But seriously, there is a point where traffic begins to sustain itself and instead of spending your time marketing and building links you can simply focus on your content. Unfortunately for most sites, that time isn’t now.
If you’ve been in the game long enough now—say a year or so—hopefully you’re already employing at least a handful of all the major ways to increase your traffic. Methods such as:
- On-site SEO
- Social media
- Guest Posting
- Blog commenting
- Community forums
- Give aways
- RSS feeds
- Email lists
- PPC campaigns (depending upon finances)
These methods work great. That’s why they’re so commonly used. But, if you’re doing all of these already, and still struggling—or just want a few extra methods—here a few subtle ways that can help drive traffic toward you website.
1) Make your website link ubiquitous in everything you do
Don’t take it to the point of spam—that will only irritate and push away customers. But consider unusual mediums that are typically untapped, where you can leave a link to your website without being over the top. For example, put a link in your:
- Email signature
- Signature at the end of newsletters
- All your online profiles
- Business cards (use just the domain name and extension – for example mydomain.com)
- Within any images you use online
This won’t be the tipping point that gives your website self-sustaining traffic, but it should drive in some organic traffic. And every bit helps, especially when starting out.
2) Create multiple ways for your audience to stay informed, with rewards for subscribing
Almost all sites do this already, but not to the extent they should. Typically you can find a link to their Facebook page, Twitter account, RSS feed, and that’s about it. Maybe, depending upon the type of site, a number to some kind of customer service as well.
The problem with these methods? They’re too common. They tend to fade to the background, as they’re on every site. How often do you visit a site and think “hey, great site—I should come back later to check for new content”, but then never do? It happens pretty easily in this crazy wide world we call the interwebs.
So, make sure you have multiple ways for your audience to get weekly updates from your site. Include the normal ones – social media, RSS feeds, email. But go above and beyond.
Have in the footer of every page an easy to see message asking for comments and suggestions with your email attached next to it. Anytime a new visitor drops you an email and you respond, the chance of them returning to your site goes through the roof.
Have subscribe buttons littered throughout your site as well. Don’t be spammy, but don’t be overly subtle either. Make sure it’s easy to see and quick to use.
Offer some kind of reward system for subscribing as well. Just make sure it’s actually something people will want. We’re all pestered by sites offering coupons, exclusive content, etc. etc. Be sincere in what you offer, and make it relevant to your niche.
Making it easier for them to bookmark your site doesn’t hurt either.
3) Don’t be afraid to share the link love
All too often newer websites seem afraid of linking out in their articles. Or, if they do provide a link, they link only to more of their own content. This is based off the concept of preserving whatever Pagerank they can, and even containing traffic within their site. Unfortunately, this is backward thinking.
Rand Fishkin of SEOmoz says it better than I ever will here.
Essentially, new websites—even old ones for that matter—should aim to provide the most helpful, highest quality content they can. This will take trial and error. But it’s this content that really drives traffic. And part of providing helpful content is linking to outside sources important and relevant to the content. Even if that source is a competitor.
Furthermore, many well know SEO professionals have theorized that there are algorithmic benefits to providing links out to reputable sources. Again, check out the link above.
And finally, it gets your site engaged in your community. Those you link to might not notice initially—it might even take a long while—but if they should notice eventually. Even if you don’t, you’ll anchor yourself to the community in your reader’s eyes.
So, don’t be afraid to link out. It improves the quality of the content, looks natural to Google (or other search engines for that matter), and often makes readers happy. And let’s face it: spamming links to your own content just looks bad.
4) Research the long tail
Researching the long tail before creating content can go a long way to driving traffic to your site. A quick explanation of what the long tail is, ripped straight from Ian Lurie:
The long tail is a “specific, niche search phrases, usually more than 2 words in length, that offers a low competition, low search volume and high searcher intent.”
Essentially, instead of the keyword ‘Tea’, it would be something along the lines of ‘Arizona sweet tea buy bulk’. Obviously that wouldn’t be as popular a search term as just tea, but the searcher knows what they’re looking for. So, anyone who finds your site using such keywords is already well along the path of direct purchase.
How can this apply to your site?
Well, there’s a great many ways you can use various tools, including Google’s AdWords Keywords Tool.
But essentially, without getting mired in analytics and technical terms, the easiest way to do this is Google content titles you’re considering. Make sure they’re specific and target a specific problem, niche, or idea. See what kind of results you get.
The idea here is to find the hole in Google. Once you’ve found something that has few, vague, or irrelevant results, you’ve found your content to target the long tail. Producing this content should—especially if you market it—cause it to appear high in Google searches matching the content title, ergo result in more traffic.
By continually targeting the long tail you should be able to drive specific niche traffic straight to your site, without too much extra work.
5) Celebrate other’s greatness
When someone does something particularly great, especially in your community, take note. Then promote it—through your social media, by writing a blog post, dedicating a page to their job well done. They deserve it.
But how can this increase your traffic? Well, recognizing someone else doing a something great reflects well on you. It also increases your ties in the community. And finally, it’s entirely possible the community member who did a great job thanks you for your recognition in some way, whether it be through their social media or linking to your article. Either way, it only further reflects well on you.
This seems underhanded, but that’s not the intention. Even if you get nothing out of it, you’re still recognizing someone doing a good job—something we can all appreciate at the end of the day. And, if it potentially helps increase your traffic? So much the better.
Cory Collins is a writer who is passionate about white hat SEO, link building, and blogging. He is an online content producer for Page One Power, a relevancy first link building services company. They have an in-depth SEO link building blog full of free great information.