The Quick ‘n Dirty Guide to Getting Traffic to Your Website

March 2, 2015

I’m a writer at heart. So I hang out with a lot of writers who are creating awesome things: impressive blogs, high-quality online publications, and more.

Except no one’s reading them.

PEOPLE! You can create all the amazing content you want, but if no one knows it’s there, you’re probably not going to see the returns you want. If no one reads what you create, you won’t be able to make money from it. And if you’re hoping to support yourself through your art, you won’t be able to afford to do it much longer if you’re not earning a living.

So for all the writers whose amazing-ness is going unseen, here’s a quick-and-dirty guide to getting eyeballs on your website.

Increase traffic to your website

How to get traffic depends in part on your demographic, your niche and how you plan to monetize. But the main components for earning online traffic are pretty similar across the board. They include:

1. Grow a newsletter

This is, by far, the best thing you can do for your site. When you have email addresses, you can go right to where people hang out — in their inbox — rather than waiting for them to find you. If you can email your readers, you will be able to encourage them to visit your site again and again, building a loyal following over time.

So make building your newsletter list your Number One priority. Funnel everyone there. Make it your call to action. Showcase your sign-up form prominently on your site, and in lots of places. Offer a high-value freebie for anyone who signs up. Hell, hit readers with a pop-up if you have to! They might get a bad rap, but pop-ups convert well; on blogs my team and I run, we see a 4-7 percent conversion rate with pop-ups.

Collect emails like it’s your job (because it IS), and share your amazing content with those readers on a regular basis.

2. Be active on social media

Don’t try to be everywhere. Instead, choose two or three channels and maximize the heck out of them. Be strategic about which ones you choose; work the channels that make the most sense for your demographic.

In addition to sharing your own content, share other people’s creations, too. Be generous, and use Twitter’s @mention or whatever the equivalent tag is on the channel you use, so influencers notice you.

If you choose to use Facebook, expect to put some money behind your updates if you want to gain any traction. Otherwise, don’t bother.

3. Optimize your content for search

I’m not talking about the techie kind of SEO, I’m talking about the far-less-scary version, the content kind. The best thing you can do here is optimize your headlines. Use Google’s Keyword Planner and Google Trends to figure out what terms people are searching for that relate to what you’re writing about, and use them in your headlines. If you don’t even know where to start here, watch my free webinar on SEO for Bloggers.

Don’t write for SEO; instead, write your awesome content and then go back and tweak it so Google will feature you high in search results. If you do this consistently, you will see your organic search traffic increase. As that increases, more people will share your posts, more readers will sign up for your newsletter, and you’ll see a snowball effect on traffic.

4. Get back-links to your site

Building back-links is an SEO tactic, but it requires its own strategy. When other websites link to your site, Google looks favorably on you and ranks you higher in search results. The bigger the publication that links to you, the more Google love you get. As an added bonus, when publications link to you, some of their visitors will hop over to your site, too.

How do you get back-links? Here are a few options:

  • Write guest posts. Write them for free, so long as you get a link back to the site in your bio. Here’s a free webinar that explains best practices for guest blogging.
  • Get press. Convince other outlets to feature your story. One smart way to make this happen is by responding to HARO requests. This guide to HARO from Marian Schembari will help you make it work. Just this week, we did this for one of our clients, which resulted in the company being featured in Inc. Magazine. Truth be told, the magazine didn’t send nearly as much traffic as you’d expect for a major outlet, but that back-link is gold, and even better, the company can now brag that it has been featured on Inc.
  • Encourage organic link-backs. If you offer amazing content and help people notice it through all the avenues we’ve reviewed today, bloggers and publications will link to your content without you asking them. One way to encourage this is by writing a list post that features the best bloggers or resources in your niche. Because when you put someone on your list, it makes them look good, and they want all their friends to know, so they share it with the world… which likely includes a link on their blog. As an example, see our list of 100 Best Websites for Writers on The Write Life. We compile this for many reasons, not the least of which is that it’s a valuable resources for our readers, but it also leads to lots of back-links from websites we included.

When it comes to generating traffic, there’s lots more you can do, of course. But if you find yourself strapped for time, energy and money like many one-woman shops, these are the first bases you should cover.

Oh, and this all assumes you’re creating unique content that’s valuable to your readers, information people want to share with their friends.

Don’t get caught in the trap of thinking that if you create great work, people will find it. The truth is, you have to help them find it.

If you don’t push yourself to spend time on promotion, your blog will probably rarely get read.

If you do, your site will gain traction and traffic and influence over time. And that, my friends, will open the door to all sorts of opportunities for your creative endeavors.

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    20 Replies to “The Quick ‘n Dirty Guide to Getting Traffic to Your Website”

    • Bob Gillen says:

      Great post! Thanks for the info. I struggle with this.

    • Another great article, Alexis. I really appreciate what you said about the newsletter pop up’s (I don’t like them but have added one as a ‘trial’ to see what happens). Also, the importance as you noted of choosing a couple social networking sites and focusing on those. Harried writers rejoice!

      Thanks for the info … now to implement strategically.

    • Kathy says:

      Solid tips once again. The Type A in me needs to create a daily blogging to-do list. You know what I mean? Pour through all the tips, select 5 and do them every single day. Then reevaluate once a month. I’m trying too many things but not many with consistency.

    • Alta says:

      Thanks fot sharing the article on news letter publication. It’s helpful.

    • Sage says:

      Great advice! For WordPress users looking to improve their search engine rankings, I highly recommend the Yoast plugin for SEO, which analyses your posts/pages for SEO elements and tells what you need to tweak in order to optimize your titles, descriptions, etc.

    • Interesting note about newsletters. I found my way to this post by following a link in YOUR newsletter. 🙂

    • Brittany says:

      It’s funny you mentioned the referral traffic from Inc. We were featured there yesterday, and I was checking Google Analytics constantly, expecting a huge surge that never came. We had more traffic than usual, but not by much. It had me stumped (still does), but it’s interesting to note that’s happened to other people.

    • Gina Horkey says:

      Awesome Alexis! Thanks for calling attention to this post in your newsletter. I’ve got your webinar on SEO tips slotted for tomorrow:-) Have a good one!

    • Alexis –

      Fantastic tips, as always! Bloggers and content creators (myself included) can always use these awesome reminders. I’m just discovering even better ways to use Google’s Keyword Planner and it’s great for so much more than SEO.

      Cheers! Oh – and the link to One Woman Shop is much appreciated! 🙂


    • Iris says:

      Great tips here as always! I love that you suggest using HARO. I was registered with them back when I was still at my day job. It was a great experience but I hadn’t thought to use that site as a solopreneur. I guess it’s worth checking back in there. I think the key to using HARO as a marketing tool is to provide valuable information in your niche to be sure you attract the right people to your business.

    • Tammy Adams says:

      Hi, would love to read this article, but can’t seem to find it. How do I pull it up? Thanks,Tammy

    • It’s so hard when you kick off a new blog. It’s an endless grind of writing great content no-one’s reading and then promoting it to what feels like nobody. Eventually it catches on, but it’s a slog.

      Definitely agree with writing the content and then tweaking for SEO. Writing for SEO itself just makes the whole blog very boring.

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