Lee Wilson is head of enterprise SEO at Vertical Leap and has been leading digital marketing teams since the early 2000’s. He has headed up the SEO department for a top 10 leading search and digital agency (Vertical Leap) from 2010 to present. In 2016, he had his first solely authored industry book published (Tactical SEO – the theory and practice of search marketing).
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Keywords research is a very important process for search engine optimization as it can tell you the exact phrases people are using to search on Google. Whenever you write a new blog post, you have to check the most popular keywords, but don’t be obsessed by the search volume. Sometimes, long tail keywords are more valuable, and you can rank for them more easily.
Hey Marcus, thank you so much. Hearing all the compliments make me wish I made a list of 100 traffic sources :) I don't think anyone would publish it though...too much work, lol. I hope everyone will use it and find some fresh traffic for their blogs, most of these sources will work for any blog but some will work better for specific niches. Thanks for sharing and appreciate the comment!
Brilliant stuff Brankica! This is a very comprehensive overview of major traffic generation strategies. My guess is that nobody will actually need to use all of them! Identifying a few which are relevant to your particular niche and fit the vision you have for your blog is the way to go. Awesome post, loads of value in there... Well done! All the best, Jym
That's way easier to do when you understand what all the things you're measuring actually mean. The first place I always start when evaluating a business' marketing is figuring out where the heck all their site traffic, leads, and customers come from. But it occurred to me -- if you don't even know what all those channels mean or how they're bucketed as traffic sources to your website -- it's probably pretty hard for you to start that self-evaluation.
Visitors can also fall into the direct category by clicking a link to your site from an email or PDF document, accessing your site from a shortened URL (which is an abbreviated version of your website address), clicking on a link from a secured site to your non-secure site, or clicking on a link to your site from a social media application like Facebook or Twitter. And, there is a chance that accessing your site from an organic search can end up being reported as direct traffic.
Referral means people clicked on a link somewhere else. This can be email or social, but is mostly links on other websites. If you switch the view in the Channels pie chart to Sources/Mediums, as we did for the screenshot below, you can see your most important links. For our lab site, Pinterest is major, as are Google’s educators’ sites and several homeschool sites. We can click on Acquisitions> Referrals to see more. Referral traffic can be a little confusing because it overlaps with Email and Social; more on that later.
With the exception of crude oil and Picassos, very few industries are “recession-proof” and experience an inelastic product demand. Look at how your competitors are faring, and see if they’re experiencing the same problems. While you should take Google Trends data with a grain of salt, looking at the bigger picture may help provide some clarity. I’d suggest taking this a step further by conducting trends research and reading industry reports.
If you publish whitepapers or offer downloadable PDF guides, for example, you should be tagging the embedded hyperlinks with UTM campaign parameters. You’d never even contemplate launching an email marketing campaign without campaign tracking (I hope), so why would you distribute any other kind of freebie without similarly tracking its success? In some ways this is even more important, since these kinds of downloadables often have a longevity not seen in a single email campaign. Here’s an example of a properly tagged URL which we would embed as a link:
The term was first used by Internet theorist John Kilroy in a 2004 article on paid search marketing. Because the distinction is important (and because the word "organic" has many metaphorical uses) the term is now in widespread use within the search engine optimization and web marketing industry. As of July 2009, "organic search" is now common currency outside the specialist web marketing industry, even used frequently by Google (throughout the Google Analytics site, for instance).
hey james - congrats on your success here. just a question about removing crummy links. for my own website, there are hundreds of thousands of backlinks in webmaster tools pointing to my site. The site has no penalties or anything - the traffic seems to be growing every week. would you recommend hiring someone to go through the link profile anyway to remove crummy links that just occur naturally?
Hey Kim, thanks for thinking about the trees, lol. OK, let me think. First, yes it depends on the niche a lot. But I do need to say that it can also depend a lot on the creativity of a blogger. If you know Kiesha from We Blog Better, she is a really creative blogger. She once wrote a post called "What can bag ladies teach us about blogging". And of course, attached a photo of a bag lady. If it was a Flickr photo, you would go back and tell the author you used a photo on your post and tell him the post name. Everyone would be curious to see what the heck is all that about. I wrote about this Flickr tactics on Traffic Generation Cafe. Anyway, why am I mentioning Flickr? Because it would seem that it is the best place to get traffic if you have a photography blog, right? But in Kiesha's example, all you need is some creativity and it can work for every niche. I for example, am hardly using Quora. Everyone else is (well most of everyone, lol). But I am old school and use Yahoo Answers, that almost no one is using. So my results are great with YA. Answer sites require some time, but not more than commenting does and certainly less than guest posting does. And it is fresh traffic, not just bloggers that you connected with. But out of these all, I would focus on the first group, video/audio traffic sources, just because they are kinda up and coming compared to some others. If I can answer additional questions, feel free to add some, not sure if I answered what you needed me to :) Thanks so much for sharing this with your readers, I really appreciate it.
This is a crucial area. If you do not have schema markup and rel="author", you are costing your business money. It is as simple as that. As an example, say I want to make spaghetti (pasta) for dinner I search for “Spaghetti Recipe” and instantly I see some great markup in play, but one competitor has no markup and no rel="author" they are losing business in my eyes. Wouldn't you agree?.
Kristine Schachinger has 17 years digital experience including a focus on website design and implementation, accessibility standards and all aspects of website visibility involving SEO, social media and strategic planning. She additionally specializes in site health auditing, site forensics, technical SEO and site recovery planning especially when involving Google algorithms such as Penguin and Panda. Her seventeen years in design and development and eight years in online marketing give her a depth and breadth of understanding that comes from a broad exposure to not only digital marketing, but the complete product lifecycle along with the underlying technology and processes. She is a well known speaker, author and can be found on LinkedIn, Google+ and Twitter.
Do you have a content strategy in place, or are your efforts more “off the cuff?” Not having a clearly defined keyword map can spell trouble — especially if two or more pages are optimized for the same keyword. In practice, this will cause pages to compete against each other in the SERPs, potentially reducing the rankings of these pages. Here is an example of what this might look like:
This topic seems actually quite controversial. Google answered the question by what could be taken as a denial. But their answer was kind of open to interpretations. And on the other hand, there are studies (one of them from Moz) that showed linking out has an impact. So, how can you be so assertive? Is it something that comes out from your own experiments?
So we’re confident that the high social traffic in the sixth example above reflects the highly successful social media campaigns the organization is working on. We could also see this pattern for a site which has decided that they can’t succeed with search and has, as Google suggests for such websites, chosen to work on social media success instead. The difference is, one site would have good Search and Direct traffic and really good social media, while the other might have dismal Search and rely heavily on social media, which is very time consuming and often has a low ROI. This second pattern is one we’ve seen with microbusinesses where the business owner is spending hours each day on social media and making very little progress in the business. Making the investment in a better website would probably pay off better in the long run, even if it seems like an expensive choice.
Content is one of the 3 main Google ranking factors. As a matter of fact, having a blog can help you get your content indexed faster. An active blog – relying on qualitative and insightful content, and backed by authoritative links – will help you improve your rankings and thus your organic traffic. Also, long-form copies (above 1200 words) tend to rank higher and be crawled more often.
Another key consideration is that social platforms have become search engines within themselves. Just look at Twitter, for example - you can use it to see what the biggest trending news of the day are and you can easily search for great content. You can search based on your location, in different languages and if you click on advanced search, there are even more options:
The other way visitors can access your website is by coming from other websites; in this instance, the user lands on your website after following a link from another site. The link that the user clicked on is referred to as a “backlink,” as it links back to your website. This traffic is much more beneficial to the search engine optimization (SEO) of your website as opposed to direct traffic, which has little to no effect. The reason is that Google and other search engines interpret backlinks as little doses of credibility for your website. If other credible websites are linking to your site, that must mean it is comprised of relevant and accurate content, which is exactly what search engines want.
Hey Mavis, thanks for that :) I wrote down all the ideas from the comments as well so there are at least 65 ideas now, lol. I just wish we all had more time in a day to really work on all of them. I guess all that testing and tracking comes now so we can focus on the best for our blogs. But do I even need to say how much I hate testing and tracking.
So, you have downloaded your links profiles on a CSV and you now have an extensive list of all your linked domains. If you have been doing SEO for 8+ years like me you can probably just know from analysis which links are bad from a TLD and URL point of view. If you do not know too much you can use tools such as Link Detox: http://www.linkdetox.com/ to complete analysis of your link profile. I would always consult the advice of an expert SEO in this instance because it is easy for these tools to mistake good and bad links.
First, I will show you a quick snapshot of the traffic uplift, which yielded an additional 400,000 unique visitors from organic search traffic on a monthly basis. Then I will explain to you the steps in which we took to get the client to this level. I have also tried to keep this quite general so everyone can adapt their own situation to this case study.
Hey Peppy, I am glad you found this post too :) I wanted to write it in even more details but it was getting so long I thought if I add one more word, no one would read it, lol. I tried all these traffic generation sources, some worked miracles some were so and so. But I can bet everyone can find winners here. Actually all these sources can work miracles, it all depends on what you find more natural to do. I am for example really slow with videos and still not comfortable making them so YouTube doesn't bring thousands of people to my blog. It brings some. But when it comes to answer sites, I had so much success with some of them, that I just have to recommend them. Blog commenting is working better as I learn to write better titles, so people click on my Comment Luv links. Anyway, thanks so much for the great comment and hope to hear some feedback from you, about how there worked out on your blog.
Branica, I wasn't sure what to expect - part of me thought about skimming the article because I figured it would 'read' as all the other articles on generating traffic - I was WRONG! I slowed my skimming and started reading - you made the otherwise sterile information interesting while your pace infused a sense of excitement ... so much so that I want to implement everything you suggested and I have, I guess, what you would consider a niche blog. Thanks for the lists along with your insights on their value, etc. I came upon this article through Blog Interact - and glad to have found you. Peppy
Forums are probably one of the least effective forms of free traffic, but it all depends on the forum. You’re looking for large, active communities where you can carve out a bit of a reputation for yourself. Sure, you can dominate a small forum, but the returns won’t be worth it. Conversely, too large a site and you may have trouble attracting attention at all. It’s a hard balance to strike.
This is a great piece of work for references, lots of info on this, Answer sites have become less and less popular, but the you can really build your name on these sites such as forums, if you are consistent in answering questions frequently. Out of the points you have mentioned, I relay enjoy the "Guest Blogging" point, as this is a win win situation, not just putting out content on other websites, but also welcoming guest on my own site, giving readers a change and a different style of article, as everyone is unique in their own way. I'm actually posting an interview tomorrow with a well known name in the guest blogging. Whichever point one choices from above, consistency is the key, there is no point doing it once, but it should be done on frequently, and over time with patience you will start to see the rewards.
Oh, I wish you told me what was wrong with it :) I only discovered it recently but I am getting nice traffic from it. I hope you will let me know how it worked for you. At the moment I am posting both to my page and personal profile. I also realized that I might just leave it on the personal page (yeah, sound weird) cause on my fan page, I kinda like to add a little comment to the post. Anyway, thanks for the comment and I will try to find your blog over there and subscribe to it on Networked blogs.
Those two ideas are great. I didn't know you are allowed to post links to you Amazon reviews! That is great to know, I already have some ideas in my head about this :) QR codes are definitely something to start using ASAP, too. With all the new gadgets and technology being developed, the sooner you start using it, the better results we can get :) Thanks for such an awesome comment!
People who use the ambiguous phrase “social media marketing” are typically referring to advertising: you broadcast your message and hope people will listen. Even if you overcome consumer indifference with a well-targeted campaign, any subsequent interactions are affected by their very public nature. The privacy of dark social, by contrast, represents a potential goldmine of intimate, targeted, and relevant interactions with high conversion potential. Nebulous and difficult-to-track though it may be, dark social has the potential to let marketers tap into elusive power of word of mouth.
Hey Sheila, I think offline marketing can work amazing, as long as the URL is catchy and easy to remember, as you say. I am sorry that I messed up some people's plans of blog development with these new traffic generation ideas, but if they get some results from it, I am sure gonna be glad! Thanks for the comment and hope to hear some good feedback from you :)
Like I said at the beginning, building organic traffic is hard. Anything that promises a shortcut to an avalanche of traffic will more than likely lead to a penalty down the road. Embrace the daily grind of creating great content that helps users and provides a solution to what they’re looking for. In the end that will drive more organic traffic than any shortcut ever will.