As you’re reading this, I’m going to assume you know one of the biggest truths about online internet marketing. That truth is that you need traffic to be successful, and not just any traffic either. This article is going to provide a brief overview of methods you can use to get targeted traffic to your site. Generally, these methods fall into two categories: “Free” traffic, and Paid Traffic. Thy apply whether you have a regular web site or a blog.
Getting Free Traffic for your Web Site
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again here. so called “FREE” traffic isn’t really free, you just pay for it a different way, with your personal effort. Given that caveat, you can get traffic to your site without spending a lot of your hard earned cash. The most popular methods include Article Marketing, Social Networking and Search Engine Optimization (SEO). We’ll briefly look at each of these, then go on to Paid methods of generating traffic.
How Article Marketing drives traffic to your site
Article marketing is one of the few arrangements in online marketing that can be considered a win-win-win-win (that’s 4 wins) situation, that benefits all parties involved with the article.
First is the article syndicator, such as ezinearticles.com. While there are numerous other syndicators out there, ezine articles is certainly the largest and best known, and therefore valuable to the aspiring author as well as the readers and other web site owners or smaller syndicators. EzineArticles accepts articles because they contain unique content that will benefit their readers. Among some of the rather stringent (but easily followed, once you get them all down) rules are that each article must contain relevant, informational content and that you cannot sell in your article. Also paramount, which this author has learned in a most difficult manner, is the requirement for unique and original content. You can’t take the buzzwords and headings from another article and spin them into an article of similar content, you really do have to fully digest the essence of the topic, then write a completely new article from your heart. This said, they do have perhaps the best article syndicatiion site on the internet. A syndicator wins because they get new articles with original content that they can present for their readers.
Second is the webmaster or smaller syndicator that needs content for their site. They can copy the article from the major syndicator and use it on their site, but they must take it in it’s entirety, including the resource box (or bio box) at the bottom of the article. More about the resource box in the Author section below. Thus, the webmaster or smaller syndicator gets new content on their site, and though it isn’t original and unique to them, their audience may not be familiar with ezinearticles or another major syndicator, so in most cases, the reader sees content they otherwise wouldn’t find.
Third, the reader or web surfer gets the opportunity to read and learn something new, and if they take opportunity of what the author is offering in his resource box, in many instances they may continue to learn more about the topic.
Fourth, and probably the most important to you is that the author wins in two ways. First, they learn more about their topic, as the best way to really learn a topic is to teach it. Second, there is the resource (or bio) box at the bottom of the article. Originally called a “bio” box because they were used for biographical information about the author. Today, most successful authors use the space as a resource box, and though they may have a brief indication of who they are, most of the space is dedicated to information about a newsletter and/or other free offer and a link to a squeeze page where the reader can opt-in to a newsletter or other vehicle that the author can use to further educate the reader. During this ongoing education process, the author may also provide links to sites that can generate income for him through affiliate marketing.
Thus, you’ve seen how article marketing can be a win-win-win-win situation, benefitting all involved. Other methods of driving traffic to your site aren’t so good for all parties, but still have benefits, and all can still drive targeted traffic to your site, though with additional effort and/or cost.
How Social Networking can drive traffic to your site
One of the newest viral and organic traffic generation methods is through Social Networking on sites such as Twitter, MySpace and FaceBook. MySpace and Facebook are more like traditional blogs, with Twitter more of a stream of consciousness or “what I’m doing at this instant” sort of site. With twitter, each post, called a tweet, cannot belonger than 140 characters. That’s only 20 to 30 words at best, so they can be very limiting beyond the typical “where you are at the moment” tweet.
Originally these sites were intended to be purely social, in that they were places where you could go, put up a page and start finding other people with like interests. This had the tendency to isolate individuals to their “computer lives” which is a completely different form of socialization as normal face to face interaction. As the popularity of these sites grew, they haven’t stayed that way, but if you don’t approach them in the right way, you’ll get an amazing and forceful backlash that may make you wonder why you are there in the first place. However, this is changing, as the owners of Facebook have decided to monetize their servers by offering advertising space much like Google has AdWords. Still, there are some opportunities to use the social aspects to generate traffic for your site, if you are careful and stay within reasonable boundaries. Being successful with marketing on social networks requires an ability to teach, much like with article marketing, and to be subtle about making recommendations. There are a number of programs out there that profess to help with this process, but as I haven’t checked into them yet, I cannot tell you which are good and which are bad…
How Search Engine Optimization can drive traffic to your site
SEO (Search Engine Optimization) used to be nearly the only way to get traffic to your site. When the first search engines came into being, and even for quite a few years after, having your site optimized for the “algorithm of the month” that was being used by the search engines to determine ranking, was the only way to get more traffic, except perhaps word of mouth. Word of mouth was through various media, like the internet newsgroups where people shared their issues. See even at the beginning of “internet time” there was a social aspect. It just wasn’t as popularized as you see today. Eventually along came blogs and other mechanisms beyond that, and search engine optimization became less of an issue for a lot of sites.
Still, there are tons of users out there that don’t know of any other way to find a site than to search using their favorite search engine. Google, Yahoo, Bing and a host of others, many of which are reasonably local or specific to some niche can be used by users to find sites that have content related to their search.
Generally, if you have a site that has honest content, that provides related information to the topics in the title or first paragraph it will help with SEO, but there’s obviously more. Your content should be keyword rich, but not overdone, and you should pay attention to having decent meta-tags (which are hidden bits of information the search engines use to help them classify your site). Today, one of the next most important things to have is lots of backlinks. Backlinks are links from other sites back to you. Right now, particularly for Google, is that your backlinks should come from “authoritative” sites, that have a lot of content on similar topics. There should also not be any “loops”, which is where someone links to you and you, either directly or through a few other sites, link back to them. This used to be common (known as link exchange) but now is apparently a “bad thing” in SEO. As you might imagine, keeping up with the current algorithms, and therefore the current rules for SEO can be time consuming, but it can keep your site in the first page or so of the search engines, and let’s face it, almost nobody goes beyond the third page any more, users are just too used to instant gratification and get bored very easily. the search engine “spiders” that “crawl the web”, indexing pages of web sites are backed up by sophisticated and continually updated algorithms and relational databases. Generally, there is a significant shift in the algorithms about every 8 or 10 months. Thus, the “trick” that works today will stop working soon. There have been many examples of this over time, and that’s not the primary focus here, so just be aware that your SEO efforts should be based on sound, honest presentation of your site and you should rank reasonably and consistently as the algorithms change.
Getting Paid Traffic to your web site
Paid traffic is what you might expect. You pay someone to send you traffic. There are a couple of rough categories for paid traffic, and within each are several if not dozens of providers. The ones you hear the most about are Pay Per Click and Pay Per View.
The difference between Pay Per Click (PPC) and Pay Per View (PPV) is that with PPC, you pay only when someone clicks on your ad on the host site. With PPV, you pay every time they present it to the web surfer. Google AdWords is well known as a PPC service. The relatively new “Facebook Ads” are in these two categories, but pay per click ads are called CPC by Facebook, and when they present your ad is called CPM. Other providers may call the act of presenting the ad for viewing by the web surfer “pay per impression (PPI).
In each of these paid click generation systems, you agree to pay a set amount for each action. Typically, you can choose how much you wish to spend on a single hour or day, so you don’t spend your budget the first few hours of the first day of your campaign.
In addition to the pay per click and pay per view/impression already mentioned are newsletter or blog advertising and solo articles. With these methods, you pay a newsletter or owner to either place an ad inline on his regular newsletter or blog, and with solo articles, they send out a newsletter post on your behalf to their mailing list with only your article (hence the name “solo article”). What you pay for each of these depends on the size of the blog or newsletter mailing list, and what the owner thinks it is worth. Some can be bargains, others might as well be like a sailboat, known by most captains as “a hole in the water into which you pour money”.
Regardless of the paid method you might choose, you’ll surely lose your shirt if you aren’t closely monitoring the results through click tracking. With click tracking, you determine how many clicks you get from each “campaign”, so you can determine which ones make money and which don’t. Of course, you will want to make sure you drop the non-paying ones as soon as possible.
Another term you may hear is Pay Per Action (PPA), but this generally the other side of the coin. An affiliate (perhaps you) will be paid by the product owner when the reader/web surfer completes a particular action, such as signing up for a newsletter on the product owner’s web site. Technically, generating an affiliate commission could be called a PPA, but the term isn’t generally used in this context.
Everyone has a different “favorite” traffic generation method. As you can see from the topics briefly discussed above, there are a lot of different ways get targeted traffic to your web site, and though you may prefer one over the others, you may find yourself using several over the lifetime of your site. Which you choose to start or continue with is dependent on your goals and the amount of time and money you wish to invest. However, even with the so called “free” traffic generation methods, you will want to put some sort of tracking mechanism in place so you can measure their effectiveness.
Please look for our future articles here, when we will explore each of the above topics in more depth.