The Big Tech companies including Google and Facebook seemingly dominate web traffic and resulting business opportunities for entrepreneurs. But in this article, I’ll go over traffic sources and strategies to get around these giants.
One key principle in driving traffic to your business website is finding larger audiences and getting them to “trickle down” to your site. Another principle is providing valuable content to those audiences and making them want to share your site. Naturally, we’ll go over big websites and online influencers, but you can also get direct traffic from offline marketing.
Your traffic sources don’t need to be super huge. In fact, moderately sized sources can be beneficial because there’s less competition in them. Gather a diverse range of sources, and you can build your audience and brand quite well.
Forums related to your industry are a great source of web traffic. You can find them through Google directly or by recommendations by other blog articles. Don’t just join forums dedicated to your niche, but communities that can benefit from your business. For example, if your business is accounting, you can join small business forums where owners are looking for outside assistance.
Quicksprout has a guide to traffic from forums. Search for forums using “your keywords” in quotes + forum. Also try your keywords + “Powered by vBulletin”. vBulletin is a popular forum platform. Try it with other platforms like bbPress.
When you find a forum, see how often and how recently the members post on it. This will tell you if it’s worth your time. Join the forum by creating an account and responding to its confirmation email. Use either your real name or brand name. You also need to create a signature. This can include a link to your website, so don’t skip this.
Now you need to participate in the forum and show you’re a trustworthy community member. Don’t simply make posts linking to your site, but join conversations, answer members’ questions, ask your own questions, and so on. Quality is more important than quantity; the Quicksprout author recommends 1 or 2 posts per day. It’s more important to be relevant than it is to be a chatterbox.
2. Comment Sections
Similar to forum posts, comment sections on blogs and news websites are places where you can join conversations and offer value with your own links. Marketever.com gives us a helpful guide to writing optimal comments.
Avoid generic comments, but make them specific to the blog topic. It’s great to be interactive. Don’t make too many links to your site, though, only 1 per blog post! Any more will make you look spammy. Finally, you can share and promote the blog on your own site or social media. This is a great show of goodwill.
First, use your real name and identity. Visitors value authenticity. Second, read several articles on the blog to understand the blogger’s personality and why they write. Next, study what other commenters say and what the blog owner responds to. Always add value, like you would in a forum post. A good comment is longer than a Tweet and shorter than a 200 word blog post. You can post a link to your own site for the purpose of elaborating on your comment.
3. Influencer Marketing
When you hear the word “influencer,” do you think of Instagram models and YouTube makeup tutorials? I do, but influencers can be anyone in any industry- they just need to be trusted authorities in their fields and have audiences you can sell to.
Reaching out to influencers is similar to commenting on blog posts. In fact, popular bloggers are one type of influencer. You can also find influencers on YouTube, selling books on Amazon, or uploading podcasts. When looking for influencers to help you, check the size of their audiences. If they have too many subscribers, followers, or book customers, they’re probably swimming in requests for their time and clout by other businesses like you. Start with moderately powerful influencers, and you can build your audiences with them together!
The best way to engage influencers with your website is to invite them in a “roundup post” for your blog. This is when you pose a relevant question to a number of influencers in your industry and gather their responses in a single article. Smartblogger.com lays out the strategy for roundup posts in this article: “The Ultimate Guide To Creating A Roundup Post That Gets 1000’s Of Shares.”
The 1st ingredient of a good roundup is the right question. This is something your target audience is dying to know about. You can use Google Keyword Planner to see what people are searching for. Your question also needs to be compelling to the influencers, something they haven’t come across before, and will want to answer. Study the comments on their blogs, social media, YouTube channels, etc, to see what they’ve covered before. Go back to the forums where you’re finding traffic and look at what questions are asked most often.
The 2nd ingredient is the right experts. I already mentioned audience size and whether they consider you worth their time. Also scope out their audiences and see if you want to reach them.
The 3rd ingredient is the right promotion. This is an additional boost to the post beyond the influencers sharing it. It will incentivize them to contribute.
When crafting the right question for your roundup, check Google Keyword Planner to see if it’s widely searched. Research to ranking Google pages on the topic to see if it has been answered by other blogs. Ironically, if it has been, it’s likely yours post will be popular, too. You can also use BuzzSumo to check the topic’s popularity on social media.
To make your question compelling to influencers and audiences, put a twist on it, like taking a negative perspective. You can ask “What mistakes do people make doing so-and-so?” or “Why do people fail with such-and-such?” You can also try getting super specific, like “Which 3 tools will accomplish your goal?”
To get influencers to participate in your roundup, some helpful ideas are to invite those who have done other roundups, treat it like a numbers game, and make it easy to reply.
Send emails to the influencers specifying the reason you’re reaching out, your question, a reason they’d like to participate, and the deadline for their reply.
When they send their responses, summarize each of them in one or two paragraphs and link to their sites or social media profiles. Alert your influencers right away when your post goes live so they know to share it. The fact that multiple influencers will share it incentives each of them so they can grow their own audiences. Additionally, share it in your own channels, and make a press release on PRNewswire. Mention it on sharing websites like Viral Content Bee, Triberr, BizSugar, and Kingged.
The final category of alternative web traffic I’ll go over is offline marketing. This includes broadcast media, print, business networking, and branded material.
Advertising on television and radio, even locally, requires a hefty budget. Alternative ways to use them are to send press releases, as on PRNewswire, or to offer expert interviews to the news media. Local television is in steep decline, but radio is still surprisingly relevant in the Internet Age. It helps that people listen while driving.
Print news is in decline, but you can print your own promotional materials such as pamphlets, fliers, and direct mail, and distribute them. Fliers can be cheaply printed at home and posted in public places. Similarly, your business cards can be placed in coffee shops and pinned to bulletin boards.
Networking events are opportunities to share your business cards and branded materials. This is a slow process compared to the other ones mentioned, but you can start relationships and get referrals this way.