All the posts I’ve read about getting free traffic to your blog or website feel the same. They’re pretty dense and they focus on a handful of methods, not why these methods work or when you might want to use them.
Personally, I have used both paid and free methods of getting traffic to websites. There are a few bloggers out there who think paid advertising is “cheating”. I disagree. Particularly if you have a product or service you’re trying to sell off the back of it.
Paid traffic certainly makes growth quicker, but it’s optional. On the other hand, everyone can access free organic traffic. You’d be crazy not to do the free methods if you’re serious about your website.
How Do People Find My Website?
Many new bloggers set up their website and are then surprised that no one reads it. It can be one of the most demoralising time for a blogger. You’re pouring your heart out into the internet… and no one cares.
The best analogy I’ve heard for this is to think of your website as a shop front. In a town, it’s quite easy to go around and look at all the shop fronts in turn. See if you like what’s on offer, or walk on by. But the more shops there are, the harder it is to browse them all.
There are an unimaginable number of websites on the internet. A number growing daily. It’s impossible to go by every website and see if you like the look of the content. So how does anyone ever find you?
Actively Looking For You
What do you do if you can’t find something you’re looking for? You search for it. Or, most often, you Google it.
Unsurprisingly there’s a whole host of articles about how to get yourself to the top of Google. Using something called SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) you make it more likely to be at the top of a search for certain keywords.
I’m not going to jump into this in depth because there’s so much out there about it already. My top tip for starters is to download a free plugin called Yoast. They’ve got some easy to digest guides about how to get started.
Google is not the only search engine!
Yeah, Emily, we remember Ask Jeeves and Bing does exist, but really…?
Nope, that’s not what I mean. You use lots of other search engines all the time. Ever typed something into Youtube? Or Pinterest? Or iTunes? These are not social media platforms. They are search engines.
Let me just repeat that for you while it sinks in: they’re search engines. If you want to find videos you search on YouTube. If you want to search for images you’ll search on Pinterest (or Google Images, to be fair, although the results are somehow less satisfying). For finding a sound or podcast, you’ll search iTunes.
I hope that’s just blown your mind. Why focus on just Google? If your medium extends beyond text, why are you still optimising for a text based search engine?
Stumble Across You
Now, in marketing the people who are directly looking for you are called Hot traffic. They’re Hot because they know what they want and they’re out there actively searching for it.
On the flip side, people who aren’t looking and aren’t currently interested are called Cold traffic. Every time an ad pops into your news feed, that’s someone marketing to Cold traffic. It’s much harder to get Cold traffic interested, because – like you and me on Facebook – we’re in a different mindset to Hot traffic. We just scroll on by.
In between these two extremes are the originally named Warm traffic. These are people doing something slightly related to your blog or website, but not directly. For example, they might be:
- Reading another blog in a similar topic
- Following someone who produces content in the same niche (e.g. windsurfing) on Twitter
- Be friends with someone who already reads your blog
I guess Warm traffic are only one connection away from reading your blog or being your follower. That makes them easier to tap into if you can put your content in front of them… in an environment they’re familiar with.
Social Media: The Land of Noise and Distraction
The classic example of this is Social Media. Typically Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Social media is a very noisy place, but billions of people spend a lot of time on it. We all make up a huge web of connections (a social network) that can allow content to be passed from one person to the next. A piece of content going “viral” is when this happens exceptionally fast.
Everyone will tell you that if you have a blog, you must also set up social media accounts. My view is that yes, you will probably benefit from them, but only if you have enough time to keep on top of them. It’s better to start one and do it well, then add another when you’ve got a bit of a following.
“Which one do I start with?” I hear you cry.
It doesn’t matter. Start with the one you like best. Go from there.
Secret: There are actually two distinct ways to get found on social media.
Level 1 is you talking about yourself. For example, when I publish this blog post, I’ll also post a link to Facebook and tweet it. This is just me throwing my content out into the ether. If I have a small follower count, it probably won’t go very far. If I’m in the millions, more people will see it. That’s pretty obvious, right?
Level 2 is more sneaky. It involves you doing something exceptional. Because, you see, most content on the internet is flat and boring. There are an inordinate number of shallow SEO-based articles doing “Top 5 Things You Must See Now” or “You Won’t Believe What…”
People are bored of this. If you write a really great piece of content, in a voice that’s yours, or a really useful How To or a controversial opinion piece… people will share it. Why? Because it’s worth talking about. It’s different. It’s deeper or more helpful.
Instead of you talking about you, other people are talking about you without you prompting them. That’s powerful.
Other people’s blogs or sites
Again, just like for social media, Emily’s big secret is that there are two levels of doing this. I say my big secret… It’s not a secret, but people rarely seem to thing about it this way, or mention how to reach level two. You can thank me later 😉
So, as above, there are two ways to get mentioned on other people’s websites. Either you are writing a guest post on their site, or you have written something so interesting on your site that someone else has mentioned it in their post/article of their own accord. You man not even know them.
Level 1: find a blogger in a related niche, whose blog fits with your own, and ask if you can collaborate. Maybe you write them a guest post, or maybe you do a guest post exchange. This is far easier than it sounds. Just ask nicely. You’ll be allowed to put a link to your website somewhere near the end, for readers to find you if they liked you.
Level 2: Create something outstanding (possibly the same blog post as in Level 2 for social media) and you will find yourself being linked from other people’s blogs. This might be someone referencing you because they’ve found your post helpful and want to help their readers too. But the most satisfying is when your post has sparked them to write a post of their own. Like I accidentally did here.
How Do I Get My Blog Found?
Hopefully this post has sparked a few ideas for you. At least given you some pointers in the right direction. If you’re curious about Level 2 content, like I described above, then I’ve put together a little PDF resource for you. It’ll give you even more guidance about how to write in a way that’ll get people sharing your content for you.
To get it, pop your email address into the box below and I’ll send you the password to the free resources page.