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:
Note: Google made a change a few years ago to how they track keywords and it has had a big impact on the discovery process. Before the change, Google would show which keywords consumers were using to find your website, making it easy to understand where and how your website was ranking. Google changed their tracking system so that any users who are logged into a Google account while searching will no longer have their keywords tracked as their Google activity remains encrypted. Due to this, when looking at Organic Traffic reports you will see (not provided) as a keyword throughout the reports – this often makes up over 90% of organic traffic and requires us to dig a bit more creatively to find what we need.
Let’s say that you are selling dog food. And most likely you will want the best traffic possible on the keyword “dog food”. Creating/building/earning all of your links with the same anchor text will get you in trouble. If you are having 600 links from which 400 use the anchor “dog food”, you might be facing a problem; it will surely raise a red flag to the search engines. And we all know what search engines do when they are getting these kinds of alarms: they begin applying penalties and move your websites so far from reach of the user that you will not be even listed in top 100.
OMG and for the love of God, this is truly one amazing post! Not because of the content, because I have already commented on that somewhere in this mass of 200+ comments. the content is great...the fact that I continue to get emails from each and every comment ever made on this post since I commented is telling me that I need to remember to shut off the subscriptions eventually. You did one hell of a job on this post though...this really is a kick-ass list.
Direct traffic. Direct traffic represents those visitors that arrive directly and immediate on your site by: (1) typing your URL into the browser’s address bar; (2) clicking on a bookmark; or (3) clicking on a link in an email, SMS, or chat message. Direct traffic is a strong indicator of your brand strength and your success in email or text message marketing. Direct traffic can also be an indicator of offline marketing success. We offer our views on the benefits of direct traffic at “Direct Traffic is Better than Google Traffic.”
The Google, Yahoo!, and Bing search engines insert advertising on their search results pages. The ads are designed to look similar to the search results, though different enough for readers to distinguish between ads and actual results. This is done with various differences in background, text, link colors, and/or placement on the page. However, the appearance of ads on all major search engines is so similar to genuine search results that a majority of search engine users cannot effectively distinguish between the two.
The Forums – yes, I know some bloggers are telling you that you can not get anything from the Forums, but I can prove them wrong. One example: I met one of my dear blogging friends on a Forum way before I started blogging. She has been helping me since. Instead of struggling with some newbie mistakes, I skipped most of them and went straight for success. Most forums allow links in signatures – use it!
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.
Reddit is also worth a special mention here. It’s a cross between a social network and a web forum, which is a traffic source we’ll discuss later. Reddit is one of the largest sites online, and the entire focus of the site is based around posting links and discussing the content of those links. A lot of the content you see trend on Facebook or Twitter is trending because Reddit got hold of it and started engaging with it. However, Reddit is a very tricky platform to use for marketing. You have to avoid approaching it like a marketer, because Reddit users are like piranhas. If they sense you trying to use their audience for money, they’ll swarm you and savage you until you feel like you can’t use the site again. Make sure to read up and take great care before trying to market on Reddit.
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.