Driving more web traffic, or more visitors to your website, is obviously desirable for any kind of online business. Whether you sell a product or service, monetize your site with ads or simply want exposure, your results will improve in direct proportion to your web traffic. (The more eyeballs on your site, the more opportunities for website conversion.)
Search marketing is a means of increasing your site's visibility and traffic through search engines and includes both search engine optimization (SEO) and pay-per-click (PPC) marketing. It is also one of the most basic and effective ways to generate more web traffic.
In fact, most websites will suffer performance problems if they don't make use of some introductory SEO or PPC at a minimum. For sustained high web traffic and long-term growth and success, more strategic search marketing efforts will be necessary. You should also devote some time and energy to social media marketing, which is quickly growing in importance as a source of web traffic.
Using SEO to Drive Web Traffic
Some people think of search engine optimization, or SEO, as a way to get "free" Web traffic. In reality, SEO isn't free. It takes a lot of time and effort to optimize a website, and most people find that it's a full-time job (or else a job for an outside consultant). Nonetheless, SEO is a low-cost and scalable way to attract website traffic.
SEO is a complicated field, but if you're a smaller business with a smaller website, it's often enough just to cover the basics. Some key principles to follow include:
Keyword research and optimization
To drive traffic through search engines, it's important to optimize your site's content for keywords (the phrases and terms that people use when looking for information or help in search engines like Google). These keywords need to be relevant to your business, as well as common enough to drive real traffic. Too popular and you'll have trouble ranking for those keywords; too rare and those keywords won't drive significant numbers of visitors.
You can use keyword tools (like our Free Keyword Tool) to help you discover which keyword terms people are using when they search for products, services, and content related to what you offer:
Content marketing is the process of creating helpful content (such as how-to articles or videos) to help your site get discovered through search engines and social media.
When done right, content marketing can drive a lot of web traffic and help create a positive first impression of your brand. That leads to more conversions, be they actual sales or new contacts for your email list, which you can then nurture into loyal customers.
It's important not to take too many shortcuts with your content, however. Take the time to create truly useful, unique content that your customers will love. If you're new to content marketing, check out our complete guide to creating a cornerstone content piece.
Inbound links have always been a strong signal to search engines that your site provides value to users. But that doesn't mean you should buy links or try to game the system! Great content should earn links naturally, but don't be afraid to reach out to people you think might love your content and ask them for a link.
For example, if you create a great resource about how to make your own pizza at home, you could reach out to authoritative cooking sites and ask them to check it out.
It's also very important that your site be highly usable. In other words, it needs to load fast on both desktop and mobile devices and be easy to navigate. Your users should be able to find the information they need easily. Don't make them work too hard if they want to buy something or contact your business!
Using Paid Search Marketing to Drive Web Traffic
There are many good reasons to engage in both organic and paid search marketing if you run a business:
- The top results are on the SERP (search engine results page) are frequently ads. And the top of the page is where you want to be! Especially on mobile, where screens are (obviously) smaller, it's even more important to rank at the top. You can achieve this with sponsored ads.
- Studies show that paid search ads don't steal from organic traffic; instead, they tend to boost each other. It's a good idea to nab as many results on the first page as you can!
- The more commercial the search query, the more important the ads are. When people want to buy something NOW, they are more likely to click on an ad, and Google is more likely to populate the results page with plenty of ads to make that easy.
Further, if you're a new business, it can take a while (up to six to twelve months) to start driving meaningful web traffic through SEO. Paid search is a great stop-gap in the meantime, since you can set a budget and start driving clicks and traffic right away.
If you're new to PPC and paid search, check out PPC University, a free learning resource that will teach you the basics of paid search marketing, plus more advanced tips and strategies when you're ready.
Diversify Your Web Traffic Sources
It's always best to bring in web traffic from multiple sources and channels. Depending too heavily on any one channel leaves you vulnerable if something goes wrong. A strong multi-channel marketing strategy includes efforts within:
- Email marketing
- Social media (Facebook, Pinterest, etc.), including paid social advertising
- Content marketing and SEO
- Paid search, display advertising and remarketing
Be smart about dividing your marketing budget and efforts among different channels, and you'll be well on your way to healthy web traffic numbers!