Visitors are like food to your website, without them your website will starve.
So here’s the issue, how do you get more website visitors? Because we all want our websites to eat and get ludicrously fat with traffic. After all, each and every new visitor to our site gives us one more chance to convert a sale.
The most common answers for getting website visitors are something like this:
- Hire an SEO company to rank #1 on Google
- Hire an SEO company to rank #1 on Google
- Hire an SEO company to rank #1 on Google
I’m just throwing this out there, but we all need to start being a bit more imaginative with how we drive traffic to our sites. If we continue comparing website traffic to food, the above thinking is like eating nothing but candy.
So let’s break out of the box a bit and start thinking of new ways to feed our websites a balanced diet of healthy traffic.
When organic isn’t the only important thing
Like with food, balancing our website traffic from a variety of sources or channels is healthy. Here’s a fairly generalized list of major channels:
- Direct – A visitor types your website name into the browser.
- Referral – A visitor clicks a link on another website that leads to your website.
- Email – A visitor clicks a link in a email and visits your site.
- Social – A visitor clicks a link on a social network (ie. Facebook, Twitter, etc.) and visits your site.
- Organic Search – A visitor searches for “pink rubber ducks” on a search engine and clicks on your website listing.
- Paid Ads – Any paid campaign like Google Adwords, etc.. We won’t touch on this channel today.
An ideal scenario would be to balance your traffic acquisition among these various channels. Let’s break things down a bit further and see what we should do (and shouldn’t do) within each channel to drive traffic.
This can be a confusing metric as it’s often misrepresented in website analytics software, we won’t get into the why’s here, but if you’re curious here’s a great article.
Direct traffic is extremely valuable and your success in getting direct traffic is directly related to your brands memorability. If your website address is idoreallygoodworkinchattanoogainc.com you will likely have serious issues driving direct traffic.
If you’re at the stage of purchasing a domain name, don’t hesitate to pay extra for an unforgettable name.
And then plaster if everywhere. Too often we get into a rut of thinking online advertising should/can only be done online.
Opportunity #1 – Vehicle decals
Plastering your website address on every vehicle you have on the road is one of the highest return on investment forms of advertising you can ever do. This will definitely drive more traffic to your website.
Opportunity #2 – Uniforms
Add your website to your company shirts, hats, jackets, etc. This is a great “pay once, advertise for years” investment.
Opportunity #3 – Signs
Each time you arrive at a job site, put up a sign that prominently includes your website address.
Opportunity #4 – Synergies
Work with other local businesses that share a similar customer base but happen to be in a different industry. Think of creative ways to promoting each other, for example: offering co-branded coupons.
Opportunity #5 – Paid offline advertising
If you’ve got a few more bucks to spend on advertising, lease a billboard, or other offline advertising space.
Referral traffic is a monster of a channel, so we’re going to just touch on a few ways to create it. We may have to take out our thinking caps and do some brainstorming to get going with this.
The goal is to create multiple entry points to our website on other websites that our potential customers are likely to visit (the italics part is important, the goal is NOT to build hundreds of links on websites selling ballet shoes in Taiwan).
Opportunity #1 – National business directories
Start with the national business listing services, like Yelp, Angie’s List, Google Places and Bing Places. Try this handy free listing tool at: https://moz.com/local/
Spend time making your listings look great, it’s worth it.
Opportunity #2 – Local business directories
Chances are, there are dozens of local business directories right at home in your local city, like the Chamber of Commerce, your local BBB, local business owner associations, local online phone directories, industry specific directories, etc..
Try doing a Google search for “Directory your city name”. Make a list of all results and reach out to them to include your business.
Opportunity #3 – Local news outlets
Many local news outlets have free or very cheap opportunities to list your business.
Try doing a Google search for “News your city name”. Again, make a list of all results and reach out to them to include your business.
Opportunity #4 – Local classifieds
Many local classifieds also have free or very cheap opportunities to list your business.
Try doing a Google search for “Classified your city name”. Once again, make a list of all results and reach out to them to include your business.
Opportunity #5 – Industry specific sites
Chances are, no matter what your business is, there are dozens of industry specific organizations, forums, directories & associations. Search Google for your industry name + [organization, forum, etc.]
And make a list of results and get involved with as many of them as possible.
Opportunity #6 – Get on the news
Do something for a local charity, donate your work, volunteer for a local non profit organization. And try to gently make sure your company get’s credit from an online news outlet.
With a bit of creativity this opportunity list could go on and on. The bottom line is, each opportunity you take advantage of may give you a few extra visitors per month (or more if you get lucky). It starts to add up fast.
Email is still one of the cheapest ways to drive website traffic. And with awesome companies like MailChimp it’s ridiculously easy to do.
- Sign up for free.
- Create a campaign with no tech skills required.
Building your list is the toughest part, and takes time and patience. Here’s a few suggestions for building your email marketing list:
Opportunity #1 – Remarkable content
Spend the time to write great content for your emails. Then add sharing buttons to improve the chances that your subscribers will encourage others to subscribe.
Opportunity #2 – Use your website
Add a sign-up form to your website, and tie it to a promotion to encourage sign ups.
Opportunity #3 – Collect offline
Collect email addresses at offline events like trade shows, and import them into your database. Be sure to send these contacts a welcome email that confirms their opt-in to your list.
Opportunity #4 – Social media
Use your Facebook business page to promote an offer that requires an email address submission. Create a tab on that page dedicated to email sign up. Promote the offers in your timeline. And encourage your leads to share your offers on Facebook by adding a social sharing button on your landing pages and thank-you pages.
Social is becoming a bit trickier lately. Because of the sheer amount of content posted, less and less of it actually ends up in the feeds of potential customers. But it is an extremely important channel. Key social networks:
Instead of highlighting opportunities for this channel, let’s look at suggestions to help your posts get seen.
#1 – Include media
Awesome photos of your work or short videos are great. Posts without media are less likely to get attention.
#2 – Improve your reach
If you want your potential customers to see your posts, you need to have them on your network. Here’s a good article from HubSpot about how to do exactly that.
#3 – Don’t give up
It’s easy to get excited about social media, post heavily for a month, and then feel you got no results and give up. Keep going, time will pay dividends.
We’re now at the part we’ve all been waiting for. The candy.
You don’t need to hire an SEO company for hundreds or thousands of dollars per month just so they can build blog networks filled with links to your site to artificially inflate your rankings.
The reality is, if you’ve implemented strategies to drive traffic from direct, referral, email, and social media too, you’ve already done 90% of the off-site work needed to rank high on search engines.
Often the single most effective strategy to improve search engine rankings is to focus on developing a solid stream of traffic from the other channels, and good rankings will follow.
Using this strategy has a couple of huge benefits:
#1 – It’s safe & future proof
You’re not pandering to current SEO trends, putting yourself at risk for future algorithm changes, or even worse, penalties.
#2 – It’s diversified
Even if you take a traffic hit on one channel for some reason, you’ll still get traffic from the other channels.
#3 – It’s scalable
If you focus all-in on SEO, your total potential traffic will be limited to the quantity of local searches. Diversifying your channels enables you to scale traffic to much higher levels.
Driving traffic the right way takes work, there’s no doubt about it. But if you make a multi-channel plan and stick to it, it will pay off.
And if you want to make sure that as many of those precious visitors as possible convert into customers, check out Hatch. That’s what we do.