Build your audience
So you’ve built a beautiful new website, tweaked and nurtured it until it runs like a dream. You may feel like your work is done, but, in reality, you are just getting started. Even the best-looking website in the world is a waste if no one sees it. Here are some of the best traffic sources for websites to get your audience to come to your site—and keep coming back for more.
1. Be My Guest
One of the best free traffic sources for web visitors is guest posting on other websites, podcasts, and blogs. These posts require a bit of marketing on your part. You will need to reach out to the owner of the site to pitch your idea, offer samples of your content, and, most importantly, convey the mutually beneficial value of the topic you would like to present.
Guest posts are commonly blog articles but don’t limit yourself to only that. If you are a talented graphic designer, offer to create an infographic.
Be creative when you pitch your ideas and don’t forget to reciprocate—allow guest posts on your own site too. Ask if you can use names and logos to boost your credibility as a valued thought leader on other sites. Good traffic sources don’t have to cost a thing if you network with the right people.
2. Hot off the Press
When you have a timely, solid piece of content or a newsworthy event, it may be worth the investment to create a press release. You have one chance to grab your reader in a release, and sloppy content or formatting won’t do that.
Work with a reliable distribution service to ensure that it gets the right attention. After a week or two, check website traffic analytics to track the number of visitors after the release.
You should find a significant increase if you brand your URLs appropriately for SEO. Some traffic sources, like press releases, are worth a small investment on the front end, if traffic is your end goal.
3. Be Social
Another way to increase web traffic for free is to participate in open web discussions and forums. Here’s the key: simply writing to see your name in print won’t work. Make sure that your contributions offer helpful information for the forum participants and offer value to readers.
It’s fine to build backlinks to your blog or website; if your posts have substance, the readers will follow and want to hear more from you.
4. It Takes a Village
Do some research to find groups on LinkedIn, Pinterest, Facebook, and other online sites that fit well with your content and area of expertise.
Join as many groups and communities where there's a relevant audience, but don’t jump in with tons of content all at once. Sit back, observe the tone of the group, and introduce yourself gradually with a relevant, useful piece of content that speaks to a specific need.
If you take the time to build credibility within a group, it won’t take long for the group members to engage in dialogue with you and view you as a thought leader.
5. Read, Comment, Repeat
Commenting on the blogs of respected writers and experts in a similar field is an easy way to introduce yourself for possible collaboration and guest posting, and to advertise your site. Just like groups and forums, you’ll only be taken seriously if your comment offers value, is personalized to each article or post and doesn’t come across as an advertisement.
Google may ding you if you’re clearly posting for the sake of sharing your web address, rather than sharing a thought or information. Don’t take shortcuts—read the articles before you comment.
While there are many sources to increase your web traffic and return visitors, these are a few that won’t cost much (if anything), and that can provide immediate results.
Don’t forget to check website traffic analytics before and after you try each new strategy and find out what works best for you. With persistence and data on your side, you’ll build a strong, loyal audience in no time.