Are you on the Road to Web Success?
You’ve spent weeks, maybe even months,
optimizing your website to provide compelling
information and a great user experience.
Everything is ready to go, but for some reason,
you’re having trouble getting off of the
The problem, in most cases, has to do with website traffic, the
engine that really powers Web success. In this instance, traffic
can be defined as visitors (users/consumers) that arrive on
a website. For many companies, accumulating “enough” traffic
is the single biggest roadblock on their journey toward Web
Website traffic fuels (or fills) what digital professionals call
the “conversion funnel” or the path intentionally set forth by
brands to lead users to a successful conversion (e.g. a sale, a
newsletter sign-up or any goal that a company defines for its website).
It is a “funnel” because the number of participating consumers
decreases as they move along the path. Many companies
spend a lot of time and energy optimizing for conversion (see
Website Magazine’s Feb. 2013 cover story “Optimize” for more
details), so too many potential sales don't drop out along the way.
However, many Web workers focus so much on optimization
and end-results (e.g. conversions) that at times, they forget
about the large end of the funnel, and where and how they find
and drive traffic to their sites.
The good news is the Internet is full of potential traffic
sources. The bad news is that driving quality traffic primed to
convert means being on top of your game, leveraging a variety
of channels — from search and advertising to email and social
media — and continually improving on those campaigns that
work best for a particular product or service promotion initiative.
Fortunately, there is more than one way to fill the funnel and
drive traffic to your virtual doors.
Use the Search Lane
When it comes to generating traffic, most marketers initially
turn to search engines and the practice of search engine
optimization (SEO) to bring consumers to their websites. SEO
is typically the first traffic-producing tactic Web businesses engage
in, as it is exclusively dependent on a marketer’s labor (and
not his or her wallet). However, SEO has become such a widely
utilized practice, that brands must consider some edgy new tactics
to get a site indexed and stand out to users on the search engine
results pages (SERPs).
Blogging and Microblogging
To immediately increase website traffic from search engines,
consider adding a blog or microblog to your website. This provides
an opportunity to regularly add new content and increase
social interaction, both of which can greatly improve SEO efforts,
as search engines do pay attention to the frequency of
updates, and even the rate of social citations when determining
the ranking of website pages. Plus, relevant, yet keyword diverse
content will increase the opportunities available for
appearing on users’ searches, particularly for long-tail queries.
“As search terms migrate toward the longer-tailed end of
the query length spectrum, microblogs give a platform for service
or product providers and suppliers to talk about their specific
benefits to each of their unique customer bases,” said
Jacob Baldwin, SEO manager at One Call Now.
But it shouldn’t be all about you.
“Don’t just use it to constantly sell,” said Robert Hoddenbagh,
co-founder of the online advertising agency MesaSix.
“Offer value to your community and open up discussions and
A more recent SEO tactic for increasing search traffic has been
the use of rel=author tags, which associate an author (and their
Google+ profile) to a specific piece of content. You may recognize Web pages with these tags when they appear in Google
SERPs with the author pictures next to the page titles.
“[Author markup] provides greater visibility for your entry
in a sea of other ranked Web pages, which Google has shown
helps improve click-through rates on organic entries,” said
Janet Driscoll Miller, president and CEO of Search Mojo. “But
in my mind, even more importantly, authorship may be able to
help fix Panda duplicate content issues. By claiming that you
are the original author of the content, it stands to reason that
perhaps Google would include the original version of the content
in the index over other copies.”
In an effort to find new traffic sources for their sites, some marketers
are going down the vertical search route, building a brand
presence on portals that specialize in a specific information type
or on a particular content format.
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ALSO READ: Authorship Markup
If you still haven’t taken advantage of Google’s
authorship markup capabilities, you can learn how to
get started right now with the Web Pro’s Guide to
The usefulness of search as a means of driving traffic is
unparalleled, but the practice is becoming more challenging
by the day. Largely, this is thanks to Google’s keyword not provided
initiative, which conceals crucial keyword-level information
about search queries. Don’t worry, though; there are
other means of driving traffic available that are just as effective
and even more measurable.
Run an Ad Diagnostic Test
Despite the many opportunities to acquire website traffic, advertising
remains among the most consistent ways to generate
brand awareness and fill the conversion funnel.
It’s fair to assume that a lot of digital advertising's popularity
comes from its immediacy and, but more importantly, its
measurability. Essentially every Internet advertising campaign
enables advertisers to track performance and, over time, determine
the return of campaigns in relation to how much is
spent on them. This makes advertising (debatably) the safest
method of driving traffic, as campaigns can be modified based
on their level of success.
Is the Banner Back?
When users think of digital advertising, they often think of banner
(or display) ads first. Arguably the oldest form of advertising
on the ‘Net, for many, display ads have become all but
obsolete and for good reason. Banner blindness remains a very
real and pervasive problem (at least in the minds of advertisers).
Concerns aside, display ads aren’t dead, yet; advertisers
just have to be smart about how they use them today. Marketers
must ensure they’re placing advertisements that
are going to be most relevant to the product or service
offered. Even more importantly, marketers must use the data
they gather from studying their marketing campaigns to
improve the performance of their display ads. Success with display, in short, demands control.
“Display advertising can be useful; however, it is only as useful
as its tracking,” said Hasaan A. Brown, online marketing
manager at Vocus. “The tighter control you have over your display
placements, the better. Display can be a bad option when
you cast a wide net, but a better option when you tightly control
Advertisers and/or business owners that are looking for display
advertising opportunities should check out the numerous
alternatives, including the recently introduced 7Search Display
Network. The program offering allows advertisers to choose
from graphical or text-based banner ads (as well as pop unders
and interstitial Web page advertisements). It’s all wrapped up in
a self-service display advertising solution, which is appropriate
for both publishers and display advertisers.
Paid Search Gets Better
Pretty much everyone on the Internet will use a search engine at
one time or another, and because of this, paid search has become
a favorite among many advertisers. Paid search allows marketers
to show text-based ads atop (and around) the SERPs for specific
keyword queries. Advertiser listings are only displayed when people
search for something related to what the advertiser is promoting,
which makes the practice a popular and powerful way to
drive quality traffic to a website; but it's getting expensive. A recent
report from Kenshoo revealed that paid search impressions
increased by 18 percent in Dec. 2012, with cost-per-clicks rising
by an inspiring 30 percent in the same period.
Internet advertising can be a reliable source of relevant traffic,
but only if you keep tabs on how well it is performing
(down to the keyword level) and continually improve campaigns
for optimal performance. Still, over the years, some Web
companies have found yet another solution that eliminates
much of the risk associated with soaking resources into advertising:
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The New Traffic on the Block
“People crave visual content,” said Bonnie Joy Dewkett, the founder
and CPO of The Joyful Organizer. “People are too busy to read
your message, and their attention spans are too short to grasp it.
Compelling visual content and cues are the way to grab attention.
Images can say a lot about your message and your company.”
So, if there is one thing that you need to know about driving traffic
to your website in 2013, it’s that you have to use images and video,
and lots of them! Discover three foolproof ways to make your visual content stand
out on the Web.
The no-risk, (possibly) high-reward nature of affiliate marketing
is appealing to advertisers, because it allows them to add a
non-salaried sales force to target a niche audience or industry,
while only paying commissions on traffic that converts into a
sale. By diversifying their traffic sources, affiliate marketing gives
advertisers another viable traffic source to fall back on.
“Online businesses should always work on implementing
an affiliate program,” said Reed Floren, president
of Business Success Systems, LLC.
“The best thing about having affiliates is they can focus on
using new and proven methods to promote your products,
and you only pay them if they make a sale for you. It’s 100
percent no risk to the business owner and can be a lot
more productive and profitable than spending money on
Although Internet advertising can help narrow down a
marketer’s audience by industry or interest, it can be difficult
and expensive to personalize ads and target specific individuals.
There is one solution out there, however, that does let
you do that; in fact, for the most part, you’ll be reaching out
to consumers who have asked for your content and sales/marketing
Turbo Charge Email Marketing
Even though it isn’t quite the hot topic that it used to be
(thanks to social media’s popularity), email has steadily remained
one of the most reliable traffic drivers for the majority
of Web businesses. The truth is that email is still
considerably more popular than social media, with 3.3 billion
email accounts worldwide (compared to just 2.7 billion
social media accounts), according to Attachments.me.
And in case you were worried that younger, more Web-savvy
users were ignoring email in favor of social media, 66 percent of
users under 30 access their email accounts from a smartphone
device (source: Chadwick Martin Bailey). Even today, many consider
email to be the most cost-efficient online channel for driving
traffic to a website.
Still, the real benefit to utilizing email marketing as a driver
of traffic is that it is likely to bring in that quality traffic that
every brand wants. A Nielson study from 2012 showed that 50
percent of customers trust the information from emails they
sign up for, meaning these customers start out by showing interest
in your brand and are opting to receive additional information
from your company.
As with any method of acquisition, it is imperative to pay attention
to the behavioral data available about an email list, which,
when used strategically, can encourage more quality visits and
improve the performance of campaigns.
“No one will click if the content is not relevant to their likes
or wants,” said Kristin Fernholz, a managing partner at Fashmark,
a fashion-focused digital marketing agency. “Fashmark
uses Sailthru, because it allows marketers to personalize the
email experience based on customer behavior and preferences.”
When analyzing your email traffic, another strategy is to
use data to segment your audiences into smaller groups and
then send each group more targeted content that will be of
particular or specific interest to them.
Head over to WebsiteMagazine.com to get a look at 15
different ways you can segment your email list at
However, you should also take these opportunities to
identify email subscribers that aren’t a good fit for your business
and purge them from your lists, as these subscribers are
only costing you money and potentially harming your
sender reputation, which can diminish your total traffic over
time. Remember, quality over quantity.
If you’re especially industrious, you will need to get under
the hood of your email marketing solution. Campaigner, for example,
recently released its Campaigner Elements API, which
helps its customers integrate external data (e.g. CRM) directly
within Campaigner’s email system, collecting and analyzing big
data, which has previously been siloed, to better determine what
will and won’t resonate with customers.
These days Web users are far more interested in easily digestible
content; that is largely why video has become such a useful tool
for digital marketers.
“We ran a test where two emails had the same subject line and
copy,” said Steve Young, director of product marketing at
SmartShoot. “The only difference between the two emails was that
one had video and the other did not. The mail with video drove
2-3 times the amount of clicks of its counterpart. We’ve also seen
tests where including the word ‘video’ in a subject line can increase
opens by 5-6 times.”
At present, putting videos directly in an email can be
tricky because of the technical limitations, so many email
service providers take the approach of including an image
from the video with a play button over it in the email (sometimes
called a “falsey”). This image then links to a landing
page where the user can play the video. Progressive email
marketing service providers are promoting their video-in-email
services, such as Constant Contact, GetResponse and
StreamSend, but until Web-based email service providers
catch up, true video-in-email needs a workaround.
There always seems to be a newer model or type of engine
that captures the imaginations of the masses, and despite the reliability
of email marketing, social media seems to be the new favorite
among most Internet marketers.
Fuel Engagement with Social Media
Social media has taken over as the preferred channel for driving
traffic to many Web businesses (large or small), and nowadays
every Internet marketer seems to be introducing himself or herself
as a “social media expert.” Of course, the popularity of social
media as a marketing tool should surprise no one, because not
only does it present an opportunity to engage directly with interested
consumers, but it can also aid in search, advertising and
email marketing efforts.
The key to driving traffic through social media is having
good content (this should be obvious, right?). So, what kind of
content works best for driving traffic to a website?
“Free, fun and valuable content,” said Michael Santoro,
president of Walker Sands Communications. “People don’t
want to give up anything, even their email addresses, unless it’s
super valuable content. You get bonus points if you can craft a
clever and fun piece of content that’s highly sharable.”
Don’t forget that social media isn’t just
about pushing your content; it’s also about engaging with your consumers
and building trust and brand loyalty. That
is why you should also take advantage of
specific user-generated content. It is a
great way to inspire confidence in your
other followers, which means they will
come to your website with less hesitation
about your brand, automatically turning
them into higher quality traffic.
One way to ensure that you strike a
solid balance between promoting your brand and fostering engagement
with your followers is to adhere to the 80/20 rule. This
means that approximately 80 percent of the content you post
should provide some sort of value (e.g. asking or answering a
question or solving a problem) outside of shilling your brand,
while the other 20 percent can be directly self-promotional.
“You saying you’re great doesn’t matter; other people need
to say you are great,” said Steve Thomas, president of The Net
Impact. “We have a resort client that encourages their social
media customers to post pictures of their vacations or time at
the beach. That kind of content is the content that a marketer
can’t buy. Encourage your audience to participate.”
Looking Good with Visual Content
Much like with video (and images) being useful in email marketing,
visual content is also in-demand on social media sites. In
fact, the popularity of social networks is a big part of why so
many consumers have become accustomed to this content.
“Right now, the content that seems to be most popular on
social media is visual in nature,” said Brittany Berger, the content
coordinator for eZanga. “This is seen in the way Facebook
is weighing posts with pictures and videos more heavily in its
EdgeRank news feed algorithm and the popularity of the videosharing
app Vine and photo-sharing networks like Instagram
and Pinterest. People want content they can quickly digest and
visual content is exactly that.”
As a result, the Internet has been seeing the rise of “alternative”
social networks that may not yet have a hold on the
the mainstream consciousness that Facebook and Twitter have,
but which offer different services to users and provide marketers
with new ways to interact with consumers. Tumblr, as
well as the aforementioned Instagram and
Pinterest, are three of the most popular alternatives.
“Pinterest is one of the best platforms
for driving new traffic to your website”
said Rania Eldekki, Internet
marketing manager at Hudson Horizons.
“Because Pinterest is an online photo
board, the site works best for businesses
with visually appealing, original photos. A
clothing boutique, for example, could see a substantial sales increase
through Pinterest, because the site allows virtual price
tags layered on top of the photos.”
“The key is creating helpful, interesting or beautiful images
that are formatted for Pinterest and include a Pin It button,” said
Anne Buehner, social media strategist at Red Door Interactive.
“When pinned — and re-pinned over and over again — the
image retains its source URL.”
Embrace Social Alternatives
Not every Facebook alternative is so image-conscious, but that
doesn’t mean they cannot still be valuable. There are a lot of
smaller niche social networks out there that provide unique opportunities
for marketers that know how to leverage them correctly.
“Traditionally, LinkedIn has not been a ‘destination’ social network,
but its new content-driven strategy means users are
spending more time-on-site on average, which provides an opportunity
for marketers,” said Santoro of Walker Sands. “Brands
also need to be paying attention to Google+ and Quora.”
Santoro also added, “It’s worth researching niche social networks
that match up with your audience. There’s one for almost
any interest area. Depending on what you focus on, it’s
worth exploring the reach and engagement of that community.”
Start Your Engines!
There are numerous ways to drive quality traffic online, and
once you’ve found those methods that work for you, whether
its search engine optimization or email marketing, then you’re
off to the races, and Web success will be just around the bend.
Just remember to maintain a finely tuned approach by monitoring
your traffic sources and paying attention to the behavior
of your visitors, all while making adjustments as they’re
needed. Now what are you waiting for? On your
mark, get set and GO!