The first step in building your online business is growing your web traffic. Here’s how.
Your website has the potential to be your greatest sales tool. But for that to happen, it has to generate enough on-site traffic to grow the leads you need for your business. For big businesses with high brand recognition and large budgets, that might sound like such a daunting task. But what about small-to-mid-sized businesses? How can they compete with big players for rankings and search results?
Many SMBs might be surprised to learn that it’s easier than they think. You don’t need a massive budget to increase web traffic—you just need the right strategy. (OK, and also the right expertise, enough time, and a large helping of elbow grease.) Here’s are six ways for small businesses to grow website visitors.
1. SEO: optimize your pages to make sure they can be found.
First of all, make sure your website is well-designed and user-friendly. This isn’t directly SEO, but a lot of SEO problems are related to usability problems. For instance, a hard-to-use website will drive visitors away, increase your bounce rate, and affect your rankings.
Good SEO practices, based on keyword research and on-page optimization, will improve your main content pages for search engine rankings, and help visitors learn about your product and services. However, the perfectly-optimized site is only going to carry you so far without a good content marketing push. Thus the next step is…
2. Blogging: build organic traffic, and give yourself something to share.
There’s a reason blogs are tied with increased web traffic: blog posts allow you to rank for more long-tail keywords. And because you keep adding more pages, the number of keywords you can rank for continues to grow.
This makes blogging is a cumulative effort. If you optimize for a keyword that has a search volume of 10–50 searches a month, that might not seem like a lot. But over the course of a year, that keyword could be searched for 120–600 times. Now multiply that by two blogs a week, every week, for a year.
Of course, just because a keyword receives that kind of search volume over the course of a year doesn’t mean all that traffic will come your way. But your blog can still generate traffic in other ways, particularly if you publicize it across social media.
3. Social Media: publicize your content and spread the word.
I’ve never much understood the point of doing any social media marketing before you have a blog up and running. After all, without regular blog posts, what do you expect to share?
Of course, social media has plenty of other benefits (customer engagement, paid advertising, etc.), but in terms of unpaid traffic for your site, social media’s best use is to spread your blogging activity. Write you blog regularly, share your posts on social, and if you have a particularly good topic, consider boosting the post.
4. Advertising: put some money behind it on AdWords and social media.
So far we’ve focused on unpaid avenues for increasing web traffic. However, paid traffic can be a worthwhile investment, provided you use the right channels.
The primary channel we use for paid traffic is AdWords. You set the keywords you want to bid on, write a short ad, and then pay based on the number of people who click on your advertisement. Similarly, you can put money behind advertisements on social media, or pay for placement ads on websites that match your target audience.
Budgets for advertisements can start relatively low, but it’s important to measure your metrics. We’ve found that, while our advertising on AdWords and across social media do bring in traffic, our best results come from the organic results we earn through blogging.
5. Email: keep in touch with customers and qualified leads.
If you’ve been cultivating an email list, sending out a regular newsletter can help nurture those leads and entice them back to your site. Again, this is where your previous blogging will pay off. A weekly blog is the perfect excuse to send your subscribers a reliable stream of new, useful content. Simply send them a short paragraph introducing the blog, then include a link from your email to the blog page.
Regular newsletters aren’t the only way to use your email lists. Drip campaigns and promotional offers can also bring in traffic and boost your online sales. But you may find that your users grow weary of promotional offers, in which case they could decide to unsubscribe from your list. So, treat your lists with care, don’t exhaust them with offers, but do provide them with valuable content.
6. Content Distribution: reach out to guest bloggers, and invite them to your blog.
Finally, once you have your own blogging and content marketing strategies in play, it’s time to look for other avenues to place your content that might attract visitors back to your website. For starters, there may be other blogs or online publications in your industry that might be open to publishing a guest blog from you. Some businesses are interested in guest blogging exchanges, where you post a blog on their website and they post one on yours. This tends to be mutually beneficial, as visitors to their blog might come visit your website, and vice versa.
Other content platforms, such as LinkedIn Pulse or Medium, allow users to post articles that the platform then distributes to other potential users. A well-written article that links back to other posts on your website can attract more traffic and raise the profile of your business.
You’ve found a way to increase web traffic—what next?
Traffic on your site is only one piece of the puzzle. A strong content marketing campaign will help ensure the quality of that traffic, but it won’t convert that traffic to leads, nor will it close sales all on its own. For that, you need to provide visitors with a clear action to take that will help you market to them specifically.
For e-commerce sites, that action may mean guiding them toward a purchase. But for B2B businesses with a long sales cycle, converting traffic into sales leads usually requires a piece of downloadable content with a form to gather email addresses. From there, visitors can enter your CRM, and your sales team can take over.
Not every visitor to your website will become a purchasing customer. However, if you focus on the ultimate purpose of your site, and then create content based on attracting visitors who will connect with that purpose, traffic will help build your sales.