What’s the benefit of having a brick-and-mortar right in a busy district? Duh – accessibility, both to those who’ve never heard of you and those who are looking for exactly what you offer. And it’s likely for those same reasons that you, like any business owner, are wondering how to drive traffic to your website.
There is no fool-proof “best way” to drive traffic to a website. The effectiveness of each individual strategy for your business will depend on the industry and your target market. In this article we’ll give an overview of some of the most effective ways to drive free website traffic in general. We’ll also discuss some paid approaches to help when you’re just getting started or push traffic to the extreme when you’re already doing well. Most of these methods could warrant a lengthy, dedicated blog post in their own right, so this article will just provide a basic overview. Hopefully after reading this, you’ll know where to spend time digging in deeper. Let’s get into it!
Strategies For Free Targeted Website Traffic
When it comes to “free website traffic”, that really just means you don’t have to spend hard money to drive traffic to your website. That said, there’s still a definite time investment involved. Depending on your stage of business and level of expertise, some of these strategies may actually be better to hire out.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Millions of searches are conducted every day on Google. In fact, the majority of people with internet access worldwide use Google at least one time per day. Unlike paid advertising, organic search results have a high level of trust and account for the vast majority of website traffic. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of optimizing your website and its content to rank as high as possible in those organic search results.
Let’s put it in basic terms. You go to Google and search something like “plumbers near me” or “plumbers in Denver”. You’ll get more results than you could possibly know what to do with, and you likely won’t get past the first couple pages of results. And that’s if you even get past the first page.
Now, think about if your plumbing business was one of the first results to show up for anyone searching those high-intent queries. That equals big traffic, and that means tons of business opportunities. Apply that to any kind of business and you can see the immense value of SEO. It basically means taking strategic action to tap into the intent-driven searches that are occurring all the time related to your products or services.
It sounds perfect, but SEO is no walk in the park or immediate solution. A solid SEO strategy can realistically take 6–12 months to really start delivering enough traffic to expect consistent leads/sales from. But, once you get to that point it’s like the gift that keeps on giving.
SEO Stoke Tips:
- Conduct keyword research to best optimize the content on your website and find good, relevant topics to write fresh content about.
- Consistently write, publish and promote high-quality content that provides valuable information and/or solutions to your target audience.
- Pursue opportunities for quality links back to your website content. (See below)
Backlinks are historically something of a hallowed subject in relation to SEO and driving website traffic. In simplest terms, they’re just links to your website from other websites. They’re traditionally a huge focus for SEO marketers, because the number of backlinks to your website was one of the most important factors for SEO.
Today, they’re still crucial. But, a focus on quality has taken over. In the past, many employed black-hat techniques to skyrocket the number of backlinks to their website, many of which were spammy “link buying” services or fake websites. Today, backlinks are still of huge importance, but spammy links can actually hurt you more than they help. Google’s algorithm really looks for backlinks from high-quality, authoritative websites.
And that’s not to mention the simple possibility of direct traffic thanks to those links, regardless of their SEO impact. For example, if you landed a great guest blog posting opportunity with a high-authority blog, the possible clicks from that post to your website are of just as much if not more value than the impact it could have on your SEO.
Backlink Stoke Tips:
- Save some of your best, most valuable content. Search for high-authority blogs related to your niche and target audience, and reach out about guest posting your great content on their blog. Make sure to include relevant links to other resources where relevant, as well as a link somewhere in the content or author section of the post.
- Seek expert influencers in your niche or target market and work to build relationships with them. Feature their expertise in a strong piece of content on your website and they’re likely to share it on their social media and possibly link to it from their own website.
- Search for and answer questions relevant to your market and expertise on Quora. Where it’s relevant and natural, include links back to content on your website.
Writing good blog posts and in general offering quality, useful content that’s of value to your target market is of utmost importance. It not only helps your SEO efforts and backlink opportunities but will also provide you with engaging content to promote and drive people to your website. Promoting the content is key here!
Ultimately, the purpose of your website (and business) should always be to fulfill user intent. In other words, solve a problem. That means providing true value to your target audience. This hits two birds with one stone: you establish your expertise and build trust with prospects around that expertise. If and when the time comes that they need what you offer, you might be forefront in their brain because of the valuable solutions or information you’ve provided in the past.
In short, writing and properly promoting high-quality content that’s of interest and value to your target market is a surefire way to boost SEO, drive traffic and increase engagement.
Content Stoke Tips:
- Consider what unique expertise you may have that would be highly valuable to your target market. What problems do you offer unique, high-value solutions for? How can you go ahead and help your target audience while also positioning your services or products in a place to further help them? What questions are your prospects seeking answers to? Write about it. Or, better yet, make a video about it.
- Create and consistently utilize an email funnel. Have a simple opt-in available on your website. Use special offers and free value to drive more opt-ins. Run a regular email campaign to continue building your relationship and trust with those prospects.
- Use social media strategy (Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube, etc) to get your content in front of your target audience and drive engagement.
In general, you should be active on the social platforms that are most used by your target market. Post interesting, relevant content (not necessarily just your own!), build a brand personality and connect and engage with anyone that might have relevance to your business. Of course, make sure all your social profiles have a bio link to your website.
This is a great way to promote the stellar content you’re putting out. You can use quality content and a social media strategy to build relationships and drive awareness of your brand. It’s also where you express who you are as a brand and continually express your Unique Value Proposition. And on top of all that, it gives you what marketers call “social proof.” Having a relevant, high-quality and consistent presence on social media makes you appear more real and trustworthy.
So, get out there and engage with your target audience on social media. With a good strategy, you’re sure to generate some traffic and awareness via social media efforts.
Social Media Stoke Tips:
- On platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn, join groups relevant to your niche and target market. Post valuable content, comment with added insight and generally engage with the other members on a regular basis.
- On platforms like Twitter and Instagram, do hashtag research and use hashtags set for every post where it’s relevant.
- Create a separate content plan for reach platform and for platforms like Twitter and Instagram post at least once a day at the same time.
Word of Mouth
Word of mouth is, of course, one of the oldest and most effective marketing techniques out there. This works two-fold. First, if people have had some direct interaction with or referral to your brand, they’re far more likely to seek out your website and dig deeper. Second, once someone has heard about a business, most will go online to look into it before making any kind of purchasing decision. Think, for example, if a friend tells you about a great restaurant they ate at. Are you more likely to just head on over there, or are you going to go online and look at their menu?
As far as taking an active approach to word of mouth marketing, there are plenty of methods. Ultimately, the word of mouth approach involves using grassroots networking to drive awareness and engagement with your website and business.
Word-of-Mouth Stoke Tips:
- Tap into your existing network- let them know what you’re up to and what you’re offering. Tell them about your new website and encourage them to check it out, or even link to it themselves.
- Drop your website link on professional business cards and look for any decent opportunity to get them out there.
- Attend conferences, meetups / networking groups, and other business functions.
Directories, Citations and Listings
There are plenty of places online that people go to seek products and services aside from the standard search engines. From the classic online Yellowpages to things like Yelp and Homeadvisor, you can find relevant directories, aggregators and general resource-based websites for any niche. It’s a great way to get your business on the digital map, drive awareness and possibly even gain some backlinks.
Obviously, this can be pretty industry specific, but look for other websites that aggregate businesses like yours. Aside from Google search, what methods might your target audience use to search for businesses like yours? This can be especially important for local service-area businesses – get consistent, accurate NAP (name, address, phone number) listed in as many relevant directories as you can. Comprehensive, consistent NAP can also be a big help on the SEO front, aside from the actual direct traffic it might bring.
Citation Stoke Tips:
- Look for review aggregator directories that list business’s information and user ratings. Think things like Yelp, Google My Business, Homeadvisor, etc.
- Seek professional business directories relevant to your niche. E.g. BBB; your local small business chamber of commerce; organizations that provide licensing, certification, accreditation, etc.
Paid Website Traffic
Maybe you’re just starting out and don’t have the momentum or time to solely rely on free website traffic strategies. Or, maybe you’re already out there crushing it but know a little investment could drive even more sales. Either way, there’s a time and method to buying website traffic. Whether this means Google Ads, Facebook Ads, Instagram Ads… these are surefire ways to get your content in front of a highly targeted audience and drive traffic to your website.
Google Ads essentially give you the ability to buy your way to the top of Google’s search results. In the vast majority cases Google Ads are run on a pay-per-click (PPC) setup, meaning you only pay when someone actually clicks on your ad. Given the right circumstances, Google Ads (AKA search engine marketing) can mean huge ROI. Pump some money into the right ad setup with a properly optimized conversion funnel and you could see your ad spend turn into a lot of revenue.
The amazing thing about Google Ads is how intent-driven it is. When you setup a campaign, you select specific key terms and phrases to bid on with your ads. For example, you could target “plumbers in Denver” (or any location), and only people searching things like that will get served your ads. So, you’re really only exposing your ad to people who are actually showing warm interest in what you offer.
All of that said, what you pay per click varies greatly by industry and keyword. A bad campaign can run up ad spend quickly without much return, so properly optimizing your campaign is of crucial importance to your budget and ROI. That means serving the right ad messaging, driving traffic to a landing page that will convert well, and bidding on the right keywords.
Google Ads Stoke Tips:
- Utilize a tool like Google’s Keyword Planner to find good key terms to bid on. Tools like this will provide data like average monthly search volume, competition level and average cost per click.
- Create multiple ads and ad sets so you have more samples from which to optimize the messaging for the highest conversion rate.
- Make sure Google Analytics is integrated on your website and with Google Ads so that you can track the effectiveness of ads and optimize your website for conversion.
Similar to Google Ads, you can run advertising campaigns from your Facebook business page based on cost-per-click or cost-per-impression pricing. Facebook Ads, while different than Google in a few important ways, can be a very powerful marketing tool in their own right. The key here is consumer targeting. Facebook has built up so much data over the years, which they let you tap into with Facebook Ads. You can drill down your audience based on all kinds of demographic and interest data. Or, you even can run powerful retargeting campaigns based on an existing email list.
Whatever approach you use, as long as you’re strategic and specific about your targeting and funnel, you can drive tons of relevant traffic and sales with Facebook. Obviously, Facebook is more of a “fun” social network than business, and is very content driven. Unlike Google Ads where you’re targeting intent-driven searches, Facebook ads should be more centered around promoting content that will catch people’s attention as they scroll through their feed and lead them to take some kind of action. For these reasons, Facebook Ads are generally better for B2C than B2B, although it can absolutely work great in either scenario.
Facebook Ads Stoke Tips:
- If you don’t have them already, create Buyer Personas. Build custom audiences in Facebook Ads based on each buyer persona.
- Promote content that’s user-focused and with a specific funnel in mind. Again, utilize buyer personas here to strategize your content.
- If you have a solid email subscriber list, experiment with making custom audiences from that.
There are plenty of sound methods to drive traffic to your website, both free and paid. What will work best for you depends on a number of factors including your business model, what you sell, what market you’re operating in, and what kind of budget and timeline you’re working with. Most of the time, the best overall strategy for increasing traffic to your website includes a mixture of multiple methods.