Last year Google changed the SEO game for good, coming up with improved spam detection algorithms that have penalized lots of bad sites and a few legitimate sites (tragic, I know…). And since Google’s algorithms are only getting smarter, it makes a lot of sense to either engage in 100% white hat SEO work or find other sources that will boost your website traffic.
The best option would be to follow both avenues, of course, but since not all of us are qualified SEO consultants, I thought that I should share with you the best strategies that are responsible for about 40% of my website’s traffic. The rest of my visitors come straight from Google for now, but it’s always better to avoid relying on a single traffic source.
1. Video Marketing
This method is extremely easy, and yet very few people are using it: create a video about your website, company, products, etc and upload it to the top video sharing websites (YouTube, Metacafe, DailyMotion, Vimeo, etc).
To begin with, your video should grab the viewers’ attention with a bold introduction, listing your product’s benefits (not features!) and ending with a powerful call to action which makes the viewer click the link that leads to your website.
Creating a video might sound like a complex task, I know, but since most people have a webcam these days, all that’s missing from your arsenal is a piece of free screen recording software like CamStudio. But if you dislike the idea of creating the video yourself, you can always hire somebody else to do the job.
If you plan to rank that video for a particular keyword, make sure to include the keyword in the video file name, its title and description. Don’t forget that you can also use an entire article for the video description; this will help it rank better. The first words in the description tag should include a link that points to a relevant page on your website – that’s how you get more website visitors out of video marketing.
Videos are ranked depending on the number of backlinks pointing to them, the number of views and the social signals that they have gotten (channel subscribers, likes, comments, etc). Some people cheat their way to the top by purchasing views, likes, etc but this is not a long-term method of building a solid online business.
Once that you have got your video uploaded, create more videos targeting other products / niches / keywords and repeat the uploading process, thus producing several video-based traffic streams.
2. Forum Marketing
Most people ignore forums, even though they can be turned into relevant, highly targeted website traffic sources. The idea is to find niche forums, create accounts and participate without breaking the forum guidelines.
Let’s say that you are selling used cars; a search like “used cars forum” (without using the quotes) will bring in lots of relevant results. Find the most populated, most active forums, create accounts at the best ones, and then start contributing to them on a regular basis, answering questions.
Since most forums allow you to include a link in your signature, many people will click it because they are interested in learning more about you and your products. Starting a thread that answers tougher questions in your industry is also a good way of establishing yourself as an authoritative source of information.
Once again, resist the temptation to spam the forums; otherwise, your accounts will be deleted. On the other hand, if you do forum marketing an hour per day, answering questions and posting useful information (created by you or by others) you will significantly boost your website traffic.
3. Blog Commenting
This particular website traffic boosting method has been bashed a lot, because it was used to create billions of spammy comments. The ethical, traffic-producing blog commenting method consists of finding high traffic industry-related blogs and being among the very first commenters on the newly posted articles, with comments that actually add value to the original post.
Read the article carefully, search the web looking for information that would make the article even better, and then use that info in your comment. The people reading the article will see your comment, and some of them will click your name link, landing on your website.
Most blogs have “Name”, “Email”, “Website” and “Comment” fields, and many people type in their targeted keywords into the “Name” field, in an effort to rank their websites for those particular keywords. Resist the temptation to do the same thing and simply put your real name into the “Name” field. Your website URL should be typed in into the “Website” field, of course; otherwise, you won’t get the link that can send visitors to it.
As the blog owners start to trust you more and more, you might have the chance to post links to your own articles within the comments and even write a guest post on their websites.
If you are interested in effectively using this method, it is crucial to be among the first few commenters. Fortunately, you can use Google Alerts to get daily or weekly lists with fresh blog posts in your industry. I have covered the process in the How to Write Great Website Content article, so make sure to check it out.
4. Guest Blogging
This strategy has been used quite a bit lately, because it has the potential to not only boost your website traffic, but to increase its keyword rankings as well. Find authoritative websites in your niche, read all their articles, and then find a fresh article idea that would nicely complement them. Then, contact the website owners, asking them if they would be interested in publishing your remarkable content pieces.
Your job will be much easier (and your response rate much higher) if you have already contributed several insightful comments on those websites, of course. And if your guest posting article targets an evergreen topic, it could send visitors to your website for many years.
The target websites should have a high authority and lots of visitors. Stats like the ones offered by Alexa (go for values below 500,000), Open Site Explorer (DA / PA above 30), Majestic SEO (CF / TF above 20) will help you quickly identify a good target.
If the targeted website has a small Alexa rank, it’s a sign that it receives many visitors; some of them will click your bio link placed at the end of the article, landing on your website. In addition to this, since guest blogging has the potential to increase your website’s search engine rankings, your website will be displayed more often in the search engine results, allowing more people to discover it.
5. Social Media
If you are interested in receiving highly targeted visitors to their website, it makes a lot of sense to add targeted friends or followers to your social media accounts. In fact, why don’t you start by adding your top competitors? Some of them will follow back for sure!
The best results with social media appear when you actually start interacting with your friends and followers; you could organize various contests, offering some of your products as prizes, ask people to give you feedback, and so on.
Creating and posting links to your blog articles on the social media accounts is mandatory, and it is actually encouraged by Google. And since the top social networks are Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+, you should focus your energy on them. Be very careful with LinkedIn, though; its users have a zero-spam tolerance policy, so avoid being too salesy.
One of the more recent, and yet powerful social media sharing websites is Pinterest; it will not work for any niche, but if your website includes lots of images and / or targets an industry dominated by women, you should definitely use it.
Upload your images to Pinterest, making sure that they link back to your website; then, start sharing and re-pinning content from other people in your industry; if your images are really good, some of them will return the favor, and this will increase your website traffic as well.
6. Document Sharing
Did you create a short report, an e-book that can be given away? If your answer is affirmative, nothing stops you from uploading that e-book to dozens of document sharing sites like scribd.com, docstoc.com, slideshare.net, issuu.com, and so on.
The secret of getting website visitors is to place links at the beginning and / or end of the report, promising access to more information on your website.
As an example, you could upload a “Top 10 SEO tips for 2014” report which ends with a “Top 10 Ways to Make Google Love Your Website” link that leads to one of your website articles. Don’t expect to get hordes of visitors out of this, though; the beauty of the method lies in its scalability. Create and upload a killer 5-10 pages report each week and you will start seeing consistent results within months.
Podcasts are episodic series of audio recordings or videos; they started to lose some of their power, but if you are an opinion leader and / or you can offer useful industry-related tips, you should definitely try them out.
iTunes, PodcastDirectory, iPodder and PodcastAlley are just a few examples of great websites that can host your podcasts and have the ability to send visitors back to your site. And if you run out of ideas, you can simply convert your existing blog posts to podcasts using a basic PC microphone or a text-to-speech application.
Power tip: if you are a specialist in your industry field, getting interviewed by a popular podcast site can get you lots of fresh website visitors. Find the most appreciated podcasts in your niche, and then email the webmasters, telling them why you’d be a perfect fit for their show.
8. Q&A Websites
Did you know that many people may be asking questions about your products or services? Yahoo Answers is by far the most popular site of them all, so it is wise to create an account there and start answering questions. Then, when you will get to Level 2 by answering enough questions, you will get the ability to post links to your website articles that solve other people’s problems.
Take your time to do some research before answering the questions; if your answer is voted as the best one it will be featured, and this will attract many people to your website.
9. Blog Directories / News Aggregators
Few people use this method, but it is important to know that you can easily increase your website traffic by adding your website to the most popular blog directories. Simply add your blog’s RSS feed to these websites and you have got yourself a fresh, never ending source of targeted website visitors – how cool is that?
Technorati is by far one of the best blog directories; a simple “top blog directories” Google search will reveal many more similar websites.
Many people use infographics for SEO purposes, but they double as great, free traffic sources. As an example, this Google SEO Penalties infographic brings in dozens of potential customers per month, people that have gotten their websites penalized and want to regain the lost rankings.
Not everyone will be able to create a decent looking infographic, I know, but you can either outsource the work or use a website like infogr.am to do the job. Make sure to do your research, picking a hot topic and presenting it in an attractive manner. Then, upload your infographic to the top “infographics distribution sites” (yes, that’s a Google search).
11. Picture Sites
The same thing goes for picture sites; you can get a lot of traffic from them. Still, it is good to know that many of these sites will not allow you to link back to your website.
Nevertheless, you can watermark your website URL over the images, and if they are fantastic indeed, some people will actually make the effort to type your website address into their browsers.
You will find plenty of image sites by doing a Google search for “top image hosting websites”; my favorites are flickr.com, photobucket.com and imageshack.us.
12. Email Marketing
If your current website visitors and your existing clients trust you, they will be glad to receive emails from you every now and then. Sure, these emails have to pack a lot of value; don’t send promotional emails because you are going to upset these people, who actually like you.
What problems do your website visitors have? Can you solve them? What are they interested in learning about? Your emails should address these matters.
Have you just posted a fresh blog article? Then send your email subscribers a few great industry tips, along with a link to your blog post. Repeat the process whenever you have a contest, discounted prices, and so on; this will allow you to have many more repeat website visitors.
13. Software Applications
Believe it or not, most (if not all) of the free software applications that can be downloaded from this website (in the “Free Tools” section) have a link that leads to randombyte.com. I agree that not everyone is able to design software applications, but if you can create useful programs, you can add another source of highly targeted website visitors to your existing arsenal.
14. Banner Ads
Did you know that many people continue to click banner ads? This is a simple, and often times a cost effective way of significantly boosting your website traffic.
Begin by discovering the actual websites where your targeted visitors hang out: forums, blogs, and so on. Then, contact the webmasters and find out how much you would have to pay in order to have your banner displayed on their websites.
Resist the temptation to use high quality graphics for your banners; big, ugly, flashy text works better most of the time. The banner should entice the visitor to click it because it displays an irresistible proposal.
15. Pay Per Click (PPC)
PPC is another paid traffic source that will increase the number of website visitors. Many people use Google AdWords, but there are several other good traffic sources out there; Bing Ads, Zedo and Kontera are just a few of the less expensive options.
Choose highly targeted, exact match, long tail keywords to trigger your paid ads; otherwise, you will lose a lot of money without getting too many targeted website visitors. Just like with the banners, your ads should hypnotize the surfers, making them click the ads because they promise (and hopefully, deliver) an outstanding benefit.
Try various ads and see which ones perform better; then, after you’ve perfected the ad for a keyword, move on to a new keyword.
As you now know, there are many different traffic sources (paid and free) that can be used to boost the number of visitors on your website. It is always better to get your traffic from dozens of different places, rather than relying on a single traffic source that may go down in flames someday (or start hating your website).
Does this mean that you should start moving away from SEO? Not at all, but strive to get at least 60% of your traffic from other sources, if possible; this way, if something goes wrong, you’ll still have plenty of website visitors.