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21 Ways to Recover from Lost Organic Search Traffic

Posted on 7.21.2014

:: By Travis Bliffen, Stellar SEO ::


All the time people ask me; “how can I recover the organic traffic I lost when my site got penalized?” The truth is it will not be easy and recovering from an SEO standpoint could take 6-12 months or longer. Since plenty of people have covered the steps to recovering from a penalty, I won’t do that here today.

While you are waiting for organic traffic to return, you have to get leads and sales from somewhere so below we are going to look at some ways to get traffic to your site when you’re in an organic slump.

I have broken down the methods by cost so you can find methods within your budget.

Free Methods of Advertising

Networking- Since the beginning, networking has been a driving factor in business. You make connections with clients, other businesses, and local organizations such as the Chamber of Commerce. These connections can send you business and help you establish your reputation within an industry. Here are a few places where you can network with like-minded people.

Meetup.com- free service that lets you find local groups by topic and location, then register to attend them.

Industry Events- This will vary based on your business. One example for a Web design or online marketing agency would by the Search Marketing Expo (SMX).

Local Chamber of Commerce- You may find that your local chamber, rotary club, or the like has regular meetings that bring together local business leaders for luncheons and seminars. Take advantage of these meetings to interact and present if possible. Also, look for more opportunities within these groups. For example, you may be able to contribute to the local chamber's print or online newsletter. 

Local Colleges- Many local schools look to bring in people with expertise in what is currently working in an industry or profession; look for opportunities to be a guest speaker at one or many local colleges.

Radio and TV Interviews- Sites like radioguestlist.com connect guests with hosts for radio shows. Some of these shows are pretty low budget and others have quite a large following. You can sign up for free and get emails with people looking for guests on a variety of topics. Simply email them with your pitch and you could get some free radio coverage. As for TV, you will need to reach out to shows covering your topic. Many stations have a small business show on in the mornings, this could be a good place to get your feet wet. Otherwise, you are just going to have to hustle and promote to get a TV interview but it will be worth it when you do.

Social Media- Many people try to use social media as a place to broadcast their message and this is a mistake. Social media is where networking happens online and using it as a networking tool will often yield better results than simply broadcasting your message. Ask and answer questions with other similar businesses or with those who could benefit from your services and you can see a nice flow of referral traffic to your website.

Be Controversial- Bet you never thought you would see Eminem or Miley Cyrus on Website Magazine, huh? These two have figured out one very important truth, “no publicity is bad publicity”. While your employees should avoid twerking on the job (in most cases) you can learn from these two and add a little controversy to your business. This could end up in a lot of free coverage for your business and if you pull the right stunt, it could mean many new customers for you. For example, a few weeks ago I wrote a post about using black hat SEO and many of you were outraged at the article, lashing out at Website Magazine and me for sharing the insight into how to rank a site using black hat. All the comments and sharing lead to a lot of exposure for that article and as a result, I closed six new clients (white hat projects) from that single post, not a bad way to use a little controversy - coupled in with good advice - if you ask me.

Webinars and Podcasts- Reaching out to related companies that often host webinars or even setting up your own webinar can be a great way to get free exposure. If you partner with another company to put on a webinar, you will have the added benefit of leveraging the mailing lists and fans of both companies to get people to attend; the same is true for podcasts.

Guest Posting- As I am sure many of you already know, guest posting is dead. Those of you like me who don’t believe everything you hear can still take advantage of this strategy to get referral traffic and conversions for your business. Just make sure you write a post that offers real value to the reader and get it featured in the right location to reach the largest and most interested audience.

Hosting Guest Authors- Instead of writing for another site, invite people to write for your website. This will help you reach their followers which could be a large group. It will also keep your website interesting to your readers, keeping them coming back more often. Make sure you only accept high value posts or this technique will fail.

Promoting Your Posts- All the rage at the moment is to write more content when it should be to promote the content you already have to more people. Writing fewer posts will allow you to write better content, especially if you do not have a department dedicated solely to content production. So before cranking out another 300-word fluff piece, think of how to promote your last quality article instead.

Cross Promotion- This method is excellent. Find some other businesses that offer services similar to yours or at least services that target the same market as yours and work out an agreement to promote each other’s services to your customers. Just make sure the businesses you partner with have the same level of service that you provide or your customers may be angry about your recommendation.

Classified Ads- Sites like Craigslist get a ton of traffic and with it, a ton of spam. Even with the volume of spam of Craigslist, many types of business are able to connect with clients. Real estate, car dealers, and writing services are just a few examples of niches leveraging Craigslist and similar classified ad services. For the low price of free, why not take advantage?

Advertising for Less Than $100 

Signs- This can include the small yard signs, hanging signs on posts, or renting a small area at a busy intersection to place a slightly larger sign at. You can order small signs for about $8 apiece on Vistaprint. Place about 20-30 of these around your area and you will likely get some phone calls or website visits.

Business Cards- People have been handing out business cards for years and for good reason, they work. While most people you give a business card will not call and a lot of people with toss them in the thrash, the fact that they can be made for so little still makes this a viable strategy to generate some leads. Again over at Vistaprint you can get a few hundred business cards for as little as $10. Wouldn’t take many leads cover the cost of the cards.

Random Acts of Kindness- I have to give credit to guerillamarketing.com for this one. They mention paying the bill for someone near you in line without them knowing. When they step up to pay, have the cashier hand them one of your business cards and let them know the bill was paid by you. This method will get people talking about your business.

Sponsor a Homeless Person- This is another tip from guerillamarketing.com and while I haven’t tried it, I like the concept of helping someone out so it is worth adding to the list. Simply find one or a few homeless people in your area and pay them to hold a sign advertising your business instead. They get some money and you get some advertising, people helping people, it’s good stuff!

Fliers- Nothing new here but also nothing to scoff at, fliers can be a great way to get the word out about your business. You can visit local business and hand out the information, hire someone for a day to pass them out in neighborhoods, or my favorite, find an event that draws a large crowd (even better if it shares the same audience as your product or service) and hand out fliers. You can leave them on cars or hand them to people face to face. Again, the conversion rate is not high but the volume of fliers you can get for a limited cost makes it a worthwhile method. You guessed it, head over to Vistaprint for a good deal on them.

Car Decals- Turn your car into a mobile billboard for your company, or at least just add a magnetic sign somewhere on your vehicle. Surprisingly, this actually works pretty well, especially if you offer a service that many people are already looking for. I have a 12” x 12” decal on the tailgate of my truck and people have called me from it many times, especially when waiting in line at a drive-thru!

Niche Directories- For SEO value, there are a number of directories not worth submitting to and the same is true for the purposes of generating referral traffic. When looking for directories that are worthwhile, you need to find directories that are tightly focused on a single niche and get a lot of visits. One good example of this is Wedding Wire, a paid directory for wedding vendors.

Help a Reporter Out (HARO)- Simply visit helpareporter.com and sign up to receive emails when reporters are looking for a story. You will often have short notice to produce a piece of content, but a good piece submitted to HARO can get coverage on top sites like the Huffington Post. Check the emails from them regularly and write your best stuff to submit, you can land free coverage on a major site that sends traffic by the droves. Additionally, it's a good way to establish relationships with editors who can cover your company in the future. 

Advertising Methods Ranging $1K-3K per Month

Community Outreach Programs- Helping out in your community is always a great thing to do. If you have the resources to assist with an issue facing your area, doing so can be great for your reputation and your bottom line. You could do anything from meals for kids programs during the summer to sponsoring a little kid’s sports team or anything in between.  People will come to know you as the company that gives back and as such, they are much more likely to work with you. Include your website address on materials for the programs and people will check out your site to see who is helping, many of which could turn into new customers.

Hosting Fundraising Events- Harley Davidson retailers may be one of the best at this strategy. I am located in Southern IL and our local Harley dealership holds a number of poker runs and other events to raise money for local families in need. While the true benefit of this is helping someone in need, a secondary benefit is the large volume of people being brought into your business. 

Movie Theater Ads- Often overlooked, advertising in a theater can be a cost effective way to reach a lot of people in your target market. The pricing varies based on the theater locations but for about $1,200- $1,500 a month you can get a short ad spot prior to a film.

There you have it, 21 ways to get people to your website without SEO. As you can see, many of these methods are time intensive and the conversion rates leave a bit to be desired. In a bind they will get the job done and keep leads and conversions flowing into your business. Before hiring a discount SEO firm, keep in mind the time and expense you will spend recovering from that $199 per month company that sounds so tempting at the moment!

What methods have you found that drive traffic to your website? I would love to hear your tips below!


Author Bio: Travis Bliffen is the founder of Stellar SEO, a search marketing and design agency located near St. Louis, Mo. Travis loves researching and writing about SEO strategies and implementing innovative strategies for his clients. Connect on Twitter @theseoproz.

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