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TL;DR: You should focus primarily on using YouTube, Reddit, and Quora for Driving Traffic to your Website. They have the greatest return in investment.
For any blog or website to be successful, there must be visitors to that blog or website. Otherwise, the blog or website becomes nothing more than a book without a reader. But the purpose of posting content online is to share it with others. For spreading a message, gaining popularity, online marketing, etc. And so new bloggers or webmasters should spend 10% of their time making high quality content, and 90% promoting the content so people can actually see it. And so this article is written exploring the various venues available for increasing online exposure through backlinks.
A backlink is a link to your site that sits on another site. This another site maybe any site on the internet or even your own site. [Source]
Before I dig deeper, I want to mention that you should not always depend on organic traffic just arriving at the door of your website. Sure, writing tons of high quality content makes Google notice your website. And sure, you can concentrate on building tons of backlinks so that Google ranks your website higher on the search engine. But in the blink of an eye, Google or any other 3rd party search engine can change their algorithm and close the door on your organic traffic. Like when Google went through with their Penguin algorithm change, many webmasters lost a TON of their traffic. So in my opinion, the most important option is to build high quality backlinks that don’t rely on any single search engine for traffic. And are appropriately placed so that people are incentivized to visit your website through those backlinks.
Whitehat methods to build backlinks? The more I read about what Google wants in order to rank a site, the more I see that it wants your site to grow without you doing anything to promote it. “If it was a good enough site, it’d promote itself,” Google thinks. [Source]
Almost all traffic sources, that are not from search engines, are essentially backlinks. Like links from forums, social media profiles, and blogs. But Backlinks are only as useful as the number of people who click on them. So I practice only to use backlinks where it is relevant. For example, if someone was asking me in a forum about increasing traffic to their website, I would give them a short answer along with a link to this page you are reading right now! And so here’s a list of what I believe is the most prominent sources of non-organic traffic:
Advertisement requires money; ideally you want to gain traffic without spending a penny. But you can use advertisement to gain e-mail subscribers or social media followers. The important thing is that you have a method of pulling interested people back to your website.
PPC Ads – There are several options: Google Adwords, Bing, Facebook, LinkedIn
Image based ads tend to do better than text ads because they catch the eye and look more professional. Also, you should test a couple of image-based ads and then stick with the ones that do the best.
Re-targeting – There’s psychological mind trick where repeated exposure to an ad makes a viewer feel more comfortable or familiar with a product. So that they are more likely to purchase the product advertised. Why does this work? Let me ask you this: are you more likely to buy an off-brand box of cereal or a brand of cereal you’ve seen advertised on television?
Newsletter Ads – Some bloggers or webmasters already have a large number of subscribers to their newsletter. In some cases, you can find these webmasters and ask if them if they can place an ad promoting your website. This works best when the advertisee has a similar niche to the advertiser.
Digg is a website that aggregates interesting videos, pictures, and web articles. It’s a bit like Reddit, but recently Digg put their focus on being like social networking platforms like Facebook and Twitter. Similar to ranking each submission with upvotes and downvotes on Reddit, Digg ranks posts with “Diggs” – “Likes” in other words. So the more Diggs your submission gets, the more people will see it.
I just wanted to mention that Digg has a fatal flaw in its system. Let me start by mentioning that Reddit is almost solely run on comment interaction – the discussion is the metaphorical heart of Reddit. But Digg poorly executes the commenting function. So if this isn’t fixed, Digg will always be a sub-optimal platform compared to Reddit because Digg does not engage the reader as much as Reddit does. What this means for you is that your shares are generally worth more on Reddit than on Digg.
Regardless, Digg is still a traffic generating opportunity for you. The tips I have is simply to 1. fill out your Digg profile completely in order to establish an identity on Digg that people can trust. 2. Interact with other people’s Digg articles by commenting, in order to attract people’s attention to your own content through your profile. And 3. Make sure that the content you submit is topnotch. Like StumbleUpon, Dig users like websites that are very visual in nature; Walls of text are less likely to be well received that Walls of text spaced with images.
Guest Blogging – Guest blogging is an available option for gaining traffic through exposure on another blog that is already established. Personally, I am not comfortable with guest blogging, but it seems that many people find this to an excellent source of traffic when guest blogging on a website that has a lot of traffic. Only warning is that the amount of return is dependent on the traffic of the website you are guest blogging for.
But if I was to pursue guest blogging as a means of bolstering traffic, I would swap articles with a similar audience-sized blog compared to mine. This way I don’t feel that the return is one-sided for either party.
Comments – An alternative way you can get traffic from a blog is by commenting on them. Of course you don’t want to spam, but provide an insightful comment that impresses those who read them, and therefor clicking on your website link. It also helps if your comment is on top of the others, so timing is key.
Developing a Email list is still an awesome way to capture visitors to return to your website.
On Site Opt-In -The primary way to gather emails from visitors. Website typically employ an opt-in on every page to give the visitor an opportunity to follow the blog via email, if they like the content. It also helps to have a Call-To-Action, or literally ask the visitor to subscribe to the blog. It helps if you offer something in return for “free”, like a PDF of tips pertaining to your website niche, advice, guides, eBooks, videos etc.
A good piece of advice that I picked up is to focus your homepage as an email opt-in form, because that is the page that typically has the most visitors on average.
Many professional webmasters advocate using popups, slide-ups, popovers, etc. for gaining a visitor’s attention and making him consider that subscribing to your website is an option. The notion is that visitors don’t notice the subscription box, and therefor the option of subscribing is essentially invisible. Normally, I find pop-ups to be mildly annoying while I am browsing though a website’s content, so I advise not to make the attention-grabber not too immersion breaking for the visitor.
Buying an Email List – Don’t. Stranger’s email = spam. Even children are taught from a young age not to accept a stranger’s invitation for candy inside a car. Also, email from your website will be identified as spam if people report it as such.
Whether you have a page, profile, or group, Facebook is setup so that not all of your followers see your posts or updates. Facebook does not pay it’s dividends when you pay money for advertising or page liking. The limitation is that the Facebook News feed can only show so many updates to a person at once.
What determines whether a follower sees your post or not is your interaction with users (more interaction is better), whether you use photos or videos (better reach) -or- plain text or links (worse reach), and how old your post is from when you submitted it. Fresher content has more reach than old content.
In the post, remember to include a Call-To-Action. Actually ask your followers to interact: to share, check out your website article, like, comment, etc. Additionally, you can bait your followers to interact by asking them questions.
Tagging – A way to force follower to see a post is to tag them in the post. My only warning is to use this method sparing and carefully, since tagging people in a picture or video means that the post shows up in their Facebook “wall” as well.
Facebook Group – For your own group, I find that the best Facebook groups are composed of members who interact without the need for you to interact with all the time. Also, I noticed that joining a Facebook group that has a high number of submissions from other people will cause very few people to see your own post submission.
Facebook Page – Hard to maintain engagement on page, I recommend a Facebook profile unless you want to have certain call to actions in your posts. Like a sign-up button to your website. Another reason why you would want to have a page over a profile is because you can pay to increase the number of people who see your posts… IMO, a bad idea especially for a small time blogger like me. Note that you can’t tag people with a Facebook page profile.
Facebook Profile – I personally prefer sticking with a regular Profile for sharing my blog posts. I already have an audience of followers, so that I don’t have to worry about building up an audience from scratch.
Facebook Advertising Scam – First you should know that people come to Facebook for the social experience, not to go shopping. So many Facebookers tend not to respond to ads, unless they are absolutely top-notch. You have to appeal to their strong emotions ie. anger, anxiety. Also, never pay to have your page liked. You are basically throwing away your money.
Facebook Content – Usually I post updates about my blog onto my Facebook profile. But the best content that Facebook likes are videos; Facebook severely limits how many people see links or shares about YouTube videos; Facebook wants to promote their own videos instead of YouTube.
Offer free pictures in return that the user gives credit to you by linking your website… This essentially makes a “permanent” source of traffic to your website. Personally, I like to stamp the corner of a picture I use with the url of my blog.
Forums are an invaluable source of traffic. For me, I get the most traffic from forums. This may be because the competition to use forums as a source of traffic is very low; not many first-time bloggers think of using forums when it comes to getting traffic. First-time blogger usually pursue using mainline forms of social media, but it’s value is dependent on the size & quality of their following (quality= how much followers interact). My personal experience is that the best forums are the ones that have the most active community. With Reddit & Quora attesting to that!
LinkedIn is reducing in popularity… This is primarily because they don’t support user satisfaction. It’s like they keep circulation an outdated newspaper; the user keeps getting updates in their feed that are old. Also, LinkedIn is primarily used as a place for submitting resumes, not a place to consume content.
Nonetheless, if you want to get traffic from linked in I don’t recommend just sharing status updates. That’s what the majority of people use Twitter for. I recommend joining LinkedIn Groups to share your posts there. Not only do you get a bigger outreach, but you can control the kind of people you want viewing your post.
I personally don’t have good feedback from Pinterest. Probably because my blog isn’t focused on high quality info-graphics. But Pinterest is generally a good for webmasters who run image-centric blogs, since the primary feature of Pinterest are really-cool images. A few things you can do to actually get some traffic:
- With the appropriate niche in mind: Join single and group boards. Try to ask the owner of the boards if you can join the board to post your pins.
- Don’t pollute your pins with other pins that don’t link back to your website. By only including pins from your website, your followers are unconsciously forced to re-pin only your website pins. If you must do some polluting, I recommend setting up 2 Pinterest accounts; one clean account that only shows pins from your blog. And one account that you allow yourself to pollute with other people’s pins.
But overall I find Pinterest to be most effective if you have a bunch of fans post the pins from your blog to their accounts. That way you have a farther outreach.
Quora isn’t for everyone. It’s a Question Answer platform like Yahoo Answers, except much more higher in quality. Unlike Yahoo Answers, Quora has a stronger sense of community. It’s better because if you interact correctly for enough time on the Quora platform, you gain a following that acts as a constant source of traffic. That’s because the follower of your follower gets access to your answers in their feed.
Quora is much like Reddit, except it is catered more towards a person’s need for a question to be answered. Quora is the place to ask and answer questions, but Reddit is the place to get the newest bit of information for whatever subreddit you decide to follow.
I find that Reddit is excellent for temporarily boosting your traffic from submissions. Just make sure you find the appropriate subreddit that matches the subject of your submission. And you should get upvotes as long as the redditors enjoy the content you submit. The more upvotes, the more your post will be seen and the more traffic you’ll get out of it.
But I find that the best way to permanently boost traffic to your website is to acquire your own subreddit and be it’s moderator. That way you can always have one of your own submissions pinned to the top; it is your subreddit and you are it’s dictator. Try to name your subreddit something that is commonly searched for in the search box, but phonetically cool. An example would be my own subreddit, Bio_Hacking. It is important to setup a cool-looking featured image & layout as it is human instinct to judge a book by it’s cover.
If there are certain hashtags that are trending, and you use that hashtag on your post, you increase the likelihood that someone finds your post.
Starting out, many bloggers like me don’t have a big enough following on twitter. But one thing that I make sure of doing is to make my tweets searchable on twitter. I don’t imagine that many people use the Twitter search box as much as hashtags, so remember to use relevant and trending hashtags, i.e. #dogfood or #programming to make your tweets more searchable on Twitter.
Let me first say that Youtube is the one of the most used search engine on the web, coming after Google.
So… you should do a video overview for every blog post you write (even just a few helps). If you’ve never made videos before, don’t let the fear of ending up with a low quality video stop you. Perfection comes with practice, so making good YouTube videos takes practice. Also, backlinks from YouTube videos can boost your website page ranking very quickly. So I recommend placing your website URL as the first part of the description of your YouTube videos.
The more views you have on a YouTube video, the higher it ranks. A trick that I employ is to not only list English keyword tags, but also keywords in other languages like Japanese.
Other benefits include:
- Brings traffic from YouTube video to website
- The backlinks that you place in your video’s description has a lot of weight, since YouTube is seen as an authority website.
- By putting relevant YouTube videos in your webpages, you boost your YouTube video’s view count.
- And also I believe google sees that you have relevant videos and boost your page rank.
- Visitors will stay on your page longer b/c of the videos. Again, another signal to Google that you have good content.
Other Traffic Sources
- IFTTT Social Sharing Automation
- Deviant Art
- Pixel Bay
The quality of your content is a major factor for whether you get shares or not. But one thing I’ve learned recently is that people like to share what makes them socially “look good”. So you not only need high quality content in terms of text, but also high quality content in terms of share-ability.
Also, a catchy headline that captures a reader’s interest is important.
Being able to tell where you get traffic is invaluable indicator for which medium is working best for you. I find that many places do not allow Google Analytics to tract exactly where the visitor has come from, like Quora in my case. So I use the Google Analytics URL Link Builder to make traceable links that provide me with this invaluable information. Otherwise, a non-tracking link would show the traffic as “direct” traffic; traffic that could have come from an unknown number of places, like PDFs, emails, etc.