I believe you want to know how to increase website traffic. There is no way around it. If you have a website, your business needs visitors. The more, the merrier.
But, quantity is not the most important thing you need to worry about. You also need visitors who perform the actions you want them to perform, whether it be purchasing your product, subscribing to your email newsletter, or downloading your PDF file.
So, the real question is not how to get more website traffic, but rather how to get traffic that converts? Furthermore, how do you do it profitably?
This article will help you answer those questions. It is a simple guide to increasing website traffic for beginners.
It consists of three sections:
- Basic concepts – this section will take you through the most important concepts of traffic building.
- Core priorities – this section will introduce you to the core priorities you should be working on.
- How-to strategy – this section will give you a specific step-by-step strategy that will help you leverage your time and resources in order to generate the maximum amount of targeted website traffic, possible.
Let’s begin, shall we?
1. Basic concepts
Humans vs. bots
Strictly speaking, website traffic is anybody and anything that visits your website. This includes both human visitors and automated bots (which are, basically, computer programs designed to roam the Internet for one reason or another).
Obviously, it’s the human visitors you care about the most. But, you need to pay attention to the bots, too. Some of them are important.
Googlebot, for example, is a program Google uses to crawl your website for the purpose of indexing in Google Search. If you don’t allow it to access your site, you will effectively exclude yourself from Google and you can say ‘goodbye’ to the free traffic from this all-important search engine.
Other bots, however, can be malicious and could potentially cause a lot of harm.
Therefore, website security is extremely important. Especially, as the popularity of your website grows, thanks to you implementing the traffic generating priorities and strategies mentioned later in this article.
But, first, let’s look at where the human traffic comes from…
When you think about it, there is virtually an unlimited number of traffic sources. Basically, every online document (including non-HTML ones, such as PDF files), every chat message, every post on Facebook, every tweet, every game, can contain a website link.
Furthermore, a website address can be typed into any online browser on any Internet-enabled device.
In order to make some sense of this, it is useful to think of website traffic in terms of marketing channels according to its origin.
Generally, we recognize these 9 default marketing channels:
1. Organic Search traffic
This is traffic that comes from the search engines’ organic results. When people search for something in Google, for example, and then click on a result that is not a paid ad, they are referred to as organic traffic.
2. Paid Search traffic
The opposite of organic search is paid search. Paid Search traffic occurs when somebody clicks on an advertisement inside the search results. You need to pay for this traffic, usually on a pay-per-click (PPC) basis. It means you pay each time someone clicks on your ad.
3. Display traffic
This traffic is from display advertising, such as Google AdWords remarketing campaigns, banner advertising, and contextual ads.
4. Referral traffic
Whenever users’ click on a link from another website (other than major search engines), they are categorized as referral traffic.
5. Affiliate traffic
Any traffic resulting from affiliate marketing efforts, namely visitors arriving at your website via affiliate links, is called affiliate traffic.
6. Direct traffic
Strictly speaking, direct traffic originates when someone navigates to your website by typing its address into their browser. However, in Google Analytics, direct traffic numbers can sometimes be inflated because traffic from unrecognized sources is also accounted for as direct traffic.
7. Social traffic
Visits from social media sites that are not ads, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. are called social traffic.
8. Email traffic
This category includes traffic from clicks on links in email messages, whether mass email marketing or individual messages.
Anything else that doesn’t fit one of the above categories.
Measuring website traffic
You want to keep track of who is visiting your website, what pages they visit, how long they stay, and where they have come from.
One of the best tools for measuring and analyzing website traffic is Google Analytics. It is extremely powerful and if you don’t already have it installed, it is highly recommended you do so as soon as possible.
To monitor traffic from individual channels, navigate to Acquisition > All Traffic > Source/Medium and viola!
At the same time, it is important to note that Google Analytics bundles traffic into channels based on the source and/or medium parameters, passed by the links themselves.
This means that the quality of the data depends on how good a job you do at tagging your campaigns. If done incorrectly (or not done at all), traffic can end up being miscategorized and your data will not show the real picture.
Deceptive tactics to avoid
You probably noticed from the list of channels above that, with the exception of Direct traffic, in all other instances the visitor arrives at your website after clicking on a link.
Normally, the context in which the link is placed, the actual link text (or image) or both, would make it clear that clicking it will take the visitor to your website.
However, some webmasters try to hide from their visitors that clicking something will result in them ending up on another website.
For example, infamously, free video-sharing sites often apply deceptive advertising tactics, where clicking the play button in the media player, will automatically open the advertiser’s website in a new window. Another example is automatic popups or popunders, where the advertiser’s website is loaded in a separate window.
These and other deceptive tactics are not recommended and you should always stay away from them.
First, they annoy the hell out of your visitors because they hinder (rather than help) them from accomplishing the task they originally set out to do.
Second, these tactics tend to convert very poorly. So, while you can get tons of visitors to your website quickly, only a tiny percentage of them will take the action you want them to. As a result, you need to buy even more traffic. This not only increases your cost but also alienates even more potential customers in the process.
Finally, but not lastly, deceptive obtrusive tactics are frowned upon by the search engines. If you are not careful, using them might actually harm your ability to attract visitors from organic search (think Google penalty).
Oh, and you won’t be able to use certain paid search services, including Google Adwords, to advertise your services, because you would be breaking their terms of service.
Different types of media
Before we get to discuss the actual process of building website traffic, there is one more concept I want you to understand. It is the concept of owned media.
You see, when you look at the different sources of traffic, you will realize that it is possible to distinguish between three types of media:
- Earned media – media you have no control over; these are usually other peoples’ websites, social media channels, etc.
- Paid media – media you pay to get mentioned on or linked to; these are places you can get to via advertising, most frequently through the big advertising programs, such as Google Adwords or Facebook Ads.
- Owned media – media you have full control over; these are all your different websites, social media accounts, etc.
It is the last one, owned media, that has the potential to become the cornerstone of your Internet marketing strategy.
Because you have total editorial control over the content (within the applicable terms of service, of course), you are able to shape these in the exact way you need.
In other words, actively developing your own media allows you to be in much better control of what results come up in the search results pages and for which keywords. When flawlessly implemented, this concept allows you to dominate entire search results pages, thus harvesting most of the search traffic for the chosen search terms, leaving nothing to your competition.
With that said, it’s time to move onto discussing the core traffic building priorities in the part 2 section of this series.