If your current or future business growth strategy in any way relies on traffic to your website, you really do want to be maximising paths for which potential customers can find your content. Having a very diverse targeted traffic acquisition strategy is going to truly maximise the exposure for your brand, products or services while potentially allowing for increased sales & conversions.
There is no longer a “one solution fits all” method that guarantees online marketing success. If you were to ask me a few years ago which traffic source I would focus on acquiring I would have said organic search traffic without any hesitation. But the last couple of years have seen the rise and growth of social media recommendations and major changes in the SEO landscape. The level of competition and sheer number of competitors in many niche markets means getting exposure can take a very long time if you are relying purely on SEO and do not have big budgets to spend. Actually getting people to discover your content, no matter how good it may be, can be next to impossible if you are not actively sharing and promoting it in some way or have not already done the hard work to build a great audience.
So let’s take a look at some of the major website traffic acquisition methods and the pros & cons of each.
SEO is simply the process of allowing your website to effectively communicate with search engines such as Google, Bing, Yahoo and many others. By introducing the correct content elements, coding structure & well over 500+ other signals a search engine like Google is looking for, you are providing the information search engines need to really define what your content is all about. Based on the hundreds of potential ranking signals, search engines will display the pages that they think are most relevant to any search terms users may enter into them.
The easiest way for me to explain what a quality search engine optimisation company provides is to say we have a very good working knowledge of the algorithms that provide the search results and we know how to use them to our advantage. SEO will provide extremely valuable and highly targeted organic search traffic to your website if you have an effective SEO strategy in place. SEO is not something you do once and forget about it. Search engine optimisation is a never ending process. Constant and regular work needs to be provided to ensure the continual “optimisation” of your site content. A combination of content on page and off page elements (link acquisition) is what is combined to really make SEO work as a marketing method for you.
SEO Benefits – Extremely effective way of gaining highly targeted traffic. Will provide long lasting benefits if you follow search engine webmaster guidelines. Will be working for you all the time.
SEO Negatives – Takes time, hard work and effort and is a never ending process.
Pay Per Click platforms such as Google Adwords & Bing Ads are a great way to instantly get traffic to your website across highly targeted niche related keywords. When users do a search via Google, Bing or Yahoo, a certain percentage of the overall page layout and certain positions of the results are allocated to the paid search positions. Most of these similar platforms work via an auction or bid system, whereby the website who is willing to pay the most for a single click will be ranked higher than those willing to pay less. There is far more to it than this, but that is the very basics.
So if you are willing to spend money to acquire traffic on a cost per click basis, PPC networks are probably the most effective way of getting the traffic you need quickly. While the process of acquiring traffic via organic search (SEO) is technically always “on”, PPC traffic is something you can turn on and off whenever you like. It is great for shorter or seasonal marketing campaigns. Are you having difficulty conquering the organic search results for specific keywords? Well then start a PPC campaign that is targeted at those exact keywords. Do you have a new website that is yet to get any meaningful organic traffic? Well, start a PPC campaign and instantly get a flow of traffic so you can start to analyse the potential of your shiny new website.
PPC Benefits – Instant ability to drive highly targeted traffic. Can turn on and off whenever you like. Ability to target short term or seasonal campaigns.
PPC Negatives – Will only be working for you while you are prepared to pay for the traffic. Can be quite expensive in any mildly competitive niches.
In terms of online marketing, links (or backlinks) are often thought of in terms of their SEO performance benefits. But getting links from other relevant websites can be a great source of targeted referral traffic. Having a link contained within content of other relevant or high traffic websites provides the “votes” that are essential for SEO success as well as a pathway for people to discover your website. Genuine editorial links from high traffic, niche related sites are extremely valuable for both SEO and referral traffic. In theory, the more of these links you have the more opportunity there is for people to eventually discover them. I don’t want to get too focussed on the “ethics” or “best practises” for link building for SEO purposes but recent changes to the way Google assesses an overall link profile means care needs to be shown to how links are acquired and where they are acquired from. But in overall terms of traffic generation links from other related websites will be of great benefit to your overall traffic acquisition strategy.
Banners were once the go to source of link referral traffic. For obvious reasons, a well placed banner can grab the attention of readers which will hopefully encourage them to click on it. You would typically pay a website to host a promotional banner for you for a set period of time or on a cost per click or cost per impressions payment agreement. Go to any decent news website and you will see banners all over them. This is still a very good way of generating referral traffic.
Links / Banners Benefits – Banners can really grab readers attention. Fantastic source of targeted referral traffic. Links can help improve SEO performance.
Links / Banners Negatives – Links have been and still are abused as a method of improving SEO performance.
Social media has evolved into one of the best methods of website traffic acquisition. I personally believe that social media marketing should be a part of every online marketing strategy. Social media is a great way to get instant brand recognition, improved exposure and an increase in interaction and communication between yourself and current or potential customers. Social media channels are really dominated by Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Twitter, Pinterest & Instagram. Each of these networks is different to the next and can deliver an entirely different demographic of audience if used correctly.
How many times per day do you personally check your Facebook timeline? Do you constantly share photos on Instagram or check news headlines on Twitter? If you don’t do this at least a few times per day, you are one of the small percentage of people who have not become reliant on social media channels to discover information they are interested in. Discovery & display of meaningful and personalised content is exactly what these platforms do best.
Facebook in particular is a great platform for both paid & organic promotions. Facebook has a lot of information on each user which allows for you to target very specific audiences through their paid advertising options. The ability to promote a website, Facebook Page or specific individual posts gives you a lot of flexibility and choice over the campaign destinations. Twitter is proving to be very effective at generating traffic referrals particularly around hot or trending topics. Nearly every major news publisher uses Twitter as a referral engine and most big businesses have a strategy in place to maximise the potential of Twitter. At the present moment if you do not have a big budget (i.e $50,000+ / month to spend), Twitter can only be used for organic referrals, not any of their paid promotion options. Facebook is the best social media marketing option for small – medium sized businesses, but you still need to be prepared to spend money to acquire your audience. The recent changes in the percentage of followers that actually see any of your content means you need to be prepared to potentially spend money to reach a bigger audience.
Social Media Benefits – Highly effective content discovery and sharing platforms. Social recommendations are some of the highest converting of all acquisition types. Great way to build brand recognition.
Social Media Negatives – Very time consuming to run full scale social media campaigns. Can be expensive to acquire followers and continued content promotions.
Getting people to read your well written, unique, awesome content is of paramount importance if you are to ever become a true “authority” in your targeted niche markets. There is no point in producing great content if nobody ever actually sees it. Content syndication networks such as Outbrain and Taboola provide a great platform for distribution of this fantastic content you spend so much time developing. Through widgets that are very often placed on industry leading websites, your content headlines and links are shown across other pages on other websites hosting similar and relevant content. You generate traffic back to your content by getting links to your content clicked on from other websites.
Now I do not want to confuse this form of content syndication with other less effective and sometimes quite damaging forms of syndication. Networks like Outbrain link their headlines back to the original source of the content. They do not host their own copy of the content and capture the traffic instead. Any clicks on the headlines will lead back to your website or wherever you are hosting your content. This means this method does not introduce duplicate content across multiple websites like many press release syndication networks.
Now, remember that there are some hugely popular websites that host these headline links and this can lead to some extremely good referral traffic. Imagine writing technology related content and getting traffic referrals from Wired.com, VentureBeat and many other high traffic, industry leading websites. Your headlines show up in widgets placed onto websites with similar content to yours. This method of traffic acquisition is worth the costs if your content is truly well written and worth promoting. There is no point in writing content just for the sake of it and then using content syndication to generate traffic. Ensure that your content is truly worth reading, addresses the subject title effectively and provides readers with something unique. If you are providing genuinely useful content, people will eventually share it or link to it which provides ongoing SEO and traffic generating benefits.
Content Syndication Benefits – Promote individual pieces of content to targeted audiences. Get referral traffic from many authority websites. Potentially generate organic links and social shares to your content.
Content Syndication Negatives – Can be expensive particularly if your content is not of good quality. Some syndication methods & networks introduce duplicate content.
Relying on any particular single website traffic sources too much really is a strategy that is destined for disaster. I cannot even begin to count the amount of website owners that I know whose entire strategy revolved around search engine optimisation, only to discover that a lack of industry knowledge and changes in Google’s algorithms have wiped out all of their traffic. A well rounded traffic acquisition strategy should include all of the above mentioned methods and potentially more including other options such as email marketing and offline promotions. Each method should contribute a fair portion of the overall amount of traffic. If for any reason you are to lose a source of traffic, a diverse traffic acquisition strategy will mean there is less to lose.
Different methods of traffic acquisition will provide different conversion rates and overall metrics. Each of the above mentioned methods require a different amount of work to be effective than the next. Social media management and ongoing content creation can be very resource intensive. The outreach process of link acquisition and content syndication can be quite time consuming. But, if your hope is to improve leads, conversion rates and overall sales for your business or organisation each of the traffic sources listed above need to be part of your overall traffic footprint. They will each provide their own unique benefits and options for you as a traffic source.
Webpire Marketing are the leading digital marketing & SEO agency located in Hobart, Tasmania. We offer web design & online marketing services such as SEO, social media marketing & PPC to businesses of all sizes.