions is segmenting your audience properly. You want to send the right message at the right time. For example, a 10% off coupon would be a good idea when someone has left their shopping cart before checkout.
Besides promotions, you can stay at the forefront of your audience’s mind by sending regular monthly newsletters which share what’s new, links to blogs, recent projects, or industry related news. This helps to build the relationship and keep your audience engaged. By choosing your links wisely, you can drive customers back to your website on a regular basis.
Another key factor here is getting people to sign up. How do you get them to agree to give you access to send them emails? There are many tactics but among the best are strategically placed opt ins throughout your website pages; as a popup upon arriving at the site, within blogs, and on social media. When visitors are already reading something that interests them, invite them to receive more similar information by signing up. To take it to the next level, you can offer a reward of some sort such as a whitepaper, infographic, or e-book which only requires their email to receive it.
Try this tool to grab subscribers, segment properly, offer promotions and automate monthly newsletters.
Drive Traffic to Drive Sales
Traffic is what will make or break an online business and it doesn’t magically appear once you create a website. Your website is just one piece of a larger puzzle which only attracts traffic when it’s all put together.
So is driving traffic to your website easy? I wouldn’t say so. However, it is very possible with the knowledge on what to do, the dedication to follow through, and the mindset that it is an ongoing process which should be continuously nurtured and optimized. Furthermore, you have these tactics readily available which don’t cost you any direct investment of funds!
Ready to learn how to drive even more traffic to your website? Click through to read Traffic Academy: Get In the Driver’s Seat! (Part 2) on paid traffic sources.
To unwind after hours of writing code or perfecting a design, Natalie likes to go out swing dancing or stay home alone and solve jigsaw puzzles.
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