How to Drive Website Traffic Without Advertising

Today we offer you a guest post courtesy of Eve Haugen, on behalf of QuickSEOResults. Enjoy the guest post.


I did not launch my website. I let it drift into the great ocean of the internet, barely causing a ripple. This was poor planning on my part.

I regularly updated my content and kept it fresh and interesting. I did everything I knew and still got nowhere. It was a good day if I got ten visitors. At this point, the overall effect is whistling into a gale with frustration. I want more website traffic. I want it NOW and even more tomorrow.

I did not (and still don’t) have the budget to launch an ad campaign, so I had to do some research. At that time, I knew very little about SEO (Search Engine Optimization) techniques, increasing website traffic and marketing strategies.

I’m going to assume that you are happy and confident in your site content and keep on the “straight and narrow” for maximizing your website traffic potential. That is because you have ways to increase traffic for your website without spending a lot of money on advertising and promotion cost. After researching, I found that the following tactics are the most useful for my own website.

TITLES & HEADINGS

Headlines are not just for the tabloids. You need to engage your readers from the beginning or they will not even start reading your article, and never mind finish it.

Make it catchy

I don’t have many areas of expertise but for those that I do, I like to share. The things I do not know much about, I know I like to find them all in one place so I don’t have to spend hours trawling the web looking for the same information. The best way to grab attention is to use an interesting title on each page and post.

Attract readers

I try to be creative in my approach to titles. If I have several focal points in my piece, I join them together in an unusual way, play with the word order or even add oblique references to pop culture. I’m not writing an academic thesis.

Ask or answer a question

Chances are that someone else is asking the same question. I like to ask about the title because I get readers who look for the answer, have never considered the question, or want to disagree with my conclusions.

KEYWORD USAGE

I never really considered the use of keywords previously when building out my website. I used tags and give a brief meta description but didn’t consider the impact that would it have on my website traffic flow.

Using keywords has always been one of the key parts of SEO, but the ways in which you use them is constantly changing as the search engines update and improve their algorithms.

Narrow the niche

My website relies on me, and my input. I’m not a part of a large company or conglomerate. I am not going to attempt to compete with keywords such as “get rich”, “lose weight” or “get fit” without having a more specific focus. I’m not going to rank on the first few pages of Google or Bing unless I narrow the niche topic.

Avoid overusing keywords

I didn’t do well with using keywords in the beginning, because I never got over the idea that I should use synonyms instead of repeating the target keywords again and again. Before, I needed to repeat my keywords many times and my writing suffered.

I now use keywords sparingly, and tailor their number to the length of the article. If I’m writing a short blog post, I’ll not use each keyword more than twice. If the article is longer, maybe up to or exceeding 1000 words, I will use my keywords maybe five or six times at most.

SEO WITHIN YOUR WEBSITE

It took me a lot longer to realize that SEO wasn’t just about getting people “in” to my site, but also about getting them to come back again and tell their friends about it.

Make friends with your readers

You win no popularity contests as a website if your pages don’t load quickly, aren’t accessible via different formats (mobile, tablet, etc.) and aren’t easy to navigate. I learned this early when I couldn’t access my own website from my tablet. When I did try to manage the site on my tablet, it was impossible to navigate my way around.

Link inward

I link my content to other articles when referencing their work, but for a long time I never thought about linking between my own posts and articles when the subjects overlap.

Now I’ve made it easier for readers to reference my additional work by linking keywords and phrases to previous articles. Voila! They stay on my site and continue to browse more of my work.

Link outward

Linking my articles and blog posts to outside reference material is a way of giving my voice a degree of authority. It shows that I search and underpin my thoughts with solid evidence (or at least solid theory and opinions).

Use the right words for the pictures

When I was searching Google images, I realized that my pictures weren’t drawing the same kind of optimized search return as the writing. The pictures can help by assigning a keyword rich title and designating an Alt-tag for each and every picture. Generic image filenames are also unlikely to help your search performance, so rename your images something relevant to what they depict.

GUEST BLOGS & NETWORKING

Make friends with other websites and bloggers

It’s nice to know I’m not alone. There are millions of websites out there, and at least some of them follow a similar path as mine.

It’s not often that I will approach other website owners and offer a blog topic or article for them to publish but I will often post a significant response to an interesting topic they raise.

Most blog sites will give you the opportunity to record your own web address when you post a comment. It gives the blogger the chance to reciprocate, and it gives their readers a chance to find you too. Instant advertising!

I invite bloggers with specialized knowledge to guest blog for me because they can impart knowledge to my readers that I’m just not qualified to give. This works the same way as guest blogging for another. I get access to their audience; they get access to my own experience and knowledge.

SOCIAL NETWORKING

Get a few accounts, but don’t try to join them all

There are so many social networking sites but I should have a good spread over the more popular ones. Thankfully, I learned to ignore the ‘flash-in-the-pan’ newbies that crop up from time to time. I have accounts with most of the most popular sites, and they get plenty of traffic for me to engage with.

Make the effort

Initially, it felt like hard work to update each of the social media sites with relevant and interesting links to my website. The hard work paid off though, and I’m still reaping the rewards for work I did a long time ago.

More and more people join social media sites every day. These people make new connections, and a whole new set of readers see articles and blogs that I posted months or even years ago.

Maintain your presence

I do say it feels like hard work. When I started seeing the benefits, I wanted to stop since it was taking me away from what I wanted to do with my website.

I have to maintain my presence on social media so I don’t have to fight so hard to grow my followers. Regular posting of links to appropriate articles and responding to messages are all requirements to maintain that link with my circles.

FORUMS

Forums are great places to get yourself noticed but you have to stick to the rules. Some forums won’t allow you to post self-advertising links, unless they are of specific benefit for a user asking a question. Others will allow you a single link in your signature.

Share your knowledge

As mentioned before, I like to share my knowledge. Posting on a forum allows me to share information, links to an article (if it’s a topic I covered before) and sometimes share my web address.

Avoid trolling

I dislike trolls generally but if you troll on a forum, you aren’t helping your marketing strategy. I definitely have better things to do with my time than annoy people online.

Summary

You can market your website in so many ways. The ones above are just the tried and tested ones that I have been using. They all cost nothing but time and effort to reach my audience.

If I had a budget for advertising in the beginning, I don’t know that I would have learned any of the tips and tricks above. I definitely saved a lot by finding my audience through alternative means.

It is hard to build your website reputation in the early days, while sticking to your primary focus (running the business of course). However, as I went along, I found that most of it becomes second nature. Try a couple of the tips above and see how it goes for you.


Feature image credit: Flickr user Medithit, License: CC BY (commercial reuse with modification)

Disclaimer: The views and opinions stated in this post are that of the author, and Return On Now may or may not agree with any or all of the commentary.