Sunday, June 26th, 2011
I often see a lot of posts and questions on various forums asking that age old question – how to increase organic traffic to your site without spending a penny.
Over the last few years I have read many articles and studies in this area and so will share my thoughts on how best to optimise your content and off site activities to help increase your traffic for FREE.
1. Write useful, unique content.
It seems obvious but the most important thing about any website is its content. We all know the age old saying “content is king” – and it’s true. Your content should be unique, relevant and useful. End of.
Not only will quality content help you rank naturally (thus increasing traffic over time) it will also encourage users to come back to your site.
Pick a topic and stick to it. Try and be insightful and explain your concept to your users in a way that is easy for them to follow (as hopefully I am doing right now).
Do not be afraid to go against the grain, if you have a theory or opinion go with it. Generating lively debate can be a traffic magnet.
2. Be consistent.
Try to get into a routine and stick to it.
Avoid simply posting articles for postings sake. It is perfectly fine to only post once per week (or even only a couple of times per month). The thing to remember is to post quality – not quantity.
Do not fall into the trap of posting short, poor quality posts simply to make your blog / website appear active.
All you are doing is diluting your offering.
Set yourself high standards and stick to them. By being consistent you will keep your users engaged and eager to hear what it is you have to say next.
If you can post quality content regularly then great, but if you must choose between frequency and quality go for quality every time.
Remember: People are far more likely to revisit a site that is updated weekly with great content than one that is updated daily with rubbish.
3. Interact with your users.
When someone comments on your blog – acknowledge them. If they ask a question or email you make sure you reply.
By engaging with your audience and giving your blog or site a ‘human’ touch you are more likely to make a real connection with your users – and if they feel a connection with you and your content they are more likely to tell friends and share your content.
And why stop there?
Set up a Google Alert to notify you when anyone mentions your website anywhere online – and when they do join in the discussion.
If they were asking a question point them in the right direction and give them the answer.
It is incredibly simple but something that is often overlooked. Being proactive and engaging your users can turbo charge your traffic.
4. Get social and build a network.
Ensure you fill in the bio and always include the url to your site – also use social plugins to add twitter and facebook buttons to your sites.
Be sure to also use a picture for your accounts – people are less likely to follow and engage with users who have not changed the default image. It gives the impression the profile is new and undermines trust.
Follow or like established people within your niche and sectors; they will more often than not feel compelled to return the favour and follow you back. If they don’t unfollow them and repeat the process. By aligning yourself with people who already have a proven reputation within your field you will gain a level of authority yourself in the eyes of others.
Remember: We are often judged by the company we keep. This is also true for our social connections online.
Participate and engage with these people and get yourself known. Join in discussions and retweet relevant, informative posts of theirs. They are far more likely to retweet or like a post from someone they are familiar with and trust.
The right retweet from the right person can result in 100′s of visitors to your site.
5. Provide answers.
So give them the answers.
Participate in forum discussions and offer genuine opinion and advice. If someone asks a specific question then help to answer it – and if you have a relevant post on your site then suggest they check it out.
The keyword here is relevance. Do not answer a question about dolls houses then drop a link in about your tech blog.
And don’t simply contribute by saying “great post” – then drop your website URL in. This is spamming.
Stay on topic and always strive to offer value. It all helps to establish you as an authority in your chosen niche.
6. Share your content.
Social bookmarking is a great way to increase traffic to your website and best of all its quick and free.
By using social bookmarking sites correctly you can create a constant, reliable stream of targetted free traffic.
Only bookmark good quality posts – and always encourage your users to bookmark your content too.
Try and make the posts you bookmark enticing – they should intrigue users to click through and read more. Which brings us to…..
7. Use Link Bait.
Link baiting is a tried and tested concept and is simply the process of creating content that is highly linkable and has a high chance of being shared by others.
One of the most common link bait tricks out there is the Top 10 list (Tell me again, what is it you are currently reading?)
Lists are extremely linkable as most of the hard work has been done. We have looked at a topic, sifted through the facts and are presenting the top X points in an easy to read format. They offer the reader convenience and are perfect for users to scan and consume quickly.
Of course – they don’t have to be top 10 – they can be the top 20, or even the top 50. It really doesn’t matter. If you take a look around you will see these types of posts everywhere.
And it doesn’t stop with lists – writing about something that is happening right now can also be a great link baiting tactic. One example that springs to mind was the recent ICO announcement on the change to EU cookie laws.
Within minutes blog posts containing reaction and opinion on the proposed change were being retweeted and shared left, right and center.
Spot trends or news worthy events and get in early. Hot topics really have the potential to go viral.
As do anything involving celebs (Miss Gaga anyone?) or anything controversial (within reason) – use your imagination but remember the earlier points – keep it relevant.
8. Do a Guest Blog.
Guest blogging can not only provide you with tons of free targetted traffic, it can also help raise your profile in your niche and even your sites natural SERPS.
The best thing is it’s not that difficult to do – most website and blog owners are constantly seeking fresh, unique content for their websites (I know I am) so it really is a “win win” situation.
Get in touch with site owners* and ask if they would be interested in letting you write an article.
In return you would like a short bio about yourself (usually above or below the guest post) outlining who you are, what you do and a link to your website.
If they agree get cracking – choose a subject and make it as informative as you can. Remember – the people reading this may have never heard of you or your website so this is your opportunity to entice them and make them want to know more.
It is a fanstastic way to tap into new markets and traffic sources – and if the blog you are guesting on has a substantial reader base, it can deliver a ton of targetted traffic back to your website. Completely FREE.
* A great free site for contacting people interested in guest blog posts is http://www.myguestblogpost.com/
9. Tweak your design.
It sounds silly – but the actual design of your website can impact your traffic. If your site has errors, broken links or looks cheap and tacky users will leave in a flash. And they won’t come back.
The secret to building traffic is to retain your users. To keep them coming back for more and gradually add to them. If everyone who visits your website vows never to return you are faced with a constant uphill battle.
So spend time making your site as good as it can be. If using WordPress there are tons of free (or very cheap) themes knocking around.
The overall look and feel of your website can build trust and inspire confidence in your users. do not overlook this fact. It is important.
10. Give something away
And last but by no means least – give something away.
People LOVE being incentivsed. And they love freebies – no matter how trivial. This doesn’t mean you need to shell out for some amazing competition prize. It could simply be a PDF or eBook you have written (“how to increase traffic”, “top 20 best new TVs”, “a guide to buying camping equipment” etc.)
Or you could even contact the merchants you promote via your sites and ask them for an exclusive offer or an exclsuive money off voucher. Then use it to incentivise potential visitors.
Once again you can publicise your give away in forums, social channels and social bookmarking sites (I am sure the friends you made earlier on Twitter would also be more than willing to retweet your great offer).
The point is offers and deals are VERY sharable and can bring a surge of traffic to your website very quickly.
So there you have it. My top ten tips on the simple things you can do to increase the organic traffic to your website. This list is by no means exaustive though – and there are many more things that can be done (both onsite and offsite) to get that traffic flowing.
Got any advice yourself? Or disagree with any of the above pointers? Feel free to add your thoughts below.