A common misconception about websites is that if you have one, people will automatically find it. In truth, you need to put a lot of work into promoting your website on an ongoing basis. One of the most common and well known routes is search engine optimisation. This is ensuring that your website ranks well in search engines like Google for relevant key terms. Get this right and the traffic can be huge. But it is a long term game, and it can take months before you see a return. But Google is not the only source of quality traffic, and you don't need to wait for months before you start to see the traffic begin to trickle in.
Your audience is enjoying content elsewhere
The people who you want to come to your website are already enjoying other websites and online communities. It is possible to tap into that as a source of potential readers, email subscribers and customers.
You can think of this as akin to opening a new shop. If you open a shop in a neighbourhood far away from any other shops, you are unlikely to get many people walking through the door. Sure you can pay for advertising, but that can be advertising with variable results. A more successful strategy would be to position your shop next to other shops that already have established customers. You can then benefit from the footfall of people visiting those shops. Even better if your shop sells product that appeals to the type of people visiting the established shops.
You can think of the web in the same way. On its own, a website is a shop for your business in a quiet neighbourhood with little footfall. But if you position your website along side established websites, you can enjoy the same boost in traffic as a shop enjoys the footfall of established shops. This involves providing value to readers of those established websites, and then asking them to visit your website.
But how do you provide value to readers of the established websites?
A guest post is one where you write an article and it is published on an another website. In most cases, the post will be unique (not also published on your own blog or another blog). Some sites will pay you to write for them, while others will not. Because the articles are unique, it is quite a lot of effort. As such, you should ensure that the audience the other site targets is closely aligned with yours and that it receives enough traffic to make it worth while.
Aggregator sites feature latest content from popular sites in a particular niche. There is a whole range of them out there and it is possible that there is an aggregator in your target market. For my technical blog, BeFused, Drupal Planet is an aggregator that is closely aligned with my audience. This results in a significant boost in quality, highly relevant traffic.
Online communities like forums, Facebook, Google and LinkedIn groups are a great way to interact with your audience. If you pay attention to the problems community members are having, you can craft blog posts that address those specific problems. You can offer a thoughtful response to their questions and then link to your blog for a more in-depth analysis and solution. This is a great way to be helpful and responsive and attract readers at the same time.
Republishing is when you post the same blog post that you have published on your blog on a 3rd party site. Sites like Medium.com are a great place to do this. They get a lot of traffic, and if your post is of high quality, it could get picked up by a member of their editorial team. These posts can receive huge amounts of traffic by being included in important pages on medium.com
Here are a couple of examples of this in action
- James Clear runs the popular blog JamesClear.com. He republishes many of his posts on sites like Quora, Medium and the Huffington Post.
- Paul Jarvis is a best selling author and highly regarded designer. He republishes many of his posts on the Huffington Postand Medium.
Being interviewed on Podcasts
Podcasts are becoming increasing popular and more and more niches have their own. If you feel like you can add some value to the readers of a podcast, get in touch with the host and see if you can be interviewed.
Newspapers, magazines and other mainstream media outlets can also be a great source of traffic. I used to work for an online comparison site called uSwitch, and a large amount of the traffic we got was from newspapers. If you can become an authority in your space and give journalists what they want, there is a great chance they will quote you.
Think outside of the box
It is all too common for people (including the experts) to think of only the main channels of SEO, online advertising and social media as the sources of traffic. By providing value on other sites, you can both help more people and build your own brand.