“Just build it and they’ll come” is a popular quote from the 1989 movie Field of Dreams. It’s such a popular if cliched phrase that one could expect that this also applies to websites.
However, sadly, in this instance, nothing could be further from the truth.
Visitors and traffic to your webpage are hard to come by unless you are CNN or BBC or something popular online. There is a lot of competition out there on the world wide web, with over one billion websites in existence today. That’s one big bookshop, and people are very unlikely to just stumble across your site, especially early on and when no-one has ever heard of it before.
So no matter how beautiful and how well-constructed your website, you will need to promote it in some way to gain viewers and regular hits to your website.
So where do visitors come from?
Web analysts typically divide website traffic acquisition into four broad categories:
If someone is using google or another search engine and ends up on your site, this is called search traffic. Most website owners love this type of traffic. Making your site so that it ranks highly in search engines, is called search engine optimisation or SEO for short.
Social traffic refers to users who arrive at your site straight from Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media platforms.
I highly recommend that you install Google Analytics on your website. It’s a free tool that allows you to track where all your traffic is coming from and going to, including demographics, time on site and lots of other useful tidbits of information.
By studying the data offered by Google Analytics you can begin to get an idea about what is working well and what isn’t and adjusting your site as appropriate.
If another website places a link to your website on it, and somebody clicks through to you, this is called a referral. Having your links on other sites is generally a pretty good idea (there are some exceptions, see below) – and are known as “backlinks”.
People who visit your site directly because they know your url. This generally includes email, though this is sometimes separated as a fifth method.
This channel is often ignored as a method to get good quality traffic. Videos is becoming one of the biggest consumption of media online and is often left behind as a source to get good qualified traffic. With a professional created video posted on youtube, you can generate qualified traffic and leads to your products and website.
How can I get more traffic from each of these methods?
The simplest way is to pay for it, and there are many many ways to do that. Some of the more popular methods are to place banners on other’s websites, bid on keywords for google searches (search engine marketing or SEM) and to run targeted advertisements on Facebook and other platforms.
Of course paying for this type of advertising is not cheap – and it’s transient too. When you stop advertising, the visitors will leave.
There are, however, many ways to increase your traffic without it costing you anything.
Here’s some simple tips:
Set up a Facebook page and other social media platforms and post links to your site from it. Of course, you need to post good content that people will want to share! (there is a whole different art to growing your social media
Guest blog on someone else’s site (for a link back to your site) and the reverse, where you invite someone to write for you.
Mention your website in forums and on social media. Be careful that you are not seen as spamming, but instead include the url to your website or a particular post only when it adds value to the online conversation. For example, in an online or social media discussion about “home made chips” it would be appropriate to link your post about “why double frying is the best method”.
Consider off-line marketing. I have a travel website where we hold regular competitions to win a weekend on the Gold Coast. I always have business cards on me to give to anyone whoever asks me what I do. If your website is an e-commerce site, you could include a voucher or discount code on your card. If you’re promoting an offer with a long url (such as an affiliate link) use the Pretty Links plug in to create a shorter tidier link that someone can remember and easily enter.
Always collect emails from your site’s visitors so that you can send them newsletters or offers which send them back to your website. Once again, your emails cannot be spammy or always use too much sales pitch or they won’t even be opened in the first place. A well-constructed email newsletter might have a heading “”why double frying is chips the best method”, and include a short excerpt before leading to a read more link, so the reader goes to your website, increasing engagement and helping with SEO.
However, the best long term goal for any website is to increase it’s ranking in Google and on other search engines, such as Bing and Yahoo.
With a good ranking you can start getting new visitors to your site – and typically more engaged visitors because they were specifically looking for something that your site offers. Importantly, traffic that arrives from search doesn’t cost anything if you do it right, and it is enduring.
Have a look at our article on SEO where we offer you some tips and resources to help improve your SEO.
Although the starting (and end) point of any website is good quality content and design it alone won’t get people to your site.
- Read what you can about tips 1-5 above and about SEO and enact the advice of those with a proven track record.
- Promote your site intelligently without resorting to dubious spammy methods
- Above all be patient and persistent.