Focus on content over SEO or advertising
A lot of people focus on SEO (including keyword research, link building, competitor research), Adwords, Facebook advertising and a social media strategy to drive traffic to their website.
These things do have a place, some of the time. But I have found them to not be the most predicable and sustainable route to driving traffic and building awareness for your brand. If you invest time and money into SEO techniques, Adwords campaigns and Facebook, you are putting your business in the hands of gatekeeprs that are liable to change their terms (which they do, all the time).
I don’t focus on any of that for my business. Instead, I focus on three pillars of sustainable traffic growth:
- Create high quality content for a single audience
- Publish regularly
- Create awareness for your content
Let’s look at each of these in turn.
1. Create high quality content for a single audience
Creating high quality content takes practice over a period of time. You will find your own voice and develop your own style and learn what resonates with the community you are serving.
The following are the guidelines that I have developed for my content, which you can use for inspiration:
- Be clear and concise
- Don’t make assumptions about your reader. Don’t skip steps.
- Don’t be afraid to cover the basics
- Use graphs to illustrated complicated points
- Be as actionable as possible
- Invite comments and feedback
2. Publish regularly
It is important to not let your website go stale as this will lead to your community forgetting you exist! So try and publish content on a regular schedule as much as possible.
Keeping an editorial calendar can really help with this. You can mark up a schedule of blog posts in your calendar application of choice (or physical calendar if you prefer). I use Trello for this as it allows me to move articles through various stages (writing, being editing, reviewing, published) and set a date for each.
3. Create awareness for your content
You can’t assume that if you build it they will come. It is vital to build awareness for your content. You should aim to get to the point where community members share your content for you (see point 1 about it being high quality!), but in order for them to share it, they need to know about it.
Here are some ideas on how you can build awareness for your content:
- Connect with people and help people. The more people that you connect with, the more people that you get to know. Even if it's just talking to them on a community website or on twitter. This increases the chance that they are actually going to share your work.
- Syndicate your best posts on Aggregator sites for your community, if they exist. For me, if I write a really good blog post and it goes on Planet Drupal on that particular day my traffic will double at least and it will probably double for about 3 days afterwards.
- Write guests posts for other websites where members of your community frequent. If you approach them and you say you want to write a blog post for them, they will hopefully publish that on their website and provide a link back to your website so you can kind of syphon off traffic from there's to yours.
- Republish your content on 3rd party websites like Medium.
- Being a guest on podcasts can be a huge traffic generator.
- Speaking at community conferences.
- Creating video tutorials and publishing on You Tube.
- Engaging and building relationships with influencers in your community. If an influencer shares your content, it is likely to be seen by a big slice of the community.
- If you mention someone in a blog post, let them know! If you use Twitter, a simple tweet to them can be enough. They may share it with their followers.
By focusing on creating quality content, you will over time start to get traffic from search engines. You may even start to tweak your pages to optimise it for the search engines. But you are likely to get better results focusing on the the content for your audience, and the problems it solves, first.